BY JULIA CIRIGNANO
Liz Bills has a voice as sweet as cotton candy and as harsh as a dull knife. Her words erupt from deep down in her stomach and burst from her pink lips with hypnotic qualities. Bills is a mixture of Alanis Morrisette and Brandi Carlile with a passion for pop and psychedelic music. After one listen you will be swept into Bills’ rainbow colored world where she will gnaw at your heart strings then help you dance away the pain.
Liz Bills grew up in Haverhill, Mass., and started composing and performing music at the age of eight. She played piano with classically trained pianist Lynn Willby and self-taught herself guitar. In 2011, Bills attended Berklee College of Music where she studied songwriting and vocals.
During her classical studies courses, Bills decided to form a rock band, called Analog Heart.
“We formed back in 2011 on Craigslist,” she said. “I decided I wanted to start my own rock band from scratch so I took a chance and placed an ad. I found Jesse soon after and we clicked right away. Most of our members have been from Craigslist including the new lineup and we are all very close.”
Analog Heart released an EP in 2012 consisting of Liz Bills on vocals, Jesse Cohen on guitar, and Austin Ferrante on drums. The band’s music has been given many labels such as indie, alternative rock, alt-country, pop, blues, and R&B.
Bills and David Cook were both on the TV show American Idol, yet Bills explained that her band name Analog Heart has no connection to the Cook album with the same title.
“I love hearts and wanted that in our name,” Bills explained. “I also wanted to write organic and honest music from the heart so that’s where Analog came from.”
Bills was on Season 12 of American Idol. She spoke about the experience where she made it all it way to the top 30 female and top 60 total.
“It was a very humbling experience reminding me to never stop working hard at singing and performing because I was surrounded by incredible musicians,” Bills explained. “It also taught me a bit about the demands of being on a major TV network competition and how it is more about the show itself then about the singing. Not that I have anything against that, it just opened my eyes to the reality that shows like [American Idol and] The Voice are shows and singer’s lives are put on national TV. It’s also helped me become very strong and take people’s opinions with a grain of salt.”
She also would like to be a contestant on The Voice someday.
“I’ve learned that I must trust myself, stay true to myself, and not be sensitive or take things personally and keep working hard,” Bills said. “I now audition for The Voice every six months. It took me seven years of auditions with American Idol to make it on the show.”
While pursuing The Voice, teaching music lessons, and playing shows with Analog Heart, Bills also finds time to post YouTube videos displaying her immense, raw talent. On YouTube she covered many of today’s popular musicians such as Beyonce, Ed Sheeran, Vance Joy, Taylor Swift, John Legend, Sia, Hozier, Ariana Grande, and Meghan Trainor.
Within these covers, Bills explores her vocals which are both potent and sensitive and her creative ability. Bills talked about how YouTube has helped to propel her career.
“YouTube has been a way for me to connect with my fans and my students (I teach voice, guitar and piano lessons for a living),” Bills said. “I treat YouTube as a resume — a way to show people what I can do.”
Along with the artists Bills has covered on YouTube, she is also inspired by “Hanson, Billy Joel, Lady Gaga, Grace Potter, the killers and other classic rock music.”
“I actually love pop music and bring that element into the band. I will be launching my solo project this winter with an EP,” she said.
She explained that this album is going to be more pop than the pop/rock sound that Analog Heart has captured.
Jesse Cohen and Bills are the two main songwriters in Analog Heart. While Bills leans more towards a love for pop, Cohen will always be a rocker. They combine both their tastes to create Analog Heart’s unique sound.
Although their tastes in music may differ a bit, they have found one similarity. Both Bills and Cohen’s music style and music videos have been influenced greatly by the psychedelic era.
“We shied away from this for a long time because we wanted to be ‘modern’ but through that experience we have come to embrace what we gravitate to naturally, which is this groovy hippy late 60s/70s feel,” Bills said.
Analog Heart truly expressed their psychedelic vibe in their new music video for “Come Alive.” Click HERE to see the video.
“I wanted to do something fun and colorful and I also didn’t want to take myself too seriously, though the song itself is about abusive relationships and of course that isn’t something to laugh about,” Bills said. “I am over my angsty music writing years and just want to make people smile and feel good about themselves and to be entertained.”
“Come Alive” is featured on Analog Heart’s newest album titled Sun Here I Come that was released on March 5, 2016. Bills talked about the album title and the song it was named after.
“We wrote a song called ‘Sun Here I Come’ and it’s about coming out of a depression I was going through,” Bills said. “I remember being in the woods camping with the sun on my face and feeling better than I had in a long time, that’s where the title comes from.”
Bills explained how the band has evolved since their EP release in 2012 and their first full album Sun Here I Come.
“The EP sounds very young and polished, more poppy,” she said. “I wrote all four of the songs on the EP at the time. We were a new band still trying to find ourselves together. The latest album is much more mature, more guitar driven with Jesse’s influence writing half of the songs, more uplifting and positive with my emotional shift from depression to self-love and acceptance.”
Bills expanded more on the positive themes within Sun Here I Come and the main message she hopes to convey with this album.
“I want people to feel empowered and strong and loved and like they can do anything!” she exclaimed. “This is the kind of album you put on when you want to pump yourself up!”
With new positive energy, Bills talked about the band’s plans for the future.
“Our plans are to write a lot of new music, tour in the spring and tour in the late summer to support the next album. We will also be releasing a single this winter,” she said.