Faces In The Crowd: Bill Hitchings

By Aaron Michell
Press Correspondent

If you talk to Bill Hitchings, he’ll tell you that he doesn’t even know how to play guitar. However, if you hop on your computer – and I suggest you do – and search for Bill Hitchings on Youtube, you’ll quickly realize that his humility is even greater than his musical ability. His original song on Youtube, “You’re Beautiful (I Don’t Care)” has thousands of views and counting.
When Bill – or Hitch, as friends know him – isn’t playing music, you can probably find him working construction – he’s currently working for Taylor Made Homes out of Manton. But he also has plans to get his contractor’s license here soon. And when he’s not playing music or working construction, he’s probably spending time with his girlfriend, Kristine; he’s probably fishing or playing pool, or hanging out with family and friends.
Bill graduated from Marion High School in 2007, and has spent most of his life living here in Marion. But he’s also lived and worked in West Virginia and Wyoming among other states. He has a son, Lucas William, 7, and he and Kristene have a daughter, Kinsley Elizabeth, who passed away shortly after her birth just over a year ago.
So Bill has seen his share of ups and downs. Or as he so aptly puts it: life happens. And he’s seen life happen. And in our short conversation it became apparent that Bill has a pretty good understanding about what’s important in life. In our short conversation it became apparent that Bill is much more than just another face in the crowd.

Bill and his girlfriend, Kristene Pyne.

Bill and his girlfriend, Kristene Pyne.

Marion Press: How’d you get your start in music?
Bill: My mom and dad are musicians. My mom was the lead singer in a band that my dad actually played drums in. And my grandpa was a musician – he had [the band] Red Rogers and the CV Swingers and they used to play all over Flint. There’s pictures of my sister when she was young, sleeping in the bass drum of my dad’s drum set. So we just grew up around music – it’s my whole life; it’s been nothing but music the whole time – everything’s music. I’m pretty sure, if it was up to my dad, we wouldn’t even own a TV – it would just be a bunch of radios.

MP: What kind of music do you play and who has influenced you?
Bill: I don’t hold myself to one style, or even one genre you could say – there’s so many different types of country. There’s your classics – like your Waylon and then all the way up to like the Backstreet Boys and Sam Hunt, you know, there’s so many different styles. So I try to put a little bit of everything into it; I mix it with a little bit of blues – that’s where everything come from – all those blues chords and blues riffs, so I try to put a little bit of that blues feel to it. And you know I have a little bit of a raspy voice anyways, so I put a little bit of a rock sound to it and see where it goes.
As far as influences go, I mean, [I listened to] Waylon and Cash and them ol’ boys. I really dig Eric Church. Chris Stapleton, I like his music a lot even back to the Jompson Brothers – that was his band before he was just Chris Stapleton. Garth Brooks, obviously he’s huge; he’s awesome.

MP: Have you ever played in Nashville? As a musician, is that one of your goals?
Bill: Yes and no. If it’s supposed to be – I have a lot of faith in God – and if it’s supposed to happen, he’ll provide that. If it’s not – if my whole thing with music is to stay around here and build and play gigs on the weekend and maybe inspire someone else to do the same – well that’s good with me. I don’t ever need to make no million dollars; I don’t even know how to spend a million dollars. I mean, I’m sure I could think of a couple things she [Kristene] might want. I got my truck, that’s all I need.
But yeah, that would be the ultimate goal: to play in Nashville and be successful at it. Not necessarily being mainstream, but to make a living doing it.
I have never actually played in Nashville – I’ve been in touch with people in Nashville; there are some people who follow me [online] on Instagram and I follow them, but as far as playing downtown, I’ve never played there. I’ve stayed there, I’ve been through there, but I’ve never hooked it up to where I could just sit down at a bar and play in downtown Nashville. I would love to; that’s where I want to go.

MP: And you tried out for [the television show] The Voice, what was that like?
Bill: It was a good experience as far as singing in front of people, because you go into a room where you have no idea who any of ‘em are. You don’t know who the judge is, or who the producer is, or who’s goin’, “You yeah, you’re coming,” or “No, you’re not.” You have no idea who the other twelve people in the room are who are there for the same thing you are. And you just walk into a room and start belting song lyrics out with no music, no nothing; it’s just you, that’s it. It was cool because after you drive all the way down there – and we drove all the way to Illinois – you can’t just get there and be like, nah, you know, I don’t want to. There’s none of that. You burn that much fuel and it’s like, alright, I’m gonna sing this song and that’s what’s gonna happen.

