There is nothing Steve Stevens would rather be doing than playing. He has enjoyed a successful career playing his guitar in front of thousands of rockers around the world with his partner in crime, Billy Idol. His talents have been lent to the likes of Vince Neil, Robert Palmer, Michael Jackson, Pink and the occasional movie soundtrack. He owns a �Best Rock Instrumental� Grammy for his work on the Top Gun soundtrack. In 1989, Steve briefly parted ways with Idol, to form The Atomic Playboys, who released one full-length album. Always on the hunt for a new challenge in the realm of sound, an instrumental CD entitled �Flamenco-A-Go-Go,� was released in 1999, which is an intricate style of Latin-influenced playing. Growing up near New York City during the Glam/Punk movement, Steve realized his passion for the guitar at an early age. He spent a brief time attending classes at Manhattan High School of the Arts (yes, the one from �Fame�), but after seeing the New York Dolls perform, he knew the path he was meant to pursue. That path led him to a meeting with English import, Billy Idol. This gives new meaning to the clich� �right time, right place.� At the exact time Steve & Billy got into the mode of writing, recording and touring MTV had hit the airwaves and these two gents fit the mold, no fuck that, they WERE the mold by which all rock stars that followed were cast. The video age helped to propel them to stardom. Talent, friendship and an unquenchable thirst for rock and roll have kept them there. You can�t deny when either name is mentioned that a distinct image doesn�t come to mind: Billy, his fist in the air, sporting his signature sneer. By his side, Steve Stevens, his raven-hair spiked to the heavens, complementing his black leather outfits and flashy guitar. Ah, yes�we can�t get enough of that shit here at Glam-Metal and I was honored to hang out with Steve and talk with him about the new record, Devils Playground, as well as the current tour. Without further adieu, Ready, Steady, Go�
Hey Steve, welcome to Buffalo. It�s a beautiful night.
Yeah, it is. Thank you.
First question, how is the wrist doin�?
Yeah, it�s okay, I�m able to play ya know. Fortunately we didn�t miss one show. I actually played the very next night, I was in the hospital like at six in the morning & I played that evening. They wanted me to do physical therapy and all that, but I haven�t had a chance to, so when I get back home, I�ll have the doctor take a look at it & see.
(Note: Steve recently fractured his wrist in two places after taking a spill in a New Orleans hotel lobby upon an early am arrival.)
On your web-site you stated that you have a few new guitars that you couldn�t wait to �rip into� live, what might those be?
Yeah, one of them I haven�t had a chance to. One is a sparkle burst older Les Paul. I�m always on the lookout for like flashy guitars. I have one Framus guitar that�s totally gold chrome, it�s cool. I just started working with a new pick-up company out of England called Bare Knuckles. They have been just incredible. They�re like the undiscovered amazing vintage guitar pick-up company.
What is the one that is the prize of your collection? I know there are many.
With the first royalty check that I got from �Rebel Yell� I went to Chicago and bought a Ramirez Flamenco guitar. It�s really rudimentary, it doesn�t even have machine heads, it has wood pegs on it. Always wanted one and I spent my money wisely.
I want to touch on the new record, Devil�s Playground, given today�s technology was it a collaborative effort by the band, like sitting around the studio writing or done more independently and everyone laid down their parts here and there, give us the details on that.
Billy and I have been working together since I moved to Los Angeles, about 10 years now. It wasn�t until we had a real band together that we could actually try ideas out. That was the purpose of going out and playing all these shows. We tried to avoid those �80�s packages� ya know. We have had this band together now for four years. Billy & I had a large amount of songs, but once we got Brian Tichy in the band, things started to really gel for us and Brian contributed songs. By in large, everything was pretty much written before we got into the studio, unlike past <![if !vml]><![endif]>
Billy Idol records, where�d we been in for like ten months or whatever. I�m hoping the next record that we do will be more of a band, live in the studio, kind of situation.
What is song you�re most proud of off the new record?
Rat Race, without a doubt. It hints at things to come. Obviously, Billy hasn�t had a record out in 12 years, so we wanted some things that are familiar like �Scream� which is very much in the mold of classic Billy Idol. But, �Rat Race� is very forward thinking and, for me, that is our future.
