An Interview with
(Photo By John Harrell)
Bassist 'Where Angels Suffer' (formerly of Metal Church) that took place on Fort Myers Beach, Fl, USA, Tuesday 16th November, 2010
Glenn: Now Steve, What got you into Metal?
Steve: Oh jeez, I kinda grew up on Hard Rock. I played with everything from Cover bands, Original bands to Country bands to Rock bands to Metal bands. I guess you could say I kinda like it all. It seems I've got more opportunities to play on this level with metal bands than I have with any other type of bands. So that's kinda what I'm known for.
Glenn: What made you decide you wanted to play bass?
Steve: Well I used to play guitar. Well this happened about.. probably 25 years ago. We were playing a show and at the time for it was a big show and our bass player at the time got caught banging our guitar players girlfriend and so two nights before the show the guitar player broke our bass players nose and he got got fired from the band. Rather than cancel the show, I was like 'Sh*t', and they were like, "Why don't you play the bass part Steve?", and I was like, "Well I don't have a bass or a bass amp or I've never played the bass before but what the hell". I went out on stage and I did it. Man that 1st note of that show, the whole place we were playing just rattled and rumbled and I thought, 'This doesn't happen with a guitar' and pretty much from that day on I. decided I wanted to play bass. I still play guitar but pretty much for any bands that I'm in, I'm the bass player.
Glenn: Which band was that when you switched from guitar to bass?
Steve: Oh boy, at that time the band was called 'Crystal Tear', which turned into 'Tears' which turned into 'Naked Zoo'. Those bands were when I was back in my high school days and all the bands would learn how to play in a band together, you know, all my good buddies and everything and that's basically why I started playing bass. It was about 11th grade.
Glenn: What got you to the stage of being in bands such as Metal Church or well known bands before that? What was the step that got you to there?
Steve: Well before I payed with Metal Church I was playing in a band called Wesley James. It was actually kind of a Rock Country band and Ronnie, Ronnie Monroe, the singer of Metal Church, he and I have been friends for many, many years and we used to play in a cover, kinda speciality 80's Rock spoof act and we had probably done that for about 2 years and the band was called 'Glam Slam'. That band kinda disbanded and he went on and did the same thing with a band called 'Metal Gods'. Ronnie called me one day and he was like, "Hey dude, our bass player's gotta do a show in Vegas, we need a bass player, do you think you could remember all those old songs", and I was like, "Well I learnt how to play all those old songs, so yeah, I know how to play 'em".
So I ended up playing a show with him that night, the night that I was filling in for their bass player was actually the night that the guys from 'Metal Church' came out to see Ronnie because they were looking to put 'Metal Church' back together again and they saw Ronnie and me. When 1st they were looking for a singer, they approached Ronnie first and about four days later they asked Ronnie about the guy who was playing bass with them that night and Ronnie's like, "Well that's my buddy, Steve Unger", and so they offered me a chance to come around and audition. They gave me like 2 or 3 songs to learn and I came over about 2 or 3 days later and I did the audition and I made it through about half of one song and the guys all stopped, put down their guitars and just walked out of the room. I was like, 'Well I guess that didn't go so well and they came back in about 5 minutes later and said, "The gig's yours if you want it, we love ya."
Steve: So I guess the audtion went better than I thought it did. (laughs) Basically we rehearsed for about 3 or 4 weeks. We recorded this album that I was on 'Weight Of The World' and then we bassically toured our *ss*s off from 2004, 2005, 2006 and things started dying of in '07 and '08, you know. 'Weight Of The World' was the 1st album, 'Light In The Dark' was the next album and 'This Present Wastleland' was the last album that the band did. We just didn't do a whole lot of touring off 'This Present Wastleland' and you know, with the other guys in 'Trans Siberian Orchestra, busy doing that and there just isn't a whole lot of time to do the 'Metal Church' thing and I had this offer (Where Angels Suffer).
I got a call from Randy Piper and he's like. "Hey man, we need a bass player for this thing", and I was like, "No you don't" and he was like, "No man, we need a bass player", and I was like, "Maybe you didn't hear me?, no you don't", and so Randy's like, "So you like the stuff?", and I was like, "Dude, I love the stuff". He sent me the material and I was like, "Dude, this is the school that I came from right her - I love it!, I absolutely love the stuff". He goes, "Well we got everything except a... we need a drummer".
