Steve Stevens – always a pleasure to meet and talk to. As much as I love Billy Idol, whenever I went to Billy’s shows, I ended up being a lot more fascinated by the guitarist than the headliner himself.
They are the perfect combo, much like Mick and Keith (hey, Keith over Mick anytime, Keith is just insanely cool!), Steven Tyler and Joe Perry (Perry – thankyouverymuch!) well you get the drift – Steve was simply the cooler of the two. :)
After meeting Steve at a little jazz club at Broadway with Sebastian Bach a few years ago, I was even more floored – not only by his genuine love for his craft, but also for his warm and positive energy. You feel at ease around that guy. Same thing with his wife Josie, big smile, big heart.
I instantly liked them and it’s simply a pleasure to see them both again. Was glad that they could squeeze this in, eventhough Steve was in high demand, especially that weekend. Thanks guys!
Check out the 2012-Iridium-interview here.
But for the most recent interview from Musik Messe in Frankfurt, check this out. :)
It seems that my schedule has been a little too hectic to stop and post a blog after every concert and/or trip. But, I’m home sick today, feeling pretty crappy, so I have a second to catch my breath and recap at least a few of this month’s happenings.
November was the month where I had something planned for every weekend – but two of those plans fell through. Was supposed to go to Amsterdam to see Billy Idol. I had my flight booked and everything but I didn’t go due to jetlag after visiting Madam X in Detroit and also battling a slight flu. Something had to go.
The next weekend however, I was on a plane to Milan, Italy to see Billy Idol. I met up with my friend Ania and had a great time in Milan. Also met Daniela (nice name! ;) ) who follows this blog, it’s pretty amazing how you meet people from all over the planet that you have something in common with thanks to the internet. :)
The venue was very cool, apparently it’s mainly used for techno-dance events, stuff like that, but it was a perfect concert arena with a light show you don’t usually see elsewhere. Billy was amazing as always, and Steve Stevens is simply the coolest guitarist there is. What a perfect combo.
The weekend after that was supposed to be Metal AllStars-weekend in Leipzig and Berlin, Germany. Once again, flights, hotels and the whole works, booked and planned… but the whole thing had been postponed until 2015… At first I wasn’t sure if I should cancel my trip once again, but then I thought – I never do the “tourist thing”, why not take the opportunity to go and just enjoy not having anything planned at all, just go with the flow.
It was the right decision. I ended up going to Neues Museum and the Nefertiti-exhibition (I love anything Egyptian and if there is a museum with an Egyptian exhibition in the city I go to, I try to go). I also managed to find the Halford rock cafe. Of course, it was closed when I got there but at least I kind of visited it. :)
Spent my Sunday walking around at the Christmas fair at Alexanderplatz, which was pretty amazing with all its unique foods and drinks, the Glühweins, the smoked salmons and all kinds of “wurst”.
I finished my Sunday in the TV tower where I had reserved my VIP table with a guaranteed window-view. You can see all of Berlin from up there and it rotates, so you REALLY get to see every corner of the city from up there. The food was fantastic too. I ordered a glass of slightly more expensive red wine than usual, but I figured that since I was deprived of a good concert, I might as well comfort myself with a glass of nice wine. :)
A few days ago I was invited by my friend Maj-Louise to the Pretty Maids annual Christmas concert at Vega in Copenhagen, Denmark. That was a great gig, that band always delivers.
Another nice surprise was that they invited a guest on stage, mr Soren Andersen. That guy has played with everybody. Last time I saw him was at the Marshall 50 years of loud show in London, sharing the stage with Yngwie, Paul Gilbert, Zakk Wylde, Joe Satriani – the whole creme de la creme of guitarists. He’s played with Mike Tramp, Glenn Hughes, Joe Bonamassa – you name it. So that was a cool surprise.
(I forgot my own camera so this is the only video clip from that show that I’ve been able to find on Youtube)
December will be a quiet month though. Then in January, I’m off to Detroit again and Madam X.
Like I mentioned in my last blog, I’m not even in the band, but I’m really happy and excited to see how well their comeback has been received. 6000 views in about a week and not as much as one “dislike”, that’s pretty rare and says a lot!