Are you recording any footage from this tour for a DVD or anything?
That�ll be next year. We�re not at the moment though, no.
You have done some gigs on the Warped Tour, playing before a new generation of kids, how has the response been?
It�s been really cool. Seems like a whole generation of kids don�t really know about guitar solos. (Laughter) During �Ready, Steady, Go� I play an extended guitar solo where I play behind my back and with my teeth. I grew up seeing Jimmy Hendrix do that and they�re like� (Steve makes this face simulating a young kid with his jaw dropped in amazement) I feel like �School of Rock� up there or something.(laughs)
Your stage clothes are in the forefront a lot, what is one outfit you spent the most outrageous cash on?
Fortunately, once you have a record out and people know that their clothes are gonna get seen, they don�t really charge that much (laughs). It�s when you�re a struggling musician, that you gotta� pay a lot of money. I never understood that. It�s the same with guitar endorsements. I pay for my gear. I figure if some company is willing to give me a guitar why don�t they have a contest and give it to some kid who�s working a paper route and trying to pay for it!
Well, maybe you can start the Steve Stevens guitar scholarship fund, ha, ha. When people think of Steve Stevens- the hair, the outfits, the image does play an important role though, right?
Yeah, yeah I guess you gotta� do something. I don�t really spend a lot on clothes. The only thing I do spend a lot on would be Roberto Cavalli shirts, they are expensive. I have a lot of those.
What do you do to stay healthy on tour, when you�re away from home for months at a time?
Our head of security is also a personal trainer. It�s not like it used to be. We eat well, and if there are things that we need, we just ask for them.
What�s your favorite thing about being in on the road?
Playing. The rest of the time is pretty boring for me. I mean I love going to a city and shopping and stuff. It�s great cause my girlfriend is young. Well, younger, she�s 23, God bless her. But she hasn�t seen a lot of the cities I�ve been to, so we�ll go through my tour schedule and find places she�s excited to see, like my hometown of New York City.
What�s your least favorite thing?
Trying to get decent sleep. Even though tour buses are nice, I don�t sleep that well on them. Obviously, having a fractured wrist on tour hasn�t helped much. Having to stop at different hospitals along the way has been a nightmare.
Okay, I ask this a lot and no one ever wants to divulge this kind of stuff, but any funny or interesting tour adventures or stories you care to share?
(Laughs) Well, if you�ve seen my bass player, he�s about a 230lb. biker dude. My girlfriend and I were on the tour bus after the show one night and he comes in absolutely shit-faced, running around the bus in his underwear talking about how he�s 225 pounds of all man. Now, with camera phones and stuff we documented it, so be careful!
Oh boy, so that may pop up somewhere in the future?
We threatened to post it on the website. (Laughter)
What�s the one piece of gear you can�t live without?
Wow. I got basically a NASA satellite system up there. It�s pretty involved. Hmmm�maybe this toy ray gun I used for Rebel Yell, I guess that�s kind of important.
I wanted to emulate the sounds. I had this idea to alter a toy ray gun so I could play it through the pick-up�s in my guitar. I�m talking with a company right now about developing a hand held effects device, which will have downloadable sounds and stuff.
Cool. What is one thing you may still have left to accomplish musically or otherwise?
Ummm�good question. I hadn�t played in Europe since 1981, and to be able to go back twice in one year is really something I wanted to accomplish. I worked with a Japanese artist and toured Japan for three months out of the year for three years, and the fact that I hadn�t gone back to Europe since �81 was important to me. So, to be able to go back there and play some Scandinavian dates and also go back to Puerto Rico, last time I played there was �83 when we played with with Joan Jett. Just getting a chance to play for an audience who either (A.) has only heard about what we do or (B.) have been waiting this long to see us again, is great.
So what can we expect tonight, a kick ass rock show?
Yeah. Hopefully us old geezers will muster up enough energy. (laughs)
But, we have a break coming up, so we can go out with a bang.
Well, we look forward to it, thanks Steve, take care.
For more on Steve Stevens visit: stevestevens.net and
Also check out my review of the show here:
Thanks to Pam at JLM for handling all the details in setting me up with Steve & Brian. Also a thank you to Gus for assisting with pictures.