Monday, December 8, 2014

Alan Guno's Gay Teen Song Cycle - A Country, Pop-Rock and Dance Re-Mix Story of A Young Gay Man's Journey

I caught up with singer/songwriter/producer Alan Guno (Also known as 'Alan G.') at BentCon 2014 and got the scoop on his multi-album song cycle about a gay teen...

Here's the album-by-album scoop:

Billy’s story actually began with the release of Alan’s first country album, “The Sun Will Rise,’ in 2006. “This album tells the story of Cody,” explains Alan, “who is a young man just graduating from college and dealing with the very special challenges of young people at that age.” It is revealed that Cody is the middle brother of three – and that his younger brother Billy is quite the handful.
“Billy is mentioned twice by his brother in this album,” continues Alan. “But it is already very clear that Billy is quite the individual and seems to have a predisposition for getting into trouble!”

The Billy song cycle officially began in 2013 with the release of the pop-rock album EXILE and its dance remix compilation EXILE EXTENDED. Telling the stories of Billy as a teenage runaway, these albums reflect feelings and episodes in Billy’s young life as he comes to a savage and cold urban wasteland. In the big city, he encounters homelessness, heartbreak, and bigotry – and even confronts his darkest thoughts. Billy requires the greatest courage and strength to push back against his fear and survive life on the street.
“Billy’s world has gone from bad to terrifying,” adds Alan. “Some of his most difficult challenges materialize in his life – and yet he is still very young. And he’s still dealing with many of the issues of being a young person – but also a young gay homeless person.” Billy’s story in these albums is at once desperate and hopeful, fearful and fearless, secretive and exposed.

INFIDEL explores the emergence of a boy who has found his voice – and who is not afraid to use it – even if it means going against the establishment or the status quo.
“Billy is growing up,” explains Alan. “He is no longer on the streets – but he continues to see the craziness and hurt in the world. And now he has a voice to speak out against what he sees as wrong… But that thrusts Billy into a new chapter that is volatile and vulnerable – one that is always on fire, always dangerous. These new songs reflect the upheaval he sees in life– with the pop-rock music setting the stage for a world that is completely out of control.”
“But now we get to see how Billy feels about all of this,” continues Alan, “as well as what he plans to do about it. Billy is angry. He is so disappointed by what he sees, and what has happened – and how people are being treated. He must speak out, he must act - even in the face of resistance from perspectives that are old and worn-out – but which are still very powerful.”

And new out in 2015 is THE LEGEND OF LITTLE BRO BILLY.

“Before we met Billy the runaway,” explains Alan, “he was a boy growing up in his hometown facing many of the issues that most teens face. But now, we now get a chance to go back in time and see some of the experiences that led to the hero in EXILE and INFIDEL. We will see the environment he grew up in, what his family is like, and how he feels about the important things in life.”
And in stark contrast to the pop-rock of the previous albums, this is an album of country music. “We return to Billy’s roots,” tells Alan, “when he was living in his southern hometown. He’s a southern boy at heart – but we will follow some of the episodes that lead to the passionate and aggressive teen we encounter in the pop-rock albums.”
“It was important to take this look back,” continues Alan. “It was important to explain where he comes from – and both the challenges and positive aspects that he grew up with… Not everyone is as they seem – and some of the questions posed in Exile and Infidel are now answered by returning to Billy’s past.”
And that past is certainly filled with an abundance of issues. “We see some of the roots of teenage Billy’s questioning of the world,” adds Alan, “which give rise to the difficult relationships he will have with school, authority, and society’s expectations.”
But we also see the saving grace in Billy’s young life as well. “Billy has a very special relationship with his family,” continues Alan, “and we will see a particular bond with his mother and his two brothers… Certainly, the absence of his family in the previous albums of the song cycle is especially notable. And in this album, we will find out exactly why.”
And as the album comes to a close, the reason that Billy becomes a runaway is revealed. “This was a very important part of the story in this album,” says Alan. “This reason brings us to the beginning of the Exile album and sets that part of Billy’s life in motion.”

There's another album in the song-cycle planned, as Alan writes:

After a look back in “The Legend of Little Bro Billy”, the next album in the song cycle will take us forward in time to the period after “Infidel”. This next set of music will highlight Billy’s life as a young adult – but we return to his story with more insight into his past and the reasons he believes what he does. “...The beliefs and issues that were important to him when young continue to be powerful influences in his life. This special young hero will grow up further and take his life to the next level.”

And this was really nice:

The Billy saga is dedicated to all the “Billys” around the world who are looking for the representation and validation of their lives and their own stories. “Billy’s story is the story of many young LGBTQ people,” continues Alan. “And it is their stories that I hope to honor and validate. We need to let them – and the world – know that we celebrate that they are here – that they are valued and special – and that we will stand with them so they will never be alone.”

Add your review of the Billy songs and albums in comments!

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