FAIRFIELD — A musical joyride is how Chris Frye of The Bills described a show featuring him and his four bandmates.
“There is no limitation on what we do,” he said. “We ride the range of emotions and possibilities on acoustic instruments.”
The shows are very high energy, he said. There’s also the softer side.
“We like our ballads just as much as the next band,” Frye said.
The Bills were born the Billy Hilly Band (a take on hillbilly) in the mid-1990s. Within weeks, the band members were calling each other Bill.
Originally launched as a workshop band for gigging and recording artists, the Billy Hilly Band took on a life of its own. The side project became the main project. The five-piece unit from Canada was touring North America and Europe.
Some of the fans were calling them the Bill Hillies.
“A lot of people had trouble getting the name right,” Frye said.
In 2005, the band became The Bills, even though no one in the band carries that moniker. The Bills took a break to do some solo work. There was an eight-year wait between albums.
“We toured for four years on the 2005 album,” Frye said. “We were still playing festivals. We never really stopped.”
All came together to record “Yes, Please,” which was released last year. The time was right. Everyone had enjoyed a decent break and things came together like they had in the past, Frye said.
It also saved the The Bills from being relegated to folk nostalgia, he said, in jest.
Songwriting is a collaborative effort. Frye writes most of the lyrics. The band prides itself on really good arrangements. With no drummer, the musicians have to fill in that groove on their string instruments.
The Bills work because all members have a real love for all forms of roots music, Frye said.
“There’s a lot of space for improv and taking solos,” he said. “A lot of space to show off people’s talents.”
Frye’s musical inspirations run the gamut from The Beatles to Cole Porter. He’s also a huge fan of Romanian Gypsy music.
“It’s so extremely powerful,” he said.
The Bills will stop Sept. 20 at The Palms Playhouse in Winters for the first date on a 10-show tour in the state.
Other band members are Marc Atkisnon, Adrian Dolan, Richard Moody and Scott White.
“The Bills were born in the analog era,” Frye said. “All our musical interest was combed through record shops. We have grown to embrace digital.”
Reach Amy Maginnis-Honey at 427-6957 or email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/amaginnisdr.