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Continued

RNW:  What brought the three of you together, was it your styles?  Did you hang in clubs together?

Bob:  We were all in different bands at the time, playing around New York and stuff.  We just got together.  We were all kind of at the end of the ropes with our old bands and we wanted to play together so we just got together and started jammin.  Wrote music and really didn’t have any preconceived notions at the time of what it was going to sound like or what we would do and that.  It just came out great and you know, developed a style of like, Fern singing and my vocal style.  Two lead vocalists and mine is more of a straight ahead type thing and Fern does all the melodies and stuff.  You know, it was a lot of experimentation in the beginning, a lot of learning his voice and he came up with a style within himself and what we did is we developed against each other.  To make it sound different, you know.  As we did some recording with the producer, he actually helped out to, Machine (the producer), he did our record.  So, we’ll probably get to him a little later, but yeah, so we got together and it just works.  Sort of playing out live and like, early 1997 we were officially the Step Kings.  Started playing all around all the New York underground clubs like Coney Island High and CBGBs.  Stuff like that.

RNW:  That’s a fun place!

Bob:  Yeah, and we put out our first EP that year "Seven Easy Steps" its called, on our own label.  Did our first tour with S.O.D that year and been touring ever since.

RNW:  So this is kind of a labor of love.  I know how hard it is to set up your own tours, press your own CDs and stuff.

Bob:  Oh yeah, we kept it on our shoulders and there was other labels looking at us back in the old days – the old days, a couple, two three years ago!  But yeah, we always wanted to, we knew there were bigger and better things up for the band and we just wanted to wait and really take the time to develop and get to the point where we are now.  Its just the right time for the Step Kings now.  And, one thing about that is, we have recently added a fourth member.  That man you see in the tail here, Bo Bailey.

RNW:  Hi Bo.

Bob:  Yeah, he’s, you know, we always want to, you know, it was an idea we had just recently to upgrade the live show.

RNW:  And Bo’s doing what?

Bob:  He’s a multi-instrumentalist.  Guitar, he plays a big sewer pipe he bangs on, a little horns, basically anything we dream up, Bo can play it and he does it. 

RNW:  Keys?

Bob:  We haven’t done that yet.  I think in the next record we may incorporate a little piano.  We’ll see about that.  But he is capable.

Fern:  Actually, there is a little piano on this record.

RNW:  I’ll have to go home tonight and do my homework, figure out which one that is.  Is there a primary song writer here, or do you all kind of . . . 

Fern:  Nah.  Not really.  Me and Bob kind of hack it out a lot in the beginning as far as like, the whole melodic content, you know what I mean?  The whole riffs and this and that and then as a band we arrange it together.  You know, we write parts for each other.

RNW:  Do you write the lyrics first?

Bob:  No set style, sometimes that way, sometimes music first.  Just whatever.

RNW:  So somebody could bring in a riff or something, then . . .

Bob:  Yeah, sometimes Mike Watt will have a drum beat and we’ll throw a riff down to it and it will become a song down the line.

Fern:  That’s the whole challenge of it.  Well, not a challenge, but it makes it exciting that way. 

RNW:  I understand that S.O.D. front man Billy Milano was a great help to you guys in getting started.  In what ways was he there for you?

Bob:  Billy, he’s been a friend for a while.  When we first got this band together, you know, he came and saw us play live out in New York and he was blown away.  He was really into it and like I said, I’ve been friends with him for a while and he was starting a management company at the time and he was managing some hardcore bands and we were much different from that.  Billy just really wanted to help us out a lot in the beginning and he did, you know.  He took us on our first tour and really took us under his wing and taught us a lot about the business in the beginning and just helped us out.  Helped us get through the early stages and broke down a couple of doors for us. 

Fern:  Yeah, he’s a physical guy so we came in kind of prehistoric style but it was cool man. 

RNW:  You’ll have to save those stories for after the interview.  We can have a beer and you can tell me all about those!

Any other guardian angels in your careers?

Fern:  Yeah, we’ve had a lot of those.

Bob:  Every kid whose put us up in their house when we’ve been on tour on our own, or help us fix – gave us a new battery for our van when our van broke down.  Yeah, there’s been plenty of people, and you know, they’ve all helped us get to that point, and yeah.  The great thing about touring is you go back and see your friends and especially the guys who were there in the beginning when you were playing to ten people.  Now you go back and play to a thousand people and they’re hangin out.  You know, it’s a cool thing when you come up that way.  It really makes you appreciate any success you have that much more when you’ve been doing it from the ground level.

