Album

Five o Five – Interview

Friday 18th August 2017

Hailing from beautiful Italy, indie-rockers Five o Five are bringing their Arctic Monkey vibes to the shores of the UK with the hopes of raising their profile and making themselves known.  Listening to their single “Where They Bring Sophie,” I instantly make the connection with the likes of The Black Keys and The White Stripes, who are just a few of the well-known names that have inspired the band and play a big part in their sound.  Intrigued by Five o Five and their ambition I take a moment to discover a bit more about how it all started, their upcoming album and what to expect next.

For those who are just discovering you please could you tell me more about yourselves?  Have you been in bands previously and what has driven you to form Five o Five?

We are just a group of friends and this is our first official band, even though me, Tredo and Piccio had performed before at middle school. Then with Pana, our common friend, we form the Five o Five.

How did you come up with the name for the band and is there a meaning behind it?

The name of the band has a special meaning that reminds us of our childhood spent together, but unfortunately I can’t reveal anything else, it’s a secret.

You’ve just released your single “Where They Bring Sophie.”  How are you finding the response to your music so far?

We’ve had a lot of positive outcomes especially from musical experts. We hope our song will be more popular over time.

You’re due to release your debut album ‘@Y&!’ in September.  What can we expect from the album, and how did you find the process of putting it together?

The album has been recorded in Antonio Polidoro’s studio in Milan, called “Blap studio,” under Giuseppe Fiori’s guide. The production of the album has been very intense and in little time we recorded all the songs in a vey precise way and with a vast knowledge of sound and rhythm.

Are there any tracks in particular that you’re looking forward to getting out there?

We can’t wait to let you listen to the songs of our new album, especially for “May Is Coming,” our most fresh song, and “This House Is All To Be Burned,” which is smashing.

Who are your biggest musical influences, and how have they encouraged and helped you to develop your sound?

Our sound is typical of our genre. We were inspired by famous indie rock bands, like Arctic Monkeys, Blur, Kasabian, mixed with electronic music in style of Air. 

What’s the music scene like in Italy for up and coming artists?

The only possibilities we have is to perform in bars where the pay isn’t very high. Apart from that there are festivals in the big cities which give upcoming artists a chance. Since there aren’t many chances to perform in Italy we would like to have this opportunity to perform in England.

What’s your tour schedule looking like for this year, and when can we next catch you at a show?

We have scheduled 2 different tours: one is from 4th to 12th September and the other one is from 30th October to November 6th. 

Being in the early stages of your music career how are you finding the whole process, and have you been given any lasting advice?

We are trying really hard to create new sounds and lots of new songs. We are trying to improve the instruments and create something innovative. We also received some advice from experts, like fixing the scenic presence.

What would you say is the next step for the band?  If I came back to chat with you in another year, where would you hope to be?

The next step of our band is to put ourselves out there and make ourselves known. We hope to play at some important festivals but I can’t really specify what I would want in 2 or 5 years. All I can say is I hope for the best.

Connect with Five o Five via their Facebook.

Chris Blackwood – Interview

Friday 18th August 2017

Fresh off the back of his debut album release, I spent time chatting with Chris Blackwood about his music career so far, and what has encouraged him to push forward with a career in music.  Upon first listen I was taken aback by the amount of sheer talent Chris has, and it’s aparent that growing up listening to the likes of Oasis and Bob Dylan has played a big part in how his songwriting has been influenced.  The debut self-titled album is a concept album that tells a tail through the different stages of life; starting with birth, then moving in to the confusing middle years, and finishing with a bitter ending.  After playing in and around Manchester, Chris is now stepping out and ready for national recognition.

Hello! Please could you tell me about how it all started for you? Has there been anyone in particular that has inspired you to take the step in to music, and at what point did you know you wanted to make a career out of it?

The first real connection to music I felt was seeing the “Supersonic” video by Oasis on TV. I was only twelve, but it blew me away. The music really connected to me, and I spent the next four years devouring indie rock music. Then when I was seventeen I discovered Bob Dylan and that blew my mind again. This time with words and lyrics. It was at this point I knew I had to make a career out of it. I had been writing songs ever since I started learning guitar was I was twelve, but Dylan made me write different kinds of songs. Songs that matter.

