Steve Norwood Q & A
By Marc Donadieu
Glacier City Gazette
Steve Norwood has been a bartender at Chair 5 for nearly 15 years now, but he has been working as a musician for much longer. Living and playing in Girdwood and touring with musicians from there allowed him to develop musically to where he is writing, playing and producing all of his music. He wants to keep developing new ideas while producing CDs for other musicians and passing along his knowledge and experience.
I caught up with Steve on a slow Tuesday night at Chair 5 for a short interview to learn about his music and his upcoming projects.
GCG: “What influences song choices for a solo acoustic show?”
Steve: “Mostly the people that I listened to growing up, from Jerry Garcia to Paul Simon. And then I was influenced by the band the Photonz I was in for a long time, and occasionally am. I’m trying to create a lot of originals these days and record and throw out my music.”
GCG: “How were you influenced by the Photonz?”
Steve: “The Photonz kind of came about in the fall of 1996. Me, Pete Townsend, and Romero Begay were doing open mic at Max’s before Maxine’s. Anyone who has been in Girdwood for more than 10 years will remember Max’s. We started out as a trio, soon joined by Tony Restivo on bass, and soon thereafter by Benjamin Robinson on drums, and also singing and songwriting. From there, we were officially a band in 1997 and picked up popularity quick and were touring all over the state of Alaska by van next summer.”
GCG: What can you tell me about the new material you have?”
Steve: “I just produced my first solo CD. It came out in August. It’s called King of the Mountain. Most people in Girdwood already know about it, but I’m trying to spread it to the world, so it’s available on iTunes, Google, cdbaby, Amazon, anywhere you want to go you can find my music.”
GCG: “What are you looking to do with your music?”
Steve: “ I just want to share it with the world. I’m going to continue to write, continue to record, continue to produce and look for other artists to help produce as well.”
GCG: How would you describe your writing process?”
Steve: “I have no true process. I usually capture a ditty, an idea, and I’ll record it onto my phone or my iPad. In the studio, we’ll just run it through a track, and I’ll keep it. On a rainy day, I’ll always visit that. Either it comes into a song, or it gets put on the backburner until a fresh ideas comes or something gets invented to go with the idea.”
GCG: “What do you do to generate new ideas?”
Steve: “With the album I just put out, a lot of the songs are really old. Some of the lyrics and music structures go all the way back to high school. I graduated ’89, so that will give you an idea of how old some of these songs are. A couple of the tracks are a little bit newer, like the song Flood and the song The Fall are actually within the last couple of years, but most of the songs are pretty old. I revisited them and wanted enough material to make an album.”
GCG: “What did you see in those old songs from when you were young?”
Steve: “I knew that they were keepers when I wrote the words, when I wrote the music. They were tweaked a little bit as my musical ability progressed and my songwriting abilities progressed. I always kept my words, and I always kept my ideas.”
GCG: “How would you describe how your ideas have progressed?”
Steve: “For one, my guitar playing skills have gone from very elementary. When I met Pete Townsend from the Photonz, I knew maybe only 10 to 15 songs. It’s 60 or 70 now. Just playing and experience has given me the ability to grasp new ideas and have a more creative song.”
GCG: “When I was reviewing photos from your solo show at the Silvertip, the musculature in your hands really stood out. How often do you practice?”
Steve: “I try to practice at least three or four times a week, more if I could. Life gets in the way of that. There are things called skiing and an eight-year old, housekeeping, a dog, and a life outside of music that keeps me from playing as much as I’d like to, but I play as often as I can. I’m currently starting a second CD project next month.
GCG: “Could you please describe that project?”
Steve: “My friend Benjamin Robinson and I have a studio at his house. We built it together, mostly him, but I helped. I was his first ground zero to one hundred percent project as far as recording, editing, producing and seeing the whole CD through. Now we’re starting another project. I’m still writing some of the songs that are going to go on it, but I have seven songs already prepared to start recording.”
GCG: “What is it you look for in a song you say you are going to record?”
Steve: “Just write a good song, something from my heart, something from my experience. It’s not always a true story. I try to create imagery and visions and follow it up with good rhymes and quality music to go along with it. I’m very folky. I don’t have a lot of jazz or music theory experience. I just go with what I feel.
GCG: “What do you enjoy the most about playing live music?”
Steve: “Just to see people getting into it, people that enjoy a song. To hear them yell afterwards or sing along or paying attention.”
GCG: “What is something you would like to accomplish musically?”
Steve: “I would like to produce at least three CDs in my lifetime of all original music and help other people record some of their dreams as well.”
GCG: “What is it you like about helping other people record?”
Steve: “Now that we have this studio atmosphere, producing has become a new vision and a new dream, so I want to see other people’s projects through as well by helping them out.”
GCG: “What have you learned about producing?”
Steve: “It’s a whole lot of work. There’s a lot of listening and over and over and over. It’s a great experience.”
Steve Norwood will be playing a solo acoustic show on Saturday, February 13 at the Silvertip Grill. The Photonz will be playing The Sitzmark March 31, April 1 and April 2.