RNW:  Well, the section, or the feature area that I write in for Rock N World is called "Back Stage Pass" and so, I do talk about the music, but what I like to talk about even more is what its like to be a musician and try and help the fans understand what its like to be a musician.  You know, like the ten year "over night" successes and the hard work and blood, sweat and tears, so to speak, that goes into when they finally see you on the stage or are buying your disc in the store.

Bob:  Alright, cool.

RNW:  So its always interesting to me to find out, you know, what did you do to get here from there and who interacted with that all along the way.

Fern:  Well, we did it all.  I mean, we worked several jobs on our own, obviously, you know, booked our own tours.

RNW:  You mean the dreaded "day gig?"

Bob:  Well, basically we all had wallpaper businesses.  We hung wallpaper.

RNW:  (laughs) On the road?

Bob:  Nah, what we did was, I had the idea to do it back then, when I was with my old band.  I came home from a tour in Europe at the time and I didn’t know what I was doing, so I found out about this wallpaper school.  Learned how to hang wallpaper, started my own business, and was playing with these guys.

RNW:  What was this school?

Bob:  PHI – Paper Hangers Institute (all laugh).

Bo:  The guy is PHI certified.

Bob:  Yeah, I learned to hang wallpaper so basically I could go out and hang wallpaper a couple days a week and then go tour when I wanted to.  And then I taught these guys how to do it.

Fern:  You’ve got to set yourself up man!

Bob:  I set up shop in Fern’s kitchen, taught these guys how to do it and next we were all hanging wallpaper.  That way we could all, you know, go on tour for the month of July.  Instead of telling the boss you had to leave and they would never let you, we all had our own businesses and could do it.

RNW:  That’s so cool!  You’d have to hang a lot of paper to tour in July, huh?

Bob:  Basically, you have to set your life up to do music, you know?  And that’s what we did.  The job was, you know, it was only to make money so we could survive, pay your rent and then go on tour, and if you made enough you could go in, it helped to pay someone to put us in the studio a little bit.   Well you were saying something about guardian angels, there’s a couple more. Like Machine was one, our producer.  He’s been with us.  We ended up doing the record on our own with him before a label stepped in and wouldn’t have been able to do it without him, you know?  And a couple others were the Syndicate, people from their college radio promotion company, we had a lot of friends who were fans of the band back in New York.  Because we’re from over there, that’s where a lot of the industry was and you know.

RNW:  It’s a good place to be.

Bob:  Yeah, you know.  They helped us out.  They helped us because they believed in the band and they helped us promote the record, our records in the beginning when we were on our own.  Helped us really get a lot of recognition because of that.  Like Mazer is our press guy that helped us out a lot.  Got us written up in Playboy, so put that on record.

RNW:  Yeah, but has he gotten you that invitation to the mansion yet?

Bob:  That’s what I’m lookin for.  That’s what our management’s job is. 

Fern:  Well, we might have to work on it on our own too . . .

RNW:   Management’s job is not done, okay?

Bob:  But we did do a show with Shannon Stewart, Miss June.  She opened up for us during a signing in Baton Rouge.

RNW:  I read that.  I’ve been having a wonderful time reading your reports from the road. 

Fern:  (All laugh)  Oh damn.

Bob:  Oh man.

RNW:  (laughing)  Hey, I don’t walk into these things cold, dude.   Who’s your favorite band to tour with and who do you want to tour with in the future?  Who would be your ultimate?

Bob:  We have a lot of, there’s a lot of great bands that tour and we have fun touring with everyone.   Right now we’re out with Kittie, they’ve been cool.

RNW:  I like Staind by the way.  I understand you have done a lot things with them.  They’re cool.

Fern:  Yeah, they’re cool guys.

Bob: We just did, one of the runs we did last months was with a band called Work Horse Movement.  They’re out of Detroit.  They are also a new band coming out on Roadrunner (Records).  And they were just a real cool band.  We had a great time with those guys and like, the last show on the run was St. Patrick’s Day and we all hung out in the dressing room and sang drunken Irish songs and got hammered.  It was cool, so, yeah we’ve got a lot of friends out there and we meet more every day.  And our next tour, have I told you about our next tour yet?

RNW:  No, but that was actually one of my questions, so why don’t you just jump right to that one.

Bob:  Okay, yeah, after we finish up the whole run with Kittie right now, on the west coast, June 1st we pick up the Insane Clown Posse.

