William Vincent
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William Vincent

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Band Folk Acoustic

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Still working on that hot first release.

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Within two years of picking up his first guitar William went from playing in his room of a housing program to opening for punk bands at such heritage venues as The El Mocambo, The Silver Dollar Room and other note worthy venues in the city. Born in Jersey, raised in New York, Toronto and Athens/Greece, William seems to have the air miles of a seasoned roadie before learning to play his first licks. I ask him why such a spotty background and he shoots back with a smirk and a tilt of the head…

“When you’re small enough to fit in the luggage they don’t ask if you want to go.”

I skip the details of his childhood to get to the real issue here, music. When did you pick up the guitar?

"It was right before leaving Toronto to serve in the military. As a Greek citizen I had to honor my mandatory conscription. I had a short stint in college but wanted to switch schools and right before the change-over I got drafted. The last thing I bought before leaving the city was an acoustic guitar. Within a couple of months I was back in Greece, shaven & shorn getting prepped for Basic.”

Did you get to play during your term?

“No, it was mostly training. I volunteered to get transferred from the Infantry to the Special Forces and wound up in the Marine Corps. If there was a local guitar store in the city I was stationed I would go and noodle a bit during down time before having to return for patrol duty or some exercise.”

So when did you really learn to play and write and evolve into a performer?

“Oddly enough I learned to play and write while couch surfing in friends’ apartments and while staying in the youth shelters of New York and Toronto. After finishing my service it took a lot of soul searching and traveling throughout Ontario and New York to finally make a firm decision and set aside my ambitions as an illustrator and surrender to my love to play music.”

Was there a defining moment that made you see your mission clearly?

“It was more like a series of moments. Moving out of transitional housing and finally getting my own place was one. Within 2 years of playing alone in my room I was asked to open for punk bands at venues like the El Mocambo and The Silver Dollar, I felt that was another wake up call. After doing the circuit in Toronto for a few years, I mustered up the courage to hitchhike to New York and try out for the Amateur Night At The Apollo (Theatre). I didn’t make the cut but at some point while busking in the subway I realized that if I could get through the kind of training I got as a Marine, come out the other side of the shelter system with all my marbles and make it to that stage in Harlem; most of the things that others would fuss about were just immaterial to me at that point”.

Did you know that early in your career artists such as The Rolling Stones, Stevie-Ray Vaughn, The Ramones had played the same stage at The El Mo, not to mention the countless stars that made their bones by playing The Apollo?

“I’m confident in saying that I was aware enough to understand the underlying message of hard work from those stories more than anything else. I also felt that simply occupying the same physical spaces that some of the greats had played, seeing the same things that they must have seen while in the dressing rooms and rehearsal halls; the amount of talent that one witnesses playing those venues really gave me a sense of perspective on how to view myself in relation to all these musicians. It allowed me to become quiet; to walk slower. I could feel a presence around me for days after auditioning the Apollo that felt very eerie. Humbling no doubt, but very unsettling; as if I was being watched.”

So what’s next? What do you want to say to those who may be reading this and could be curious as to your next move?

“Well I’m living in Toronto at the moment but I’m slowly trying to re-establish my roots in New York. I’m currently working with a producer for my first album which is due out next year on Remembrance Day”.

Wow, you’re releasing your album on 11/11/11? What’s the significance of that date?

“To those who have done their homework it will be painfully obvious, for the rest I’m simply saying it will be three years since my fathers passing and I plan on playing loud enough for him to hear me on the other side”.

-Matthew Fairchild
The Syracuse Gazette