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Thursday, January 20, 2011
Heather Williams doesn’t just turn heads, she sets them into a full-on spin after one look at her resume. To describe her as “versatile” or “motivated” is an understatement and most likely accounts for how she caught the attention of producers at VH-1 who chose her to audition for the latest edition of Rock and Roll Fantasy Camp. In our interview with Heather, she touches on her multitude of interests, her non-stop networking and her desire to learn and grow as a musician with a little help from her new friends, including bassist Rudy Sarzo. So strap yourself in and experience the high octane highlights of a sweet southern girl from Atlanta, Georgia who’s poised to win the race…Miss Heather Williams.
Tracey: Hi Heather, how are you?
Heather: Great! Thanks for calling!
Tracey: Let’s get right into it. How did you get selected to be involved with Rock and Roll Fantasy Camp on VH1?
Heather: Well, basically, I knew the founder, David Fishof, when I was racing cars; it was maybe about 2 years ago, and he had mentioned to me then that he was in the process of doing some things with Mark Burnett and VH1, and had mentioned that he was going to do this reality show. I didn’t think anything about it, and it just happened to be that this past January, so he called me and said, “The show’s going on, and I want you to be in the cast” and I went through the casting process and they selected me which was a big shocker, and the rest is history from there.
Tracey : Out of all the musicians that were involved in the taping, who were you most excited to meet and why?
Heather: Well, I had met Rudy Sarzo one other time and a NAMM event out in Anaheim, and I’d heard that he was going to be on, and just to be able to come and be around him, and then once I was picked to be in his group, I was in heaven! I couldn’t actually believe that I was going to be mentored by somebody that had been in Ozzy Osbourne’s band; that had been in Whitesnake; that had been in Quiet Riot… so really just being able to hang around him was a dream come true.
Tracey: Was hard rock something you were into growing up, or did you have other influences?
Heather: Well, my older brother listened to that non-stop, and I didn’t like it as a kid; I listened to pop rock on the radio. But he listened to it all the time; he listened to Quiet Riot, Motley Crue, Guns and Roses, kind of all that 80’s metal stuff, and now that’s what I absolutely love. Once I picked up guitar…especially after I picked up the guitar, I just went to that. Especially things like Iron Maiden, Metallica…I loved those types of groups.
Tracey: Were you always interested in music? What led you to pick up the guitar, because I know you were into a lot of sports and other things like that?
Heather: Well, picking up the guitar: I just decided to do it. I played the piano as a kid for maybe three years, and if you asked me to sit down and play something…good luck, because I don’t really remember anything about that. I always wanted to go outside and play. Also in middle school, I played the snare drum in the marching band, which lasted a very short time, but that was kind of the only musical surrounding that I had; I mean, my mom sang in church but that was about it. I just decided I was going to do it. I had about a grand to spend, I went to Guitar Center, I got with the manager there and I said, “I want a guitar, I love Van Halen, AC/DC and Metallica and I want a whammy bar on my guitar!” (laughs) I played around with all these different guitars, and he helped me out with an amp to get me started, but other than that, I didn’t have any musician friends around me, nobody to push me towards that…I don’t know. I just decided to do it.
Heather: Well, that’s one of the most exciting things that I’ve ever done in my life. Basically, I had the opportunity to go in and work with Steve Brown, who is a Billboard hit songwriter and is also in the rock group Trixter. He produced the EP, it’s got four tunes on it, and it was a dream come true…I mean, I still can’t believe I have that. I was able to work with him! I also had Eddie Ojeda from Twisted Sister, and Paul Crook who plays with Meatloaf actually lay tracks on my CD! To think that I’ve only been doing music for a couple of years and for me to have that; I mean I still can’t believe it and I’m just extremely grateful to have had that opportunity.
Tracey: It seems that you’ve also become quite popular in a short time as well. How has your life been affected since being on the show with all the new interest in you and all of your endeavors?
Heather: Well, I love it. I love entertainment. I’m also a real estate agent and I have a contracting company, so I love business. I love being around people; networking, sales…just entertainment in general, so it’s really been pretty easy adjusting to it. I was kind of already used to it with all the sports that I’ve done; ESPN, the racing cars and then doing drag racing; being around a multitude of different arenas helps you to adapt a little bit more easily.
Tracey: How did you get involved in drag racing?
Heather: It was through my website. I had an agent contact me and ask me if I wanted to do drag bikes. So I said, “Why not?” and I went out and got my drag-bike license and from there it was the nitro funny cars. So much had happened through the internet. To a degree, I lived on the other side of the world, from Atlanta to California. Being based in Atlanta, I’m not able to be around the California scene where you can get in there and put your hands in, I’m having to network basically through the internet. So a lot of my opportunities have come from my website, have come from my social sites, YouTube, Twitter, MySpace, FaceBook…all that. Even racing cars, the way that happened was a team owner in Canada had spotted me on MySpace, and from there I corresponded with him and I was racing cars within three months of speaking with him. And that was in ARCA, which is a step under NASCAR, and I’d never driven a race car before, ever!
Tracey: Wow! What was it like the first time you got behind the wheel and hit the gas pedal?
