Sunday, July 12, 2009

A Sunday Conversation with The Steps

Attacking us with a double-barreled assault of garage rock and vintage psychedelia, all mixed in with a blinding amount of modern savvy and serious songwriting chops, The Steps were a major surprise when their self-released disc poured on into the Ripple Office. Grabbing a couple of cold frosty ones, we couldn't wait to get lead singer, Will, to plop on down onto our red leather interview catch and share with us the culmination of his Steps wisdom.

When I was a kid, growing up in a house with Cat Stevens, Neil Diamond, and Simon and Garfunkle, the first time I ever heard Kiss's "Detroit Rock City," it was a moment of musical epiphany. It was just so vicious, aggressive and mean. It changed the way I listened to music. I've had a few minor epiphany's since then, when you come across a band that just brings something new and revolutionary to your ears. What have been your musical epiphany moments?

When I was younger I really loved punk music. For my birthday, my dad took me to this festival where all my favorites we're playing. That was the first time I really thought about it. I guess another was when I saw The Strokes on MTV. They were featured amongst all these horrible bands that were huge at the time. It gave a lot of hope.

Talk to us about the song-writing process for you. What comes first, the idea? A riff? The lyrics? How does it all fall into place?

Usually its a part on the guitar or some instrument that comes first. Then I'll try to find cool sounding melodies to place over the music. I typically write lyrics towards the end once everything else is done.

Where do you look for continuing inspiration? New ideas, new motivation?

Just in hearing new bands and what they offer. Personal experiences and when were able to travel; taking all those surroundings in really helps with songwriting. It's never good to stay in one place for too long a time.

Genre's are so misleading and such a way to pigeonhole bands. Without resorting to labels, how would you describe your music?

I always say rock and roll but that's still very broad.

What is you musical intention? What are you trying to express or get your audience to feel?

I guess to put my ideas out there. Most of our performances are really just meant for the audience to get up out of their seats and nod their heads for forty-five minutes. It is nice playing in venues where they can hear the words in the songs and that makes it more meaningful.

In songwriting, how do you bring the song together? What do you look for in terms of complexity? Simplicity? Time changes?

The band is crucial in structuring the songs. Everybody has input. I think we like challenges when working on songs. If there's a part we feel could be better we'll really work to find it.

The business of music is a brutal place. Changes in technology have made it easier than ever for bands to get their music out, but harder than ever to make a living? What are your plans to move the band forward? How do you stay motivated in this brutal business?

Playing is important and the more people that see you and hear your name, the more they are to recognize and bring their buddies the next time were in the area. For most rock bands touring is essential. We've just gotten started so I figure we're gonna have to pay some dues before we see real success.

Come on, share with us a couple of your great, Spinal Tap, rock and roll moments?

It'd be far too dirty for internet bloggers

Where do you see you and your music going in ten years?

Maybe then we'll have a song with a time change.

What makes a great song?

A song without a time change

Tell us about the first song you ever wrote?

I think i was trying to come up with a tom petty sounding part and ended up just sorta stealing the whole verse. It was really bad

What piece of your music are particularly proud of?

Some of the new material we've got right now. It's the first time I've listened to one of our songs and not immediately torn it apart.

Who today, writes great songs? Why?

There's loads. Conor Oberst, Ryan Adams, Jim James. Those guys really have a sense of it. Really great lyricism and how they're able to arrange it with their bands

Vinyl, CD, or digital? What's your format of choice?

I really like vinyl at home. I have an ipod that I listen to on the road. There are a lot of artists now that release on vinyl and include a free download. Best of both worlds.

We, at The Ripple Effect, are constantly looking for new music. When we come to your town, what's the best record store to check out?

Waterloo Records get a lot of hype. There's End of an Ear on South First Street too.

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