The song is great, the video rocks and we’ll see what comes next. It’s different with this compared to most bands, this is a band that gets a second chance after so many years, and it just seems that the timing is perfect because the songs are better, the musicianship is better, everything is simply better than it was before, so this will be great to follow.
Every year when I look back on what I’ve been doing, it seems like it’s been longer than just a year. 2012 was no exception.
Even just the Firewind-tours were enough to fill a lot of space and bring back great memories – you’ll find those in this separate blog: http://firewindtour.posterous.com/firewind-tours-of-2012-recap
But there have been plenty of other highlights that I thought I’d take a look back on, now when there are only a few more days left of this year…:-)
TONY IOMMI DIAGNOSED WITH CANCER – AND OZZY & FRIENDS….
The year started with bad news that shook the whole heavy metal community – one of the godfathers of metal, Tony Iommi, had been diagnosed with cancer. The Black Sabbath reunion with Ozzy that had been announced and that had been so highly anticipated, was off. However, not to disappoint the fans too much, Ozzy decided to do the scheduled dates as “Ozzy & Friends“, bringing Slash, Zakk Wylde and Geezer Butler on tour. And of course his own band, which made a lot of people happy – myself included, as “the new kid on the block”, Gus G, was with Oz on those dates. Otherwise, I probably wouldn’t have bothered.
FIREWIND IN ATHENS
Speaking of Gus, my first concert trip of 2012 took me to Athens, Greece where they kicked off their year at the Fuzz club, and also recorded a video for the single “Wall of Sound” that was released later in the spring.I remember Athens as easy to navigate with the metro going all through town. I was guided through some must-see’s, such as the Akropolis, by Jon, a good friend of Jon Oliva’s Pain (they were the ones who recommended him when I was looking for a contact in Athens – just in case). He’s also a singer in the band Need and we had lots to talk about, so it was a great guide! :) Always nice to get to know new people.
As for the Firewind-show (which was on January 14th, by the way), it was one of the best or worst, depending on how you look at it – their Greek crowd is absolutely freaking NUTS! I must have lost ten pounds at least getting crushed against the barricades before and during the show. My god. But – as always – worth it, ten times over! :)
STEVE STEVENS & SEBASTIAN BACH AT THE IRIDIUM JAZZ-CLUB IN NEW YORK CITY
At the end of January, on the 27th, I left for New York City. This time it wasn’t a major arena-gig, quite the opposite. Steve Stevens, one of the coolest guitarists alive (known from Billy Idol, Michael Jackson, Vince Neil etc…) and Sebastian Bach were performing together at this small jazz-club somewhere on Broadway.
The whole idea seemed so bizarre that I had to see it. I had also scheduled an interview with Steve through his wife Josie. Josie rocks! People look at her and judge her by the way she looks, it’s way too easy to think she’s just some bimbo, but I loved that girl. She was very professional but at the same time also very friendly and open. She had never even met us, but greeted us with a hug and made sure that we felt welcome. I wish all interviews could be planned through people like Josie.
I got a great interview with Steve after the two sets at the Iridium (with a seated audience). My friend (and photographer) Beatrice and I were lucky to get absolute front row seats – right at the stage. I remember when Sebastian walked out on stage, he dropped his jaw and started doing sign language and grimacing kind of to ask “Did you fly over just for this?”
He shouldn’t be surprised, after 23 years he should be used to seeing me anywhere in the world, so why not a jazz club in New York?
Anyway, the backstage story, the review, the interview, photos and all from that can be found here:
WHITNEY HOUSTON PASSED
After the Stevens/Bach show at the Iridium, I took it easy during February. The music world was hit by more bad news, not specifically metal, but one of the great voices in modern music, had passed – Whitney Houston. It shocked a lot of people, including a lot of rockers. Whether or not you were into her music, I think most of us would agree that Whitney’s voice was one of a kind and it was a tragic fate. This was on February 11, 2012. R.I.P Whitney.
STEEL PANTHER INTERVIEW IN COPENHAGEN
Next on the schedule of 2012 was Steel Panther. I heard that they were coming to Copenhagen, and I actually hesitated whether or not I would request an interview with them. They are funny, but that’s exactly the thing – how do you interview a band like that?! It would certainly be…different.