Heather: It was scary at first, but I grew up with a Mustang. I drove a stick shift Mustang so I learned really quickly what a hard car like that can do. I was OK with it, but I was scared because I was unsure of the power, but once I got in there, to me, that was the easiest motor sport that I’ve ever done in my life, considering jumping freestyle motocross in the X-games and stuff, racing cars is by far the easiest thing like that that I’ve done, and I absolutely love it.
Tracey: There are some other notable rock stars that seem to be into the same thing. Vince Neil had that whole thing going on…
Tracey: So, now let’s get to the dirt. Give us one good ‘behind the scenes’ story.
Heather: I can’t tell a lot without getting in trouble, but just from the last episode…that was extremely stressful. The whole thing that they showed was filmed at the one-day event when we got there and had the auditions. We didn’t know anybody there, and what was crazy was that they would tell us within minutes of going onstage what songs we were going to play. And as you can see on TV, there’s this huge judge's panel sitting there; all these accomplished rock stars, and your heart’s racing and you just don’t want to screw up! You’re an amateur at what you’re doing; at least I am! I felt that I was in a whole different boat compared to the other campers that were there, solely because I’m new at it. They’d had some experience onstage, whereas the only experience I’d had and the only band I’d been in was in the only all-female venue and tribute band ‘She-ruption’. That was my only band and I’d only been playing in it for a little while, and then I’d kind of branched off and wanted to do my own thing. But it was extremely nerve-wracking, but it was a fun nerve-wracking if that makes any sense. I had a blast doing that, but it was scary, too. I’m just extremely thankful that I got to be in Rudy Sarzo’s band.
Tracey: Looking into the future, do you think that you’ll be dedicating yourself more to the music, or the sports thing or the racing thing, or…?
Heather: Definitely music. No doubt about it. I have progressed so fast with the music just from starting as compared with, say, some of my sports endeavors. With race cars, it’s millions and millions of dollars to get to a NASCAR level, but with music I have progressed so fast. I have passion for all those different things that I do, but the music…something about it…my heart is there and my drive is there so I’m definitely sticking with music for right now.
Heather: The band name (Proton Saints) is a wild name. When Rudy told the group that is our team name I remember saying "Say that again?!” Maybe our band name should have been Sarzo's Saints? We are a diverse group, we have a woman on guitar, a singer from Scotland. I think we have the best band of all of them!
Tracey: You don’t see a guy in a kilt too often.
Heather: No! That was so rocking! When he came out with that on I was like, “No way!” and then to top it off, besides that, he had cowboy boots on. I was like, “Do you shave your legs?” (laughs)
Tracey: And a blue leather if I’m not mistaken, right?
Tracey: So, did they kind of coach you on what to wear, or was it your call?
Heather: No, it was all our call. We put on whatever in the world we wanted to put on and what he put on was his own outfit, same as mine.
Tracey: I know a lot of people wonder how produced those shows are; is what you see real?
Heather: It’s real. Nobody told me to say the things that I did. The same with our clothes, our hair…I mean, when we showed up, that was us. We went along with what the show had planned. I cannot wait to see the show, but you just pray that you didn’t say the wrong thing, and you pray that they don’t show it if you did.
Tracey: I was surprised to find out that the Rock and Roll Fantasy Camp show had the highest rated debut of any show that’s ever aired on VH1, so it would seem that you would have a huge opportunity to capitalize on that.
Heather: I was in shock when I read that. I read it in the New York Post…they had mentioned that it had shattered VH1’s viewership records…the most watched season premiere in network history. I would never have expected that, but I’ve always thought that David Fishof’s concept was a phenomenal one. It’s just such a neat idea to go and spend that kind of time with these accomplished rockers, and, really, to go to their camps, and actually I’d been to a camp before I was even on the show, and we spent several days, sometimes from eight in the morning till eight in the evening or even later…just being there with those rockers all day long. You’re writing your own tunes, you’re practicing songs, you’re having lunch with them…I mean, it’s a completely involved trip. Not once would you get there and just get to meet them and get your picture with them and then you leave. It’s not like that at all. You’re sitting there chatting. You’re sitting there chatting with Kip Winger, or Steven Tyler, or Vince Neil or Paul Stanley or whoever might be there. I think it’s great. I think it’s a great experience.
Tracey: So what’s still on your ‘to do’ list? What can fans expect to see in the coming months from you?
Heather: Music, music and more music. I am going to try my best to get my tunes out there and start playing, and praying that in 2011 I’m going to get some huge opportunities to open for some larger bands; some more established acts. I can’t say who they are yet, but right now that’s kind of the major focus, and I’m just going full force. I’m just extremely thankful to have had the opportunity to be on that show. And it’s such a great show; it’s not like a show that you have to battle it out with other people and be mean, and pull hair and scratch, I mean, it really was the experience of a lifetime.
Tracey: Well, on behalf of BackstageAxxess.com and myself, we wish you great success in the future, both on the show and off, and hopefully you’ll swing through our town so we can check you out live.
Heather: Thanks! Great talking to you!
If you want more information on Heather or Rock and Roll Fantasy Camp, go to her website at: http://www.heather-williams.com/.