Steve Hunter's guitar playing has influenced a generation. To illustrate that, I was interviewing Lita Ford recently and she told me that one of the first things that made a huge impression on her musically was seeing Alice Cooper back in the '70s and the dueling between legendary players Steve Hunter and Dick Wagner. Talk to any major guitarist of a certain age and they will point to Hunter as an influence for both his fiery live playing as well as his tasty studio renderings.
In demand as a band member and session player alike, Hunter has played and toured with the likes of Alice Cooper, Lou Reed, Mitch Ryder David Lee Roth, Peter Gabriel and many more for more than 40 years. Steve put out his latest solo album, The Manhattan Blues Project earlier this year and it's simply excellent. It was an absolute pleasure to speak with him for a bit recently to find out what went into making it.
antiMusic: I've read that while you had some songs written before that, it was when you were on the tour with Alice Cooper that you really started to put this record together in your head. Is that correct and if so, what was it about this environment that put you in such a creative headspace that you had to tackle this project?
Steve: Well, as you've probably heard, there's a lot of boring time on the road. There's a lot of traveling time and a lot of waiting time and stuff like that. It's kind of a weird problem because my sight problems make it difficult for me to read or anything like that. So when I'm laying in the bunk on the bus and trying to go to sleep, normally I would have read something but instead what I did was I started planning out how I'd like to do this record. So in a way, it's sort of a gift because I can't read or do visual things that much. I'm not totally blind. It's just difficult to read.
So I have to keep my mind occupied and it's great for that because I can work out guitar solos in my head and things like that. So I started working on the album during that time on the road when there's nothing to do and it keeps my mind occupied. Now I didn't write any of the songs in my mind per se but I did come up with the concepts and the types of songs and what I was going to try to accomplish with the album while I was out on the road. And I got ideas and things like that.
antiMusic: At what point, did the sonic direction of the CD become clear to you?
Steve: "Sunset in Central Park" was actually the first song I wrote and I like to just let the songs go where they want to go. I try to not control it too much. So as I'm coming up with sounds or parts or as I'm writing, I kind of like to let the song go where it wants to go. Sometimes it went the wrong way so you have to go back and rethink it and sometimes completely rewrite it but there was something in "Sunset in Central Park" that worked for me and it was inspired by a picture on Facebook that a friend had taken of Central Park right around sunset and it was just a beautiful picture and the song kind of came from that photo.
And also, I'll say that the concept for the album came off of Central Park. Because I love New York City so much and I've never ever been able to live there for whatever reason. So I thought I'll just do a tribute to one of the most incredible cities in the world. And sonically, things came out as I was working on each track. It started coming together and having continuity. And I think for some bizarre reason, I think that's one of those creative things that's not always in your hands. It just comes out that way. And I like that. I like to let it go where it's going to go and sounds come out and you go, "Oh I like that. I'm going to stick that in there." I like that sort of thing and that's actually how the whole album developed.
antiMusic: Did the title of the disc happen to influence any songs in a direction that you may not have intended otherwise?
Steve: Well, maybe so. I think that may have happened. I think some of the songs probably were influenced by the title. Because when he did the Kickstarter thing, I was going to call the album Manhattan Blues. But when Karen put it up on Kickstarter, she called it the Manhattan Blues Project and I liked that. I said, "Well that's an even better title. Let's go with that." And I think "The Brooklyn Shuffle" was influenced by the title more than any of them. Although "222 W 23rd" was also influenced by the title. But the whole idea was that this would be a blues album but not in the traditional sense. That there would be blues playing over non-traditional progressions and chord changes. And that it would be an instrumental album of songs.
I didn't just want to create formats to jam over. That's what a lot of people do and I don't find anything wrong with that but it just doesn't work for me. For me, I find that a bit boring for me to listen to. I'd rather listen to a song and writing an instrumental song has a little different challenge to it which I like. I mean, you sort of have to create an image and feel without words. And that's a challenge I've always loved. One of my favorite composers is Debussy. His compositions later were called tone poems which I always loved. I thought that was a great way to put it. And that's what I like to do. I like to create images and feelings instrumentally without words. It's a bigger challenge but I think it goes deeper because it allows the audience to hear their own words and to get their own concept of the song and their own feelings without you influencing them with words.
antiMusic: Well that leads nicely to my next question because I felt that at various points on the CD, it really felt like the guitar was trying to become almost like a voice…
Steve: Yeah, that's true.
antiMusic: …and try to make itself relatable to humans, like "Flames at the Dakota", it seems like an earnest guitar trying to make a statement. Do you agree and is this your usual intention?
