Wednesday, April 13, 2011

10 Questions With...Kevin Stevenson

Kevin Stevenson has been in a couple different bands.  An incredibly skilled guitarist and songwriter, as well as, one of the nice guys on the music scene.  A guy that gives his all in every performance.  He'll sweat and bleed for his audience.

How did you get started playing guitar?  Are you self-taught or did you take lessons?  When did you start writing songs?

I started playing guitar when I was six or seven years old. I am self taught, and started trying to write songs as soon as I started playing.

I hear a lot of different things in your music, who has influenced your playing and writing over the years?

As far as my influences go, I have been into music from day one, so I don’t really know how to answer that question. I think that I have always been into any music that actually has something to say, especially any music that breaks the rules, musically and/or lyrically, and of course I am enthralled by stand out musicians like Grady Martin, Ray Charles, Marty Stuart, Louis Jordan, etc. etc., as well as stand out songwriters like Hank Williams, Keith Richards, Smokey Robinson, John and Paul, all of the greats. For those of you who aren’t familiar, Grady Martin was a great session musician in the 50’s. He recorded with the Johnny Burnette Trio (look them up if you don’t know them. One of my faves!) He also played on Marty Robbins’s Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs, another great album, he was a busy man in the fifties and sixties, seems like he played with everyone. I have a lot of albums and singles from his solo career, more great stuff.

Talk about your time in Only Living Witness with your brother, Eric.  I know he stayed until the end, but you left to form the Shods.  Was that to do something different from metal?

I was going to quit Only Living Witness, but got thrown out anyway! Bit of luck on my part, and yes, I was getting a little bored with all of my music being written in one style. None of my favorites ever did that

When I was a young teenager, hung up on all my metal stuff, I’m not talking about Bon Jovi and Poison either, I was into Slayer, Hallows Eve and all of the underground speed metal, I was over my Aunts house for Thanksgiving talking about, “my music”, and she said, “I hate to tell you this, but you are just going through a Heavy Metal Phase.” Man, I was mad at her for saying that. Flash forward one year and you could find me listening to Frank Sinatra, Elvis, Johnny Cash, basically anything that wasn’t Metal, I mean, I still listened to that stuff, and still do, but she hit the nail on the head. I guess every kid goes through one phase or another, but if you are a true music fan, it doesn’t last too long. You always end up listening to the stuff you liked in Elementary school, and saying, “What the hell was I thinking? This is the shit!”

What were the Shods about?  They weren’t quite a punk band, because Scott Pittman, Roy Costa and you, could all play really well.  You could here some pop, punk, straight hard rock or even r&b/soul influences, depending on what songs or albums you’re listening to.  I loved the diversity, but did you ever find this to be a problem with your audience, since people like to “label” bands?

When I got a little older, 17-19, I REALLY started getting into all kinds of music, Blues, Country, Punk, early Reggae, Soul, and since I loved it all, why wouldn’t I write in all of those styles? As far as the Shods fans go, if they like my songwriting, great, but I never catered to anyone. People have always loved to label bands. “They are Hardcore, or they are Rockabilly,” and usually they are wrong. Every time someone has tried to turn me onto a band by explaining their sound, they have always been way off in my eyes. Let me give you an example, when I was young I went to see, “Slap Shot” at the Channel in Boston, and there was a band on the bill that I hadn’t seen before, so I asked a friend of mine what kind of a band they were and he said, “They sound like AC/DC.” That band was The Mighty, Mighty Bosstones. AC/DC, what?

Is Poorhouse Records still in existence?  Will there ever be any more demos or unreleased material compiled?  I have all the Shods records except the original; I’m Living In Lowell, MA EP.  I heard about a possible Shods documentary, is there any news about that?

Poorhouse Records will always be in existence! I hope some of our albums will someday be re-released, and some of our unreleased stuff will be added, but who knows. We never had any Record Labels pounding down our door, so somehow I doubt that any labels are going to be fighting over us for the re-release rights. Ha, ha! Wait a minute, I doubt that any record labels will be around in a couple of years! Fuck ‘em.

I know you played with Rivers Cuomo when he was living in Boston in the late 90’s.  Do you want to talk about that time? 

Sure I’ll talk about playing with Rivers. He is an unbelievable songwriter, as well as a man who has a genius IQ. Smart as a whip. I just wish that he had called me before, “Hash Pipe” came out, and gave me a heads up. That freaked me out the first time I heard it. I said, “Wow, why would WBCN (legendary rock radio station in Boston, no longer around) be playing the Shods?”  

Editor's Note:  "Hash Pipe" and some of the Shods music sound eerily similar.

When were you diagnosed with multiple sclerosis?  What was your initial reaction and thoughts about your music career?  Please talk as much about it as you like.

When I was first diagnosed I thought, “Well, that’s the end of my music,“ but I never stopped playing, how could I? It’s all that I know. I never stopped writing either.

I seem to remember you playing a bunch of different guitars.  Do you have a collection?  What guitars do you favor?

Well, I wouldn’t call it a collection, I never saw myself as a collector, I’m a player. I like to have different guitars to get different sounds on my recordings. That’s the only reason I have my guitars.

Who are your 5 all-time favorite bands?  Do you have guilty music pleasures?

I can’t name my five favorite bands, it changes every day! But, I’ll give it a shot: The Rolling Stones, Otis Redding, The Who, The Clash, and Johnny Cash . Guilty Pleasures, yes, I love the Classics 4, well I love the album, “Traces,” I have a lot of guilty pleasures, which I won’t name. (Ha, ha)

Is there anything or anyone you’d like to plug?  Take this space to promote anything you want.

Hey Scott, tell your Mother to get her shit out of my house

I'd like to thank Kevin for taking some time to do the interview.  

Please check out the Shods here.
Purchase their music here.

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