If you had to pick a few memories of Billy, give me a couple of nights or times that you remember. Good or bad.
I was playing at the Rat. I had this band the Condo Pygmies. And I loved it when Billy would show up, because it was almost like a stamp of approval. I had been friends with him for ages then, but Billy was very democratic: he wouldn't just come to his friend's shows. He'd go wherever he genuinely wanted to be, and if he showed up he really wanted to be there and if he was into it he'd reaaaally be into it. So he jumped on stage and to show his enthusiasm he bit me so hard, through the pants, broke the skin with those nasty little teeth of his, and — I wasn't gonna hit him or anything, but a reasonable person might expect they were gonna get hit if they did that. And so he spent the entire rest of our set dancing with my mother, who was there, so that he wouldn't get walloped. I just was so charmed by that: That he bit me, realized he had gone a tad too far, and then protected himself by dancing with my mom all night. [Adopts Billy voice:] "Momma, come here quick!" That was a really good memory.
I have a really good memory of seeing Billy genuinely feel for his dad's passing. It's harsh but, just because it was so truthful. There was this great dishonesty that hisfather was some cold driven captain of industry. It was just a bunch of shit. And even Billy said, "Aw, I made a bunch of that stuff up." Maybe it was different when they were little. But you could see that Billy felt so much for his dad. And I knew he did, because when I'd see them in person, there'd be tons of affection. Billy could only build up a real good head of anger over the telephone or in an email. Because once you were in his company, then it was all real, and he had too much affection and love in him to allow for that, in person. If he wasn't looking at the person he could really go to town on him.
I'm trying to think about how to say this one without offending anyone, especially Billy's sister Paige, since it's about her mother. Billy's stepmother was not into Billy one bit. And when she passed away – it wasn't nice that she passed away – she was nice to me, but I could tell that Billy was an embarrassment. Billy was a bother, she did not think Billy was cool. When she passed away, I loved seeing how warm the rest of them were to him again. It was kind of like she set had set a certain tone.
One year, I had gone to his dad's funeral with him, and the step-mother was running the show. The next year I went to her funeral, and it was night and day with the rest of the family. The siblings, the cousins, they were all, "Billy, how's it goin!" So that was an especially nice weekend – the weekend of his step-mother's funeral – plus I rode in an elevator with Phoebe-fucking-Cates! Phoebe Cates was his father's upstairs neighbor. Let me tell ya, that was twenty-seven seconds I will always remember [laughs].