Steve: Yes, it is. I agree and it is my usual intention. I don't sing. I don't like my voice. I sang a bit on Swept Away and I hated it. So I decided that I was going to make the guitar my voice. I'd rather the guitar sing than me. (laughs) I can get a better tone out of the guitar than my voice. So from that moment on, I've always thought in terms of melody and singability --- the guitar is a very expressive instrument if you approach it that way. And I just thought it was moreso than my voice. So it has become my voice. And on this album I wanted to put down melodies that sounded like you could sing them. So in effect, you're right about that. That's exactly what I was trying to do.
antiMusic: You have the most remarkable tone on here and it's evident on here that the sound just comes from someone who has tremendous soul and that artistic streak that just flows from within, in so much as you could play a trombone for instance without training and get a result that would be authentic and real. Do you ever have to try out different emotions with a certain song when writing or do they come to you fairly well formed?
Steve: Well, it's probably a little of each. Parts of the song just come and then there's other parts that you have to try to finish out in the vibe of the song. Each song has its own little set of circumstances. I've noticed that over the years. And I think that's true of a lot of songwriters. Even singer-songwriters who have to write lyrics. Lyrics have just always baffled me…how people like Lou Reed or Peter Gabriel or Alice Cooper can write such amazing lyrics. It's always just fascinated me. I just don't have a knack for that. But I think each song has its own seed and it just grows into something from that seed that's different from the next song. Some songs I may come up with a sound that creates the song. And there may be some songs where I have four or five notes of a melody and the song develops after that.
Each one has their own genesis and their own growth which makes the writing thing for me, especially instrumental writing, a fascinating experience, especially when you write a song and you listen to it and you realize that no, this ain't it. This ain't happening. And you have to go back to square one. I did that on a couple. On "Twilight in Harlem", I had to go back and write certain sections because it went into a direction that I just didn't like. So I just stopped and said, no, this is not happening. I think the song is good but it's going in the wrong direction. And you just sort of scratch it and go back and start all over again. And I'm glad I did because I think it came out really well and it was fun to hear Joe (Perry) and Marty (Friedman) play on it. And it came out just the way I wanted it so it was worth the effort. Some songs take more effort than others, I think.
antiMusic: Let's talk about some of the songs and tell us something about them, either what made them come to life for you or how they came together in the studio. Starting with the record opener "Prelude to the Blues", which is just a gorgeous piece.
Steve: Thank you. Well that was one of the last things I wrote and I wanted something to bring the album into life. I wanted it to be something more than just another song. I wanted kind of a vibe. I love sound effects. That's one of my little hobbies. I love to put scenarios together with sound effects. So I decided to create a little New York street scene and we'll have the music come out of that. We'll have the whole thing just come out of the sounds of New York. And the song just kind of developed from that. If you listen very carefully and no one has mentioned this so I'm going to say it. It's a little secret. (laughs) When the acoustic guitars come in during "Prelude to the Blues", it's the same part that comes out of "Sunset in Central Park". We reprised that and that's where the two cellos play. I wanted to connect the beginning and the end together. So I just used the same section but I arranged and produced it slightly differently. If you listen to the album a few times, you'll say "Hey, I swear I've heard that before." Then you realize, "Oh, I heard that at the very beginning." So it just kind of ties it altogether for me. That's how that happened.
antiMusic: "222 W 23rd" is just a tasty, snarly piece of greatness. You were feeling a bit of attitude or NY confidence while writing this?
Steve: 222 W 23rd is the old address for the Chelsea Hotel and I used to stay there whenever I went to New York. I loved that place. Just loved it. I would fly in to do a session and the people who had hired me would ask me where I would like to stay and I'd always say the Hotel Chelsea. It had such a history. Mick Jagger stayed there for a whole year, I think. There was a penthouse suite or something. You know, it was a rock & roll hotel. I met a couple of Andy Warhol girls who used to live there. There were apartments there as well as the hotel. It was just this amazing place right on the edge of the Village. And I just loved this place. You just never knew what was going to happen when you went there. That song, to me, just fits the Chelsea Hotel. It's a very sexy kind of attitude hotel that I just loved. I would stay there whenever I went to New York, no matter what was going on. I loved all the stuff that happened there. It was great.
antiMusic: "Gramercy Park" is just gorgeous, like the soundtrack from a tropical paradise. Or after the middle break, something from an old black and white movie.
