Steve Bello Back Again and Quicker Than The Devil
Interviewed by Michael Meade on 7/2/15
Photos Courtesy Steve Bello
Posted 7/2/15 - 10:19 PM ET
Tastes Like Rock's editor, Michael Meade, had the chance to talk to guitar Shred Master Steve Bello on July 1 about the return of the Steve Bello Band, their new single "Quicker Than The Devil", Bello's new website, and more. This is the first TLR interview with Steve since the debut of the Steve Bello Band's album Go Berserk! in 2010.
TLR!: It has been a few years since we did an interview, Steve; it's good to talk shop with you again.
Steve Bello: Yes it feels nice to be talked to again, thanks! I appreciate the very kind words about my new single, "Quicker Than The Devil". I know you wanted it a minute longer but I was never good at writing long songs.
TLR!: Well, no one ever wants a good song to end, but at least I have the repeat button to abuse [laughs]. Let's hit the ground running, your last album Go Berserk! was released back in 2010, then you and your bandmates in the Steve Bello Band took a hiatus around a year later until a few months ago. Why is 2015 the right time for the Steve Bello Band to return to the stage and release a new song, "Quicker Than The Devil"?
Steve: My hiatus was a result of me being very unhappy with how things were going (or not) with my band. I was offered the chance to tour in Germany last September with Shocka Zooloo and that was a blast! I came back to New Jersey with a renewed sense of purpose and while not everything has gone according to plan, at least we are doing a lot more shows than ever. I wanted to do another full-length but money is extremely non-existent in my life, so putting out one song just to test the waters was a collaborative idea. And it turned out to be a wise move, as people really loved the new song. Maybe because it reminded them of being teenagers and hanging with friends on a summer night. Or maybe it reminded them of going to a Judas Priest concert and forgetting their troubles. Whatever the case, the song just resonated with people. That's all I can ask for, really. Connecting with people is the name of the game.
TLR!: Could not agree more, connection is everything. As I said in the review I wrote of "Quicker Than The Devil", there is a notable change in sound. Not a bad change, not bad at all, a stronger blending of genres. What brought the more pronounced blending of progressive, metal, and funk in your compositions?
Steve: I write what feels good. If something comes out that sounds like a throwback to the 80s, then fine. With a song like "Quicker", I had the heavy verse riff first, and then the clean intro. Soon after, I had the breakdown in 5/4 time which totally felt at home with the rest of the song. For me, the best songs happen when I don't think about them. If I ever feel like I am trying to draw blood from a stone, then it's not worth it. "Quicker" was very easy to put together and it's a song that I am very proud of. It has that combination of accessibility and weirdness. I like that.
TLR!: I like combos like that too. Is there a full album coming with "Quicker Than The Devil", an EP, or more singles that are not tied to each other in the confines of an album?
Steve: I would love to do a full album, as I said earlier, but funds are not there. If I can swing an EP, then so be it. I have a bunch of new material, some 100% written, some 80%. A few riffs don't have any homes yet so they may sit on the shelf for the time being. I am always writing and creating, which is a curse and a blessing.
TLR!: Recently the Steve Bello Band had a string of shows around New Jersey, how were they and which, in your opinion, were the biggest hits?
Steve: Some shows were an absolute blast, good crowds, and some were like waiting for a funeral to break out. But one thing this band has going for it is that we attract new fans at every show. Even if it's one person who shakes my hand and says "Dude, that rocked" or whatever, that's cool. But more importantly is when the same people who saw us at one room see us at another room later on. Repeat business is something I needed to work on, and again, being in Germany really opened my eyes on how to treat my music as a "business" yet still have fun. I am selling a product, which is my songs. If they don't strike people a certain way, and nobody asks "When is your next gig?", then it's back to the drawing board. The best shows we played to date this year were our debut gig at Mexicali in Teaneck back on January 14th, and again at Mexicali on June 17th opening for Lynch Mob. Stone Pony was cool, opening for Eric Martin, that was a lot of fun.
TLR!: What do you have coming up in shows over the remainder of the summer besides the Summer NAMM in Nashville next week?
Steve: July will be a quiet month for my band, but August 8th will see us performing at Hartley's in North Arlington (where I grew up) and then we are playing a "tribute to Woodstock" festival on August 15th in Lyndhurst. My former history teacher, Alan Maisano, opened up a record store in Lyndhurst, and this year he asked me personally to do a set, and I said "I will do an all-Hendrix tribute, period." He runs the festival every August to coincide with the anniversary of Woodstock. In September, we will be playing Starland Ballroom for the first time since 2012, that will be very cool!
TLR!: Speaking of NAMM, are you psyched to perform there? I know you're no stranger to NAMM shows, but I don't remember if you've performed at one before.
Steve: To be very blunt, I went to NAMM for the first time last January when I was a rep at my former job. I didn't perform there, but I did get to rub elbows with a lot of famous talents and got to catch up with friends. This year, I am going as an artist/endorser for Von York Strings, and I will be performing in their booth #1429 on July 9 and 10. I also hope to hang at the Ibanez, Morley, and Gravity Picks booths too.
TLR!: Back to the Steve Bello Band, what are your long term plans for the band now that the three of you are back and, in my opinion, topping yourselves from the Go Berserk! era.
Steve: I used to have long-term plans but they always tended to blow up in my face. So now I just take things as they happen.
TLR!: Smart man! I am right there with you. Also, a pretty cool guitar virtuoso I know just launched a spiffy new website, let's plug www.stevebellorocks.com a little, shall we? What's cooking on the new site to get people pumped up?
Steve: It's a very clean, streamlined site, easy to navigate, and so far the response towards it has been very positive. I am always updating and outdating myself, adding blogs, photos, videos. I will not take the credit for this site, as it was designed by Rosario Panzarella, who is also the CEO for Von York. We both agreed that it was time for me to have a bold, sharp-looking site.
TLR!: To close, I'm going to ask a question I don't think I've asked you before. Is there another area of music outside of performing and teaching that you could see yourself working in? If you ever decide to step away from the guitar, which you better not, man; but you know, a "what if?" type deal like that old alternate reality Marvel Comics anthology series of the same name.
Steve: Nobody has ever asked me this before, so you're the first. I would like to get into producing, as I love sitting in studios and looking at all the fancy boards and cool gear. I'm a kid in a candy store when I am in an environment like that. I am sure one day the gas will deplete from my tank, so to speak, and when that happens, I could try my hand at producing and engineering bands. I still have a few more things to say musically, so I'm not putting the guitar down just yet.
TLR!: Thanks for your time, Steve. As always, it has been a blast catching up.
Steve: Thank you, kind sir!