Steve Conte is a man who needs no introduction. When he’s not tearing up stages around the world with Michael Monroe, he’s touring with his own solo band, playing early Faces songs with Blues Deluxe or jumping on stage to guest with legends anytime he has a glimmer of free time in his busy schedule. Oh, I forgot to mention, he’s also a former New York Doll. Pretty cool huh? I caught up with Steve in early November about all things gear and what’s going on in his world. This comes with a long-read disclaimer but strap in and enjoy the ride. Hope you have as much fun reading it as I did having this conversation!

 

Hey Steve, thanks for taking the time out to speak with me today. We’ll be having a chat about what gear you use to make noise in your various projects,

My pleasure. So, it’s kinda like that show, Rig Rundown you see sometimes on Youtube, have you ever seen that?

Yeah, I’m a big fan.

What bugs me about that thing is that they never get the actual player, they always get like the guys tech. I mean unless I’ve only seen, you know like the Brian May or the Keith Richards where they talked to the tech. Do they actually talk to the player themselves or is it always the tech?

Sometimes, but it depends on the player. You normally find that it’s the bigger players who tend to get their techs to take over.

Oh yeah, I can’t be bothered (laughs)

I did see one recently where Joe Bonamassa did his own so sometimes the bigger players will.

Yeah, he seems like a real down to earth guy.

You’d be surprised actually, watching some of them, how some of those guys don’t know anything about their gear. I was watching one with the Def Leppard guys recently and Vivian Campbell was telling them that he didn’t actually know what was in his rack, he just used it.

Wow, yeah it is Def Leppard. I bet he knew back in the day what he used. Def Leppard is like a touring machine now, you know?

Yeah exactly. He just shows up every day and gets on with it. Right let’s get down to business.

Awesome, just so you know, I have two different, completely different, setups on each side of the ocean.

 

Great, that’s good to know. I was going to ask if you had different setups for different countries. I think a good place to start is with the guitar side of things. What would you say your number one is at the moment?

 

Um, well again, both sides of the ocean have a different setup. When I play with Michael Monroe over here and in Europe, I leave two guitars over here permanently, two of my later period Gibson guitars since I’m a Gibson artist. Also, I’ve been working with Hagstrom lately who’ve been very nice to me, neither companies ask for exclusivity. So, you know, I promote both whenever I can. I use completely different instruments by both companies.  I have tons of Gibson’s at home that I’ve been buying and getting from them, since my first electric guitars when I was a kid. When I was 12, I got a Gibson 12 string Melody Maker, which is very rare. I still have it. I tend to hold on to almost everything I’ve ever had. I think I’ve only gotten rid of two or three really good guitars in my whole life. Then I regret it. I regret all of them deeply.

 

Here, right now I’m on tour with Michael Monroe in Finland and we’re coming over to the UK next week to do some dates with the MC5 for the MC50th anniversary tour. I’ll be using what I keep over here, which is my 2005 Gibson Les Paul Supreme, which is a bit of a thicker Les Paul Body, but it’s chambered inside so it’s a little bit lighter, but not much lighter. It’s  beautiful, white, well, it used to be white anyway (laughs)

I remember seeing you use that with the Dolls. I think maybe about 2009.

Yeah, yes that was my go-to guitar. The story behind that guitar is, before I was like an official Gibson artist. I was just borrowing things from them and, you know, they were sort of trying the relationship out, so I’d have to like go into the Gibson showroom in New York City and sign a waiver, to get the guitar out of there. So, I took that guitar out a number of times and one time I went a little bit crazy on stage and kind of threw it and smashed it and they made me buy it (laughs). I wasn’t expecting to buy a guitar, at least they gave me the artists price on it.

 

That’ll take the edge off it for sure.

Yeah, but,  it’s a $5,000 guitar, I mean I paid about half but that’s how I came to own that one and I was using it a lot.

I’ve also got a red, cherry 62 reissue SG that I’ve mainly been using because it’s just a lot lighter than the Les Paul. I mean it’s also a bit thinner sounding. I always have to roll a little bit of the treble off on the bridge pickup. I just kind of as a rule, just keep the treble dialed down to about eight just to take the trebly edge off because one of the major problems that I always find is trying to use two different guitars in the same rigs.