Steve: Right. Well, there's a place in New York called Gramercy Park. I stayed there back in the '70s and I was blown away that in the middle of the chaos of Manhattan, there is this little tiny island of solitude called Gramercy Park. If you walk two blocks in any direction, you'll run into the cacophony of New York but it's just a little island in the middle of Manhattan. So that's where that song came from.
antiMusic: If you're not smiling and bopping your head after the first few notes of "The Brooklyn Shuffle" there's obviously something wrong with you. First of all, it's just got an undeniable rhythm and is augmented by some friends of yours. How did Johnny Depp and Joe Perry come to be on the record?
Steve: Well I met Johnny Depp in London when I was playing with Alice. We played this little club called the 100 Club. It's very famous. Anybody who is anybody has played there. It's a little tiny club. It can probably only hold 100 people. But we had a great time. Alice was working on a movie called Dark Shadows at the time with Johnny Depp so they met and got to be friends. Alice invited him down to the show to sit in with us. So I met him and he's a really terrific guy. He had known some of the stuff I had done and was a fan of some of the stuff from the '70s so we hit it off. It was really great hanging with him. And he's a great guitar player.
So a couple of years later when I wrote "The Brooklyn Shuffle", I turned to Karen and said, "Wouldn't it be great if we had Johnny Depp play on this?" So I thought I'd put in a little solo section for him and if he couldn't do it, I would try to get somebody else or I would do it. But I contacted him and he said "Sure, I'd love to." I had to go through the grapevine to get to him (laughs) but he was well into doing it and he did a great solo on it.
Then I knew Joe Perry's tech…I've known Joe since 1972 or so but I haven't seen him in years. I wasn't sure how he was going to react to it but he was all for it. He said "It's going to be cool. I'd love to." So it just turned out that all I had to do was ask him which was really nice. I didn't have to do anything else. I was prepared for him to say no but he said yes. It was wonderful.
antiMusic: It's kind of ironic. (laughs)
Steve: (laughs) Yeah, well I think Joe got that. He got that "Hey I played on your record. You should play on my record." I think he saw the humor and irony in that and decided that it would be a cool thing to do.
antiMusic: You have two covers on here and they're both kind of unexpected choices. First up is "Solsbury Hill" and you have a right to make a claim on it considering your involvement with the original. What made you want to do an instrumental version of it?
Steve: Well, I'll tell you what. I was going to do my version of it anyway because I just love the song. The song is just one of the most brilliantly written songs ever, I think. And I love that guitar part that we ended up coming up that was on the original…
antiMusic: That makes the song.
Steve: Well, I just really love the way that flowed so that's one reason I wanted to do it. The other thing is that when I toured with Peter in, I think it was 1977, we rehearsed in Manhattan. So every time I hear the song now, I think of the rehearsals we had and how much fun it was. We stayed there for about a week to 10 days. It was just a wonderful thing, wake up in the morning and go rehearse with Peter Gabriel. It was awesome. So it reminds me of Manhattan. That's why it's on the record. It's a little more obscure than some of the other tracks, I suppose. But it has always reminded me of that time in Manhattan, rehearsing there with Peter.
antiMusic: I loved your version of "Eight Miles High" from Swept Away so I guess I shouldn't have been too surprised but it was still kind of unexpected to hear a version of "What's Going On?" Terrific version and it translated really well to guitar. What made you cover this?
Steve: Well, to me, that is probably is the most perfect single ever recorded. When I first heard that song, I was blown away by the writing, production, the arranging, the recording and Marvin's incredible performance. It's just like the perfect record to me, I've always loved it and another weird thing is that even though the lyrics basically have to do with the Vietnam War and some of the prejudices that were still going on at that time, every time I heard it, it reminded me of Harlem.
It just sounded like New York City. It didn't sound like Los Angeles or Chicago or Atlanta. It always sounded like down at the Apollo. So it always reminded of New York and I was always enamored with that beautiful melody. When I heard it, I knew it would translate to guitar beautifully because it's just a blues melody. But I struggled with that song getting that arrangement because the original is so perfect. I really had trouble coming up with something that I thought would work. And I had to put it out of my head that "Look, you're not going to beat the original. So just try to come up with something new that works." And it took me three to four months to get a handle on that song. But I'm glad I stuff with it.
antiMusic: "Flames at the Dakota". I take it you're a Beatles fan.
