I had the opportunity to sit down with Steve Brown of TRIXTER, DEF LEPPARD, and TOKYO MOTOR FIST a short while back. That last band is why we were chatting. Latest release Lions is out now on Frontiers Music, and it is without a doubt one of the most fun records released in 2020, a year that clearly needed some of that. He was very lively and animated, and couldn’t wait to talk about it. Have a look:
Amps: I gotta tell you this is such a fun, catchy, hooky record with the melodies, the choruses. It’s awesome stuff!.
Steve: Thank you very much. Man like I tell people it’s no hobby. I love the compliments. But I’ve been writing songs for a little less than 40 years now. So if I don’t have it by now. I think I should quit.
Amps: Speaking of TRIXTER, I just want to tell you one thing: Human Era was my favorite album of 2015. It’s my son Mini-Amps’ favorite record from you guys. He’s 18 and has autism. And whenever the title track comes on he lights up like a Christmas tree.
Steve: Aw, man. That certainly means a lot. That’s a great story. And please give Mini-Amps my best.
Yeah, Human Era. We’re celebrating the 30th anniversary of the debut record. I’m blessed, and I say it all the time I sound like a broken record. But every dream I ever had came true a thousand times over. I’m the luckiest dude in the world. When I reformed the band in 2007 you know we went out in 2008. We did a bunch of festivals, Rocklahoma and Rock Fest, opening for POISON in Boston. And we got a new sense of confidence. Because first off we were kicking ass like we were in the old days. And then in 2010, I brought it up to the guys, “Let’s make a new record.” I just told the guys you gotta trust me on this as the producer, writer, and the mastermind behind it. We’re gonna make a great record. And that was New Audio Machine which came out in 2012. Phenomenal record.
And then after the success of that everybody was onboard to make a new record and everybody contributed a lot. PJ (Farley, bass) had the idea behind Human Era and came up with the title. And it’s great to sit and be able to say that later on in our career that we made two great albums that I believe are as good if not better than our first two releases. So it’s a real testament to the band itself and the music. It really means a lot to hear things like that coming from you about your boy. And PJ put together an amazing video for “Human Era” that has footage of us from 1987. We were kids, man.I started the band when I was twelve years old. We signed a major record deal at 18 years old. Now we’re closing in on three million records worldwide. What a life man, what a life.
Amps: Let’s get in the WayBack Machine. I saw you guys on a Saturday night in December of 1990 opening for Don Dokken at the legendary Sundance…”The last stronghold of rock ‘n roll.”
Steve: Dude that was great. You know what’s funny man? I played with DANGER DANGER as well. And we did a Sundance reunion show. A special ceremonial show for Frank Cariola you know from the Rock Beats. And you know we played”No Tellin’ Lies” by ZEBRA. So Sundance, man, I remember that show like it was yesterday. There was a Friendly’s next door. I remember having a cheeseburger there before the show. And I remember it was awesome and we sold out. What a piece of old school rock n’ roll, that place. Great legendary club.
Amps: Human Era without a doubt is my favorite record from you. And let’s keep the ass kissing going. Five years later it’s still in my phone. I downloaded it when I first got it from Frontiers. It’s never left my phone and it probably will never will.
Steve: I got the rights back to Human Era and New Audio Machine. By the end of the year, I’m going to be putting out a deluxe digital version of Human Era, completely re-mastered with some bonus tracks. It’s really cool. Thank you for noticing that. And again also thanks for the kind words on TOKYO MOTOR FIST. Because that’s the most important thing in my life right now.
Amps: Ted (Poley, singer) is a writer as well. Do you guys split up the writing or is it mostly you?
Steve: No, I’m the main songwriter, producer, engineer, manager, everything, art director. Everything you want to imagine. It’s kind of what I do with TRIXTER. I’m definitely not a democratic type of person. I believe there should only be one or two cooks in the kitchen. But the long and short of it is Frontiers came to me with the idea of starting a band with Ted. And he is somebody I grew up with here in Bergen County, NJ. He grew up in Ramsey, NJ and I grew up in Paramus.Chuck Burgi (drums) is a Montclair guy, and Greg Smith (bass) is from Long Island, your neck of the woods. We’d all been friends for over 30 years. We have the same sort of mentality. The same sort of East Coast wacky sense of humor. We played in the same circles, though never together.