I mean, even when you’re playing with two Gibsons, I mean forget it, like at home in New York, which I’ll get into my stuff over there, I have Danelectros and Fenders and Juniors and, you know, P90’s and single coils. Try going from, a humbucker to a single coil to a P90 to a lipstick, on the same gig. You really should have like four different EQ pedals on the floor to compensate for each guitar. Anyway, I’ve been using the SG the past few years with Michael because it’s lighter and it’s still got the humbucker and a more beefy sound than a Junior. Well, actually, I did bring my Junior out recently. I have two Juniors. I have two vintage Juniors. I have a 1960 and 1959 double cutaway with one P90. I plugged that Junior into my rig and it was so fucking loud. It was louder than the SG, but not in a pleasing way. It was like a honky loud, at least through the rig that I was using, which I’ll get into in a minute. So, I had it over here for some reason, I can’t remember why, and it was just unusable. I tried it on one song and they said, hey, you know what, just leave it in the rack, I won’t use it. So those two guitars are the guitars that use over here on the tour.

 

Even when I do my own tours I used to leave a double gig bag over here,  that I would put the two guitars in and when I would leave Finland for the Summer, I spend my summers in the Netherlands, I would go over there and I’d bring the guitars with me and then I do my own touring in the Netherlands and I’d come to England, France and Belgium. But lately I’ve been using that bag at home and we got this giant road case that we put all the guitars in, so I don’t really use my own guitars for my own tours. I borrowed my bass players Les Paul. He’s got cherry burst. So, that’s a long answer to your question, over here I use Gibsons and that’s another story on the other side of the Atlantic.

 

Do you find that sometimes the single P90 can be a limit, tonally speaking, or do you find that having the single pickup is beneficial because it makes you make quick decisions about your tone in the moment?

 

It totally depends on the music. The stuff with Michael is a lot more high octane. So, I would get lost in the sauce if I had a single coil. I can’t really use a sensitive guitar, you know what I mean? It’s not, a Fender Jaguar gig.

So, the humbucker is more suited for Michael and the guys on the other side of the stage pretty much always used humbuckers because as well. Rich Jones has been using Epiphone Vikings, which are great. It’s a 335 sort of semi hollow thing. Also, Dregen used 335s when he was in the band. Ginger, when he was in the band, he was playing a Tele, but it was sort of a Frankenstein. I don’t think it was the traditional Fender. It might have been a Schecter or something.

For my own stuff, and when I was with the Dolls of course, that’s a good gig for the P90 and I also used the Les Paul with that too. I find with my own stuff, if you’re playing rock and roll, you don’t need to ever get jazzy with the front pickup or mellow, the P90 is fine, you know what I mean? Most of the tonal variations you can get by stepping on a stomp box if you want a little more drive or with your finger or your, your pick, you know.

I should also mention over here on this latest tour, we’ve been doing a little acoustic set in the middle and I’ve been using the Hagstrom Grand Auditorium Acoustics, which are nice. So, I’ve got some Hagstrom acoustics out here. What I have from Hagstrom, back home is a really nice baritone guitar and a jazz guitar and a bass. So, like I said, I have different instruments from the two different companies, so it’s not really competing. Yeah, absolutely.

 

Have you got any other gems in your collection outside of the Gibson and Hagstrom guitars? What else is hidden away in the archive?

Well, I’d have to tell you about all Gibson’s first of all, because I have three Melody Makers, all sixties. I have that one I mentioned before, the 12 string. I’m not sure of the year of it. It’s probably about a 65. It’s shaped like an SG style guitar, but it’s a 12 string with the long 12 string head stock, of course. It’s got those weird plastic, sort of a single coil pickups and not a regular toggle switch, but a little black plastic, sort of square, how do I describe it? It’s sort of a square button that sort of moves three positions in a slot. I can’t remember the exact name for them. It’s pretty rare guitar. I don’t ever take that out on the road, that’s one of my gems.

 

I also have another mid-sixties Melody Maker, which is like the shape that I just call it the Joan Jett shape. I don’t know what else to call it, but it’s that one. And then I have one that’s a little bit slimmer than that. And I guess different years they sort of change the shapes of Melody Makers. This one is starting to get closer to a Junior sort of shape. I’ve seen a lot of them that are like tobacco sunburst, but this one, I saw it in a music store when I was playing with the Dolls and I said, that’s got to be mine. It’s pink with a white pearloid pick guard and two humbuckers. So, it’s, you know, it’s a Gibson neck and body from the sixties, but it’s been totally hot rodded. So, I have those three Melody Makers. I have two Juniors, a 1959, all original in cherry red that I got from Chris Bedding. I really don’t take that one out, but I do use my 1960 that I’ve painted white and put the tortoiseshell pickguard on. That’s kind of my main guitar around New York.