Steve: Oh, to the Nth degree. I've been a Beatles fan since….Strawberry Fields really sold me on how brilliant they were. I liked them before, don't get me wrong. I liked "Michelle" and "Tax Man" and on and on and on. I don't think there's been a band since that's put out albums of singles. On Revolver, every single song could have been a single. They're just brilliantly written pop songs. And they got more and more sophisticated in their melodies and lyrics and stuff. We used to call them aliens because nobody could ever write that many great songs. It was impossible. They had to have come from somewhere else (laughs). I can't say they've ever written a bad song. Some are better than others. But I don't think there's a bad one in the lot. There's a combination in the way that band worked that still blows me away.
So "Flames at the Dakota" was a tribute to John Lennon basically because it refers to the eternal flames that Yoko put on the outside of the Dakota when John was shot. I haven't been there to see them but a friend of mine just came back and told me about them and that song came out of the description of what it was like. It's right across the street from Central Park. There's Strawberry Fields. The whole thing that ties together so I had to write a tribute to John….and George. The basic melody is played on slide guitar. I always thought George was a terribly under-rated guitar player and songwriter. I mean "Something" is one of the best songs ever written. I had to pay tribute to them. I got to work with Julian Lennon a few years back and that was a very special thing for me. I had to do something to pay tribute to those guys and that's where "Flames at the Dakota" came from.
antiMusic: "A Night at the Waldorf" is back to what I was saying about the voice of the guitar coming through. It's just a terribly expressive song. How did that one come about?
Steve: Well, Karen and I actually did spend a night at the Waldorf. I wrote that song before I had the title. I had a couple of different titles and they never really set well with me. But we spent a night at the Waldorf when I subbed for Glen when the Alice Cooper group was inducted into the Hall of Fame. Glen was a dear friend of mine. So I couldn't believe it. We were staying in New York at the Waldorf Hotel. How cool is that? It almost had this Breakfast at Tiffany's feel to it, you know? It was almost like, "It's hard for me to take this seriously yet I am here." (laughs) So that song just reminded me of the night we spent there. And how cool and kind of weird and campy…it just had all these weird, funny, cool things going on. There were all these strange emotions. Not the Hall of Fame, thing. That was awesome. But it was more like, "See Karen, I told you I'd get you to the Waldorf." That kind of thing. (laughs) So "A Night at the Waldorf" has a little bit of a sense of humor to it and some irony to it and a little of bon vivant, all kinds of quirky things about it and that's why I thought the title fit it really well.
antiMusic: You've been friends with Jason Becker since I assume your stint with David Lee Roth. What made you want to put one of his compositions on here?
Steve: Well, that I decided early on. I had wanted to try to use something that Jason had written. So I called him up and you know, he can talk with his eyes. His nurses and family know how to read his eyes so he can spell out words. So I can call him and talk to him. I told him, "I'd really like to use something of yours. If you have any little pieces that I can turn into songs, let me know." So about a week or two later, he had gone through some of his tapes and his files and he had about 10-12 things that I liked --- I thought they were pretty good. So he sent them over to me and the song that finally ended up becoming "Daydream by the Hudson" was just this little tiny piece. I just loved it.
It's in this very odd time and there was just something about it. So I ended up putting it into ProTools and did a bit of editing, just to lengthen it. Then I just put guitars on it and ended up being very happy with it. But I wanted to have something from him. And that's probably going to happen on the next record as well. Because I really wanted to have something from Jason because he writes really cool, beautiful things. And he had tons of these things. So I think he's going to be on the next album too, at some point (laughs).
antiMusic: You've invited the big boys for "Twilight in Harlem" to come and challenge you though you can obviously hold your own against Joe and Marty. How did they come to be on the record?
Steve: Well, the point of that was I wanted the contrast between the way I play and the way Joe and Marty play. And I wanted the difference between the way Joe plays and the way Marty plays. I wanted to build up this tension and have this real angst happen when it did and then it stops and comes back down to where I'm playing the bluesy stuff. I really love the thought of that kind of contrast. I wasn't sure it was going to work to be honest and that was one of those songs like I was saying earlier, that I had trouble writing. I had to kind of stop and start a few times to get it the way I wanted it.
And then I added the solos after. I had already met Joe Satriani in San Francisco when he did a benefit for Jason and I was there. I got on stage and jammed on a blues tune and we had a blast. And we've become pretty good friends. He's a really great guy. And I kind of thought he might do it if he had the time. And I caught him in a little window when he wasn't on the road touring. So he sent me back and email saying "I think I've got the solo." And I got it and replied, "Yeah I think you've got the solo!" (laughs) It was brilliant.
