It’s not always easy catching up with a busy musician who is in the studio deeply involved in creating new music. The following interview was done while Steve was on a brief break and a home for a few days…
Force: Let’s talk about your solo album. How is it progressing?
Steve: It’s progressing really great. I’ve been enjoying working for three weeks, then riding my Harley for a week, then going back for a couple of weeks, then taking a few days off. It’s been that kind of pace which is really, really different than what I was accustomed to.
Force: On “Street Talk”, you used a wide variety of musicians. Can you tell us anything about the make up of this album… who you are working with?
Steve: Pretty much alot of the “Street Talk” musicians are on this album, with a few surprises, which are people that I have found in clubs that I think are extremely talented and have yet to be on a record. I just said, “You’re great. You should be on a record. You should be heard.” That’s the kind of organic record it is… more of a street record than the last solo record I made. It’s just got the elements of some very talented people on it.
Force: Are you producing this one?
Steve: Yes, with Randy Goodrum
Force: Do you have a tentative release date?
Steve: Hmm… When it’s done (laughs)
Force: Aw, come on Steve, you can do better than that!
Steve: (laughs) When it’s finished, it’s yours. I want to enjoy working on it and I want to enjoy finishing it. For me, when the album is finished, it’s something that I want to be able to play all the time, take with me places an enjoy what I did to it. Basically, I want to listen to it and get that feeling inside that “yeah, that’s exactly the way I felt that song should be done.” When that all comes togther and those feelings are all on one particular record, then I’ll let it go. That could be June, July or later.
Force: You mentioned that you were writing with Randy Goodrum and Bill Cuomo. Are you collaborating with anyone else on this one?
Steve: There are a few band songs that were really fun, the entire “Street Talk” band. We wrote some great stuff that really came across as a unified effort. I’m unable to talk about any specific grooves or titles right now.
Force: Any material that you had written before you started this album?
Steve: Yeah. Thre were some things sitting on the shelf that were done just before “Street Talk”. They just needed some touch up paint.
Force: You told us before that you would like to tour with this album.
Steve: That’s definitely something I’ve always wanted to do, maybe play venues where people can reach out and touch and see, where every seat would be good. It would be a whole new, different thing.
Force: Do you think the make up of this band on the road will be a conglomeration of people you are working with in the studio?
Steve: Partly, yeah.
Force: For the “Street Talk” album, you were directly involved in the concept and production of the three videos. Is that something you enjoyed and are looking forward to with the new album?
Steve: Yes. I’ve already got video storyboards written out that we’ve collborated on. As it gets closer and closer, as we begin to record and overdub the song, it becomes pretty obvious what the visuals should be. I definitely want to get involved more than before, but there’s a few levels of involvement that I really can’t speak about right now.
Force: Journey’s “Greatest Hits” album has been enjoying an unprecedented success going platinum in just a few weeks with virtually no advertising or promotions, no video nad no single. How did it feel to see all that happen.
Steve: Well (pauses) I was truly, truly shocked. Pleasantly shocked, but nevertheless shocked. I know that there’s an awful lot of people out there who are still great Journey fans and love the material and performances that we have all put into those songs over the past few years. To see that album be a collectores item that everybody wanted to have was such a pleasure. I started going out and buying copies of the album myself because the lable only gives you a few copies. You know people think that we get boxes of records for nothing but we don’t. They charge us. Hey, you should print this! (laughs). They charge us so instead of doing it that way, I just go out and buy it to give to friends. It was a real
pleassure seeing it in the stores and a good, warm feeling of respect that I hadn’t felt since the day I stepped off stage came back when I heard the record was actually selling.
When we were discussing doing the album, they brought up the idea of doing the standard thing in the music business, which is go cut some fresh singles. That seems to be what everybody does – go back into the studio real quick and cut some fresh singles to help promote the record. I will raise my hand and personally be the stick-in-the-mud that felt the material stood alone. I would rather put two or three more classic, older, greatest hists ont he album than do new songs and have to leave out ‘Open Arms’ or ‘Lights’. The greatest hits is supposed to be the greatest hits, and it seemed kind of camp and cheap to do a typical thing because Journey never does anything typical. So I admit that I was the reason that didn’t happen, but I’m still proud that it didn’t happen because I think it led the record into a high integrity zone. I think it added a couple of extra three or four songs that wouldn’t have been in that package. There wouldn’t have been 15, there would have been about 10 or 11. I feel that was more important than the other choice.
Force: The obvious question this brings to mind… is there a prospect for another Journey album at sometime after all the solo projects are finished?
Steve: You know I did a solo album and it was, for the first time out solo project, very successful. I was very pleased and surprised. After that, the usual thing that happens is that people leave groups and go on their own. There was no contractual reason why I had to go back and do the “Raised On Radio” album. I felt compelled to do the right thing which, in my heart, was another Journey album, so that’s how the album came about. I thing there is just no way for anyone to answer questions that pertain to the future.
Force: The renditions Journey did of ‘Jailhous Rock’, ‘Stand By me’ and ‘Reach Out’ on the “Raised On Radio” tour were incredible. Would you ever consider recording a cover of someone else’s material?
Steve: I don’t know about recording a cover. Iv’e done a few of those. We did it a long time ago for the King Biscuit Flower Hour. There is so much original material that needs to be written, finished and heard. I think as a consumer myslef, I expect a bit more on record than just cover songs from people. I think that playing htem live is a great forum… to be able to get away with it and enjoy doing the cover tunes. I sure enjoy singing them.
Force: Did you do anything special to celebrate you birthday?