Then, I have a three P90 loaded Non-reverse Firebird. Uh, let me just go through my Gibson’s in my mind. Oh, my 1970 Black Les Paul Custom, which was a fretless wonder. I put some decent size frets on it and now that’s kind of my main Les Paul. So, relating to New York, I’d go back and forth between the Les Paul and the 60 Junior and I have a 1962 Olympic White Fender Strat. It has a gorgeous neck. That’s like my go to single coil and a 1967 Telecaster, but that’s been refinished. It’s got a B-Bender, Hip Shot Drop D tuner, the whole rig on it, which is very convenient. So, those are like my more sensitive guitars and I have a Danelectro DC2, I think. Whatever the one Jimmy page used was.

 

I was gonna say is that the Jimmy Page one?

Yeah, it’s that one, but it’s an original 59. I’ve played some of the newer ones and you know, they’re okay. This is the real deal.

 

That seems to be the magic year for guitars, 59.

Oh yeah!

 

I played a real 59 Junior at a trade show a couple of months ago and it was just incredible. I own a seventies one but yeah, the 59 is something else altogether.

 

Oh yeah. Well, I guess it doesn’t really apply to the Danelectro because it’s not even real wood, but, probably the electronics and parts and everything where also being made a little better back then. I don’t have many new guitars. Oh, I also should mention I have a 1977, ES335. That was, that was my main guitar for a long time. It’s in a, sort of natural wood finish. I think that might be it for the electrics. Um, what else? Unless I forgot something. Then I have some acoustics as well. A Gibson Hummingbird, A Gibson J160E and Martin D-18 and I have a really cool Airline Resonator the I use for dobro and slide stuff and um, that might be it.

 

Great, nice to see a very vintage orientated collection. So what about amps? I know you’ve been using Blackstar for quite a while live. Do the Blackstar amps get used in the studio too, or are they just for live use?

 

Well, it really depends on who you’re working within the studio. When I made my International Coverup Record, I don’t know if you remember that one, where I did the covers, I used my Blackstar Artisan in the studio, because I did that in the Netherlands and thats the amp that I have over there, that’s my, like my go to amp, I just leave it there and when I tour over here with my own bands, I use that. It’s sorta like a Vox AC30 with more balls and more bass. So, I used that in the studio to make that record. Horns and Halos , if I remember, we were using a producer who I actually can’t name because his name is not on the album, but we had a bunch of amps in there and you know, Dregen was using his Fender Supersonics and the Blackstar just totally didn’t work with that so we ended up using Marshall and you know, I’m easy. I don’t say, hey man, I have to use this amp because I endorsed them. I mean, if it sounds right and it sounds great for the music, we use it, you know. And if it doesn’t, oh well. So, yeah, we ended up not using it there. I was using this HT-Venue series that Blackstar had given me for the road. I guess I’ve been using probably for five years or so and it just was not cutting it. I use these really heavy earplugs that have 15dB attenuation, so I can’t hear a fucking thing once I put them in. I have my monitors blasting and, as it turns out, the amp hadn’t been sounding very good and I wasn’t aware of it.

So, I asked Blackstar if they could give me another choice. They sent me an Artisan that they had made for Jeff Beck. It was a unique 50 watt Artisan head, but it had no master volume. It was so fucking loud. It was unusable, so I tried that for one gig and I couldn’t use it but then they just sent me these new HT-Venue MKii amps that are so much better than the original versions. They just have less of that mid range honk and more bottom end, and they just distort very nicely. I’m pretty happy with that. I’ve been using that on this whole tour and when I come to England next week, I suppose there’ll be one there waiting for me as well. That’s my Blackstar story, but I started with them back in, oh God, it must’ve been, I guess the end of the early 2000s, maybe 2007 or 2008 or something.

 

Yeah, that’s about the time they came out I think so I guess you’ve been there pretty much since the beginning.

 

Yeah, since the beginning. The first thing, even before I had an amp, I had these pedals that they were coming out with. These tube pedals, are you hip to those?

 

Yeah, I have some of those in my studio.