Your single “The Quiet Elude” is the first release from your debut album. How are you finding the response to your music so far?

Fantastic. People understand it which is the main thing. It’s short, simple and effective, which is perfect for a first single from an album. My main worry was that it doesn’t really reflect the album’s sound, but I chose the song as it would be the neatest transition between the acoustic EP’s and the fully fledged full band album.

Who did you work with for the accompanying video for the single, and where did the shoot take place?

I worked with Gaz Davies, who is a fantastic filmmaker. We shot the music video above a jazz bar in Stephenson’s Square, Manchester. It was this cool little photography studio. We got rid of all the backdrops and just kept the room looking bare, as I thought that’d match the aesthetic of the song. We got it all filmed in three hours! A short amount of time that reflect the brevity of the song. Gaz is also filming the album release show on 2nd September.

Could you tell me about your writing process, and how you know when a song is ready? Is there anyone who you can bounce ideas around with?

Songs come from nowhere. Most of the time I’ll have an idea that pops into my head and I’ll run to my guitar to pick it out. Normally I’ll figure the rest out in less than half an hour and the song is done. You can’t just sit down and write. The labour will show. It needs to be natural and unforced to make it seem organic and real.

I always write songs by myself, apart from my single “Unwinds,” which was written with James Fewkes. There is also a song on SoundCloud called “Slipstream,” which was written with Rob Jones. But apart from this I write them all by myself.

What can we expect from your upcoming self-titled album, and how did you find the process of putting it together?

Oh it’s a journey definitely. Everything’s very carefully placed. It’s been a few years in the making in my mind, and it took about eight months to record. It was relatively easy to record because I had all the parts already figured out from years of playing them. The hardest I’d say to get right were the instrumentals. I’ve never done an instrumental track before, never mind three. I wanted to get these to not seem out of place with the rest of the tracks.

What has drawn you to create a concept album, and do any of the tracks draw upon personal experiences?

Every release I do has some kind of concept. Maybe that was inspired by listening to Pink Floyd and The Beatles when I was younger. The two acoustic EP’s had individual concepts, and these were differentiated with each other. Dark and light. This album is like chapter one of a wider concept I’m planning.

All these tracks draw from personal experiences. The problem with this is that it needs to be broad enough to fit into everyone else’s personal experiences. But I believe everyone feels these things when they’re growing up, so I’d like to think the concept is universal. But I don’t force it either. A concept should never get in the way of good songs, then it gets too pretentious. People can find their own meaning in the tracklisting, that is the best way to listen to this album.

Who are your biggest musical influences, and how have they encouraged and helped you to develop your sound?

Pink Floyd and The Beatles as I said earlier are my inspiration for concept-driven music. Apart from that I’m heavily inspired for this album by Elliott Smith and Pavement. Also Arctic Monkeys and The Libertines, two bands I listened to a lot of when I was a teenager.

I used influences as a device on this album. The first half is inspired by the indie rock I listened to when I was a teenager, the second half inspired by Bob Dylan, Radiohead, My Bloody Valentine.

Being in the early stages of your music career how are you finding the whole process, and have you been given any lasting advice?

The only lasting advice I’ve been given is that a career in this industry doesn’t last. That’s why you’ve got to give it your all while you’ve still got it. That’s why I’ve decided to release everything myself. I don’t want to wait for a record company to come along for me to record the music I want. I worked for an entire summer to afford the recording costs of this album. You’ve got to do it yourself. Don’t rely on anyone else.

How are you feeling about your album release show and are there any tracks in particular that you’re most excited about performing live?

Very excited, first time I’ve played with a full band. It’s at a little placed called Aatma, not far from where we filmed the music video. The support acts are fantastic as well. Mystic Rose, The Prions and Scott Lloyd.

I’m looking forward to playing it all to be honest. You can get so much sound out of four people rather than one acoustic guitar. A much more fully-formed sound. But if it’d have to be one track, I’d be “Faraway.” The outro will be fantastic live, and I’m looking forward to how people react to it.