It was actually my friend Kevin, from JOP, who talked me into it. “What’s the worst that could happen? If you don’t like the result of the interview, don’t post it!” True enough. So, I contacted Universal in Copenhagen and set up an interview with these crazy guys.
It was a pleasant surprise. They were absolutely “normal” before the cameras went on, and especially Michael Starr who we met down in the lobby 30 minutes before the interview. But the minute the cameras were rolling, they became the out of control Steel Panther that we all know and love.
I had it all figured out, or so I thought. However, they wouldn’t let me finish a sentence, so they missed some of the jokes that I was hoping they would pick up on. But, I realized that the best way to deal with these dudes, was to just shut up and let them do the talking! :))
The interview has passed 24 300 views, that’s crazy. :))
PART TWO OF MY YEAR IN ROCK COMING UP………..!
One of my colleagues at work was asking people, quite randomly, what their plans were for the weekend. He got replies along the lines of “I’m just going to take it easy...”, “I’m going out with a few friends...” – then he turned to me and went: “So, Daniela, where in the world are you going THIS weekend?” with a big grin.
Guess it’s been like that back and forth since I ran out of vacation days. I’ve had to do everything on weekends!
Athens, Greece the first weekend in January (for Firewind), New York City two weekends later (for Steve Stevens and Sebastian Bach on Iridium, Broadway), Tampa, Florida for just one day to see Van Halen… And probably some European dates inbetween that I already forgot about.
I didn’t do this a few years ago. I guess that the general opinion is that you “can’t” do crazy shit like going overseas for a weekend, unless you’re a millionaire with nothing better to spend your money on.
But then I realized that you CAN.
Maybe it’s crazy, but really, the only “crazy” part is the short time-frame. Nothing else. And if you think about it, it’s not that crazy at all, because usually HOTELS cost a lot more than the actual trip, so going for a weekend is SAVING money, not the opposite. Two hotel-nights equal a flight ticket, most of the time. For that, you get to visit more countries instead of just one. :)
And going several times a year means that you don’t have to squeeze in everything you want to do in a few days and then think that you’ll never come back. You do what you need to do – well knowing that you WILL be back, and probably pretty soon too. :-)
There are different ways of making it possible – apart from living on crispbread and noodles.
I just applied for an American Express card with flyer miles. If you get approved, you get 20,000 miles as a welcome-bonus, which is enough for a roundtrip somewhere within Europe. With my 10,000 current miles on the bonus card, that makes 30,000 miles which is enough for an upgrade to business class. Never flown business class but always wanted to – and so for my next overseas-trip I’ll use the miles for that! :-)
The best thing about a credit card that offers miles for everything you buy, is that it’s effortless! I need food anyway, I will buy concert tickets abroad and trains, flights, buses, whatever, every 100 SEK gives 20 flyer miles (100 SEK equals 1 loaf of bread, butter, milk, a piece of cheese and a pack of chewing gum – now you do the math how fast you get to collect miles to get free flights!).
But for now… A “regular” vacation in Split, Croatia. Three weeks of getting pissed off at crappy internet-connections, no car, no cable TV (just regular, standard TV which is like 4 channels I think….) expensive phone, so I can’t call friends anywhere else in the world like I’m used to. And most of all – no rock’n’roll. GAAH! It’s going to drive me NUTS!
The highlight last year was hanging with this dude – the only person I got to talk music with during my stay in Split last year. I hope there’ll be an opportunity to hang out this year as well. Was nice of him to travel all the way down to Split eventhough he lives in the north part of the country, I think maybe about 4 hours travel or something like that.
[A Justin TImberlake-song never sounded this cool, lol!]
I’m just not cut out for “regular vacations”. If it doesn’t include music in one way or another, I’ll most likely not going to enjoy it. Maybe a week, tops.
Was checking tour dates for Ozzy, Steel Panther, Billy Idol, Firewind, Lita Ford, and wrote them all down in my calendar. And all the festivals of course. That’s the only way to keep track of the bands I want to see. Otherwise I have no clue what day it is, yet alone who plays where!