 

So that’s the first thing they gave me. They actually sent me one to New York and I was like, wow, it’s really great. Then they sent me another one. There’s like two different ones. There’s one with like a channel switching. So, if you ever showed up somewhere and it was a total crap amp, you know, you can just plug this tube pedal in and you can have two different tube amps. And then, it wasn’t until I started playing over here and I used the amps the first time that I discovered that they also made amps. So that’s Blackstar, and then when I’m home, I mean when you play clubs in New York, a lot of times it’s such a hassle to like bring your own shit that you ended up playing clubs that have a backline already. So you’re kind of at their mercy, unless you want to cart your own shit all over the place, which is very difficult in New York City. You end up sometimes just using a crappy amp that they have there so you really gotta bring your own pedals to compensate. If I do use my own stuff, I have a vintage 1962 AC30, a non top boost. I have a band called Blues Deluxe. We do all the old Jeff Beck group, Faces and solo Rod Stewart tracks, like early years stuff and I’ll use that amp. Then I have a 67 Marshall Plexi that is just killer. It’s a killer 100w, super tremolo that actually used to belong to Peter Frampton. He ran his Leslie rig off it on Frampton Comes Alive. I got it from a tech and it’s an amazing amp.

 

I can imagine. You can’t go too far wrong with a plexi.

 

Nope! I also have a vintage Marshall 4×12 cabinet from the 70s. When I’m on tour I have techs and guys that move the gear and everything. If I’m by myself and I’m going to do a gig in a club in Manhattan, I’m not dragging a Marshall half style myself you know? So sometimes that just gets used in the studio when I make my records.

 

That’s exactly the reason why I stopped using big amps all the time because you just don’t want the heavy lifting, and you realize there’s so many great smaller amps and, you know, great combos that you could just easily carry yourself and not need to take the 4×12 and big Marshall head.

 

Yeah, I’m actually looking for a small taxi cab amp, you know, one I can just grab with one hand, and you know, throw in the back of a cab. But, if you want a tube amp, I mean even those little guys are still pretty heavy, you know?

 

Yeah absolutely. I work with a guy from the Netherlands who builds amps under the name Kool Amplification and he build me a Plexi clone and it blew my head clean off when I first plugged it in. It sounds awesome.

Is it a head or a combo?

It’s a head but he builds them as a combo too. He’s based in the Netherlands and hand builds everything with military grade components. The Plexi he built me is based on his personal 68 or 69 mKii, the Deep Purple era one. He took it apart, looked at what he could improve and did it.

 

Sounds great. Oh, I also meant to say about my Plexi, it’s a 67 Super Tremolo but the tremolo circuit has been disabled. One of the controls is now a master volume so you can do the two channel volumes. I jump the two channels. One is a bassier channel and the other is more treble. I just get a balance of those two and then with the master volume I can have that Plexi tone at whatever level I need. You don’t want to go too low but still you know, if I’m ever going to play it at a club in New York, or anywhere, soundmen will be very happy that I have a master volume.

 

That’s how Kool builds their Plexi. He builds them with two master volumes, so you can drive the preamp and get the jumped channel sounds but keep the amp running at a sensible level.

Yeah, that sounds cool. I also have a bunch of small amps. I have an Ampeg Reverberocket, but I just blew it up actually. A Fender Princeton, oh, and I have a great 65 Fender Bandmaster. Sounds killer with the Tele and that, I mean it’s, I think it’s the greatest, like twangy clean, but with balls, you know,

 

I got offered one of those recently for a really good price, but the really good price was still a little bit more than I had at that moment.

 

Yeah, they hold their value. Mine is a black face and it’s also been modded so channel one is feeding into channel two. It was this way when I got it, I actually got it from a music business lawyer, believe it or not. He lived in my building in Manhattan and he was selling a bunch of stuff and I got such a good deal. I was like, wow, I actually got a good deal from a music business lawyer (laughs).

 

It does happen sometimes.

 

Haha, yeah sometimes. So, I have that and uh, what else do I have that I’m proud of?  That’s probably it. The Ampeg, the two Fenders, the Marshall and the Vox. I don’t have a Blackstar in New York. I’ve been talking to one of the guys over there at the distributor about, you know, getting a little taxi cab kinda amp and trying to figure out what the best, you know, single 12, all tube amp is that I could grab with one hand, but, I haven’t been able to hook that up yet. You wanna talk pedals?

 

Yes, that was going to be my next question. So, are you a bit of a pedal geek or have you got quite a stripped back approach when it comes to that world?

