Bay Area newgrass band Steep Ravine are reaching beyond expectation with their new album, Turning of the Fall. From humble beginnings the band have taken a journeyman approach to building a fanbase and developing their sound, and this new collection of tunes represents some of songwriter Simon Linsteadt's best work to date.
Standing in tradition, but developing their tone to adopt a more contemporary approach, the freedom of their new material is palpable, and it appears as if confidence is at a high as grooves sit beneath bluegrass progressions, and folk production values develop a clarity of sound that makes this stuff radio friendly as hell.
ARTISTdirect caught up with Simon Lindsteadt ahead of his Steep Ravine's album release on April 7th - to get the fast and skinny on a range of subjects - from dance moves to dream companions, and ambitions for the future.
Where are you right now?
Right now I’m sitting in my mom’s writing office above a cheese factory in Point Reyes Station, California…
Please name your fellow band members and their roles... oh, and who has the best dance moves?
Jeff Wilson plays drums, Alex Bice plays bass, Jan Purat plays violin, and I play guitar and sing. Jan has the best dance moves.
Tell us about your new project: Who did you work with? Where was it recorded? What’s it about? Is there candy?
The new project was engineered and mixed by Jacob Winik at Tiny Telephone Studios in San Francisco CA. Each hard copy CD comes with a junior sized baggie of Reeses Pieces.
How do you describe your music to new friends?
There are some elements of rock n roll, bluegrass, and pop on Turning of the Fall, but it doesn’t feel like any one of those things alone.
How did you first meet, and where exactly did you become a band?
Jan and I met in highschool. We played in a folk band, and attempted to play some Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli songs. We also attempted some acoustic renditions of current pop songs. Then we both went to UC Santa Cruz and met Alex and Jeff.
Other than Steep Ravine, what should your hometown be known for?
Santa Cruz, California. A couple good taquerias, and watch out for the crazy saxophone guy.
Please look around you right now and please describe the first item or person you see that’s significant to you.
When I was kid I was really stoked on robots. I’ve had this little guy for a long time.
What first inspired you to pursue music? If it was a musician or a specific piece of music, please tell us all about why you find it so inspirational...
I was first really interested in music when my dad showed me “Sugar Mountain” by Neil Young. I was in elementary school. Everything about it completely rocked my world. Before that I played some classical piano, but this was way different. I still haven’t heard a songwriter convey emotions and images as fervently and vividly as Neil Young does.
What’s the best advice anyone has given you about pursuing a life in music?
Don’t do it. Unless you really have to.
Not including your current crew, who (alive or dead) would you love to have in your van for an all day drive from gig to gig?
What song best sums up your life right now?
What is the best reaction to your music you have experienced so far?
A drunk guy with a peg leg showed up to an almost empty bar gig when we were on tour in the middle of nowhere, and knew all of the lyrics to our first album.
Take a moment to dream - Where do hope to be a year from now?
Writing songs and being with the people I love.
What’s your next step towards that dream?
Same as above.