Surrounding the musings of multi-instrumentalist William P C Simmons V a.k.a. Rev. Billy Simmons, Evidence of a Struggle creates lush, cinematic, beautiful and sometimes chaotic compositions.
Under the guiding hand of renowned sound engineer Sanford Parker (Voivod, Russian Circles, Yob, Eyehategod, Wovenhand, Darkthrone, Youth Code, Pelican), this record takes the listener on a great instrumental journey, combining numerous sub-genres spanning the art rock and alternative music realm.
The album is complemented by a multi-chapter audio-visual storybook, created by Chicago artist John Airo, who has been involved with this project since the outset – creating videos, album covers and accompanying visuals for live performances.
“In my mind, for this song, I could see an epic entrance for a prizefighter. That fighter was fighting somebody that was and is building that paradigm, a rapidly inflating and increasingly detached dogma. Sounds strange, doesn’t it?! John seemed to mirror that feeling with this video. It feels like a call for a beleaguered society to WAKE UP!,” says Rev. Billy.
Earlier, Evidence of a Struggle shared videos for their debut cinematic single ‘Do’Oa’ (a wonderful fusion of Tortoise and Dif Juz), followed by ‘Alan’s Song’ (the sound of fear, beauty and hubris), and ‘Bisquee’ with its engaging off-kilter post-rock.
“John and I have been friends for over 30 years. We’ve had a unique opportunity to see each other grow as artists and have many parallel, perpendicular, and opposing viewpoints. It keeps things interesting. When we began talking about visuals to the sounds for this Evidence of a Struggle record, it was synesthesia,” says Rev. Billy.
“I wanted to make sure we saw similar things, but I didn’t want to steer the narrative. I wanted to see what truths my sounds spoke to John. I wanted John to show me that our art could have a sustained dialogue on its own that was apparent to us and hope that it spoke to a larger group than our chosen mediums would have spoken to on their own.”
Evidence of a Struggle began in 2020 during lockdowns. This ambitious effort sees Rev. Billy play every instrument – guitar, drums, piano, synth and violin – recorded and engineered from his home studio, The Glue Factory. Once Covid restrictions were lifted, Sanford Parker helped produce, record and master the final versions of these songs.
With a backstory involving collaborations with RCA recording artist Ké and various artists on major labels like RCA, Touch and Go, BMG and Universal, it is no surprise that Evidence of a Struggle would evolve. In 2023, Matt Walker (of1000faces, Smashing Pumpkins, Morrissey, Garbage, Filter) became involved in this project, playing drums and helping with production with Matt’s brother Solomon Walker (Morrissey, Bryan Adams, Eastern Shadows, Year of the Rabbit) and Alan Berliant (Chris Connelly, Mavis Staples, Saint Asonia) on bass.
Apart from music, Rev. Billy also owns Rev. Billy’s Chop Shop, also known as an inclusive, creative space, hosting new artists’ work bimonthly and declared by Chicago Reader as the city’s best gallery in 2019. Rev. Billy’s Chop Shop is as strong a passion as his music.