So I was like, "Well you know, you got you and Chris (Holmes), you know that's two of the W.A.S.P. guys, why don't we get Stet?". He's a good friend of mine and I've done things with him in the past. Metal Church were on tour with W.A.S.P - we were opening up up for 'em. I met Stet, we hit it off and we always seemed to find ourselves together laughing and talking backstage or by the buses or something. We just became buddies and Stet asked me to come fill in for Dave Ellefson - the Temple Of Brutality thing for a while.
Glenn: Yeah - it's a decent album.
Steve: Yeah. So I came in and did the first part of the tour when Dave wasn't able to do it so I kinda - well actually that was right here in Fort Myers. That was the 1st time I was here. It just kind of made sense to call Stet and so I called Stet and I said, "Hey man, I'll send you some stuff, let me know what you think". Stet fell in love with it and the next thing you know - here we are forming the band.
Steve: Yeah. So all the things have been taking off and I'm pretty excited about what's coming in the future.
Glenn: Which songs do you like most that you've played so far that stand out?
Steve: Of the W.A.S.P. stuff?
Glenn: Yeah or the 'Where Angels Suffer' material.
Steve: I mean, I've liked W.A.S.P. ever sinve I was a kid. I seen 'em 1st time when they opened up for KISS and I was pretty impressed with them then. I think that my favourite W.A.S.P. song would probably be 'Wild Child'. I'm thinking of the 'Where Angels Stuff' - I pretty much love every song. I guess if I had to single one out I would say 'Lust' - that's probably my.. I mean if I was on a desert Island and I could only pick one of these songs to listen to over and over I would probably pick 'Lust'.
Glenn: Cool. What would you say your favourite gigs are that you've played with 'Where Angels Suffer' so far because you've just played a run of North American venues?
Steve: Well this one was kind of a thrown together tour just so we could get out and build the band and show ourselves that this band is really gonna happen. It was talked about for a while and I don't think a whole lotta people really took it too seriously and thought it was just talk and wasn't really gonna happen. So when it came down to the time to do it, we had to do it. I'm not gonna say it was the greatest of venues but we had a good time.
Glenn: And gelled.
Steve: Yeah we gelled and basically we became a band and let's see here - Jaxx up in Springfield, Virginia is always a cool place to play. They got a big stage and there's always a cool crowd and they got a decent sound system and light system. But nothing really stands out. I guess when you're out on tour everything becomes a blur. You don't even know what city or state you are in. But I am looking forward to the Thursday show in Fort Myers (reviewed by Michael Rossi on the W page of Live Reviews) - well we're back in the good weather for one and 2, we've made a lot of friends here in all the time we've been here rehearsing and we're gonna be staying here the next couple of weeks recording. So a lot people we've made friends with over the last month or so of being here will come out and see the show and I think this is going to be quite the throwdown.
Glenn: Awesome. So this band, I think it'll probably really take off and take over the W.A.S.P thing.
Steve: Well yeah - I certainly hope so. You know, we got great members in the band. Everybody is just supercool and we all get along really good. There's no egos, there's no 'I'm a bigger star than you' or any of that going on. I think we all are in a place in our lives where we are just happy to be doing this. We're still yelling and if people actually still care about it - you know we're not out digging ditches man.
Glenn: Are there certain songs that you like playing more than others or is it back to Wild Child being your favourite W.A.S.P?
Steve: Yeah. I mean, I get a charge out of seeing the reaction from the crowd. So whether or not it's my favourite song or not, I like seeing the response that we get from the audience. As far as the W.A.S.P. stuff is conscerned, 'Wild Child' is probably my favourite and pretty much any of the 'Where Angels Suffer' stuff. Every song is... I mean, there's not a band one in the bunch - I love 'em all. Some are faster and harder and some are a little bit medium tempo and slower than others but the audience response, it seems to be pretty cool on anything we play so either we're really just a bunch of really good looking guys (laughs) or this music is alright.
Glenn: What would you say you are most proud of as a bassist or as a person?