Finally, what other artists are you listening to at the moment and do you have any recommendations?

I’m really liking Sonic Youth at the moment. I’d like to incorporate more noise rock elements into my music. I’ve added partly noise/shoegaze elements to the outro of “Faraway,” but I’d love to investigate more.

Also I’m loving Can. Krautrock is something I’d love to explore further. I did a twenty minute version of my song “Whirlwind” a while back and I’d love to release it if the opportunity arose.

Connect with Chris Blackwood via his Website, Facebook and Twitter.

Awake At Last – Life/Death/Rebirth

Thursday 3rd August 2017

Track Listing:

1. Purgatorium
2. Analysis Paralysis
3. Dark Waltz
4. White Rabbit
5. Constellations
6. Reflections

Awake At Last are a band that I always get excited about.  They first contacted me in 2015 following the release of their King of the World EP and I really enjoyed their sound.  It’s always great to hear about bands and artists from the other side of the pond so I had to interview Awake At Last to find out more.  Since our initial chat things have been moving forward really well for the band; they contacted me again in 2016 to let me know they’d just wrapped up their next EP following a successful Indigogo campaign, and here we are now less than a year later and we can get our ears around their latest offering Life/Death/Rebirth.

Initially when I first listened to the album it reminded me straight away why I really enjoy this band.  So much energy has gone in to the release and there’s a clear progression from their previous material which has been well built upon.  I remember when Never Be A Memory was released, their first single in a couple of years since the King of the World EP and at the time it was apparent how much Awake At Last were evolving.

Speaking with guitarist Imran Xhelili last year ahead of the release he explained that “We’ve definitely pushed ourselves more musically – the guitars are definitely doing a lot more as are the drums, bass and vocal melodies. There’s a lot more energy on the new EP and we’re all confident in the change of direction the progression of our sound, since we would never want to release the same CD twice. We all came together a lot more on the song writing as a full band and were able to blend our influences into this new direction of Awake At Last.”

Opening track Purgatorium provides a great opportunity for lead singer Vincent Torres to showcase the range and quality of his well-established vocals.  The chilling opening is theatrical, with a gradual build-up and a soft sound inviting you in, and then when the progressiveness kicks in all hell breaks loose and you’re thrown straight in to a journey of an EP that tells a story of redemption.  Analysis Paralysis has a dark intro with mighty guitar work and a tasty riff, and opens the way for realisation that you’re in for a much heavier release, and lyrically it’s very poignant too.

It can be really difficult trying to stand out in such a competitive industry, but to me Awake At Last have always gone beyond their ambitions to make the band work, and it’s clear they’re not scared to push in to a genre that others have yet to dare tread.  Dark Waltz and White Rabbit are forcefully vigorous tracks and fill the release with a display that shows they’re not scared to move out of their comfort zone.  I especially enjoy the expression in the lyrics for White Rabbit, with Vincent declaring that “I’m not heartless I just use my heart less” it’s commanding, powerful and relatable.

Constellations is a howling track, and possibly one of my favourites on the EP.  The way in which the drums and guitars work together creates an absolute storm, and how they work the different paces the track goes through is intricate.  I was once told by a friend that drummers don’t get enough attention in bands and this has always stuck with me, so I have to make sure I point out how the drumming really stands out and accelerates in this track.  Keeping up the pace, Reflections brings the grunge and is a lot edgier, but after professing that “we care to much or we don’t care enough, I’m sick of the concept of falling in love” it takes us on a steadier step towards the end of the EP.

Life/Death/Rebirth is a solid release that’s tightly polished and one that Awake At Last should be proud of.  They continue to go from strength to strength and it would be great to see a full album next, or even have these guys signed.  They work hard, tour hard, and do everything they can to make the band work and get their name out there; it’s time these guys were snapped up to a label!  So if you’re in the neighbourhood looking for something new to grace your speakers, give Awake At Last a spin, you won’t be dissapointed.

Connect with Awake At Last via their Website, Facebook and Twitter.