But I’m getting pretty good at this, I get away with the travelling fairly cheap, simply because I’ve learned how. I wrote a few tips last year, but I might write a little book about it someday. :-)
Here are the travel-tips blogs from 2011:
An internet friend e-mailed me the other day asking if I was going to see Ozzy in Dortmund, Germany in June, cause she wants to go and figured we could split hotel costs and go to the show. It’s never difficult to persuade me to something like that. :-)
I wanted to go to that gig anyway because it’s at Westfalenhalle, a venue that I remember from my very early days, beeing a teenage rocker in 19something….. [mumble….].
Ozzy, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Def Leppard…. Those are only a few of the bands that were playing there back then, and it was aired LIVE on TV at the time. It was a big deal when something was aired live back in those days, so I remember it as a big event.
[Def Leppard back in the day when they were really cool:]
As it’s only two days from the Ozzy-gig in my home-town Malmo, I need to know when my friend Bianca who’s visiting me for THAT, is going back home, so I’ll have to wait before I book any trains or flights. I’ll probably take that whole week off and go to Germany and then to Sweden Rock Festival two days after THAT.
Yeah, the madness is about to begin. Soon. Very soon. :-D
I love my life. :)
Picture a cold and dusty backstage-area, no furniture – looks like an abandoned restaurant kitchen. A few steps behind us though, is the real dressing room, that in this particular moment has Sebastian Bach entertaining his guests from the band Nightranger, and some other people.
Steve Stevens has just finished his second set at the jazz club Iridium on Broadway, New York, and is ready to talk to me. I pull out an old, scruffy office-chair that looks a bit dusty, and Steve finds another one for himself. At least there’s nobody bugging us. I decide to make this short so he can go relax and hang with his band.
The whole idea of you and Sebastian was really interesting. Can you paint a picture of when and where this came about?
– Sure, yeah. I play with an All Star band in Los Angeles, called Camp Freddy.
Camp Freddy is Matt Sorum on drums, Dave Navarro is usually on guitar, but Dave’s been busy last year with Jane’s Addiction, and their new record, so I ended up playing the whole show, Billy Morrison on second guitar, who’s also in Billy Idol’s band now, and Chris Chaney, the bassplayer who’s also from Jane’s Addiction.
So the whole Camp Freddy thing is that we have guest singers. On any given night, we’ll have Corey Taylor from Slipknot, Billy Idol, and the last year Sebastian has been guesting us. So every time we were doing Camp Freddy I was going “We should do something together“, because we have SO many mutual friends and a lot of our fans are the same – we came through the same era, you know.
I came over to the Iridium last year to do the Les Paul night, which is on a Monday night, it’s a totally different thing. It’s the Les Paul Trio – we do traditional stuff. So they asked me to come back and do three nights of my own, and I said that’s great but I don’t sing and I’d like to bring a singer. They said: “Got anybody in mind?” And I said: “Yeeaaah, well it just so HAPPENS that I know this Sebastian Bach guy – he’ll sing ANYTHING!”
Which is true, the guy can sing absolutely anything.
So I called him up, asked if he wanted to go to New York to this Iridium club and now we’re talking about continuing on doing something else and taking it a bit further…
Oh, you’re gonna do more together? Live or recording?
– Yeah, a little bit of both actually. I met him when his most recent record was just coming out. So I said; “Look, in the future, I’ve got this little studio, if you wanna write, or if you’re out in LA and you just wanna hang, let’s get together”.
So you guys met just recently?
– Yeah, within the last year.
Did you ever listen to Skid Row back in the day?
– Absolutely! The funny thing is… and this is a pretty funny story: When I left Billy Idol back in 1988, I did my own record for Warner Brothers, Atomic Playboys, and we were looking for a singer. He was in a band called Madam X, and I got this photo, he looked amazing, and then I heard the tracks, he’s really, really good. Really good singer. I had known the guitarplayer in that band, Maxine, and I said: “Heey, I’m doing a record, what’s your singer doing?”
She never gave him the message.
So potentially, we could have worked back in 1988. But it all worked out for the best cause right after that, I think it was literally 6 months later, he left and joined Skid Row.
