Billy Moran is the lead guitarist for the bands Louden Swain and The Station Breaks and is a staple at Creation Entertainment’s Supernatural conventions across the country. He also plays on several other albums, including Supernatural‘s Briana Buckmaster’s debut solo album Begin. You can read Nerds and Beyond’s exclusive interview with Moran here. January 14 is Moran’s birthday so we asked our readers and staff to share some of their favorite moments of this guitarist extraordinaire in honor of his special day – read them below!
Billy has always been the kindest soul to me no matter how nervous I am and it means so much. One of the more recent moments that stands out to me is during “Swainlanta 2.0” (Louden Swain’s December 2018 shows in Atlanta, GA) when I got a brief moment to tell him how great he was during the shows. I was so nervous and I know he knew I was, and he was so incredibly appreciative about it. He has a talent that is out of this world so to see him still be humble and proud when a fan tells him he did a good job was incredibly sweet. I also love watching him play. There is something about seeing him so in tune and focused with his music, the way he embraces it, that inspires my own writing. It’s beyond amazing.
My favorite moment with Billy would have to be during Sunday autos at NJ [Supernatural convention] where I had him sign a portrait I had done of him and his wife. He was absolutely blown away by it and took a pic of me and him with it to send to his wife. He was smiling the whole time he signed it, it was precious.
MinnCon ’18 autos. “It’s really good to see you again.” Never thought in a million years he’d ever remember me.
I have a lot of favourite Billy moments but one of my most favourite ones is sharing the stage with him at the Rockwood Music Festival in 2018. I was so nervous to be up there on my own and so couldn’t play guitar because my hands were shaking too much and so someone (I can’t remember who) went and got Billy and Billy played guitar for me. There’s no feeling like being up on the same stage as one of your musical inspirations. I’ll never forget that moment.
The first time I did a solo photo op with Louden Swain I was wearing a shirt my friend had made me that said, “Billy is out of this world,” with a pic that Billy had posted online of him “playing” his daughter’s toy guitar. When I walked in for the op, Billy took one look at my shirt and immediately pulled me into a hug without even saying hello. I had to explain to him that I actually wanted to hug him for my pic so I ended up hugging him twice. That memory always makes me smile. There’s also the fact that he says, “It’s so nice to see you again,” every single time he sees me, even if that’s multiple times in the same day. He is a genuinely nice guy. His poses that he comes up with for group pics at Swain M&Gs never fail to make me laugh. Still hoping he actually posts all those pics some day. One final thing I have to say. Watching Billy Moran play the guitar is a spectacular experience. He is such an inspiration to me as someone who is teaching myself to play guitar. If I can play even half as good as he does some day I will be more than happy.
Offstage, when we recreated my dream where he cut my hair in a photo op. Thanks for that, Billy. Onstage, it would have to be the most recent Swainlanta this past December when he sang part of “Hallelujah”.
In Minneapolis I was getting Splitting the Seams signed, when I happened to notice that then, in November of 2018, Billy still had a safety pin on his jacket lapel. I gestured to it and thanked him, saying that this was a scary time for so many people and letting him know that it was seen and appreciated. He was genuinely touched, and replied that more than anything he wanted cons to feel safe for everyone, and he wanted to do what he could so we would feel that way. It was a sweet moment, and I am proud and honored to be a fan of someone who is looking out for all of us.
-Anna Maria (@anna_loser)
At JaxCon 2018, for autographs, I took a photo book I’d made of pictures I’d taken at cons throughout the year. I’ve recently taken up photography as a hobby and was pretty nervous about everyone seeing my “work”. But, Billy took the book, flipped through it, and said, “This is really cool. Did you take all these?” When I said yes, he said, “That’s awesome, are you gonna sell these (pointing at the book as a whole)? You should. People would eat them up.” That validation and appreciation for my “art” was the most special moment. I went home and immediately planned out my next project. I will never be able to thank him enough for making this amateur photog feel like her own Chris Schmelke.
During the vendors jam he kept looking over and smiling at me! It made me feel comfortable and happy. Love you, Billy!
It’s a fairly small moment but it meant a lot to me; at Jax18 I was sitting close to the guys as they did the Vendors Jam. Billy would occasionally glance down at me and smile, I think he may have laughed slightly a few times. It was so simple but it meant a lot because it was my first “interaction” with him, and it made me feel included in a small way. I really felt seen and that reaffirmed that I had chosen the right little family that I’ve found with Swain.