 

Right now, it’s pretty stripped back because all the music I’m playing is either pretty rootsy or punky. I’m not very proggy. So, I’ll get to some of the crazier pedals, but basically, in my rig for Monroe, I got the Boss tuner pedal of course, some sort of pedal power. I don’t even know what brand it is. I think something tank power tank, maybe. I don’t know the name. The Finnish techs built it. So, it’s got some sort of power supply. And I have a Dunlop Overdrive, that came out years ago, probably 2010 or so. I think it was a Bradshaw design. It’s like this dual overdrive thing where one side is like distortion and overdrive, one footswitch, with its own tone controls. Then there’s another footswitch next to it with just the volume that’s just a boost. So, you can either go like total, like clean boost or overdrive or together.

I think I’ve seen that one before, is that the Custom Audio Electronics one? The little black one?

 

Yeah, the black one. Yeah. I don’t know the name of it, but I have two of them. I think I have one in New York too, which I don’t really use in New York. So that’s my goto stomp box for overdrive here. I did have a Dunlop Wah as well, but Michael just smashed it with his mic stand. It wasn’t a Crybaby, it was like another sort of sexy high tech wah where I’d had some buttons on it, you know, that I’d never use. I’m just a basic guy, you know, it just has to have the right kind of sweep and feel, like it tapers evenly. When that thing broke, I was just, Oh man, I need something quick. So, I just want up to a music shop. And I the cheapest wah I could find there, which is a Vox with the silver top. Which is fine, it doesn’t have the same sweep as the Dunlop, but it’s okay. I tend to sometimes just get it in that middle position, like, and I get that Mick Ronson thing, you know, where it’s just raw, you know, very nasal, it just really cuts through.

 

Dunlop does a really cool Billy Duffy signature model that’s based on the Mick Ronson one. It’s got that mid-range honk, it’s quite hard to find now because they only did, like 500 of them, but I bought one when it came out and it’s just incredible because as soon as you touch it, it’s just got that honky sort of mid-range. It’s not too harsh. Some wahs can be a bit too harsh I think, especially as you turn them on.

 

Yeah. That’s, that’s always the thing you want to click it on and then quickly pull it back. Otherwise, it’s like (Emulates a noisy wah pedal!)

 

Yeah, exactly. This one switchless, so it starts in the heel position as well, so when you put your foot on it, it’s not straightaway in the treble end, it starts at the other end of the sweep.  Obviously, for live use, this is great because then you can sweep the wah in rather than, as you said, click it on and pull back.

 

Right. Oh, that’s an interesting concept. Does anyone else make them like that?

 

Dunlop does a few ones like that, I think. They do a standard one which is similar to that with the switchless plate and then the Billy Duffy one was based off the standard crossed with the Mick Ronson one. It’s got a built-in boost as well, which is quite cool.

Wow, I’ll have to research that!

 

Yeah and it’s white and chrome too, so it looks cool.

 

Oh yeah, I saw that one in the shop. I was like, that looks cool. That looks too expensive. Let me go for the 1998 era one. Actually, in my New York rig, I have the half size wah. Have you seen the little baby ones?

 

I’ve seen those, yeah. Do they take just getting used to?

 

Yeah. I mean it fits perfectly on my pedal board and it took a little getting used to, especially when you’re wearing big boots, but it does everything that a normal size wah does and it fits on my board, and I believe that’s, ooh, I should know this. I don’t know if that’s a Crybaby or not.

 

Yeah, if it’s Dunlop it’ll be the Crybaby.

 

Cool. I’ll get into the New York rig now. I think that’s it for the Monroe rig. Tuner, Wah, Overdrive and power supply. I mean its just balls to the wall. I don’t have any delays or anything. Nothing sexy, you know? For my own stuff in New York, what’s on my board right now is the Boss Tuner. It’s one of those Pedaltrain boards that I had my guy at 30th Street Guitars, Matt Brewster. He does all my work for me and he makes the boards really nice. He actually puts a piece of wood on it and carpet and drills stuff in and yeah, he just makes it nice. I’m using a Wampler Plexi Drive as my main overdrive, which is amazing. I mean it just sounds like a vintage amp. It sounds like a vintage Marshall. So, I’m using that as my main overdrive and then a Sex Drive, which is made for Charlie Sexton as a clean boost for after that. So, you know, if I’m playing on a shit amp in a club, I got the Plexi Drive on, it’s just beautiful vintage amp guitar tone, and then if I want to play solo the Sex Drive is the clean boost and you can also adjust the gain and there’s also  a compression in it a little bit and you can get a little subtle with it. So, that’s the overdrive system there. And then I also have a Voodoo Labs Tremolo. I like to use Tremolo on my own stuff. And a Carbon Copy Analogue Delay by MXR, which is really nice. It’s very warm.