Walkway – Interview

Tuesday 11th July 2017

Having recently been contacted by Chris Ready who is the lead singer for rock band Walkway regarding the release of their 3rd studio album WWIII, the band immediately piqued my interest as not only is rock one of my most favourite genres, but they’ve been touring for almost 10 years and opened up for some of the biggest names in rock (Status Quo, The Darkness, Black Stone Cherry and Slade to name a few), yet this was the first time I was hearing of the band.  However, after checking out their track ‘Mission Impossible’ which I was certain I’d had actually heard before, I decided that it was only best that I asked for an interview as it’s clear these guys have quite a story to tell.  This includes their album containing a tribute to the late Rick Parfitt which they recorded with Status Quo drummer John Coghlan, so make sure you check that out too.

Your 3rd album ‘WWIII’ is due for release on the 8th July. How are you feeling about the release, and what can be expected from it?

WWIII is a step up from anything we’ve done before and we can’t wait to release it to the world. I think the fans are going to absolutely love it and be pleasantly surprised with how much bigger this sounds than our previous albums.

How does this album compare to your previous material, and are there any notable differences or developments?

Top Shelf Content (our first album) was a classic rock album through and through and Streetwise (our second album) was a bit more commercial. WWIII contains a mix from the two, however all in all the record is heavier than our previous albums. We always aim to make each song/album better than the previous and I think that shows on WWIII – the songs and production as a whole are a real step up and I think that comes from how we have matured as artists.

What’s your writing process as a band? How do you all come together to create the final track, and how do you know when a song is ready?

We have worked with a range of very successful and experienced songwriters in the past, however the majority of our songs are written by myself (Chris) and James. With us both being brothers we have a great understanding of each other – James will usually lay down the music and I put lyrics to it. Once we have the main basis we will then take it to rehearsal and work through it with the guys to come up with the finished result.

You’ll be featuring a tribute to the late Rick Parfitt on your album, which you recorded with Status Quo drummer John Coghlan. How did that come about?

We toured with Status Quo over the last couple of years and Rick particularly became a fan of the band. We were going to be working with Rick this year on his solo project – myself (Chris) and James had written some tracks for his solo album, however the opportunity unfortunately never went ahead due to his passing on Christmas Eve. It was a real blow for us in both ways in that he was such a nice guy and fan of the band, and also that the project never went any further. We felt that we had to do a tribute of some sort on the album and we thought that what better way than to record a cover of one of Rick’s Quo songs, Rain. Our Manager then had the idea to contact original Status Quo drummer John Coghlan to see whether he would be interested in playing on the track and he was more than happy to do so. It added that little extra authentic tribute to the track.

Who are your biggest musical influences, and how have they encouraged you and helped to develop your sound?

We all have different individual influences, however as a whole the band take influence from artists like Aerosmith, Def Leppard, Eagles, Led Zeppelin, Nickelback, Van Halen. As the singer my two main vocal influences are Steven Tyler (Aerosmith) and Steve Perry (Journey) – two incredible voices.

Are there any tracks in particular that you’re looking forward to getting out there and also performing live on your upcoming tour?

It’s difficult to choose any particular tracks off the new album as we’re so proud of everything on the record – all of the tracks are going to be great fun to play.

This year you’ll be reaching your 10th year milestone together as a band, and you’ll have performed a staggering 1000 shows. How do you find the experience of being on the road and performing live, and what are your personal highlights?

It’s quite a milestone to reach 1000 shows. We’re constantly touring and play around 120 shows every year as we take on the old fashioned work ethic of constantly touring anywhere and everywhere. Our show highlights have got to be the Quo shows, particularly with Rick’s passing, those shows have become that bit more special, but we played some amazing venues to some huge crowds and it was a great experience to play with one of the iconic legendary British rock bands.

You’ve opened up for many big names over the years. Who have you enjoyed touring with the most and why?

Again the Quo shows, but we’ve also supported The Darkness, Black Stone Cherry and Slade to name only a few. To play with these artists who we look up to is something really special and something that we will never forget.