This doesn’t mean the other guys don’t contribute. They all contribute a hell of a lot to this band. What I mean by that is I basically record the stuff. I have had a studio in my house for over 27 years, it’s kind of my thing. But what I do is I give them to the guys and say here it is, here’s the record. And everyone goes,”Wow this is amazing. We’re going to have a great record. And then I say to them, “You take this material and you make it your own.” Ted’s able to put his own vocal stylings into it. If he needs to change some melodies to make it work better for him that’s what he does. Greg Smith does the same exact thing. I don’t do anything crazy with the bass and with the drums. I let my guys put their personality into it. And that’s ultimately what makes it a great TOKYO MOTOR FIST song. And makes it a band effort. If you know what I mean.
Amps: What would you like John Q. Listener to take away from this one when the last note of the last song rings out?
Steve: First off, it’s one of the greatest melodic rock records I ever made in my career. I’ve said this numerous times and I’ll say it again. I think this record is my greatest creative, artistic work to date. By far my most fierce guitar playing ever. It is without question the melodic hard rock guitar record of the year. I’ll go on record as saying that. I’m not afraid. I’m so proud of this on every front. What do I want people to take away from it? The message of the whole record is positivity. Be something. Do something. The first song “Young Blood”, is one I wrote for my daughters, my nephews, for the youth of today. Your son. For everybody’s children out there.
To be Young Blood, To have a dream. Go for it. You know the line in the song, “There ain’t nothing in the world that you can’t do.” That’s what it’s all about. And that’s the resounding message on the whole album. We’re in a shitty time in the country and in the world right now. But this record is exactly what the world needs. Just a feel good, uplifting record for the year. But the ultimate message of this record is to escape. Escape whatever negative things you have going on in your life. If you listen to this record I guarantee you it will brighten your day.
Amps: Well that’s for sure.
Steve: I mean that’s why we all listen to music. Why I still love listening to music. When I put on a VAN HALEN record or a DEF LEPPARD album it brings me back to my youth, back to some of the greatest times in my life. And it takes me away from the pressures of everyday life.
AGS: Away from music what do you like to do in your spare time?
Steve: I have a family. You know I have two daughters. I have a 20-year old college student daughter and I have a seven year old who just finished up first grade. We have a busy household. I have three girls in my house including my wife. So, I’ll tell you this: thank God I have my recording studio in the basement (laughs). My man cave that I’m able to get away to. No, but. I love my family. We spend a lot of time together. I live up in a beautiful lake community here, in a beautiful house that’s got everything I ever need. So, my biggest hobby right now is paddle boarding. I go out on my lake. Or I go down to my beach house in Seaside Park, NJ. And I go paddle boarding or surfing, and chillin’ on the beach and reading.
I’ve also been really digging some of the Netflix stuff. I love working on my house, and planting flowers around my house. It just kind of you know takes my brain away. And I keep exercising that songwriter muscle. But that’s it other than music. Music is everything, dude. Every day, I’m still practicing my guitar and writing songs. I’ve been working on my singing because I haven’t been gigging much. So I don’t want to lose my super-high five octave vocal range that I have. And staying in shape, man. You know I’m going to be fifty years old this year. I’m proud to say I still fit in a size 29 waist jeans. And I’m in the best shape of my life. I’ve been sober for 14 months. So I’m a whole new rock n’ roll animal now. I ditched the party lifestyle for the healthy one. It’s been working out and it’s paying off in spades for me.
Amps: Just so you know, I don’t write questions down. I just like to have a conversation, and this has been great. I love your positive energy!!
Steve: Dude, it’s great. I love it. I feel like I know you. I’ve been doing interviews all around the world. So it’s good to hear someone with an East coast accent. You know you sound like home to me. So it’s good you know. I hear a lot of bros, and dude, and you’re talking about Long Island Sundance shit like that. It’s all good.
Amps: What do you want to say to all the Steve Brown fans out there in the world?
Steve: Here we are, 30 years as a national artist. Myself, TRIXTER. All I can say is thank you for making all my dreams come true and for the constant love and support. You keep buying my records, t-shirts, and tickets. And I’m able to keep doing this. I’m the luckiest guy in the world. I get to do what I’ve been doing since I was eight years old. I’ve never had a day job. Rock n’ Roll is my life and I’m gonna keep delivering the goods. My father said to me, “Steve, you know you’re going to be fifty years old. You’re heading into the second half of your life. The third and fourth quarters, like football. Are you ready for it?” And what I said to him is that, “Dad I’m in the best shape of my life mentally, physically, musically, spiritually.” And the first fifty years was only the beginning as far as I’m concerned. So everybody out there get ready for a lot more rock n’ roll from your good friend, Steve Brown!
Steve Brown is an absolute firecracker of a guy whose enthusiasm is 100% infectious. I had such a good time talking with him that when I went back into work my day just flew by. In a music business full of sharks, it’s nice to talk with one of the good guys. And if by now you still don’t have Lions from TOKYO MOTOR FIST you need to fix that ASAP!!