JamBase Questionnaire: The Steepwater Band

Welcome back to JamBase’s baker’s dozen to the bright lights of the music world. Last time we heard from Brian Haas.

The Steepwater Band by Daniel Bartel
Listening to Live At The Double Door (released October 19 on Diamond Day) it’s hard to fathom how Chicago’s The Steepwater Band isn’t a longtime staple on the festival and theatre circuit. Lean, menacing toughness infuses a mixture of electric blues, country flavors and gloriously faded denim classic rock, all delivered in a way that seizes one rather than wait for the listener to tiptoe in.

Anyone who’s ever swooned over North Mississippi Allstars, The Black Crowes, Buddy Guy, Hound Dog Taylor, Savoy Brown and other similar certified greats will feel their blood bubble happily as snarling opener “Indiana Line” leads into killer after killer captured at Chi-town’s finest lil’ juke joint, the Double Door, in a single night this past May. You can practically smell the sweat pouring down the walls as TSB drag blues rock back to the same craggy, longhaired territory where early Zeppelin had their way with it. However, unlike a lot of blues based outfits, the songwriting here is thoughtful and sharp enough to draw blood and the arrangements pop and swing with prizefighting intensity. Crank Live At The Double Door up LOUD and this shit will crawl right into the meat of you, and you won’t be sorry for the reminder of your basic incarnation and carnality – real music that stirs lizard brain level satisfaction while offering a tickle to the superego.

This live set follows a 12 year run for Jeff Massey (vocals, guitar), Tod Bowers (bass) and Joe Winters (drums) that’s only seen the band grow stronger every year, tightening and toning their music to produce a sound that’s utterly full yet utterly uncluttered. While it’s a treat to finally have a concert document that does the trio justice, there’s also a string of excellent studio work behind them. The latest single (which also features a bang-up cover of Tom Petty’s “Honey Bee”) is “The Stars Look Good Tonight,” a skipping corker that’s found some inroads on AOR radio, and it’s preceded by 2008’s Marc Ford produced Grace And Melody (JamBase review), where the maturity of TSB’s tunes and playing marked the full arrival of a great contemporary rock band whose roots proudly show but whose style echoes the blessed, befuzzed pounding of The Who and The Small Faces in their youthful prime. (Dennis Cook)

The Steepwater Band play tonight, December 10, at The Voodoo Lounge in Burbank, IL and next Thursday, December 16, at RIBCO in Rock Island, IL. TSB will also open for Robert Randolph & The Family Band and North Mississippi Allstars on New Year’s Eve at the House of Blues in Chicago.

Here’s what the Steepwater guys had to say to our inquiries.

Jeff Massey
1. Great music rarely happens without…
Tod Bowers: Mistakes

Joe Winters: A groove

Jeff Massey: Inspiration and Southern Comfort

2. The first album I bought was…
Tod Bowers: Thriller (if I don’t count Star Wars soundtracks)

Joe Winters: Motely Crue’s Theatre of Pain

Jeff Massey: Led Zeppelin IV

3. The last song or album to really flip my wig was…
Tod Bowers: The Black Keys’ Brothers

Joe Winters: Fistful of Mercy

Jeff Massey: Neil Young’s Le Noise. Just Neil and some angry fuzzed out guitar.

4. When I was a kid I wanted to grow up to be…
Tod Bowers: Football player

Joe Winters: A professional baseball player

Jeff Massey: Very tall

Tod Bowers
5. My favorite sort of gig is…
Tod Bowers: Loud

Joe Winters: A medium size, roots-y rock and roll joint

Jeff Massey: One outside with 70-degree temperatures, a kickin’ sound system and a mob of crazy rock fans!

6. One thing I wish people knew about me is…
Tod Bowers: I can make a mean batch of turkey tacos.

Joe Winters: I realize every day that love is the most important thing in the world.

Jeff Massey: I make some mean steamed salmon.

7. I love the sound of…
Tod Bowers: My tubes turning on and getting all toasty warm.

Joe Winters: Opening the first can of Diet Coke of the morning.

Jeff Massey: Semi-trucks passing by on the expressway. Ya know, the sound George Lucas used for the tie-fighters in the original Star Wars movie.

8. One day I hope to make an album as fantastic as…
Tod Bowers: The Faces’ A Nod Is as Good as a Wink…to a Blind Horse

Joe Winters: Muddy Waters’ Hard Again

Jeff Massey: Led Zeppelin’s Physical Graffiti

Joe Winters
9. The best meal I ever had on tour was at…
Tod Bowers: Rib-eye steak dinner at the Dinosaur BBQ

Joe Winters: In Switzerland. Our tour manager’s parents made dinner for the band on a raclette grill. It was fantastic.

Jeff Massey: The giant hot dogs provided by Bon Jovi’s personal chef when we opened for them.

10. I always find the coolest audiences in…
Tod Bowers: …toxicated. Kidding, kind of. Actually, Spain has the coolest non-pretentious rock fans in the world, and they’re excited and full of energy.

Joe Winters: Spain

Jeff Massey: Spain. They have too much fun to be pretentious. They do not fear the act of applause.

11. The worst habit I’ve picked up being on the road all the time is…
Tod Bowers: Playing bass in a rock ‘n’ roll band.

Joe Winters: Having to ride “shotgun” all the time in the vehicle.

Jeff Massey: A heavy addiction to spicy Cheez-It’s.

12. The Beatles or the Stones? Por qué?
Tod Bowers: Depends on the day, but usually the Stones.

Joe Winters: Stones, because of Charlie Watts. Enough said.

Jeff Massey: The Stones…because the Stones wrote “Can’t Ya Hear Me Knocking.”

13. The craziest thing I ever saw was…
Tod Bowers: It’s a long story but it involves a brightly lit room, a guitar icon and giant bolts. It’s not Marc.

Joe Winters: Spending four hours backstage with Eddie Van Halen in Detroit, MI in 2007. Not enough room here to even scratch the surface.

Jeff Massey: Eddie Van Halen doing pushups in front of me and then throwing his guitar across the room to prove its durability.

The Steepwater Band Tour Dates :: The Steepwater Band News :: The Steepwater Band Concert Reviews

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