NY Post - April 21, 2017by Chris Perez
The veteran FDNY firefighter who fell to his death Thursday was a renowned heavy metal drummer who was scheduled to go on tour next month — and was once offered a spot in the Grammy-nominated band Hatebreed.
William “Billy” Tolley, 42, had been a member of the Long Island-based group Internal Bleeding since 1991, playing in countless shows and festivals across the world, according to their social media pages.
The hi-hat assassin can be seen rocking out in videos on YouTube and Facebook — appearing alongside band mates Chris Pervelis, Chris McCarthy, Shaun Kennedy and Joe Marchese.
The group was preparing to go on a nationwide tour starting May 27, and had planned on releasing a single on Friday titled, “Final Justice.”
Their first stop was set for Spartanburg, South Carolina — followed by shows in Atlanta, Dallas, Phoenix, Las Vegas, Denver, Chicago and the Big Apple.
“Our drummer, the heartbeat of the band, William Tolley died today,” the band wrote on Facebook Thursday night.
“There are ZERO WORDS to describe the loss,” they said. “He was a good, decent and honorable man who loved his friends, his family and the people he served. There will never be another like him. There are no words to describe the utter sadness and despair we feel right now. We love you Bill.”
Before joining the FDNY, Tolley reportedly was offered a job playing drums for Hatebreed while they were trying to get signed — but he passed on the gig because he had just been given a “sick promotion” at FedEx that he “just could not turn down.”
It was a decision he said he always regretted.
“I was sick over it,” Tolley told the heavy metal news site All About the Rock in 2013.
“I should have just gone with my heart and gut feeling and went out touring with Hatebreed,” he said. “If I could go back in time I would have done it. It was an honor to be asked to do that.”
Formed in 1991, Internal Bleeding describes themselves online as “pioneers” of the death metal subgenre “slam.”
“Their sound has paved the way for a whole generation of death metal and death-core bands who put heavy, groove laden riffs in the forefront of their music,” their Facebook description reads. “They are the originators. Often copied. Never imitated.”
Throughout the years, Tolley made sure to never let his duties as a firefighter get in the way of his rocking, and vice versa.
“When I am not drumming or playing shows with IB, I work at the Fire Department,” he told All About the Rock.
“When I am not working I also watch my 4-year-old at home. I am a family guy,” Tolley explained. “My job and my family are awesome. My guys work with me, when I need time off for a show they step up and fill in for me at work. No other job in the world can compare to what I do. Everyone is very supportive and understanding.”
Tolley, a 14-year veteran of the FDNY, was responding to a routine call of an apartment fire around 2:30 p.m. Thursday when he somehow lost his balance and fell off a fire truck’s ladder bucket. He was later pronounced dead at Wyckoff Hospital.
Friends and family have praised Tolley on Facebook for his drumming abilities, with some even dubbing him the next Neil Peart — famous drummer and singer for the rock band Rush.
“Bill KILLIN’ it,” Danny Reilly commented on a video showing a jam sesh.
“Billy rock on,” added Gary Lewis.