Very interesting, because of all singers you could have worked with, this seems like an unusual choice…
– Yeah but at the same time, I like a lot of classic rock, and we’re talking about doing Zeppelin-stuff and some other stuff where the singer’s vocal range has got to be really good. So, I’m like a kid in a candy-store, cause he can sing anything. Most singers, if you say “do you wanna do “Dazed and Confused” by Led Zeppelin, most singers are gonna say “no fucking way, I can’t sing that!“. And he’s up to the challenge, it’s great.
The concept of doing two sets a night…?
– That’s the club’s thing. They always do that here, yeah.
How does that feel for you, as you’re used playing the world stages…?
– It’s a whole different headspace. It’s great, because your audience is…I think this place only holds like 200 people, so people are right there, you know they can hear every note that you play. But the two sets a night is a little strange, yeah. Cause you’ve gotta pace yourself. During the first set you’re thinking “Do I give it everything or will I be wasted for the next set?”
You’ve worked with many charismatic singers with strong personalities. And it’s often said that in order to be a good frontman, you need to have a big ego. What kind of personality do you need to have in order to be a guitarist playing with these big egos?
– Um, it’s funny cause from the time I was a little kid and I picked up the guitar, I naturally gravitated towards the guy behind the singer. Even seeing old footage of Elvis or something you know – I was like… who’s that guy?! And then obviously with Led Zeppelin, I identified with Jimmy Page because he was more quiet.He had the mystery thing.
You once said that you’ve got great respect for singers because they’re standing there, “naked” without an instrument to hide behind. Are there any singers in particular that you feel are like that…?
– I think ANY singer. It’s tough, it’s a lot of pressure. And obviously, the longer that you do it, if you’re really a ROCK-singer, it can take its toll on your voice. But Billy Idol takes care of his voice – we might have abused everything else but the voice is sacred.
You’ve been around for a long time and you seem to be curious to explore different areas all the time. Is that something that you do actively or you just happen to stumble upon stuff?
– I do actively look for new music. Yeah. And I’m fortunate enough to have friends that are…. There’s a band I work with that are called The Juno Reactor and it’s techno-music, right? They have six African percussionists and I’ve gone and toured with them in Japan and done shows with them in Los Angeles, and it’s cool for me because…
It’s a challenge, I mean, I’ve had a 30 year career now, and if I can’t challenge myself as a musician and just sit back and play the stuff that I already know, I’m gonna get stale as a musician.
So by working with Juno Reactor, it enabled me to learn how to do progamming and work on programs, get into the whole computer world and listen to things that I ordinarily wouldn’t be exposed to.
You’ve been in the business for such a long time… Do you still get your kicks or is it more “another day at the office”…?
– It’s never… I mean, if I felt like that, I’d really start to worry. I still love playing guitar, one of the first things I do in the morning is pick up a guitar. I have my coffee, answer my e-mail, put the guitar on and I’m still fascinated by the instrument. I don’t know why that is, but it’s still…
I’ve gotten things like… a new car or something, and I have no excitement about it. But getting a new guitar for me is like – I can’t wait to open the box, and the case and you know – the guitar sleeps with me in the bed.
It’s something about that instrument that I just think I was born to be with. It’s a part of me now. It’s never betrayed me. Playing guitar has never done anything but helped me out and enriched my life.
If you look back on Steve Stevens in 1984 and Steve Stevens 2012 – what differences would you say there were?
– Hopefully I’m a better musician now, I’ve been doing what I do this long…
But have you changed your attitude…?
– I’m more humble. Back in 84 I think that Billy and I really felt like there was a lot of stale music around. When I first joined Billy Idol he had released “Dancing With Myself” and they wouldn’t put them on the cover because because radio stations wouldn’t play artists with spiky hair.
It’s crazy to think now, but anybody affiliated with punk rock or anything like that, couldn’t get on mainstream rock radio. And now, you hear Billy Idol next to Journey or Styx or any of those bands on Classic Rock or something. But when we started it certainly wasn’t like that.
I think we had this attitude like we were gonna do something different, we were utilizing … we were doing things like dance-remixes and used drum machines and technology and all this… So I think when we did “Rebel Yell” we were pretty militant about “we are the new rock heroes” or whatever.