I was going to have Steve Vai play the second solo because he and Joe were long-time friends but Steve was in Russia somewhere touring so I asked Jason who might play a solo after Joe's and he immediately said Marty Friedman. And I thought, "Of course, Marty's perfect." So I contacted Marty and he's into it. So I sent him the tape and he sent me the solo back and again I went, "Wow. This is perfect." It was exactly what I wanted him to do. I wanted it to have that angst and they sure put it in there. It was awesome. They did such a great job. I was very, very happy with what they did.
antiMusic: Are you comfortable with the way records are made these days in that you can do something like transmit files by email? Marty is in Japan so you can just send the files back and forth.
Steve: Well, there's pros and cons, you know. That's a definite pro. I've done sessions here in my studio with guys from Spain, France…without having to set foot outside my house. That part is really wonderful. Plus you don't need a two-inch machine. And you don't need a 36 or 48 input console that is taking up all this room. You don't need all that gear anymore. And there are problems with that gear. Maintenance and all that stuff. But having said that, although the technology is getting better year after year, I still think that two inch tape sounds better. And I still think records sound better. Albums. Vinyl.
antiMusic: You and me both.
Steve: Yeah, you put the needle on and you hear that pssssssssssss. I love that sound! That means there's music coming. I still love that analog sound. Digital hasn't quite found that formula yet. There are some plug-ins that simulate it but it's not quite right. It's got a ways to go. And that's OK. I'm not knocking progress. Progress needs to happen. I couldn't have done this record without that technology. There's no way I could have afforded to gone into a studio for a month, two months to record this album. Although it would have been a lot of fun, there's just no way I could have done it.
The wonderful thing was that I could email Joe and he could do it in his own studio and get it the way he wanted it. I didn't have to tell him anything. Just "Joe, go play." Marty, the same thing. "Whatever you want to play, just play it. And send me it the way you want it to sound. I won't touch it. I'll just mix it." It's wonderful. That part of the technology, I'll definitely defend that any day because that's just been a wonderful thing for me. I don't have to fly anywhere and it's cheaper for everybody. You can still get pretty good sounding quality stuff. But I guess I've still got a few old-school remnants. I still like vinyl and I still like tape. (laughs) Maybe one day they will sort that out and I won't be able to tell the difference.
antiMusic: You've mentioned possibly having a song by Jason on the next record so you're already thinking ahead. Also I've seen your Facebook postings about San Francisco recordings. What can you tell us about your next project?
Steve: Well, there's a thing I did with a great Hammond B3 player named Ike Stubblefield. He's an old school guy and it was great because we were all old school. It was in the studio, in a room and we all had to play together, just like the old days. It was just a great experience. I got to play with some of my friends. Reggie McBride is a good friend of mine…great bass player. Alvino Bennett is an incredible drummer. Orestes Vilato was just a genius percussionist. He played with Santana and all these guys. So we had a blast. We would jam things. We had songs but we had little sections where we could just open up and jam like we did in the '60s. That was a lot of fun. I'm not sure when it's going to be out our anything. It wasn't my project. It was Ike's project. So I don't when it will be out but I'll keep everybody posted on Facebook.
What my plans are right now is I'd like to do something with my wife Karen. She's a great singer. She was a background singer with Gary Numan back in the '80s but she also did a lot of jingles and a lot of singing in London. Well, that was how she earned her living. Jazz bands and all kinds of different things. And I did an album with her a few years ago called Empty Spaces. But we were thinking we'd do a four or five track EP this time for download only. She's written some things that are really nice and there's a couple of cover tunes that I'm just dying to do an arrangement of. We did one already. A Les Paul and Mary Ford song called "Just One More Chance".
I was a huge fan of Les Paul and Mary Ford back when I was a kid. Mary Ford had such a beautiful voice. And Les really knew how to use it well, constructing all those beautiful harmonies and stuff. So we did that one already and we'd like to do another one as well along with four or five of our songs. So that's up next and maybe after that, I'll start looking at my album. Although I'm kicking around some ideas now. I think that just never stops (laughs).
antiMusic: Yeah, the creative well that keeps flowing.
Steve: Oh, I just love it. I tell you, I live on it. I tell you, it's a wonderful thing because when I sit in a doctor's office, I can't read a doctor's magazine. I just sit and think about music or guitars. "You know I can probably play this on the fretboard here…" It's wonderful. I'm never bored. Never get bored. My brain just immediately goes to the fretboard or goes to music. And that's wonderful. I like that.
antiMusic: You mentioned about being with the Alice Cooper group when they were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. What was that whole experience like, seeing those guys back together again, considering your involvement along the years as well? I'm sure you know them pretty well.