 

Yeah. I personally prefer those vintage style delays over the digital ones. It’s the repeats having that warm, analogue tail off that breaks up.

Yeah. It just degrades a little bit. Like a tape echo would but not as extreme as a tape echo, but you know, I used to use those old pink Ibanez analogue delay boxes. I have a couple, but I don’t bring those out on the road, you know, I use them in the studio, but the Carbon Copy is a great warm delay and it’s also got a little button for modulation where you can have kind of just the slightest bit of Chorus. You can’t even really tell its Chorus. I was like a Chorus addict back in the eighties and a weaned myself off that haha. I don’t like to know that there’s chorus on it, but I’m like, oh boy. It really sounds beautiful. You know, if you’re holding a chord, especially on an SG where you can bend the neck a little bit. You’re holding a chord and you’ve just bent the neck slightly and that kind of natural guitar modulation goes with the delay modulation. It’s like really nice. I also recently just got a Leslie stomp box. This black little rectangle one. It does like three different Leslie cabinets and it does the whole ramp up with the speed. It’s beautiful. I haven’t used it much on gigs yet, but I look forward to it because I wanted something that could give me a crazy effect if I needed it. Something extreme. But, you know, I didn’t want the whole, like, flanger or chorus or phase shifter kind of typical thing, you know, the rest of my shit is really vintage anyway, so let me go Beatles or Jimmy Page

 

That’s the one thing that I’d been having the hardest time trying to find a good pedal that gives a convincing Leslie sound.

 

Well, this one is made by Leslie, hello! Haha. I tried a bunch of them out and there’s a lot of companies that are making digital, you know, rotary pedals that claim to be, oh, this is the one and whatever. But I mean, when I saw that Leslie made one, I went, wow, that’s got to be the perfect one. Right? And, I tried a bunch of them out. Some of the other ones sound really good too. But to be honest, this one fits on my board. I have a small board. They’re also making a, like a really long one now with like stereo outputs and all this crap. I didn’t need all that. I just needed, you know, I basically get one sound. I pick one and I just kind of go back and forth between the slow sound and in the fast sound and use ramped up and you know, you can keep stepping on it, so it goes up and down, up and down, while you’re playing. And it’s really like a real Leslie. So that’s what you want. That’s what I use now at home, but I have all kinds of other crazy things like I have a Digitech Whammy Pedal, which is great. I have, uh, you know, I have phase shifters, I have choruses, the Electro Harmonix Small Stone, I have a Boss Slow Gear. If you ever played one of those before, they’re pretty cool. It’s basically a volume swell pedal. I have the Boss Chorus Ensemble, which I used to live by, it’s the big grey one that plugs in and it’s got like, you know, stereo chorus, and then also Vibrato, which I would use that vibrato back in the 90s and you know, instead of having Leslie pedal.

 

That was my get by thing for a while too, a Vibrato running quite subtly instead of a Leslie style pedal.

 

Yeah, it works! I also have a Rotovibe which I never really got into. Someday I’ll mess with that and figure it out a little more. Oh, and I have a thing called a Seek Wah, you know whats-what is?

Isn’t that one of those pedals that a bit like an auto wah but a bit more “out there”?

 

Well, it’s basically, it’s like eight little EQs you could set them for various stages, and there’s a switch where you can get it to go and do patterns of four, three or eight and um, and it’s sort of a, you know, I don’t know how to explain how you write this down in print, but it can go like (Emulates a Seek Wah – We won’t even try to transcribe this noise!), know what I mean. It’s like almost that sample and hold kind of vibe from a synth. But, you know, it’ll go muted to like more open and you could set the pattern on these things from wherever you want it to go. It’s almost like a Townsend thing. You know, like what he would do in Baba O Riley with the organ at the beginning. It’s a really cool effect. I mean, you can only use it once on an album, but I’ve used it really effectively on a few albums and it’s always the little secret weapon, ah, seek wah. That’s what the song needs.

 

Yeah haha, it’s not a pedal you click on in every song!

 

No, no, no, no, no. So, that’s my arsenal. Unless I’m forgetting anything, but, that’s pretty much the stuff.