As soon as I heard your track ‘Mission Impossible’ straight away I knew I’d heard you played before on Planet Rock.  How are you finding the response to your music, and have you been picked up by many stations?

We haven’t actually been played on Planet Rock, YET! But it’s nice to think that Mission Impossible sounds like something you would hear on the radio. The tracks from the new album which we’ve been sending out to radio shows and all other press contacts absolutely love the new material and we’ve had nothing but praise which is great feedback.

[Editors note: I’m still convinced I’ve heard this track played out on the radio.  However, an email is currently flying its way over to Planet Rock HQ in the hope that Murray J plays it on his request show]

Are you managing your own website and social media accounts, and how important is it for you to connect with fans this way?

We do everything ourselves and are very switched on when it comes to social media as it is so important and essential these days. We have such an incredible fan base and we love to keep them updated with everything we do.

Connect with Walkway via their Website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

John Dylan releases new single ‘Get Beyond’

Sunday 25th June 2017

Multi-instrumentalist and producer extraordinaire, John Dylan, has had music running through his veins before he was even born, his parents playing the likes of Elvis Costello, Bob Marley and Stevie Ray Vaughn whilst he was still in the womb. But now, after previously having exhibited his work through the vehicle of the genre-defying band Terrene, (who had their record produced by Phil Ek: The Shins, Fleet Foxes, Built to Spill), John has now gone solo, bearing the load on his reliable talents as a songwriter.

With the uniquely named Peripheral Drift Illusion album in the pipeline, John is releasing the record’s first single, ‘Get Beyond’; a spacey, effects-laden piece of shoegaze-pop that owes much of its style to the classic sounds of bands like the Beatles, a major inspiration for John. Dreamy vocals combine with a bright, bouncing guitar riff that drifts effortlessly over a wah-fuelled bass line, before wading through a sludge of distortion. As a result, John takes us on a sonic odyssey that stops off at almost every genre and style on the way.

To confine Dylan’s eclectic stylings to a single genre, or compare him to a single band would be a near impossible task. With a life revolving around music, John has formed some unique standpoints when it comes to his work. For example, whilst he may be considered a ‘rock’ artist, John enjoys flipping analog rock aesthetics on their head, using a completely digital workflow. Also, for each single, John is embracing his counterparts in the hip-hop, dance and electronic cultures by allowing the songs to be ‘open sourced’, holding a remix competition for DJs and other electronic artists to sample and rework his songs, with the chance of appearing on the widely released version of the single.

John was recently diagnosed with a chronic anxiety disorder, but in spite of this, he uses it as fuel for writing his songs. Although it can be difficult to deal with, John notes that “there are hopeful moments in the form of songs like ‘Get Beyond’, where I encourage myself to get out of bed and come out of hiding into the world. ‘Get Beyond’ was written after a string of bad events in my life – I got laid off from work, my car stolen, my house robbed and my house entered foreclosure proceedings.  I realized these were hard things to go through, but they boiled down to material concerns and my ego was choosing to take all of these things personally.”

Although John takes inspiration from a wide range of sources such as Nirvana, My Bloody Valentine and The Beatles, his style draws similarities with the likes of The Flaming Lips and Tame Impala. Back in the mid-90s, John was involved with underground math-rock band, Mars Accelerator, who played alongside Modest Mouse and released an album with the help of Steve Fisk, who coincidentally, had worked with Nirvana.  In the past, John has also supported experimental outfit, Of Montreal, and the artwork for Peripheral Drift Illusion is being created by John Lennon’s bandmate, Klaus Voormann, who also designed the cover for the Beatles’ classic record, Revolver.

Dylan can be considered the complete musician, playing all the instruments and singing on his records: “Through the influx of things I go through in life, I try to reverberate them right back out of my body, by playing drums, or guitar, or bass, or singing. Or if I need to change where I’m at in my head, the headphones come on, and I can feel the ground move beneath my feet.”

Connect with John Dylan via his Website, Twitter and Facebook.