RNW:  Wow.  Whew, that could be a blast . . .

Bob:  Yeah, that’s for the whole month of June, so that should be interesting, to say the least.

RNW:  Yep.  That’ll be a wild ride.  A-huh. 

So, what do you think the listeners will like the most about "Lets Get It On?"  What’s going to hook em in there?

Bob:  It’s the songs.  I think it’s the songs.  I mean, we’re not a band that defines a record by a guitar sound or this or that.  Its more, its definitely, you hear a vast array of influences on there.  I mean, it doesn’t have one set sound.  I think we have our own sound, I mean, it’s a combination of a lot of different things.

RNW:  The first thing that hit me in the face was Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Bob:  There you go.  That’s cool.  Well, Red Hot Chili Peppers is a band that created a sound out of a lot of different things like punk rock and everything else, and I think that we come along the same lines.  Bands like them, and Chris Bowen and the Beastie Boys, who have done everything from rock to, I guess, rap.  We try to stay away from the rap as much as we can cause so many bands are doing it, but you know, the metal or alternative.  You know, basically just good songs, you know.  There’s some different styles on there and I think it just keeps it exciting. 

RNW:  What made you want to cover Pink Floyd’s "The Wall?"

Bob:  Its one of those things were I’m in my car one day and the song comes on the radio and I’m listening to the lyrics and I’m thinking man, sounds like punk rock lyrics, you know?  Its all about the youth rebelling and growing up.  That’s what punk rock is all about, so, I mean, I just had this idea to do this crazy punk rock version of Another Brick In The Wall, and we took it in and we just started jammin on it and Mike Watt threw down a punk rock beat to it and we started jammin these crazy riffs and I started screaming the lyrics over it and it just came out as, you know.  I guess it might be a bit of blasphemy to a real Pink Floyd fan, but its our own version.  It doesn’t sound anything like the original and I think it came out pretty cool. 

RNW:  Yeah, I think it did too.  With several of the songs on the CD dealing with keeping relationships going on the road, how do you all stay connected to your home bases?

Bob:  Well, me, myself, I’ve totally separated everything.  I got no girlfriend, my friends, I’ve got as many friends on the road as I do at home right now because we’ve been out for so long.  But, no, I’ve got my friends back home and the other guys in the band, its tough.  Some of the guys got girl friends and the girls try to come out on the road here and there but especially lately, more than ever, we’ve been out so its got to be tough.  You can only imagine.  I’ve been there with that and that’s why I’ve kind of decided to stay single at this point myself.  Just because it is so hard when you are with someone.  You’re with someone, so to speak, but not physically, you know what I mean?  And that’s kind of what the song "One on One" is about.   About being there with someone and they’re sort of waiting at home for you and their mind is on the relationship and your mind is on what we’re doing.  We’re on the road, touring and the more success you get, the more it takes you away from them.  So its kind of a double edged sword with that.  So, its definitely tough, but for the most part, me, I just kind of like homeless right now.  I moved my stuff at my dad’s house pretty much, and don’t know where I’m going to move to when I get home off the road, ever, if we do.  Maybe Christmas some time, we’ll have a little time off and I can figure out where I want to live.

RNW:  Well, you’re not alone, you’re in good company there.

Bob:  So, that’s where its at.  I’m out here with my brothers on the road in the RV.  This is pretty much my home at this point.  In the past few years we’ve been together so much on the road that we’ve all become best friends because of it. 

RNW:  You don’t want to kill each other yet?

Bob:  Oh, here and there.  Every once in a while, you know?  But, its all good.

RNW:  Okay, this is the last question for you.  This is your opportunity to narc on your band mates.  Any secrets you want to let us in on about Fern or Mike or Bo?

Bob:  s***.  Do you got anything about me?  What?

RNW:  I always get good stuff on this one!

Bob:  Oh damn, good secret, huh?  Um, s***.  I’m sure I’ve got plenty, but what can I say that they won’t be pissed at me about, you know?  I’m just going to say, you know what, we’re pretty much all straight up guys.   Not much to hide, and this is the truth.  We come to our shows, we hang out with people, we don’t like, run to the RV to hang out.  We’re pretty much out there and I know I pretty much speak for the rest when I say we pretty much wear our hearts on our sleeve.  We’ve all got a lot of things we did, and maybe should have done or should not have done and this and that.  We probably shouldn’t talk about most of that in the interview, and I’ll probably leave it there.

RNW:  Okay, sounds good to me!


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