Steve Brown, You Can’t Go Wrong with “New Audio Machine.” - Interview

Recently I got the chance to chat with Trixter’s legendary guitarist Steve Brown. It’s always an honor to talk to one of the great guitarists of you childhood, but at the same time there is always a chance they’ll be an arrogant dick and ruin your opinion of them. Steve Brown was the exact opposite. After talking with him my level of respect and appreciation for him (which was already high) went way up. “New Audio Machine” is a great Trixter record. I highly recommend it and I can’t wait to see them this summer.

You can listen to the interview here.

Steve Brown (SB): Hey brother, it’s Steve Brown from Trixter here.

Zoiks! (Z!): Hey, how ya doin’?

SB: I’m good man. How are you?

Z!: I’m pretty good. Thanks so much for taking the time to do this with me.

SB: Oh of course brother. I appreciate it. Thanks for thinking of me.

Z!: You have a new album out called “New Audio Machine,” and it’s your first album of original material in quite awhile. You guys reunited not too long ago, was it difficult getting back to the point where you were ready to record a new album?

SB: Not really. I think we waited long enough. We put the band back together in 2007 and did our first set of shows in 2008, and every year since then we’ve done a little bit more, and each of us have become more inspired to get to this point to where we have this new great cd out. I think it’s just a natural progression, and I think we, the smart thing that we did is we did wait a couple years after putting the band back together and getting to a point where we had a great group of songs, and we just went in and did one song at a time, and you know this record took us the better part of a year to record. It was kind of like we recorded like a song a month, finally finished it up in January, and I couldn’t be happier with what we have.

Z!: Has your song writing approach differed at all over the years?

SB: Not really. Not at all. Pretty much I pick up an acoustic guitar and usually that’s where all, most of my songs stem from, and whether it’s a vocal melody, chord progression, or just a great guitar rift, you know, that’s how it starts. You know? Usually, I’ve been lucky enough to where I think I have some sort of gift to where songs kind of write themselves. You know? And luckily I’ve been a good student of pop song writing 101 from the Beatles to Van Halen, to Kiss, to Cheap Trick to Bon Jovi, Def Leppard, everybody in between. You kind of borrow a little from everybody and then you have your own style so luckily it’s all worked out.

Z!: If you had to describe “New Audio Machine” how would you describe it?

SB: A kick ass, melodic, hard rock record, and for the Trixter fans that haven’t heard it yet, it’s everything Trixter was and everything Trixter is now, because we definitely have, I think, the production. The delivery of the music is a lot more aggressive, but yet it’s still super melodic. You know, its classic Trixter sound. If you’re a fan of big rock guitar, big powerful drums, great vocal melodies, pop laden song writing, you can’t go wrong with “New Audio Machine.”

Z!: You’ve been around a long time. You’ve had a lot of success, especially with your first album. Was there a level of anxiety regarding the success of this new album while you were writing and recording?

SB: Not at all. Not at all. Let’s get something straight. We know that this isn’t 1990 anymore, and we know that we’re not gonna have a number one video on MTV. The goal all along with this record was just for us as a band just to do the best we possibly can and make a great record, and at the end of the day whether we sell 100 copies or we sell a million copies, we did our job, and at this point we really can’t control anything so that was our goal all along. And so I said to the guys when we first started getting the record together, was, I just said ‘hey man, let’s just, if this is the last thing we ever record as a band, at least let’s make the best possible Trixter record we can make, and I think we accomplished that ten times over.

Z!: Have you gotten a chance to play any of those songs live? The new ones?

SB: Nope we haven’t.

Z!: Will we be hearing a lot of the new songs then on the tour?

SB: Honestly we’re not, some of the shows, we’re gonna start out probably playing two or three of the songs at best, cuz a lot of the shows we’re doing we’re doing like festivals and triple bill gigs with Warrant and Firehouse. So we’re not gonna be, it’s not like we’re gonna be playing for an hour and a half, and we all know the fans, a lot of them want to hear the songs that they know and love, but we as a band, you know I went to see Van Halen a couple of times over the last couple of weeks when we were in town, they’re doing three or four new songs off the record, and yeah does it get the same reaction as when they play “Unchained?” No, but you know what, when they play their new songs, as a super fan like I am, I love that. I’d rather hear that then “Running with the Devil.” I’ve heard “Running with the Devil” every tour for the last thirty years.

Z!: As an artist, is it frustrating not to be able to play the new stuff live?

