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A Conversation with Steve Hill


By Ken Wallis.



Steve Hill is an award-winning musician who hails out of Trois-Rivieres Quebec. Known for his stunning guitar work, he often performs as a one-man band. He’s toured extensively though North America and Europe and has garnered legions of fans on the way.



Ken Wallis interviewed Steve Hill for the radio show Blues Source Canada. The following features excerpts from that interview.




Ken Wallis

There’s a brand new album out right now. It's Steve Hill. It is Desert Trip. And I love it… joining us to talk about it is Steve Hill. Steve, thanks for coming on the show.


Steve Hill

Pleasure. How you doing?


Ken Wallis

I'm doing fine. I understand there's quite a story behind the title of the album. Can you tell us about that?


Steve Hill

Yeah, well in in September 2016, I went to California to go to a festival called Desert Trip. Only six artists were playing. Started with Bob Dylan, then the Rolling Stones, the next day, Neil Young and Paul McCartney. And then on the third day, the Who and Roger Waters. After that, I went to LA…I have a few friends over there. One of whom operates Valentine Studio, which is an old studio that was closed in 1980. But they kept it just the way it was in 1959. It's all the original equipment…the whole thing is totally vintage. So I went to see my friend Nick and I happened to have some time off. And after seeing the studio, I was like I gotta write some songs, and record them before I go back home. So I decided to rent a camper van, and I bought a guitar. And then I went camping for three weeks. Basically, every day, I just drove around, and eventually, I found a place where I could camp and light up a fire and eat something. And then I played guitar and recorded all the ideas on my phone. And after three weeks, I went back to the studio recorded about four songs. Only one remains on the album, it's I Won't. We did the other songs in my studio, but a lot of the songs were written there… the basic ideas were done there.


Ken Wallis

And you stated that this album was a sort of a journey through your state of mind at the time…what was your state of mind at the time?


Steve Hill

It's the usual, you know, the breakup…it's all the blues songs. So I had been through a difficult breakup…and basically, I had been on the road for two or three years nonstop. And then I finally had some time off. And finally, some time to think about myself and what to do next. And then in the fall of 2020 I was about at the same place four years later. And I decided to do something with these songs. And so it became Desert Trip.

Ken Wallis

In the song Gotta Be Strong you write “ No need to worry. Just keep on doing what you do”. And I think that's what you're saying you were doing right?


Steve Hill

Oh, yeah. That's what I've always been doing. Actually there are a few songs on the album that I've recorded before. The album was sort of an EP, I had like six or seven new songs. I had another record which is called Dear Illusion…it was supposed to be released in April. It's a one-man band thing with a horn section but I decided not to release the album. But there's a few of the songs that I had written in California like Rain and Evening Star they would have been on that record. In the fall, I decided to make like two records out of it. I had these acoustic songs that had vibe but I didn't have a whole record of that. But I had Got To Be Strong. That version was recorded, as well the basic tracks, or the original version in 2004. And then I re-did the guitar and the vocals on Cold Hearts and Judgment Day. These two songs were on an album that I released 10 years ago, but nothing happened with the record.

It didn't get any promotion at all. And I've always liked those songs and they're the first two songs I sang in in my baritone voice…


I've been singing for 30 years, but it took me about 20 years to become a singer. I was always trying to sing higher than I can…I can reach higher notes but my natural sound is more of the sound of the baritone. And the first song I wrote, in that register is Cold Hearts, which is on Desert Trip, but which was originally on Whiplash Love that came out 10 years ago and Judgment Day is probably, I think that song is my favourite song of all the songs I ever did. And it was the last song on that album, that nobody heard. So nobody knew this track so I, and this one’s a different version than the one that was released. The songs that I wrote in California, and these three songs I had, they all sounded like they were done within the same week. I had a story there…I like Pink Floyd and all those bands that used to do albums where it's a concept. It's not just a bunch of songs together. And that's what I wanted to do with Desert Trip.


Ken Wallis

You mentioned the single Rain, I watched the video, which is really good. But it starts off with the line. “I've been here so many times before”… what does that refer to?


Steve Hill

Well it depends…what I like about songs is that they can mean a bunch of different things. And to me now, the song doesn't mean the same thing that it did when I wrote it four years ago. And then the guy who did the video, to him, it had a different message so what is it about? It's about what it means to you, basically…that's the cool thing about songs. Originally the song was about the soul…the human soul… it comes back… you've been here before and you'll come back again…or it could be about determination. Or it could be about not giving up… it could be about a few different things.


Ken Wallis

And on this album, you've got one of my favourite drummers of all time, Sam Harrison…that guy’s got so much talent.


Steve Hill

He’s great. We started playing together in 94. I’d got my professional break as a musician with his uncle, Bob Harrison. I became the guitar player in the Bob Harrison Blues Band in 93. And I'd see Sam at holiday parties and I’d tell Bob we got Sam into the band which he did in 94. And the year after that, I stole the band….basically….and Sam's the one who plays the drums on my first two records. And I played with Sam two weeks ago, we did a Hendrix tribute online... It was fun, and we'll do it again. Sam is the best.


Ken Wallis

You’re a guitarist, you're a singer. you're a drummer, you play harmonica.


Steve Hill

I'm not a drummer. I'm not a drummer. I can play drums with my two feet. And a drumstick on my guitar headstock, but I'm not a drummer.


Ken Wallis

What came first, were you a guitarist first or harmonica player first.


Steve Hill

I started playing harmonica about six or seven years ago. My first instrument was the piano. Then a year after I started playing the guitar…and I'm a guitar player first and foremost. I can do a little bit of piano…a bit of harmonica…a bit of drums…a bit of bass..a bit of banjo. I would never consider myself a harmonica player. I'm a guitar player.


Ken Wallis

One thing I really like about the album is that you've got a link for some extra downloads and I think that's really cool.


Steve Hill

Yeah, well, I figured the CD is not really the format these days. But it's a cool item and I got this great album cover…a beautiful drawing done by this guy called Rob Cannon. And it's a very nice object…and I figured if you can sell the CD, but it's more than just that. So you get the mp3s…some people prefer the high definition files FLAC. And you get that too and you also get the pictures that I took in California, four years ago and you get the lyrics, the special things, and I'll keep uploading stuff. So there's a short documentary that's coming soon that will be there. And I can just keep adding stuff. So it's not just a CD…it's like the whole experience.


Ken Wallis

Where do our fans get a hold of your CD? How do they buy it?


Steve Hill

Well you can get it at stevehillmusic.com. You can get it on Bandcamp. It's in stores…if you can find a store that has CDs, or LPs. But you can get it easily online and get it delivered within two or three days from stevehillmusic.com


Ken Wallis

Steve Hill thanks so much. I appreciate it. And hopefully we get to see you live again soon.


Steve Hill

Hopefully, maybe next summer



Website: www.stevehillmusic.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/stevehillmusic

Twitter: twitter.com/stevehill

Instagram: www.instagram.com/stevehillmusic




 

 

 

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