Steve: Oh man, I guess as a person - my kids. I got 2 kids Devan and Derek. They got a band called Sin Circus and I've actually, we've had a hard time finding a kid bass player. They're 15 and 17 now and trying to find a kid of that age group that can keep up with what they're doing is pretty tough. So I've actually been there bass player for about 2 years and honestly I can say, I haven't had any more fun in my entire life than playing on stage with my kids. Looking over and seeing my kids just rocking their *ss*s off and they're pretty good. You need to check 'em out - the band is called Sin Circus. So when you get a chance to - check 'em out. They are gonna actually be opening the show for us on the West Coast up in Seattle and Port Linden and maybe a few more shows at the end of the tour as well. Yeah - keep your eyes open for them - they are gonna whip some *ss.
Glenn: And you guys are gonna whip some *ss as well.
Steve: I certainly hope so.
Glenn: Every night you play.
Glenn: It's just getting better and better.
Steve: That's what we set out to do.
Glenn: The other guys say the same. We are hoping you are gonna come over and do some UK shows. We'll see how it all works out and that.
Steve: Yeah, yeah. We were talking about springtime and doing some of the festivals over there.
Glenn: When it gets warmer?
Steve: Yeah Yeah.
Glenn: Yeah it's too cold at the moment.
Steve: Yeah I keep telling everybody, "Let's just keep booking this tour where the sun is".
Glenn: Yeah, I'll say to bands, "Why are you coming over now, it's f*ck*ng freezing man?"
Steve: Yeah I know, it's crazy. I'm a warm weather kinda guy.
Glenn: What would you say your favourite shows are that you've played as a support to other artists or as a headliner and have other guys support you and which things come to mind and where?
Steve: Well you know, pretty much back in '04 and '05, the American Metal Bites Tour - it was Metal Church, L.A. Guns, Stephen Pearcy and W.A.S.P. We had just a great time on that entire tour. I mean, we had all kinds of catastrophes happening. The buses were breaking down and people were barely making it to shows. Just the cameraderie that all the bands, I mean some of the bands went on before other bands were supposed to go on because it was gonna be a half hour late. So instead of cutting them off the bill.. There was a time when L.A. Guns knew that we were late and they took our spot and we went on in L.A. Guns spot.
Glenn: How long did ther tour last?
Steve: It was basically a year and a half - it was a really fun tour and I got some of my best memories from that tour and of course the bigger festivals that Metal Church did like the Wacken Festival - that's always awesome - ecerytimr you are looking at it, it's 50 thousand, 60 thousand people. But you know, all those festivals around European, they're all a kick in the *ss to play especially Rock Over Hamburg.
Glenn: Do you find that persoanlly the European fans can be different from the US fans or are we all the same?
Steve: Oh no, no - they're definately different. US fans are further and fewer between. I think the reason for that is that there are so many different types of music to choose from here in the U.S. I mean you've got Coutry, Hip-Hop, Rap, R'n'B, Rock, Hard Rock, Metal, Black Metal, you know and over in Europe you got pretty much, I don't know, everytime I've been there it seems like you either got your hard rock/metal fans and you've got your techno fans.
Glenn: Yeah - there's a lot of respest among the fans - even the hair metal. We are all fans of rock and metal and it's like, "Hey bro, how you doing?", you know, there's no badness between anyone.
Glenn: We all look after each other.
Steve: Yeah.I think people in Europe, they have a lot more open-mind from everything from a band like Poison like Slayer or something you know. I mean they could actually be on the same bill and the crowd.. they'd buy it, they'd like it and have a good time. You put Poison and Slayer on the same bill over here in the States, there's probably gonna be people killed in the audience. You know - it is crazy. That's one of the differences. Europe is just always fun because people there - they go to have a good time. I mean, people in the US are a little more cynical. The types of music and the range of the music, you know, whether it's pop-rock, metal-rock, hard rock, black metal, heavy metal - you know, they break it down into too many different genres. It's just rock 'n' roll babe. You either like it or you don't.
Glenn: That's good man.
Glenn: That's part of rock 'n' roll - that's a statement right there.
Steve: Yeah, yeah.
Steve: That's what I've been seeing (laughs).
Glenn: That's good man. Thanks a lot man.
Steve: Cool man.
Special Thanks to AC Ice Rockstar PR, Stet Howland & Michael Wright