In Memoriam: William Nicholas Tolley, 1974-2017

William “Bill” Tolley wasn’t just the drummer of Internal Bleeding, pioneers of American brutal death metal and precursors to slam death metal. He was also a firefighter with the New York City Fire Department (FDNY). He tragically, and heroically, passed away Thursday, April 20, 2017, in the line of duty while fighting a fire in New York. Internal Bleeding’s Chris Pervelis wrote this eulogy in his honor and memory.

Bill Tolley, Internal Bleeding drummer (courtesy

William “Bill” Tolley, 1974-2017

Written by Chris Pervelis

William Nicholas “Bill” Tolley was an incredible human being who I had the privilege of calling band mate and friend for 25 years. Trying to write something that does his spirit justice is a monumentally impossible task.

Bill loved to make people happy — even with people he disliked, or didn’t get along with, he’d attempt to find some kind of common ground, so that things would go smoothly. This desire to make people happy is what drove Bill, whether he knew it or not.

It’s why he made music, because he drew so much positive energy from the band’s fan base. His intense desire to please them and make them truly happy drove him to be the best he could be at his craft. And in my opinion, he was one of the best in the metal scene. He developed a groovy, cymbal slashing style that emphasized creative backbeats and a sense of timing that today’s mathematically driven drummers could never achieve. His drumming is the basis of the slam blueprint that Internal Bleeding laid down in the early 1990s.

His intense desire to make people happy drove him to become a fireman as well. He would just tell you that he always liked fighting fires, but those who knew him understood that he couldn’t bear the thought of someone losing a child or cherished possessions to some sort of horrific fire event. On 9/11, Bill was a volunteer firefighter 50 miles away from New York City, and while everyone was running out of that hellhole, Bill was running in to help others — in an effort to save them and allow them to continue their lives and find happiness. He absorbed the pain and misery of that day because he didn’t want us to have to deal with it. That speaks volumes about his character.

Most importantly, Bill would go to incredible lengths to make his wife and beautiful daughter Bella smile. I have never seen a man (much less a big, bad metal head) love a family more than he loved his. He went to great lengths to provide them with a home filled with laughter, smiles love and happiness. Even when the demands of such a dangerous job would cause family strain or difficulty, Bill would struggle mightily to keep them happy. He spoke with me about it all the time and how upset he could get when he saw sadness in his family’s eyes.

Bill wouldn’t want us to mourn or be sad about his passing. If he could, he would try to figure out a way to make us smile, laugh and find happiness in our lives.

His life, deeds and actions are a testament to that. And it shall never be forgotten.

  • John Dwyer

    Well written, love you guys.

  • Anthony Radke

    Bill was one of the coolest guys I will ever meet or get to be around. He made me want to pick up drum sticks and learn how to play his amazing slam beats. I was a hardcore kid and had no idea what deathmetal was until i heard Internal bleeding. I was lucky enough to spend time with them and too me they were rock stars but none of them acted like it. EVER. especially Bill . His sarcastic sense of humor, he was always smiling and happy to be playing.. even it was just 5 or6 of us. He would literally and has given the shirt off his back for some one he did not know. Alot of people looked up too him as a man not just a drummer. I havent played my drums in a long time but im going to dust them off and instead of letting him influence me im going to spend the rest of my time on my drums trying to learn his style the best i can. so that maybe i can teach it too a younger metalhead. when i moved and IB toured with out Bill, id literally be in the parking lot having a fit like a little girl LOL going to be the biggest shoes ever too fill.

    Ive always had some what i think cool nick names for him like i do all my influences lol
    “The chrome can slammer” because obvious reasons
    Bill “No im not David Silveria” Tolley because of a conversation we had about him once
    and ofcourse Fire Marshal Bill! id Yell that from the crowd sometimes and other moshers would be like FUUUUUUUUUCKKK YEAAAA!!!!!!!!

    these guys were a huge part of my life and helped keep me into something and out of trouble during my rebel stage… i love them for that.

    • Chris Pervelis

      Love you to Anthony. You know that bro.

      • Anthony Radke


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  • Lisa Wigdzinski

    Beautifully written. Lots of strength goes out to all of you

  • Rafael Der Kommissar Deras

    very nice Chris,i’ve been an INTERNAL BLEEDING fan since the early 90’s saW you guys the first time in boston in 96 at The Rat in Kenmore square with SIX FEET UNDER on their first tour and IMMOLATION,i still remember meeting you guys at the pizza joint next door like it was yesterday and you guys were cool as fuck and down to earth,for whatever reasons in over twenty years i’ve only seen you guys twice,the last TIME was a couple of years ago at the PA’s lounge in Boston,i remember talking to you and bill for a little bit and you guys were cool as you always been,stay strong and keep his spirit high! rip BILL.

    • Chris Pervelis

      Thanks man. Much appreciated.

  • Dave Friedrich

    Beautiful words Chris .again sorry for your loss and if you guys need anything just reach out

    • Chris Pervelis

      Much appreciated.