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Steve Stevens interview 

Steve Stevens
Submitted by Kaj Roth on 2008-05-03
He won a grammy for Top Gun Anthem in 1986, he played on Michael Jackson´s "Dirty Diana" on the 1987 album "Bad", he has played with Terry Bozzio and Tony Levin, he formed the ultra cool metal band Atomic Playboys together with Warrior singer Parramore McCarthy in 1989 and is the author behind many classic Billy Idol riffs where "Flesh for fantasy" might be the greatest riff of them all.
"Memory crash" is his first solo album in 10 years, proudly present Steve Stevens.
Hello Steve, I´m honored to have you featured on the Leading European Modern Rock E-zine , are you out on the net often?
Steve: I am usually online daily. Quite a number of my friends now have blogs so I try and see what they are up to. I have recently started to check in on Robert Fripp of King Crimson, Robert has a unique way of looking at the world that I can’t help but identify with. Of course, having a computer based home studio requires staying on top of software updates etc. In the late evening hours I scour e-bay for instruments and amplifiers.

It´s cool to see Dug Pinnick from King´s X guesting on your new solo album on the Robin Trower classic "Day of the eagle", how come you two hook up?
Steve: I have admired Dug for many years and always thought that our styles would mesh very well. When I decided to record a cover of Day Of The Eagle, there was only one person I wanted to sing it…that would be Dug.

I think your new solo album is really rocking but it also has elements of jazzrock like "Prime mover" that feels like a flirt with Billy Cobham´s "Stratus", do you listen to a lot of jazzrock?
Steve: I go through phases of listening to many different styles of music. Sometimes rock, sometimes classical, etc. Of course when I was growing up playing guitar what was called “fusion” hit a nerve with me. Mahavishnu, Return To Forever and Tony Williams with Allan Holdsworth were played to death on my record player. The guitarists in those groups were amazing and presented many challenges for me as a young player.

"Memory crash" and "Small arms fire" are my two favorite songs off your new solo album, both with lots of Eddie Vanhalen vibes especially with the intro to Small arms fire that bring thoughts to Eddie´s "Spanish fly" - do you know Eddie and have you seen VH live with David this latest tour?
Steve: I certainly do know Ed. We first met when he invited me to join him onstage at the NAMM show in 1987. When I toured with Vince Neil we supported Van Halen for 3 weeks. I did go to the final dress rehearsal of the current Van Halen tour with David Lee Roth and was knocked out by how great they were. Just as a fan to hear all those classic songs back to back with Dave singing was amazing.

I think you are an underrated guitarist that rarely ends up on the toplists of the best rock guitarists where names like Jimmy Page, Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton oftens comes up, you should be up there with Satriani, Vai, Vanhalen and Randy Rhoads.
Who are your favorite guitarists?

Steve: I admire any guitarist that can express his life’s experience on the guitar. Steve Howe of Yes is certainly one of my big influences but from a purely musical standpoint I think there will probably never be a guitarist as great as Jimi Hendrix again.

I believe mostly lead/solo guitarists gets all the credit but there are some very impressive rhythm guitarists out there that should get some press as well like Malcolm Young (ACDC), Pete Townshend (The Who) and Rick Nielsen (Cheap Trick).
What´s your point of view on this?

Steve: Well, the fact that I play rhythm guitar 70% of the time during a Billy Idol show is reason enough for me to agree with your statement. That is the motor and engine of my playing and it’s truly an art form unto itself.

Are there any new talented guitarists around that still impress you?
Steve: Guthrie Govan is mind blowing. I would love to sit with him for a week and learn some of the astounding things he does. Shit, I’ll even pay for that, ha ha.

You worked with the excellent singer Parramore McCarthy from Warrior on the Atomic Playboys album (1989), do you still keep in touch with eachother and do you know he´s back with Warrior to record a new album?
Steve: I do not keep in touch with Perry but I wish him all the luck in the world.

You recorded the Sweet cover "Action" with Atomic Playboys and "Set me free" with Vince Neil on his 1993 record "Exposed", is the Sweet a big influence for you?
Steve: I wouldn’t say a big influence but they certainly made some very cool sounding records. Their production was pretty much state of the art at the time.

You have done some remarkable stuff through the years that some guitarists can only dream of like for example playing on "Dirty Diana" on Michael Jackson´s "Bad" from 1987, you won a Grammy for the Top Gun Anthem in 1986 and recorded 2 albums with the super musicians Terry Bozzio and Tony Levin - what are you most proud of?
Steve: I’d say I am most proud of having a 40 year love affair with a silly piece of wood with some wires stretched across it. The guitar is still an instrument that amazes me while allowing me to express myself on better then words could.

Have you been offered to play on any other Soundtrack themes after Top Gun?
Steve: Yes, some very silly that I just had to decline.

On Billy Idol´s latest album "The Devils Playground" from 2005, you and Billy went back to the punkrock sound of Generation X which was nice, are you planning on recording a new album together?
Steve: We are touring this year starting in June and we plan to record new music late 2008 into 2009.

One of my favorite guitar riffs from the Billy Idol catalogue is "Flesh for fantasy", do you still play it live with Billy or are you tired of it?
Steve: We still play it and fortunately I really never tire of playing that song. It’s got enough improv room that we can make it ever so slightly different each night.

Thanks for taking your time answering a silly Swede´s questions, what do you think of when you think of Sweden?
Steve: Abba and those squishy lil’ red candy fish.