Hi Steven, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?
Good to be here! I’ve been doing pretty well as of late, happy to be on the other side of this record and stoked to have it swimming around out in the world.
Can you talk to us more about your song “Black Mood“?
I started a compilation of children’s songs a couple of years ago and this track was originally called “bad mood” but the concept kind of slipped and the lyrics in turn grew up a little and got to dive deeper into the depression theme. I still feel like the sing-along adolescence part of it remains.
Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?
I think I was unaware of my mental struggles at the time of writing this track, and at that point,expression through song was one of the only tools I used to get through these kinds of episodes.
Any plans to release a video for any of the tracks?
I have always thought music videos for my songs to be kind of cheesy, but I think this LP deserves a few good tries. I’ve got some concepts cooking for several of the songs, but you’ll just have to wait and see.
The single comes off your new album On Ice – what’s the story behind the title?
I’ve always had a fascination with the touring production of ‘Disney On Ice.’ This being the biggest record I’ve worked on as far as production and accompaniment, I thought it deserved a title as big as the feeling of those ‘Disney On Ice’performances I saw as a kid.
How was the recording and writing process?
Writing comes to me in spurts and generally happens really quickly. If I get something finished,I’m likely to write a couple more tunes in the same sitting. It’s weird. These songs kind of come from all over the place, some really new and some really old. The first and last track on the LP were both written near the end of recording the album. Everything was tracked in the home studio of Maddy Ciampa, and we worked on it one day a week for something like 2 years. It was about as good and flexible of an experience as you’re gonna get.
What role does Columbus play in your music?
I moved here a couple of years ago from a more rural area of Central Ohio that I grew up in; I’m really just starting to get the hang of it. Columbus is great because it’s accessible for musicians and artists – It’s generally easy to find quality spaces to rehearse and to navigate the city for local shows,but it’s equally as easy for me to walk down the street to a bar and stay there just a little too late.Even though it’s a capital city, it gets small very quickly, and sometimes pretty competitive. I would say it’s a blessing and a curse. If we were talking on the phone right now, I would say, “the city has toughened me up,” but like in a Hollywood movie trailer narrator voice.
You brought a special group of musicians to lend you a hand – did you handpick them or how did they come onboard?
My manager and label partner, Mitch Rossiter,introduced me to most of the active Columbus musicians I currently play with back when he was living in town and an active part of my line up. When he initially moved into town, I believe in 2015, he was a promoter and ran a popular DIY show space, so he was meeting all the key players in town. We had been playing my songs as a two-piece, and then every couple of weeks he would have somebody new for me to meet that he thought would be a good fit. I would try to not scare them away, and eventually the band filled out.
What did they bring to the table?
Musicianship, companionship, a little security blanket for me. I would like to think I can do everything on my own, but Daniel Seibert has been the first drummer I’ve been able to let loose, trusting him to take things and run with them. I don’t really feel like I need to coach him often, which I think is great for both of us in the writing process. We have a solid relationship when it comes to writing and composing, we can openly discuss ideas, but we’re usually on the same page and he is honestly just a complete genius. Dan is also responsible for composing some string arrangements on the album.
Do you tend to take a different approach when you are collaborating with someone else rather than working on your own
I can’t play every instrument, I’m not great with high–end recording software, and I get kind of overwhelmed in certain situations, but for the most part this is a one-person operation. I’m typicallynot a great team player, and I’m really lucky to have the players I do in my band. When it comes time to record or play live, I put a lot of trust in these other musicians to both express themselves/ make their parts their own, and at the same time represent the original vision I had for the song. But there are also times when we reach new ideas as a unit. It’s definitely been good for me to learn how to communicate with the band. Maddy Ciampa is the first producer that has allowed me to say a definitive “yes or no” for basically every aspect of the album, and I didn’t have to make very many hard decisions in the process because we were on the same wavelength for the duration of recording.
What aspect of your own life and experience did you get to explore on this record?
Everything ends up being pretty personal whether I like it (or expect it) or not, and I want it to be personal for everyone else. I want people to think about themselves, or me, or other people they knowwhen listening to my music. Or even people they want to know. It’s interesting from my perspective.I think some of the tracks make me sound very positive and chipper while others make me out to be a pretty miserable person. Alternatively, I think getting better at writing songs can allow you to write something very personal that also appeals to a wider spectrum of listeners, making them feel like they’re writing for you. A feeling is a feeling and I guess that’s what we’re all shooting for, right?
Where else did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?
I live a blown-out fantasy life that’s very hard to keep up with, and I think some people that are close to me are surprised in the seriousness in the content of the songs sometimes. I’ve got plenty of tall tales and “Big Fish” experiences to use as ammunition in my songs, but I feel like the best stuff comes from the day–to–day. Observations and real-life experiences that tend to get overlooked bythe average life-liver. I do like to keep it interesting,though. I have effectively and unintentionally become a parody of myself recently, but I think I still manage to come across with some serious notes sometimes.
Any plans to hit the road?
I’m hoping to spend a lot of time on the road in 2020. It’s been a minute since we’ve been out as a full band, and I haven’t seen the ocean in a few months, which means it’s about time. Keep your eyed peeled for spring/summer tour dates.
What else is happening next in Steven King‘s world?
Band guitarist/contributor Pat Schlafer and I are taking a lucky winner of our Golden Ticket contest to a performance of Disney On Ice this February. We’re pretty excited about that. Otherwise, I’ve got the next record written and ready to record. Hopefully between touring in 2020, and getting ‘On Ice’ spread around the country, I’ll find some time to get back into the studio.