 

Cool. That’s a pretty range of gear to be getting stuck into, So, what’s next then? You’re coming over to the UK this week for a couple of dates but what’s happening after that? Anymore solo tours or Monroe tours. We know there’s the new Monroe album scheduled for 2019.

Um, yeah, that’s being mastered right now. And, as I said, we’re coming over to do the MC5 shows. Then I go home, and I do a couple of things in New York. Let’s see, what am I doing there? Uh, I’m playing a John Lennon show, in the house band for this John Lennon tribute show that happens every year. It’s like, 25 years or more it’s been happening. Patti Smith was the featured performer last year, I think this year it’s Rosanne Cash. I don’t have any of my own shows, so I need to make a new record, a new solo record and I’ve been writing for that so when I get home to New York, it’s just going to be a couple of other, you know, for hire things, which is what I do when I’m home. I don’t have a job, you know, so, besides being an artist and a songwriter and doing my own thing, I need to work, so I do stuff like that. There was a punk band called The Stilettos, Debbie Harry was one of the singers they had in and their main lead singer, I played a show with them last year. They were out around the time of the Dolls a little bit later, like mid-seventies. Probably between the Dolls and the Ramones and their singer just died so I’m doing a show. There’s a big extravaganza at the Bowery Electric with all of her friends and people that were in the band. Walter Lure from The Heartbreakers was in the band, Cheetah Chrome was in the band, Sylvain was this woman’s boyfriend. Elda Stiletto was what she was called. Elda Gentile is her real name. So, I’m going to be playing and musical directing the night, we’re the house band with all these people coming up to sit in and do a song like Cheetah Chrome will be there and Walter and Lenny Kaye from Patti Smith and all these different people. So, that’ll be fun. And I’m gonna like do a holiday show. I’m going to jump up with another band and do a holiday Christmas show with Jesse Malen and a bunch of other people in December. So, you know, I got a couple of things coming up. Nothing of my own, but I expect to be in the studio recording a new record for myself very soon. Probably within the next half a year.

 

Do you find that you do a lot of ‘for-hire’ work when you’re not on the road as yourself or with Monroe, or do you just pick and choose certain jobs?

 

Well luckily, I can pick and choose. But yeah, I have to work,  as I said. It’s not like the old days where you could sit around collecting royalty checks.

 

No, of course not. I do a lot of it myself. I do live and studio sessions and stuff like that, between everything else to keep the diary full and the work coming in.

 

Yeah, absolutely. I’ll produce records for people. I’ll do soundtracks, I’ll contribute my, my songs to film and TV soundtracks. I produced a couple of records in the last two years. A blues harmonica players record, Scott Dennis Gruenling, who’s really great. We did like a vintage kind of vibe with upright bass, drums, guitar, jazz guitar almost. A really traditional setup and he’s a great harp player. He plays the chromatic harps and the bass harps and everything. It was a great thing to produce. So, I’ll do that, and I’ll do sessions, you know, singers, songwriters or whatever bands if they need me, I come, I sing, I play whatever I’ve also done commercials, you know, not sure if that happens anymore. But, you know, whatever. I just don’t take everything that comes in because well I can’t. But in general, I don’t play live with too many different bands. I’m pretty much in the Monroe band and my own band and anything else I do. These special shows like the Lennon thing and the Stilettos thing are, you know, unfortunately, you rehearse, you know, 40 songs or whatever it is. And then the gig is over, and you don’t use those songs again ever, which is kind of a drag. But you know, what are you going to do?

 

Exactly! Well, thanks for your time Steve, enjoy the short UK run. I’m looking forward to catching the band in 2019 and catching up with you soon. Thanks again for today, it’s been a pleasure.

 

Alright, my man. I hope so. Keep me posted. Cheers mate!

Seeing as the weather outside is getting colder and getting up for that job seems a little harder let Steve Rockaway those blues with his video for ‘Gimme Gimme Rockaway’

The classic track from the upcoming Testors Tribute Album. Proceeds will go toward medical and housing expenses for Testors guitarist Sonny Vincent’s family. Facebook testors tribute page Alternatively you can donate to his gofundme page here:https://www.gofundme.com/xnvynbcc

To finish off this public service how about something off the new Heavy Drapes record ‘Crashing Like Stars’. ‘Should I suck Or should I Blow’ will see you out the door in double quick time.  enjoy folks.