MP: Have you played any gigs around here?
Bill: I have. Paul McGuire had a studio in his basement – he was the one who recorded the first song that I ever actually recorded – it was called “I Could Get Used to This” and that is the only song that I currently have on an album. Paul did a showcase for all the artists that he’s worked with – we went down to the Busy Bee and did a showcase show for Lake St. Studios.

A Youtube screen grab from one of Bill’s original songs, You’re Beautiful, I Don’t Care.

A Youtube screen grab from one of Bill’s original songs, You’re Beautiful, I Don’t Care.

MP: You’ve mentioned that you’ve run into a few talented local musicians.
Bill: Yeah, there’s a bunch of cats that I used to play different sets of music with and they’ve got game, man, when it comes to music; they’re decent at it, you know. They don’t publish a lot of it like I do – I publish my stuff so people can hear it and give me feedback and if somebody messages me and hates it and says you did this wrong, and this wrong, and whatever, well hey – at least then I’ll know maybe what to correct. But yeah, I mean Nick Switalski – he’s awesome; he picks guitar and sings. Tyson Kogler – he can tear a guitar up. There’s a lot of people who can play pretty decent music, they just don’t publish it.

MP: How long have you and Kristene been together, and how did you meet?
Bill: Almost three years. It was kind of weird. It was Luther Days – slash (/) – Facebook. She was cute so I just kept messaging her until she messaged me back.
Kristene: For like three months he bugged me and then I finally gave in. And I said, okay fine.

MP: See, persistence pays off. What do you two like to do for fun, besides music?
Kristene: Fishing. Playing pool.
Bill: And then there’s the days we just go out to the pole barn at my dad’s and drink beer. And she sits there. But it’s a good time. I thoroughly enjoy it.
Kristene: His dad is basically his saving grace on everything. That’s his best friend.
Bill: My dad, I talk to him a lot. When I find something I get stuck with I’ll give him a shout. He’s pretty good with that. And she [Kristene] helps me a lot with decisions.

MP: So your dad’s your best friend?
Bill: Yeah, he is. Me and my dad are tight. He helps me a lot. They played music all over Flint – I want to say the name of their band was Voyage, and they played all over – he was the drummer, my mom was the singer. My grandpa, my uncles, everybody plays guitar or something. And whenever we can make it to Mio – we have cabins and we’ll take campers up there – the whole family goes up and we just sit around the bonfire and sing.

MP: And you’ve worked in the oil fields?
Bill: Oh yeah, that was fun. That was a good time. A lot to pay attention to. It was fun to learn it, but I wouldn’t want to do it for the rest of my life. 16 hours a day, 7 days a week. You just beat up your body. I mean, the money’s nice and if you can handle being away from home it’s not a horrible job.
I worked a lot out of Triadelphia, West Virginia and the surrounding areas. We went down to Morgantown, West Virginia. That was the only state we were ever in; it was just different areas of West Virginia.
When I started, they just started me on the ground. My second day there they moved me to the floor, and I ran the floor for a while – and then they moved me up to derrickhand fifty-five days after I’d started which was pretty cool. And I was a derrickhand when I quit going out [to the oilfields]. There’s a lot to being a derrickhand – we were on a service rig, so we were drilling plugs out and we’d set the trees for the production.

MP: Do you enjoy living in a small-town rural community?
Bill: I love it. Just being tight-knit. Me and my family are tight-knit, so I grew up being raised that way. When you live in a small town – I think our graduating class was like 62 people – I mean, you know everybody. And everybody knows you and everybody kind of helps each other out. If you’re ever stuck in a bad spot, you’ve got 30 people who will help you out.

MP: Any memories from your school days at Marion?
Bill: Oh yeah. There’s probably about 42 hacky sacks on the roof of the school that belong to us, or somebody in the little group that we used to hang out with. Because we couldn’t be bothered with going to class, you know. We’d stand in the hallway, or outside in the entryway and we’d stand there and play hacky sack for hours – until somebody caught us.

MP: Where do you see yourself in ten years?
Bill: Hopefully still breathing. That’d be a good spot to start. I would like to I guess – I don’t even know – I would like to be successful in my own business; I’d like to own property and a house. And that business could be in contracting or in music, I mean either way. Whatever business the good Lord provides me with being successful, I would take that and make the most of it.

MP: And faith is a big part of your life?
Bill: It is. I believe a lot in God and I believe that everything is possible through him. I mean, without him we wouldn’t even be here.



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