Monday, October 3, 2011
4 Minutes with Steve Conte
Steve Conte With The New York Dolls.
Steve Conte is an American singer and rock musician and lead singer of the band The Contes, along with his brother John Conte, both formerly members of the band Crown Jewels. He is perhaps more popularly known for his collaborations with composer Yoko Kanno, as well as being former lead guitarist of the New York Dolls. Conte also plays guitar in Hanoi Rocks singer Michael Monroe's new band, The Michael Monroe Band—along with fellow New York Doll and bassist Sami Yaffa, and guitarist Ginger of The Wildhearts. Conte currently fronts his latest band, Steve Conte & The Crazy Truth. Their eponymous, critically acclaimed, Steve Conte-produced debut album was released on October 20, 2009 on Varèse Sarabande Records.
Q1. What was the first record you bought and how did it change your life?
It was a Beatles 45rpm single, Penny Lane b/w Strawberry Fields Forever. Musically, I probably got my melodic sense from that McCartney A-side but it was the Lennon B-side that got under my skin...the word-play, the psychedelic, surreal atmosphere of the recording, the chord changes, the modal riffs of the string section, etc. Then I got Small Faces, Rolling Stones and Sly Stone records! There was always blues & soul mixed in with my love of pop melody...
Q2. Can you tell me a bit about the Crazy Truth and your new record?
The Crazy Truth came about after I had been playing stripped down rock & roll for a few years with NY Dolls. On the "One Day It Will Please Us..." album producer Jack Douglas recorded my rhythm guitar and solos "live" on the same track and it was such a pleasure that i wanted to do something like that for myself. So i got a band of guys together and we rehearsed for awhile, played some shows and went in and recorded The Crazy Truth album live as well! I overdubbed a few things and did some editing but there was no over-thinking about what to do or play. it was totally "of the moment".
I'm about to start work on my new album which will be a "Solo" Steve Conte album. It is the record that I have to make now because of my geographical circumstances. Since these days I've been going back & forth between Europe & NYC without a steady band there will be lots of different players involved. Song-wise, there will be some fan favorites that I've played live but never recorded. The album will be less "dirty New York rock & roll" and more song / lyric oriented.
Q3. How did you become involved the New York Dolls?
David Jo got a call from Morrissey to put the Dolls back together with the remaining members. He asked respected guitar players in NYC to recommend someone who was a pro and could not only play the Dolls music the right way but who also looked like he fit in. Both Jimmy Vivino from the Conan O’Brien show (who plays with David in Hubert Sumlin’s band) and Larry Saltzman from David’s band The Harry Smiths told him- “There’s only one name I’m gonna give you – Steve Conte…don’t call anyone else!” David called me and we met for lunch and talked about many things including music. At the end of our meeting he gave me a package of CDs and lyrics saying, “I took the liberty of making this package for you…whaddaya think…you wanna do this?” - to which I replied - “Hell yeah!”
Q4. You are touring with the Michael Monroe band and simultaneously doing many other projects. How do you keep all the ‘plates in the air’?
Yes! It's never easy but it's what I"ve always done....I love to play with other people as well as having my own band. It keeps me sharp & in shape!