Friday, May 18, 2018

A Ripple Conversation With Steve Howe Of Outlaws Of The Sun

Let's start with your name and your site.  Let's have it.

Hi Todd. My name is Steve Howe (Nope. Not the YES/ASIA Guitarist). I run Outlaws Of The Sun.

Start at the beginning, how did you get started with this crazy idea of spreading the word about music?

Well I originally started blogging back in February 2011 when I started and created The Sludgelord.  An ex-friend and colleague needed a review done for his band. So I created the blog just to get the word out for his band and drum up some interest.

The Sludgelord escalated from there. As I was doing more and more reviews as time went by. Only meant to be a 6 week project. I stayed with Sludgelord for 4.5 years until I left in June 2015. I came up with the idea of starting a new blog but focusing on the music I originally set up The Sludgelord for.

We're all the product of our musical past.  What's your musical history?   First album you ever bought?   First musical epiphany moment?   First album that terrified the hell out of you?

My musical history is quite varied. When I was a teenager I was mostly into commercial dance and rave music. Then when I turned 18 years old I started getting into the grunge scene with bands such as Pearl Jam, Soundgarden and Alice In Chains. That opened a whole new door for me and heavy music in general.

I soon moved onto Stoner Metal in 1995/96 when I started to listening to Fu Manchu, Kyuss, SLEEP and Monster Magnet.

The first album I ever bought with my own money was a solo Phil Collins album. Can’t remember the title.

So I would say Soundgarden’s Superunknown album was my first musical epiphany moment.

Album that terrified the hell out of me. I think it was Death’s 1991 album – Human. As I never heard anything heavy as that. I was about 19 years old at the time. I only recently started listening to heavy music. So that is was an album that scared the shit out of me.

What's the last album to grab you by the throat and insist you listen?

SLEEP – The Sciences. I’m a huge SLEEP fan and we’ve been waiting for this album so long that I thought the day it would never arrive.

Thankfully it did. And it’s a brilliant album that grabbed me from the very first listen.

What do you see happening in the music scene today, good and bad?

Hard question to answer. I see the scene continue to go from strength to strength and hopefully some cool underground bands receive mainstream attention.

Bad. Perhaps some bands releasing the same sounding material as each other. Be cool to hear more experimentation within the scene.

With so many music sites, how would you describe what you do?  What's your unique take on the music and writing?

I’m perhaps like the other great sites currently out there. I provide honest and positive reviews for underground bands. Also interviews with bands and artists. Which is what I’ve always done since I started back in 2011.

I don’t have any unique take on music and writing. I just write what I feel personally about the music. If people like what I do then that’s great. If not then there is nothing I can do to change their mind.

Illegal free downloads on your site.  Yes or no, and why?

No. As it’s too much trouble to do this. Since starting the blog I now know that bands, artists and labels lose a lot of money to illegal free downloads. Something I don’t really want to be apart of.

What's been your all time greatest "Find"?  That band you "discovered" before anyone else and started the word spreading?

I don’t know if I can describe my greatest find. As the blogging scene is very active and we all discover the same bands mostly at the same time. Though I have got a few bands record deals over the years. Well that’s the bands tell me.

I was perhaps the first blog (Sludgelord) to publicize bands heavily such as Traitors Return To Earth and OHHMS.

If you could write a 1,000 word essay on one song, which one would it be, and why?  What makes that song so important?

Easy. DOPESMOKER. As it’s perhaps one of the finest Doom/Stoner Metal songs ever written. It’s important as a lot of the mainstream press recognize this as one of the defining moments of the Doom/Stoner Metal movement.

Plus it has a legendary recording process and release process around it. 3 different versions of the same album that was released. Not many albums have that sort of history.

Give us three bands that we need to keep our eyes out for.

Morag Tong – Fantastic Ambient/Doom/Sludge Metal from the UK.
Boss Keloid – Mind Inducing Progressive Sludge Metal from the UK who have just released their best album to date with Melted On The Inch
Satori Junk – Italian /Doom Metal who will be releasing their new album very soon.

Tell us about your personal music collection.  Vinyl?  CD?  What's your prized possession?

Vinyl all the way for me at the moment. Prized Possession. Well I do have a few test pressings of Karma To Burn, Clutch, Monster Magnet and Fu Manchu. So I would say those ones.

What makes it all worthwhile for you?

Well I get to listen to a lot of cool music ahead of schedule and I get to write about the album as well.

Seeing bands getting mainstream recognition even though the underground scene knew how great this band was way before them.

How would your life be different if you weren't writing about music?

It would be very different. I would probably be wasting my time watching movies, going to the gym, playing video games and meeting up with friends and family. - Wait that’s my life now.

Ever been threatened by a band or a ravenous fan?

Never been threatened physically or in-person. Though I’ve received a few negative emails from bands as I didn’t review their albums. About as nasty as it’s got for me.

In the end, what would you like to have accomplished, or be remembered for?

Just providing honest and open reviews and interviews with the bands I’ve featured over the last 7 years or so.

Many people may not realize the hours you devote to what you do for little or no pay.  Is there a day job? If so, how do you find the balance?

Yeah. There’s a day job. I work a normal 7 to 4 job. 5 days a week. Plus I go to the gym afterwards each work day.

I receive no pay at all. All of this is down to my free time. I spend roughly about 30 hours a week working on the blog. I don’t know myself how I find the balance. I manage to work on my normal reviews and interviews.

I used to have timetable to have reviews completed by. However even this took too much time to complete. So I stopped using that and I just go with the flow when updating reviews.

Plus I have a very cool and dedicated team on the blog that help me out with reviews. So thanks should also go to: Bruno, Todd, Hakan, Simon and Gavin.

What's next?  Any new projects?

Just to carry on the with the blog. No exciting new projects I’m afraid.

Finally, other than the music, what's your other burning passion?

Just the usual. Going to the gym, hanging out with friends. Going to the cinema and watching movies.

I’m a huge comic book nerd. Especially with the films and Netflix TV series.

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