SB: A little bit, but I can’t complain. It is what it is. And you never know, we might do some shows where we do maybe play the whole record in its entirety. We might do something like that. I know there are a lot of fans who would love to see that. But people want what they want. They want to hear the “Give it to me Good,” “The Rocking Horse,” the “One in a Million,” the “Surrender,” and we’re always gonna give them that. We’re not like one of those bands that, you know where you’re gonna hear one of the hits. I don’t think our balls are big enough to do that, nor would we want to.

Z!: I’m like you. I like to hear the new stuff more so than the old stuff when I got to see a classic band.

SB: Yeah and you know what’s really cool is I think any song we play off this new record blends in perfectly with what we did in the past. Blends in with “Tattoos and Misery” and into “One in a Million” then right into “Machine” then right into “Give it to Me Good.” It all sounds like the same band so you can’t complain.

Z!: You started out in what 1983 and then you guys broke big in 1990. You’ve been up and down since then, what’s kept you going, from the very early days through the big breaks up until now?

SB: Just the love for music and being a musician. I gotta be honest with ya, I never bargained for all the success that we had and though it could have been and probably should have been a lot bigger, and every dream I ever had came true a hundred times over. I got to, we all did as a band, we got to do everything we ever dreamed of, and what keeps you going is the love. Some people get into the music business because they want to be rock stars. That’s all cool. I never got into that. I got into it because I love to play guitar, I love to sing, I love to rock. I’m such a fan. So whether I’m playing in front of 20 people like I do hear in New Jersey, I play the cover scene here, I play cover tunes, you know shit four nights a week, and sometimes I’m playing for ten people. I don’t care. I love to play music, and so I never bargained for all the success. I think Eddie Van Halen said the same thing, whether he made it big or not, I think he’d still be playing guitar and that’s the difference of I guess somebody like me and some other people who maybe give it up and get a day job. That’s never gonna be me.

Z!: On those same lines, what advice do you have for those young kids growing up who really want to pursue music as a career?

SB: Just do it because you love it not because you want to make money, and if you do want to make money there’s one simple thing you need to do. You need to have a bunch of different musical ventures to where you can make money, and that means if you’re a guitar player, learn how to sing, because I will tell you doing solo acoustic gigs has saved more of my friends that are musicians than almost anything I know to where you go out and make a couple of hundred bucks playing. You need to have just some income strings, and not to sound like a geek with the money shit, but it’s the truth man. You know dude, I do ten different things and it all works out, and if you want to make money in this business, don’t rely, the biggest piece of advice I can give you is don’t rely on one thing. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

Z!: You’ve seen the music industry change first hand pretty much nonstop throughout your career, what’s your take on the current state of the music industry versus when you first broke out?

SB: Well it’s very exciting right now because it’s kind of an open landscape. You know with the internet and everything, the cool thing is everybody’s kind of worldwide and the amount of people that can see you is incredible, and I always still believe no matter what great music can still sell records, and there’s all these nay-sayers that say oh the music business is dead, this is over, you can’t do this. I was never a person that believed in that in any way shape or form. I always believed that there’s always a way to get the music out there it’s just up to you to be more creative than the next guy to do it.

Z!: Who are some of the bands you’re into now a days?

SB: Who are some of the bands I’m into now a days? Shoot. Tough question. I’m still just such a fan of my classics. I’m really loving my buddy Phil Collen of Def Leppard has a side band called Man Raze, and their new CD is awesome. I really love the new Fozzy record, that’s been one that I keep spinning a lot. What else? What else? I love the new, the last Whitesnake record that came out. You know new stuff, I love Avenged Sevenfold, they’re one of my favorites, I love those guys. I think they bring in kind of an old new spirit of rock and roll, they’re kind of like the new Motley Crue. I really dig them.

Z!: That’s cool. That’s all I had. Thank you so much for taking the time.

SB: Cool dude.

Z!: I look forward to hopefully catching you on the road.

SB: Oh cool dude. Well as always I appreciate all the support, and let us know, give me a buzz if you hear that we’re coming to town, I’ll try to set you up with tickets and passes to hang with us.

Z!: Cool. Thanks. Thanks for taking the time.

SB: Okay Bob, appreciate it. Thank you buddy.

BYLINE: Bob Zerull is the Managing Editor of Zoiks! Online. He writes pop culture commentary, does interviews with bands, and reviews music and stand-up concerts. He also administers Zoiks! Online's Facebook page. Follow Bob on twitter at bzerull. Email Bob at bob@zoiksonline.com.

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