Steve: I knew them very well. I knew them before "I'm Eighteen" came out. I knew them in Detroit. I was in Detroit in 1971 playing with Mitch Ryder and they were just on the verge of breaking. They were doing a lot of rehearsing and some recording. And one of those, of course, was "I'm Eighteen" which became one of their biggest hits and then they were off. And that literally did feel almost overnight. But we did all become good friends. Glen was a good fiend. Dennis was a good friend…I'm still good friends with Dennis. And actually Neal and Michael…I just talked to Michael on the phone a few weeks ago. We still stay in touch. It's amazing.
I was a little worried when the group split and I became involved. I was a little worried that they were going to be mad at me or have some animosity towards me. And they never did. They were just like they were before, like nothing had happened. They were just as sweet…like I said, they're still good friends of mine. So when I got to sit in for Glen, it was an honor for me because Glen was a good friend of mine. We lost touch over the years. I lost touch with him, strangely enough. I still talk to Dennis every once in awhile or Michael. But I lost touch with Glen. And of course, we all got busy. I was on the road a lot and they were doing things. And you lose touch. That happens in the music world. You work with someone for 10 years and then you move onto something else and you completely lose touch with someone you worked with for 10 years, you know? So that does happen. You get used to that.
But it was so great when we got back together. It was an honor for me to be in that band and sub for Glen and be on stage with the actual Alice Cooper group that I had seen before. I had seen their Billion Dollar Babies tour and on the School's Out tour way back in the '70s before I joined them. And I always wanted to play with them which was really weird (laughs). So finally after 40 years, I got to play with them. And it was a really wonderful experience. Very emotional. I was very proud of them.
antiMusic: Well, as everybody knows, it's so expensive to go on the road and tour nowadays unless you have a big record company behind you. Are there any plans to do even spot gigs for this record?
Steve: Well, you're right. It's very difficult. For me, it's not just the money but my eyesight causes me some problems on stage now. It's not stopping me from playing but it's taken some of the fun out because I have to concentrate a whole lot more on what I'm doing. Because I can lose my place on the fretboard. It's almost weird…had I been born blind I would have learned to play without seeing and it wouldn't be a problem but after you've spent your whole life playing with the visual, and then parts of the visual aren't there anymore, it's very disorienting.
There are videos on YouTube…I mean, I tell people because I want them to be aware…where I've slipped a fret and I have had to catch myself and move back. There's even a couple on the Lou Reed tour where I slipped a fret. I can hear it. And luckily I think people think it was jazz, you know? (laughs) At least I hope that's what they think. (laughs) "Oh, he's getting really creative, isn't he?" "Yeah, that's cool. Doing an upper fret. I never would have thought of that." (laughs) So it makes me a bit timid and I need to have a little more control over the environment.
And like you said, it's very, very expensive to tour. Back in the old days, the record companies would support bands when they went out on tour because they realized, hey this is going to help sell albums. But because this was a Kickstarter thing, there was no backer. No support. I can't go to a label and say I need a hundred grand to tour. I can't say that. So I doubt that's really going to happen. But I never shut the door on anything and you never know when something will come up and we can work something out. You just never know so I never close the door on anything.
I'm not saying I'm refusing to tour or anything like that. I'm just being very picky now about what I do on stage. Because it's my integrity and how I feel about my playing and myself and if I'm not comfortable on stage playing the way I think the audience deserves to hear me play, then I'd rather not do it. It's too important to me, that I give 100% when I'm on stage and I don't want to be up there wondering what fret I'm on. I'm trying to teach myself to play without looking and it's actually coming along pretty well but still there are certain things that can be disorienting.
antiMusic: What are your thoughts to the reaction to this record? Have you been pleased with the response?
Steve: Oh, very pleased! It's more than I had hoped. It makes me feel so good that there are a lot of people getting the record and understanding what I was trying to do. You can't be any more fulfilled than hearing somebody you don't know say "Hey man, I really get this record." And that's just the most satisfying feeling. At this point, it's not the numbers. It's the reaction that people have given me on Facebook. The reviewers and everything…it's all been really wonderful. So I'm very proud of that. It's very satisfying. You almost get scared like "Oh wow. What am I going to do next?" There's that dilemma. Am I going to be able to top that? But I've learned through the years that you don't think that way. You just try to do the best job that you can.
Morley and antiMusic thank Steve for taking the time to speak with us.
Preview the new album here.
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