His grungy “21st Century Schizoid” musical tirades heard on such seminal efforts as the Matrix Reloaded and Top Gun soundtracks are revered as much for their technical precision as textural sophistication …
His Leo Kotke-inspired independent bass and melodic guitar lines continue to confound and astound …
Steve Stevens, the wizard of guitar effects and longtime musical partner of fist-pumpin’, punk-pop bad boy Billy Idol, is one of the most refreshingly creative guitarists in all of rockdom. For the uninitiated, experiencing Stevens’ kaleidoscopic sonic assault has all the psychic potency of spotting unidentified incandescent objects in the night sky: you know you’ve witnessed something unexplained and dramatic, and perhaps even intergalactic … In a word, “shocking.”
Well, prepare to have your mind blown, again. Alert the trauma-ward attendants. Get psyched for another supernatural jolt of sonic chaos when the atomic playboy drops his first solo record in nearly eight years, Memory Crash -- an electro-centric sonic tour de force that makes a serious musical impact. No gimmicks. No over-the-top production. No compromising. It’s just Steve Stevens, his guitar, and his beloved effects – all the ingredients that have made him a global star.
“I think the time is right for me to make a record that is totally me – my world,” Stevens says of Memory Crash.
Boasting such tracks as “Water on Ares”, “Hellcats Take the Highway”, “Small Arms Fire”, an interpretation of Robin Trower’s’ “Day of the Eagle” (featuring Dug Pinnick of King’s X), and the rousing/psychedelic “Cherry Vanilla”, Memory Crash is a journey through another dimension, “a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind”, to steal a line from Rod Serling. It’s virtually musical cinema. “I have a lot of weird little segues going on with this record,” Stevens says. “I’ve always loved that about the prog records, like Dark Side of the Moon. You enter this little theater of the mind. It’s a true headphone experience.”
Nothing encapsulates this more than the sizzling wah-wah- and flanger-inflected instrumental “Cherry Vanilla.” “I just happened to have a recorder with me when I was on my way to an appointment,” says Stevens. “There were these women walking by, talking amongst themselves, so I caught them on tape. I just wanted to capture this moment of people’s everyday lives and problems. On the track you also hear this other voice that says, ‘Hey, man, can you dig what is going on in the world today’, or something to that effect. He goes on to say, ‘Man, you just gotta play a stone groove.’ Other words, when all else fails, just play a good guitar groove.”
Indeed. A freaked-out, Hendrix-meets-Stevens vibe is prevalent in the interpretation of Robin Trower’s “Day of the Eagle”, a tune Stevens says Dug Pinnick “takes to church with a Sly Stone spin.”
Jimi wasn’t the only influence that crept up on Stevens. He revisited a cast of legendary characters, from Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, King Crimson, and Yes, to Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Bo Diddley, and Jeff Beck. Yet, despite the presence and interplay of diverse and distinct musical elements, Stevens never surrenders his own creative identity.
“I spent a long time before making this record watching old archival footage and retrospectives on bands like Pink Floyd and Yes, just soaking up what made them tick,” Stevens says. “But this record is not a retro gimmick at all. It’s still very much a Steve Stevens record.”
Memory Crash is a singular accomplishment for Stevens as a guitarist, songwriter, and arranger. “It was great to be able to stretch out on some of the records I’ve played on in the last few years, but Memory Crash is a little different,” Stevens says. “It is certainly more compositional than some others I’ve done. For this record, I didn’t start on an idea unless it was fully realized. These pieces follow along a traditional structure.”
Above all, however, Stevens reminds us (as he does with a song like “Small Arms Fire”) that the guitar is still a dangerous instrument. “Whether it is Jimi Hendrix setting his guitar ablaze onstage, Woody Guthrie writing ‘This machine kills fascists’ on his acoustic, or the ‘wake up calls’ The Edge and U2 give us with their songs, when you think about it, the guitar is the only instrument that has the power to be a protest instrument,” Stevens says. “At the end of the day, this instrument, the guitar, has been with me since I was a kid, and it still fascinates me. I still have a love affair with the guitar.”
Press Contact: MCPR07@gmail.com