PASSPORT: Steve Deaton (The Steve Deaton Three)

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(Power) Pop, (Classic) Rock, Country, Blues … it’s all there and it’s great. Steve Deaton tells about the brand new album, The Steve Deaton Three.

 

What was the biggest fun during the making of the last album?

The best thing about making this album for me was being able to record the core rhythm tracks live with two other super-talented musicians whom I respect and in general just like to hang out with. This was a nice change for me when it comes to recording a “solo” project (or at least one with my name on it) because in the past I’ve done a lot of Jeff Lynne-style production with me laying down one track at a time. And while I like the solitude sometimes of being a musical monk in my cave, I really prefer the energetic feel of a band interacting with one another, especially when recording straight ahead rock and power pop as is found on this record. Hence The Steve Deaton Three formula is one I plan to make my standard mode of operation. And my hope is that I can make the process fun enough to keep Denny Burkes playing his monster vintage Ludwigs and Adam Perry laying down some Fender Jazz bass with me for years to come.

If we want to know you, which song do we have to listen to? And why?

My personal and sentimental favorite is “Peroxide Blonde in a Hopped Up Model Ford.” This is our reworking of a Sun Records track by the late great 50’s rockabilly cat Jumpin’ Gene Simmons (who just happened to be my mother’s first cousin). The original recording of this song was never released and was partially destroyed. Decades later Brian Setzer heard a fragment of the tune on a Sun Records compilation and loved it. Setzer decided he wanted to cover the song on his Sun tribute album, so he contacted my second cousin Gene to see if he remembered the rest of the song. Gene told Setzer that the song was ancient history for him and that he couldn’t recollect even the verses that had survived, so Gene invited Setzer to write a third verse and complete the song and record it (which Setzer promptly did). Gene died a few years back, so our version is my tribute to him. I love the original fragment and Setzer’s cover version, but we decided we wanted to find a way to make our version ours, which I think we did. I’ll let you guys decide if we succeeded.

The music industry has changed a lot (or so they say). What did it bring you? And what not?

Well, people bitch a lot about how the industry is going to pot, and for major label artists maybe this is so (meaning instead of selling 3 million units they now only sell 500,000—oh what a pity). But I am discovering that for independent artists, there are more and more avenues for getting your music heard (internet radio, blogs such as this fine blog, podcasts, social media ads). Some new fans are going to buy the music outright, some will decide to stream it on their subscription services, and other will simply listen once or a few times for free on YouTube and so forth. I’m happy with that—it is gratifying to know the music is being heard by people who are searching for new music.

Who is the best musician in the world nobody has heard of yet? And why will this change very soon?

That’s a tough one. So I’m going to pick two. 1) The first guy actually quite a lot of people have heard of (especially people reading this blog) but who should be (in a just universe anyways) a megastar and household name after his recent release. That guy is Steve Eggers of The Nines. In the world of underground power pop, he is already a super star I believe. But the quality of his songcraft and pop production should rank him up there with Andy Partridge or Matthew Sweet, and, if I had my way, up there with Jeff Lynne and McCartney (that’s how blown away I am with his talent). The Nines’ recent album Night Surfer and The Cassette Kids is by far my favorite record of the year. 2) The guy that nobody has heard of is Jackson, Mississippi, jazz guitarist Barry Leach. He is a pillar of the local scene here, and if I’m just going to sit and listen to someone play guitar for a couple of hours, he’s as good as anyone I’ve come across—truly amazing! However, I don’t know that his obscurity will change any time soon because he has found a way to make a decent living without leaving the metro area. So for now at least, everyone will just have to come to Mississippi to hear this gem. But seriously, if you are ever in town on a weekend, he will usually be found somewhere playing solo or with The Barry Leach Group or with his jazz-funk outfit The Vamps. Do yourself a favor. He and these groups do have a few releases floating around out there in the cyberworld, too.

She tells you she will decide on a 5-song-mixed tape if there is going to be a second date. Which 5 would you put on?

Well, the mixtape will be as much to decide if I want a second date as to find out if she wants to put up with me and my schizophrenic musical tastes. So my disaster of a mixtape might look something like this:

1. “Downed” by Cheap Trick

2. “Sam’s Place” by Buck Owens and The Buckaroos

3. “Any Major Dude Will Tell You” by Steely Dan

4. “Insanity (The Sanest Thing You’ve Got)” by The Nines

5. “Ghost of Perdition” by Opeth

Track 5 is where most women (including my wife) will leave the party. Thankfully my wife married me before I discovered Opeth, and thankfully she is sweet enough to politely excuse herself when they and other similar bands rotate through my playlist. Amazingly and fortunately for me, she comes back when it’s over! Note: I’m really not trying to seem cool or contrary by showing off my eclecticism. This is just the sweet and sad reality of my musical brain.

What’s up for the next couple of months?

The Steve Deaton Three are planning to release the current album on vinyl by mid-year (by Record Store Day if things go well) so we’ll be putting together a campaign to get the word out. We will play a few shows in the area, including (hopefully) a local indie music fest. Other than that, we’ll be busy being sweet husbands and super cool dads (we each have one child, all of them still young enough to think we are cool).

 

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