Steve Stone Interview
He's been compared to John Cougar Mellencamp, but don't let anybody fool you. Steve Stone has his own style of music. Just released is Steve's debut album "Dreams Die Hard" (Epic Associated label). It's been quite a struggle for Steve since he left Providence, Rhode Island for the entertainment capitol of the world -- Los Angeles, California.
Steve is living proof that "Dreams Die Hard" - if you know what you want and you go after it.
Q. Steve, what exactly is going on with your career these days? Have you
A. Well, we were actually back East, in July. We did a video, and then we played for a big radio station in Providence, Rhode Island. We opened up their waterfront music festival. It's like a combination of a Rock/Pop event. People there were into different styles of music. And from there, we did a Northeast tour with Scatter Brain. It was a mismatch. They're like a speed-thrash metal band, and we're not. But, it's like we're with the same agency - Famous Artists. They were like, 'Spread Eagle' just left the Scatter Brain tour; you guys wanna jump on it? We said, yeah.
Q. What happened after the tour?
A. Well then, from there, we came back out to California, and we just played a couple local dates here. And then we landed a slot playing down at Van Halen's night club in Cabo San Lucas. We became the house band there for a week. We got really good press down there. So, they called our management and asked if we would mind playing New Year's Eve. So we got invited back to play the New Year's Eve weekend. Iggy Pop was there, and he came up and played a couple songs with us. Since then we've been basically writing stuff to get ready for another record, so we don't get caught with our pants down.
Q. I didn't realize Van Halen had their own night club.
A. It's in Baja. The club is called Cabo Wabo. It's named after their song on the 5150 record. It's coming up on a year anniversary in March. Last March when they opened up, there was a big shindig on MTV about it. We did really well. After they added up all the receipts for that weekend, it was the second highest weekend they've ever had there. The only one that beat us out was Van Halen. They've had some big acts down there - Dokken, Ozzy Osbourne, a couple of guys from the Grateful Dead. It's the biggest club down in that part of Mexico.
Q. Are people in the music business having a hard time
trying to categorize
A. I don't even know. See, I don't get into the business aspect of it. The more you talk to the corporate people, the more messed up you become, 'cause they don't really know what they're doing anyway. I don't really pay much attention to them. We've been trying to get a deal for years. We got turned down by every label twice. They would always say, "You guys are too diversified. Give us ten songs in this vein." They'd pick out a couple of songs that we do that are like really up-tempo rock and go, "Give us ten of these, or give us ten of those." And it's like, why would you want an album of ten songs that all sound the same? Basically, people who come and hear us say we remind them of a cross between John Cougar Mellencamp meets Aerosmith.
Q. You're a welder, and you can also install heating
and air-conditioning equipment. So, why did you have to work, and I'm quoting
from your bio, "crummy
jobs," when you arrived in L.A.?
A. The license that I had to be a welder back east didn't apply much out here. See, I was welding submarines for the government, in Groton, CT. I was an x-ray welder. When I came out here, there really wasn't any call for that, and I was like welding wrought iron fences. It's like a totally different ball game. I worked at a doughnut shop, too. When we first came out here, we needed to get jobs right away, so we were working anything we could, just to make some money. When I go back east, I still do heating and air-conditioning work. You gotta pay the bills somehow.
Q. And the name of the group you fronted was called "Spectrum?"
A. Yeah. Well, there was a ton of different names. I guess that was one of the ones they (the record company) picked out that sounded better than the rest. I was playing all around Rhode Island. I was just a pick-up musician. I used to just play. Matter of fact, I played a lot more in country ‘n’ western bands than I did in rock bands, 'cause my stepmother was a country ‘n’ western singer. I was always hunting down a singer and people would say, you seem to be singing this the way you want it to go, so why would you want to find a singer. And eventually, I ended up being a singer.
Q. And do you like being a singer?
A. Yeah, it's fun. You get 4 notes and you sing it with the aggression of a bulldog. It's O.K.
Q. What's it like for an out-of-town group to come to L.A. and find out you
have to pay to play the top clubs? It must take years to build a following
where you can actually make any money?
A. It doesn't really take that long; it's just that you have to pay to play the club. They give you tickets to sell. One time we played this club, and the tickets were $6.00 each, the face value of the ticket. They give you one hundred tickets. We had to give them $400. We had to buy those tickets for $4.00 apiece. And then you go out and try to sell them in the streets to people. If you sell them, you get $2.00 back. Some of the times you wouldn't even sell 50. So, you'd only make $100, and you owe your management company $400. And then nobody ends up getting paid. It's like there's so many bands and everybody wants to play the so-called elite clubs out here, that the club owners can basically be picky. Unless you have a following. After awhile, it was like we're not into this, 'cause we'd never fit in out here anyway. Everybody out here was always heavy metal, tryin' to copy Guns 'n Roses or tryin' to copy Poison. You had a lot of the glam scene going on. We would come out there and play songs that had acoustic guitar, and people would tell us to go back to Bloomington, because they just didn't want to hear it. Then all of a sudden when Guns 'n Roses have a hit with 'Patience', now it's a little more acceptable to break out an acoustic out here. Everybody says we always looked like the best bar band L.A. ad to offer, 'cause we weren't wearing the leather pants. If we were wearing T-shirts and jeans, and felt like going onstage like that, we just did that.
Q. Is there a music scene in Rhode Island?
A. There is a music scene, and up in Boston, too, but it doesn't warrant trying to stay there, because there's not many clubs you can go to, and play complete original material. So, we would have to go and play in a club, and the club owner would say you have to do three 45-minute sets, and you're allowed to play 2 originals the whole night. And it's like that doesn't get our point across.
Q. Are you happy with the job Epic is doing for you?
A. I don't even know. It's a tough question to answer. I'm happy in a way -- they gave us an opportunity. They gave us a record deal. But, then again, you're unhappy in a way, where the new acts get pushed aside for the acts that have already bad popularity. I understand it's business. There's good and bad in everything. I imagine they think things are good with me and my band, and things they don't like about us. Nobody likes somebody one hundred percent. I'm just doing my job, and they're supposed to be doing their job.
Q. Where do you get your determination from?
A. My father was a strong-willed individual. He was always like if you want something, you gotta go for it. He went to Berkeley with my stepmother, and they taught me how to play guitar when I was really young. I saw Jimi Hendrix, The Doors, The Stones, and Creedence Clearwater Revival when I was a little kid. They used to take me around to all these concerts. From back then, it was like, wow, this is really cool. I like this. It was something I always wanted to do. I never wanted to be 50 years old and regretted not trying to make it.