Steve Fister (Lita Ford/Steppenwolf) 2005 May 2, 2011 18:15:13 GMT -6
Post by classic rock revival on May 2, 2011 18:15:13 GMT -6
CLASSIC ROCK REVIVAL INTERVIEW
Jim: You just released a new album "Dodgin' Bullets," can you tell us a bit about it?
Steve: Sure! I'm looking at Dodgin Bullets as the "TRANSFORMATION COMPLETE" record. By that I mean, the first record, "Shadow King", had a guest vocalist on 3 cuts, "Age of Great Dreams" was totally instrumental, "2 Ways 2 Skin Groove" half the record was instrumental, I sang on the other half. (Hence the title 2 Ways 2 Skin a Groove!) "Between a Rock and a Blues Place" me singing on 8 tracks, (the other 2 tracks were instrumental) "Dodgin Bullets" is me singing the whole thing with the addition of 2 instrumentals.
I always sang. When I got my first record deal, I was signed as an instrumental artist. When I would play my solo gigs, I'd always sing at least 50% of the set. In the early days my Cd's did not reflect that. So when it came time to tour in support of the records the promoters and booking agents had a rough time in trying to book me, even know I have killer high profile players in my bands!
So there I was making records with real live players, (no machines or loops) and having a hard time trying to reach a bigger audience. At the time there was a trend that musicians were making instrumental Cd's in their bedrooms using drum machines and samples. This somewhat made sense, as the market for that kind of music is very small. If you wanted to stay in the game and keep making records somebody had to buy them! I was very stubborn, and kept it going, making the best records I could using big studios and great players. No compromises!
When I made the 2 Ways Cd, I started getting interest from record companies. To me signing with a label would have to entail a commitment to touring in support of the record. I got a offer from a company in Europe for the "Between a Rock and a Blues Place" record that did indeed get me out on the road in Europe. That got the ball rolling from there. That Cd is only available in Europe, but I have a couple of the tracks on my site www.stevefister.com for free download.
Jim: The title track has already been picked as the theme song for Champ Car Racing and Nascar has featured some of your songs from your pervious solo CD's. How did all this come about? Are you a racing fan?
Steve: I'm starting to get into the Champ Car racing. I'm just happy they like my music! I have a friend that heard a prerelease copy of Dodgin Bullets. He passed it on the big guys at Champ car, and they liked it enough to use it as the theme for all the races!
Jim: You had a song titled "Dodgin' Bullets," on your last solo album "2 Ways 2 Skin A Groove," and "Tell Me Something Good," was featured on your second album "Age Of Great Dreams,". Have you redone these two songs for your new album? What's the story?
Steve: Wow Jim, you have really done your homework! Very cool!!
The song "Dodgin Bullets" is a new version, with a lot a slide guitar, while "Tell Me Something Good" is a same track off of the "Age of Great Dreams" CD. With the instrumental crowd, the tune always got a good response, so I included it on the new CD.
Jim: Will Stu Hamm and Tommy Aldridge be joining you on the road for your upcoming solo tour?
Steve: My live trio consists of a great drummer from Holland, Hans nt Zant, and on bass I have "the low end from the lowlands" Barend Courbois. Together a fantastic rhythm section, as well great guys!
Jim: Do you have a very strong fanbase in Europe, as well as here in the states. What are some of the regions here and abroad that you enjoy playing the most?
Steve: In the states the people in Texas are great, in
Europe it's all good! The people in Europe are very support, I love going over to play!
Here are the dates for the fall tour.
Steve Fister Dodgin Bullets European Tour Oct. / Nov. 2005
24 Norwich - Waterfront
25 Dartford -Mick Jagger Centre
26 Milton Keynes - The Stables
27 Falmouth - Princes Pavillion
28 London - Mean Fiddler
29 Frome - Cheese & Grain
30 Honiton - Honiton Hotel
31 Sutton Boom Boom Club
2 Utrecht - Tivoli
3 Zoetermeer - Boerderij
4 Hardenberg - Podium
5 Vlissingen - Arsenaal
6 Eindhoven - Effenaar
7 Belgium Live Music Harelbeke
8 Germany - Bochum / Matrix
11 DK-Copenhagen Amager Bio
Jim: Steve, let's go back a few years. How old were you when you took up the guitar? Who were some of your influences, and what was your first paying gig?
Steve: I started playing guitar when I was 5 or 6 years
old! That certainly is more than a few years back!
My earliest memory of music that moved me was Boogie Woogie piano, and then a bit later the Beatles and the British invasion stuff. Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page, that led me to Albert King, BB King and Freddy King. That led me to Charlie Christian, then on to fusion jazz. The style where I found my voice on the guitar was always blues based. I have a ton of influences, but I can't shake the emotion and feeling I get from the blues!
First paying gig? You mean you get money to play?? Ha Ha!! But seriously my first paying gig was at a local teen club in Buffalo New York (my home town) when I was about 10 years old. I had to lie about my age and tell them I was 13!!! Funny I'm still lying about my age to this very day!