Steve: I went to the Super Bowl in Miami! I was watching the last game, and I called Eddie (DeBartolo, owner of the SF 49ers) and said, “Do me a favor. You’ve got to help me out. I’ve got to go! I mean the day of the Super Bowl is my birthday. This will never happen again – the Super Boal on my birthday and the Niners playing and it is in Miami where I have friends. This is all too perfect! He was SO great. He sent me four incredible fifty yard line seats. We went and ha a GREAT time. It was the most fun I’ve had in a long time and the best birthday of my life.
Force: Once again, we were flooded with gifts, cards and letters that the Force Members have sent in for your birthday. It mush feel good being remembered like that.
Steve: It does. I’m getting a lot of the things that you’ve been forwarding to me. I’ve been getting t-shirts, quilts, pictures… boy have I been getting some pictures (laughs) I got one the other day and I said, “Girl, does your mother know you sent me this picture?” (laughs) “Does your mother know you did this?” Woooo. It was nice! (laughs)
Force: You once said that when you were growing up you spent alot of time listening to the radio, peopl like Sam Cooke, Marvin Gaye & Jackie Wilson, and dreaming about being a singer and seeing the world. Then it happened. How does it feel knowing there are people out there who are now listening to YOU and dreaming those same dreams?
Steve: Wow. That was really deep. (laughs) That was probably one fo the best questions you’ve ever asked me in all the years that I’ve known you. How does that feel? That’s a good perspective to put into my mind because I have a tendency to not think in those terms. I guess it is true that people do hear my voice and hear things that they fell, whether it inspires some feelings of happiness or a desire to see th world or whatever.
Force: It must be kind of a humbling experience to sit back and think about all these people listening to you…
Steve: Yeah, it is humbling in a way but it’s funny. I don’t feel like I have changed that much in the past years. I really don’t, especially lately now that I have time to myself. It’s a double edged sword. My grandfather finally passed away last July, so may family side has gotten extremely low. He was pretty much the last of the people left who raised me. They are all gone now. It gives me time to myself to think about being out in the world and I reflect on how it was being with them and being raised. It gives me perspective on where I have come from and where I have gone in my life. I’m really pleased that I have accomplished so much but there is something in the human spirit that doesn’t let it enjoy too much of it’s own accomplishments. Maybe I’m speaking strictly for myself, I don’t know, but I have seen it in other people where there is never enough of anything. I’m not saying that I need to go out and buy 22 Ferraris, I drive a Chevy. (laughs) I just feel that you question is probably one of the better introspective questions because it does force you to look at the whole thin. It’s probably going to be something I’m going to think about all day (laughs).
It does make me feel awfully good to know that I can inspire people into feeling good about their lives. There is a song, a lyric, written by someone awhile back that was recorded by Streisand. I think it was called “Songbird”, and in the lyric, which was one of the best I’ve heard, was ‘who sings for me?’ I sing for a lot of people, but unfortunately once you get to a certain point you become so familiar with your own voice that there are times when familiarity breeds contempt. Do you know what I’m saying? It’s hard sometimes to get true enjoyments out of one’s own accomplishmentss because of the familiarity of it. There are times when I’m just too close and unable to see clearly. In other words ‘who sings for me?’ I mean who sings and makes ME feel the way I make them feel? There are still times that I will hear an old track and I’ll still get the same feeling I got when we did it. On this project I’m doing now, when I push away from something and don’t listen to it for three days, then go back and listen, I get exactly what I wanted from it. I was so entrenched in it trying to dig out the absolute essence and emotion of the song yet at the same time being free to not feel pressured. That’s a new thing… to not be so focused that you feel you’re squeezing it like a lemon. You’re just letting it happen. That’s what I go for and after I do that, to be able to pull back and look at it. That’s when I can get an emotion.
There are times when I hear my own voice and I will allow myself, at times, to enjoy it – like a third person. It’s hard to explain. It’s as if it was someon else because every song is so different. Every character is like a mini play in itself. The sons are so different and I really ahve to get into them and BE that character and then pull out and see what it looks like. I’m sure when people work on films it’s the same. While they are on one side of the camera doing this, they mean it one way. The only way to get it across on the other side so it comes out the same way is to stay true to your heart and the way you truly meant it. You can only hope that the camera sees that. Some people are actually talentd enough to know how to fake the camera out and fake what they mean, and those people are a different kind. The true actors the true geniuses are the ones who, when doing something creative, are absolutely living it and they are in the moment, with it and feeling it. The camera is, at that point, just capturing it. Sometimes the tape is like the camera; it’s capturing the feeling when I’m on that side of the mic. When I get on the other side of the speakers, that’s when I’m able to see what the tape has captured, just like a camera.
Force: The ladies in the Force have been bombarding us with this one… are you seeing anyone in particular?
Steve: Not anyone in particular right now. I have been really fortunate lately to be able to meet some really nice ladies in Southern California. It’s a hard thing for me because there are so many different kinds of women in the world. some are so introspective, in touch with their true spirituality and their heart and some are just raving beauties that have no soul (laughs). Then there are some that talk from their throat and not their heart. When they talk, nothing comes out that should be confused with their real feelings about anything (laughs). All of this leads me to believe more and more everyday that the old saying, “beauty is only skin deep” could never be more true. I still think, “I’m no day at the beach.” (laughs) I don’t believe beggars can be choosers in the looks department. I mean I believe God gave me this nose to sing, but it also proves that he definitely had a sense of humour. (laughs)
Songbird sings from the heart.
Each word can tear you apart.
I sing, you sing along.
You find your life in my song.
When you need the strength to
carry on, you’ve got me to turn to.
With the songs that I sing
And the magif they bring
You’ve learned to be strong now.
My song sets you free
But who sings for me…
(Songbird by D. Wolfert & S. Nelson)
- Published by admin in: Journey Force Newsletter