We are saving the best for the last! The last day of November, the last blog for this month and a very special interview – can it be any better? David and Malicia, admins for Ascension of The Watchers community page on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/AoTW.Music), have teamed up to speak to Steve Howard, a world class music producer and engineer. It was a great experience for everyone involved, except for poor Rita who struggled for 4 days with the interview layout!
We do not like to brag, but this interview seems to be the best we ever did! Please read on and find out for yourselves!
PER MUSICA AD ASTRA – INTERVIEW WITH STEVE HOWARD
You will know the man by the company he keeps, an old proverb says. Steve Howard has not only collaborated with the biggest names in rock music but he also calls them his friends. He has worked in the studio with Led Zeppelin, A-Ha, Dexy’s Midnight Runners, Nick Drake, Gary Wallis of Pink Floyd, Gregory Isaacs and many others. He is also a member of the acclaimed electronic duo arado. And when a man like Steve is contacting you himself to send a newly created mix, you’d be crazy not to use this opportunity to ask few questions.
Vanadian Avenue: Tell us why have you decided to remix “Moonshine” by Ascension of The Watchers? Who came up with the idea?
Steve Howard: When John Bechdel and I were working on the arado album at his home in leafy Pennsylvania, Burton C. Bell would often come down and was a tremendous support to me and John and the whole arado project. I think one night John put some Ascension of The Watchers tracks on and I absolutely loved “Moonshine”. On a good day I see music in colours and it was beautiful shades of blue and silver and had so much emotion. I instantly felt a connection to the song and heard harmonies and ideas, so I asked Burton if he would mind if I reworked his song. He said “Go for it!” which made me feel great that he trusted I would be sensitive to his and Johns baby. As a song writer I know it takes a lot of trust to allow someone to get involved in the creative process.
Vanadian Avenue: “Moonshine” is a fan favourite. Were you afraid of their reaction?
Steve Howard: To be honest I hadn’t thought that far ahead when I reworked it. I just love music and did there working because I wanted to hopefully enhance an already beautiful song and then play it on my I-Pod! I find with producing, writing or working on songs, if I don’t want to listen to it why would anyone else? Another process I like to do is to take my I-Pod where ever I go (ok quite often the pub) and make anyone who wants to listen give me their feedback, which I find is a great way to find out if a song is working. I don’t like to be elitist, so I will play to anyone who wants to listen, be it 18 – 80 years old, male or female.
Of course the first person I sent the mix to was Burton, which was nerve racking as he was busy and didn’t get back to me for 3 days. When I got the reply my heart sank!! (at first). It said Hi Steve, “I don’t like the mix……..I absolutely love it!!!!” Hoorah!!
So after the market research and Burton liking it, no I wasn’t worried (too much) that you guys would like it. But I was really excited to share it with you all and even mentioned that to Burton when he came to Brisbane and he was already on the case.
Vanadian Avenue: Where and when the track was remixed?
Steve Howard: I reworked the track in my home studio (Destination Studios) in Brisbane, Australia back in July (2012).
Vanadian Avenue: Anything funny happened in the studio during the mix?
Steve Howard: My twin 6 year old girls (Emma and Lucy) came down and heard me singing the harmony on “Moonshine” and asked me what I was doing? I explained I was singing a harmony with Burton’s vocal, they asked who Burton was, so I showed some Fear Factory songs on YouTube! It was pretty funny watching my girls dancing off the walls and pirouetting in their pink tutu’s to “Replica!”
Vanadian Avenue: Please tell us something about yourself. So far you have been a bit of a mystery-man to many people. Steve Howard: Well I have been trying to get a handle on what the hell is going on since I was born! I started writing songs when I was about 5 (they weren’t very good! But at least I was trying) and started playing live at 12 and was lucky enough to play venues such as the Marquee and Roxy. Myself and my friend Moof became a little bit like cuddly mascots for bands like Souixsie and the Banshees, The Damned, Spizz Oil, The Nipple Erectors (Shane McGowan from The Pogues band before The Pogues), and we would go and see Generation X (Billy Idols band), The Clash, 999, The Buzzcocks, Wire (brilliant band!), Slaughter and the Dogs, The Stranglers (also brilliant), Dead Boys and about another 100 bands!!
It was very exciting times and I must say I have always stayed a punk at heart!! In my late teens I started getting involved seriously with recording and spent 2 years engineering two sessions a day, seven days a week in a studio in South London. In that time I worked on stuff by Led Zeppelin, Dexy’s Midnight Runners, Fairport Convention, Nick Drake, Nick Kershaw. One of the bands I was recording for a year or two (and who also lived in my studio) were called A-ha and that is when my guitar became much more famous than me!! (laughs) You can see the famous guitar here: http://youtu.be/yFIKKHdvtds
When A-ha filmed the video for “Take on Me” I gave them a lift to the studio and leant them my pride and joy, my 3 pickup f hole 1964 Rickenbacker semi acoustic! It appeared in every Warner Brothers cinema across America in a trailer for the movie ET!! Since then I have just been living in different continents meeting lots of different people and still trying to get a handle on what the hell’s going on!!
Vanadian Avenue: What are the nearest plans for your project arado?
Steve Howard: Arado is really a culmination of John Bechdel and my musical experience and we are hoping to put it on the world stage next year. You can see our first video “Starry Night” here: http://youtu.be/jxRiWbafEgk
You can also listen to the first album “Spooky Action at a Distance” at: http://www.reverbnation.com/arado
The main idea for arado was to create our own universe and make it a lot more fun and exciting than the one we live in! We are working on a trilogy of albums which will tell the arado story with a cast of various robots, aliens and space ships (check out Burton C Bell`s character, “Dr Scharnhorst Goodheart” at the arado website www.arado.us) which will then be turned into a movie. We are also working with an incredible CGI animator in Estonia called Taavi Torim who is creating the visual Universe for arado. His animations have appeared in many History Channel shows (“Ancient Aliens”, “The Universe”) and even NASA has used his animations.
Vanadian Avenue: Thank you for answering our questions!
Steve Howard: Glad you guys liked my work on “Moonshine”. I have been talking with Burton C Bell and am hoping at some stage (Burton’s schedule permitting) to work on some new material with him. Love, Peace and Biscuits!
Interview by Malica Dabrowicz and David J Mazur
Layout by Rita Dabrowicz
Vanadian Avenue https://cocamidemea.wordpress.com
You can listen to Moonshine Mix at: www.reverbnation.com/play_now/song_14648078
Interview at ISSU: http://issuu.com/vanadianavenue/docs/steve_howard_interview_1_
PDF version of this interview can be seen here: Steve_Howard_interview
Important links for Steve and Arado (self study):
Destination Studios (personal studio) http://www.reverbnation.com/destinationstudios
Destination Studios on Facebook: www.facebook.com/DestinationStudios
Steve Howard on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/aradospacer
Arado official website: http://www.arado.us
Arado on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/aradospace
Arado on My Space: http://www.myspace.com/aradoband
Arado on Twitter: https://twitter.com/aradospace
Arado YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/arado1
All right people! We hope you had as much fun reading this interview as we had preparing it for you. As usual, please do not post, re-post, take screenshots, copy anything without giving a link back to this blog or asking us for permission. We are spending long hours asking questions, editing and preparing before the interview is ready to be published. The only thing we ask for is to have our hard work respected. If you have any questions, please write to: r dot dabrowicz at yahoo dot com. Any spam emails are swiftly deleted as you have been warned 🙂
Please return soon as we are having great plans for December.
We are gonna say good bye to 2012 in a great way!
xxxxx and Rock and roll
Rita, Mal and David