Jim: In the early 80's you joined Iron Butterfly as their lead guitarist. Was this your first gig with an established, well known band....your first taste of the big - time, so to speak?
Steve: Yes it was. One of the first tours I went on with the Butterfly was with Savoy Brown, Mountain, and Mark Farner. I was in heaven, hanging out and playing with my idols!
Jim: Did you do any recording with Butterfly or was it strictly road work and who was fronting the band at that time?
Steve: We did some recording, but nothing ever came of it. The lineup was Doug Ingle, Lee Dorman, Len Campanaro and me. As long as Doug was singing it was cool!
Jim: You played slide guitar on a couple of tracks on Pat Travers' "Blues Magnet," album, and later joined Lita Ford's band at the height of her career. How did these gigs come about?
Steve: I had moved to Nashville around early 93. I endorsed Gibson guitars at the time, they are based in Nashville, so I would go down to the offices to hang out. One time my artist rep mentioned Pat Travers was looking for a guitar player. I wound up playing for the better part of that year with Pat. That band kicked some serious ass! We had Ansley Dunbar on drums. A fun gig!
With Lita, I had been doing a bunch of recording sessions at Jet Records in Hollywood. The producer on the sessions mentioned she was going to put a band together. So I went down to an audition. She heard about 80 players, and I got the job!
We toured non stop for the next 2 years. I learned and saw a lot of things! Oh yea Sharon Osbourn managed the band at the time!
We toured with Ted Nugent, Yngwie Malmsteen, Poison, and Bon Jovi and Ozzy Osbourn! On one of the Europe tours we played the Wemble Arena for 4 nights! Big crowds! You know, the biggest audience I ever played for was on a 4th of July, in Houston Texas with Steppenwolf, 250.000 people! That's a big sea of humanity!!
Jim: In addition to being the lead guitarist in Lita's band, you were also the musical director. What were your duties as musical director?
Steve: Lets see, set lists, pacing the show, endings, and running the rehearsals.. Just had to make sure we all played the right notes!
Jim: In 1994 you replaced Les Dudek as guitarist in John Kay & Steppenwolf. Apparently, things didn't work out with Les and they contacted you to replace him....is that right?
Steve: Actually I got a call to audition for the Wolf in 89. I had just got home from a very long tour with Lita, and I was not too keen on going back out on the road so soon. I think I was home for about 4 or 5 days! But in this business when a opportunity comes up you have to check it out. So I went to the audition, and waited for the call. John called and said they liked my playing but they were going to hire Les as his name had more "Marquee Value" than mine. Then about 2 or 3 weeks into the tour I guess things didn't work out with Les, so I got a call to fly in over night and play Mile High Stadium In Denver for 55,000 people! I learned the tunes on the plane and in the bus on the way to the show! I remember walking out on that stage and plugging into Les's amps, with no sound check! My gear didn't make it out till the next week. So I finished the tour with them. It was around 3 plus months. Quite a trial by fire! But they didn't have to cancel any shows and nobody lost work, so it worked out.
When I finally made it home, I wanted to concentrate on writing and session work. During that time I started writing The "Shadow King" material. When I was out on the road with Lita, we opened for Ted Nugent for 3 weeks. At that time Ted had a great singer, Derek St. Holmes in his band. Derek and I became friends, and started to write songs. He came to LA and we worked our butts off putting a band together, and trying to land a record deal. We got some management, but no record deal. To this day I think Derek has one of best voices in rock music. Around that time, I did a couple of videos and a couple of European tours with vocalist Robin Beck. That was a very busy, diverse time!
Jim: During your time with Steppenwolf no albums were released. Did you do any recording with the Wolf, or write any songs that remain unreleased today?
Steve: I played on a few things in John's studio, but I'm sure they had Danny Johnson do his own thing on them. However I did get a couple of bootleg CD's from live gigs from some of the fans, so I have a audio recollection of the time.
During that time I wanted to lay the groundwork to start to do my own thing. On the time off from the Wolf, I always be playing my own shows and working on new material. When ever I could I would do recording sessions for other artists as well. As a matter of fact I was playing with Pat Travers and Steppenwolf at the same time. One weekend I'd be playing in Texas with the Wolf on Friday and PT in Los Angeles on Saturday! Well at least Boom Boom Out Go the Lights, and Born to Be Wild are in the key of E! It was pretty crazy for a few months.
Jim: Of your (3) currently available solo CD's "Shadow King," "Age Of Great Dreams,", & "2 Ways 2 Skin A Groove," which one is your personal favorite, the one that stands out the most, the one that....(if you were a fan looking to turn a friend on to Steve Fister) that you would recommend? )
Steve: All of them of course!! That's like saying which one of your kids do you like best!! I never try to make the same record twice so they are all a bit different. Actually, the new one "Dodgin Bullets" is my new baby so give that one a thumbs up.
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Interview By: Jim Davenport.