Patent Pending – Other People’s Greatest Hits

Friday 23rd June 2017

Track Listing:

1. Wasted/Wake Me Up
2. Spice Up Your Life
3. Can’t Take My Eyes Off You
4. Never Gonna Give You Up
5. Shout Out To My Ex
6. Livin’ La Vida Loca
7. All Time Low
8. Mr Brightside
9. Shape Of You
10. See You Again

Patent Pending are a rock band hailing from New York, and are here with their 6th studio album ‘Other People’s Greatest Hits’.  Known for performing covers during live shows the band decided they wanted to release an album of hits for their fans to enjoy.

Talking about the release the band explained that “each song that we chose for this album really helps represent the many different sides of Patent Pending. We’ve always been a band that draws influence from all over the musical spectrum and this project really helped us encapsulate pieces from all of the different genres we love in a half hour of pop-punk chaos! As music can make you feel so many different things and form connections with many songs for various different reasons, the hardest part of the whole thing was deciding which songs to do and choose only 10. We started with a list of 173 potential songs and spent a full week picking away at them, so safe to say this was truly a labor of love…”.”

Now, I have to admit that I tend to tread lightly when bands and artists produce cover songs.  You never really know what you’re going to get, and sometimes it doesn’t feel as though much justice has been done to the original at all.  However, that’s not to say I completely rule them out, in fact far from it.  Some of my favourites in recent years include Black Stone Cherry’s cover of Adele ‘Rolling In The Deep’ and Lonely The Brave did a beautiful version of Pink Floyd’s ‘Comfortably Numb’; also Amy Winehouse did a fantastic take on the Zutons ‘Valerie’.

When I was introduced to Patent Pending and their latest release ‘Other People’s Greatest Hits’ I was a bit unsure what to expect at first, but I can hands down say right from the start that it is an extremely entertaining album.  It does exactly what it says on the tin; it’s a collection of other people’s greatests hits that have been given a new lease of life.  With a really catchy collection of songs, Pop Punk is probably the most fun genre out there, and that’s exactly what this album is – lots of high energy and fun!

During their Spring Break Tour the band have been unveiling tracks from the album each night.  One of my favourites has to be their mash-up of ‘Wasted/Wake Me Up’ by Tiesto/Avicii, and it’s sure to be a crowd pleaser.  The newly released video for the track is very amusing and includes paint, and lots of it.  There’s a nice assortment of tracks from different eras, although I can’t help thinking that of all the music the 80’s gave to us, did we have to get “rick-rolled” by the infamous ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’. I do really enjoy the intro to this one though, it sounds like the start of an 80’s sitcom.

If I had to select a track that I was most worried about hearing it would be the timeless classic Mr Brightside by The Killers.  The original track is so euphoric it’s difficult to imagine it in any other way.  Got to hand it to the band though, the keys at the beginning gave it the excitement that’s always anticipated with the song and it hasn’t let the original down at all.

Covering a track that’s only recently charted is always a tough call too, but Patent Pending aren’t out to trump anyone they’re just out for the good times.  Their take on ‘Shape Of You’ by Ed Sheeran is quite funky and has been given the upbeat rock treatment with a sprinkling of beatings on the triangle.  However,  ‘Shout Out To My Ex’ doesn’t sound too dissimilar to the original, there’s just a lot more guitar work which makes it sit well with the rest of the album.

Vocalist, Joe Ragosta comments that “the first time I heard this song I knew immediately that it needed to be covered by a rock band. The chorus is so catchy. It honestly reminds me of classic Warped Tour singalong songs. We wanted to beef it up with heavier guitars and push it further out from the pop genre. People we’ve shown it to so far are really excited that they don’t have to feel guilty about loving this tune anymore!””

So there you have it, a party starting album that’s sure to get you motivated and put you in a feel good mood. I have to say that it’s very hard for me to sit here and critique an album full of highly recognised tracks because you’ll already know what to expect, and what’s even better is you’ll already know all the lyrics.

So just buy the freaking album.  You’ll thank me for it.

Connect with Patent Pending via their Website, Facebook and Twitter.

