He currently tours with the Frank Zappa tribute bands Bogus Pomp, Ossi Duri, Project/Object, Pojama People, Ugly Radio Rebellion and ZAPPATiKA. He also performed several times with the Brazilian Zappa cover band, The Central Scrutinizer Band, The Muffin Men, and with the Italian bands Ossi Duri and Elio e le Storie Tese. Additionally, he has appeared multiple times at the annual Zappanale Festival in Bad Doberan, Germany. He is most recognized for his involvement in Zappa records such as playing Joe in Joe"s Garage, providing vocals on Tinsel Town Rebellion, You Are What You Is, and The Manitoba from Utopia, and as the title character and narrator in Zappa"s off-Broadway-styled conceptual musical Thing-Fish.
Willis also regularly does studio voice work and writes compositions for films.
He also creates solo music and leads The Ike Willis Band. He has released two solo studio albums under his own name and is working on another album.
The triple LP Joe"s Garage featured lead singer Ike Willis as the voice of the character "Joe" in a rock opera about the danger of political systems, and the suppression of freedom of speech and music - inspired in part by the Iranian revolution that had made music illegal within its jurisdiction at the time - and about the "strange relationship Americans have with sex and sexual frankness". The album contains rock songs like "Catholic Girls" (a riposte to the controversies of "Jewish Princess"), "Lucille Has Messed My Mind Up", and the title track, as well as extended live-recorded guitar improvisations combined with a studio backup band dominated by drummer Vinnie Colaiuta (with whom Zappa had a particularly good musical rapport).
On some of the tracks Zappa superimposes material recorded in different time signatures, a process he termed xenochrony.
The album contains one of Zappa"s signature guitar pieces, "Watermelon in Easter Hay". • “Black Napkins,” a track from the 1976 album “Zoot Allures,” was one of the first Zappa songs that made a deep impression on him. • He met Zappa during a 1977 concert at his school, Washington University, in Saint Louis, his hometown.
• He plays with a half-dozen Zappa-esque bands and bands that play Zappa"s music, including Oregon-based Pojama People and Italy-based Ossi Duri.
• He deeply regrets that Zappa died before he was able to include him in a band that would also have toured in 1996, the 25th anniversary of the release of Zappa"s surrealistic musical pseudo-documentary “200 Motels". The band was also to have included Flo & Eddie and George Duke.
• One of his favorite Zappa mantras is “The stupider it is, the better we like it!”.