But you’re not into the whole limousine glitter LA sort of lifestyle…?
– I don’t really care about that stuff. I was always uncomfortable about that kind of stuff. I was never that kind of guy… I’m from New York so it’s a bit different, I live in LA now but we were never really part of the scene, whereas the LA bands – the hairmetal bands that came out of LA all got kind of crazy with eachother, tried to top eachother.
“You wanna see how much coke I can snort?!” and all that. We were from New York so the musicians that we hung out with were the guys from Suicide, Alan Vega, you know…
I remember Duran Duran – Andy and John Taylor came to town to do that Power Station record, so we hung with a lot of those guys. I think because Billy and our producer Keith Forsey are English, I got to hang a lot more with the English musicians.
I noticed that you played Van Halen tonight. Are you gonna see them on this tour?
– Yeah, actually we just got invited to a friends and family rehearsal. I’ve known Eddie for years, and Pete Thorn, our other guitarplayer tonight, he’s friends with Eddie. So of course we’ll go and see Van Halen.
I got this interview through your wife Josie. When I spoke to Ozzy many years ago he said that he felt it was confusing because he never knew if Sharon was talking to him as his wife or manager. Do you feel the same way?
– It’s just naturally gravitated that she’s… You know, she’s really diligent with her internet stuff. She’s on Twitter all the time and Facebook and all that. She’s always on my case. “You gotta update your thing…” I’m okay if I just check my e-mails and move on, you know.
So, more and more people have been contacting her for business stuff, and she’s really good at it. I said, “look, if you’re comfortable doing it, by all means, go for it“. It’s been great, it’s been really cool. We enjoy working together.
She comes on tour with me, and I think from the time we did that TV-show, Married To Rock, it became stronger, the work thing. We’ve been together for 10 years, so we liked working together on that show. We have a good, natural chemistry. You know, it works.
People always say that you gotta give eachother space, be away from eachother and do other things. You never felt that way then?
– No, she’s a rocker. You know. She packed up her bags and moved to Los Angeles when she was 16 years old, she’s been on more tours than a lot of musicians that I know. She’s always been a rock chick. She loves it and she knows a lot about rock’n’roll. And I value her opinion. She’s got really good instincts.
You once said that you’re never 100% satisfied with any record that you’ve done. Does that go for live performances as well? Have you ever gotten to a point where you’ve said to yourself that “this was so fucking cool“?
– Yeah, I mean… You know when something is good. When we did “Rebel yell” it was no mystery to us. As the songs were taking shape, and as we started to record it, and got closer to completing them, we were like… “Wait a minute, this is really cool, this is not just another record. This is a really big step for all of us“.
So you know when something is good. I know when I’ve played a good show. But I’m really hard to please. I’m a picky fucker.
You’re involved in so many different projects – could you give a quick summary of what you’ve been doing in 2011 and what your plans are for 2012?
– On the Billy Idol front it was a little bit quiet in 2011, because Billy is writing his autobiography. So we only did a brief tour in November. I kept busy with my Camp Freddy stuff – with those guys it’s a CRAZY schedule. Because you don’t exactly know who the guest singer is, so two days before you find out “oh it’s gonna be Ozzy” or whoever. So that kept me on my toes.
And then Josie launched a clothing line this year so that gave me an opportunity to plan a clothing line launch party. Billy Idol played, all the Camp Freddy guys…
And in 2012 – Billy and I have tourdates planned, we’ll be in Europe in July, and then November and December we’ll be in South America.
And we’re writing material for a new a new record. We’ll be out this year cause they want to hold the record until the autobiography comes out. We’re not just writing songs, we’re writing songs that are gonna coexist with the autobiography. So it’s a whole different thing.
At this point it’s time to wrap up the interview, as Sebastian is getting louder in the background :-). The Iridium-cat has been strutting around during the whole interview, trying to get some attention, so photographer Beatrice asks Steve if he would mind being photographed with the cat.
I just loved his response, delivered with a smile:
– I’m not taking a picture with the cat…! I can just just imagine the comments: “Oh, look at the pussy! And the cat!”