My favorite Billy moment actually happened in a M&G, which we’re not technically supposed to talk about, so I’ll share my second favorite moment. As background, I crochet art pieces and give them to people as gifts. Billy’s always so complimentary every time he sees my work, but one particular response will always stand out for me. I’d given him a portrait of his own face, which can be kind of weird, because not everybody wants a giant picture of their face made from yarn. But he was gracious about it and took it home. Then he posted a picture of his daughter using it as a blanket. It really meant a lot to me that he took the time to post the picture, and that he found such a nice use for the portrait.
My fave Billy moment was the first time I met him in Germany at Rockwood ’18, I literally couldn’t believe my eyes. I’ve been wanting to meet him for so long and now I see him in person performing on stage. I had a chance to talk to him and I was so nervous I even forgot to introduce myself, I just said “can I have a hug?” And he said “of course” and then he hugged me. I told him that I started listening to Iron Maiden because of him and I told him that my favourite song is “Fear of the Dark”. I kinda feel bad that I forgot what he said but that’s because I was in total shock. Funny thing, I actually looked like I wasn’t and that’s a good thing. Next day, my outfit was inspired by Axl Rose from Guns n Roses. I saw him walk by with his guitar and I said “Hi Billy. Look, I’m Axl Rose,” and he said hi back and he looked like he remembered me. He was wearing a Metallica shirt so I said “cool t-shirt” and while we were walking we discussed our favourite songs by Iron Maiden and we came to the conclusion that “Run to the Hills” is a classic and it’s the best. He also told me that his first cassette that he bought was Number of the Beast and it was funny because I already knew that from an interview he did but I didn’t tell him that.
My favorite Billy interaction was at The Station Breaks show in Bowling Green, VA. After the show, he hung outside and was very chill. We talked about where I was from and some other things. It was the first time I remember being able to have an actual conversation with him.
When Louden Swain did a last minute show in Los Angeles a year ago at the Silverlake Lounge I spoke to Billy after the show and it was a really nice, relaxed moment. It was so nice to be spoken to like an actual person, when so many celebrities are keen to treat you differently because you’re “just a fan.” Billy always makes me feel welcome, like an equal.
One of my favorite moments was when he sang a verse of “Wagon Wheel” last January in NYC!
I guess I’d have to say my favorite Billy moment was getting to talk to him in NYC at the Swain pre-show brunch. He’s always seemed reserved to me, but lo and behold, his face lights up when you’re speaking and he’s attentive to the point where even I began to feel shy and it’s like, I’d never in all my life met a musician that didn’t live to hear themselves talk..about themselves. He wants to know if you liked the show, he wants to see your art. Not only does he shred, he’s one of the nicest humans I’ve met. It’s so unlikely, really, so we’re keeping him.
His epic Battle Front playing against Borja during Random Act’s Gaming for Kindness event. He’s skilled and charitable.
At The Station Breaks concert 2016 in Berlin (Germany), during the Meet and Greet, Billy came over to our group and he was suuuuuper excited and just went “Hug? Hug?? Hug!” and gave me a big hug even though I had never met him before! He was so happy to see all of us and went on and on about how much he loved being there with us. He was a little ball of excitement and happiness, I will never forget that.
Supernatural Vegas Con 2018. It was my then 8 year old son’s first time seeing his favorite band. Dante [my son] walks up on stage for his Swain photo op with a very clear idea in his mind of what he wants. He tells Billy that he’s out of the band and now he’s the guitarist. Dante has his inflatable guitar, ready to rock. Billy was so stoked for the idea, he instantly asks Dante if he’d like to hold his guitar, to which Dante says, “but I have one.” It takes a little persuasion from me and the guys, but Dante accepts the trade. Billy takes the inflatable guitar and steps out of frame, but I insist that he stays in the photo, just on the side, looking sad as he is now replaced. It was the best photo op ever, and Billy was so amazing to my son. Dante still talks about it and always reminds me that Billy’s guitar was very heavy.
I have a lot of good memories about seeing and interacting with Billy, but two come to mind almost immediately. The first is when I met him for the first time at The Station Breaks show in Cologne in 2016. I just remember being so happy seeing him play live and getting to talk to him. And the second is the first time I heard my favourite song played live. At Rockwood 2016, “Wave” wasn’t a song they played live very often, so when I asked them about playing it and they added it to the setlist, I was absolutely overwhelmed. Hearing my favourite song and that guitar solo meant so much in that moment. It still means a lot today. Every time I’ve met and seen Billy since, he has become part of a lot of happy memories and I can’t wait to make new ones in 2019. Happy Birthday!
Happy Birthday, Billy Moran! All of us at Nerds and Beyond hope your day is amazing and filled with lots of happiness, music, and cake!