Little Steven – Soulfire

Sunday 14th May 2017

Track Listing:

1. Soulfire
2. I’m Coming Back
3. Blues Is My Business
4. I Saw The Light
5. Some Things Just Don’t Change
6. Love On The Wrong Side of Town
7. The City Weeps Tonight
8. Down and Out In New York City
9. Standing In The Line of Fire
10. Saint Valentines Day
11. I Don’t Want To Go Home
12. Ride The Night Away

In my house we always pen ‘Classic Rock Sundays’ in to our weekly routine where we listen to nothing but classic rock for the whole day.  It’s the one day of the week we can always guarantee to be in the house and having the opportunity to listen to music from dawn ’til dusk.  I have always been a big rock music enthusiast, but when I met my other half quickly realised how lacking my knowledge was of classic rock.  Sure I knew my AC/DC from my Def Leppard to my Deep Purple, but there were still many gaps to fill.  So with every Sunday that passes I’m certain to add something new to my collection.

So when I was given the new release from Little Steven to review I was very excited.  I started playing it and from the other side of the room I hear a voice “that sounds like Bruce Springsteen”.  And sure enough here I am being educated about another extremely important artist, with such a huge repertoire and back catalogue.  Whilst he’s not busy touring with Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band, Little Steven is here with his first solo release in almost 2 decades, ‘Soulfire’ which is due for release on the 19th May, and the album features a personal collection of tracks that have been revisted from the length of his career.

“I’ve always been very thematic with my work, very conceptual. I need a big picture, I can’t just do a collection of songs, that doesn’t work for me. In this case the concept became me. Who am I? I’m kind of my own genre at this point. So I tried to pick material that when you add it all up, really represented me. So there are a couple of covers, a couple of new songs, and some of what I feel are the best songs I’ve written and co-written over the years. This record is me doing me.”

Back in February Little Steven announced via social media that a new album was coming, and sure enough he released his first track from the album ‘Saint Valentines Day’ which was originally written for Nancy Sinatra.  Unfortunately the session never came off and the track became a hit for The Cocktail Slippers, and now we’re presented with his own take on the track where a horn line has been added to give it more of a soul feel.  This was a huge hit for The Cocktail Slippers, but I have to say I’m really enjoying this version just that little bit more.

If you’re a fan of the work that Steven Van Zandt has done with Southside Johnny and the Asbury Dukes then you’re in for a treat as there are a handful of tracks that you should recognise. Heading back to 1977 with LP ‘This Time It’s For Real’ he has taken the successful Motown track ‘Some Things Just Don’t Change’ which he wrote alongside David Ruffin with The Temptations in mind, and taken a turn from the deep soulfulness of the original and given it a more rock and roll vibe. ‘Love On The Wrong Side Of Town’ was co-written with Bruce Springsteen, and being such a definative song was more of a challenge to add his own personal spin.  He did after all write, arrange and produce the original version (I do love that piano intro) but he’s been able to find opportunities to change it up slightly.

Alongside the recognisable tracks there are also unheard songs such as ‘I Saw The Light’ which was half written for Richie Sambora & Orianthi, but the next time they met Richie had already written a further 40 songs so this one went unfinished.  That was until now when Steven decided to finish the song for himself.  Also, ‘The City Weeps Tonight’ was going to be the first song on his first solo album but has remained three-quarters finished all these years until now.

Speaking about his solo career, Steven explains “I felt a bit guilty about having walked away from Little Steven the artist. I left that part of myself behind and I shouldn’t have done that. I let the material down by not continuing to perform it, I betrayed the work and I want to fix that. I didn’t give up on the material – there was a lot of other factors – but I do have a sense of wanting some redemption for it.”

Music discovery for me isn’t just about finding emerging artists, but being introduced to music that has been around for a very long time and becoming aquainted with it.  So whilst Little Steven is currently on his own musical journey I am pleased to have found him along the way, because not only do I now have something to introduce my husband to on ‘Classic Rock Sundays’ but ‘Soulfire’ has provided me with a plethora of music from a key era, which includes not only Little Steven himself but the raft of artists he has also worked with.

Connect with Little Steven via his Website, Facebook and Twitter.