Steven Roth Talks Playing with The Who, "Let It In" and More
Fri, 25 Jan 2013 11:50:36
"It's the greatest record release party I could ever imagine," smiles Steven Roth of his gig opening for The Who at The Staples Center January 30, a day after his record, Let It In, is available exclusively at Steven's official website on January 29th.
It's going to be a big week for the Los Angeles singer and songwriter, and he's on the cusp of even bigger things to come. Let It In stands at an intersection between classic melodic sensibility and raw instrumental proficiency. Make no mistake about it, Roth's a real player. He's a multi-instrumentalist who can craft a soulful and soaring rock song. He belongs on the same stage as The Who and beyond…
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, Steven Roth talks playing with The Who, Let It In, and so much more.
How did you feel getting the call about playing with The Who?
It's tough describe. I was super excited. I've been doing this for a long time. To get an opportunity like this is hard to put into words. All of the emotions bubbled up at once. I think of all these bars and clubs I've played over the years. They've led up to playing The Staples Center, my hometown arena, opening for an iconic band. There are lots of different emotions but mostly happiness and exciting.
When did you first hear The Who?
I don't remember the first time. It was probably around the same time I was discovering a lot of the other music I listened to like The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, and all of that. It must've been seventh and eighth grade. I got into classic rock. They've got such raw power and big, strong sound. Roger is an incredible singer. Pete's a great writer. He chose to write about interesting stories. The rhythm section is so big and powerful. They just didn't give a shit. They were loud and proud. They have it all—great lyrics and songs.
How did this come about?
It's pretty wild and random, if you will. I got a gig opening up for Roger Daltrey's band at an event for his charity Teen Cancer America. I did a stripped-down set. He caught it, and he really liked it. I was able to send my record, Let It In, to him. They really liked it and decided to give me a shot. I got really lucky. The music had to speak for itself, but I was able to get it in front of them.
What's your take on Let It In as a whole?
I'm really excited about it. I think it's got a lot of different flavors. For a guy like me who is very self-critical to be happy about this, it's awesome [Laughs]. I hope people connect with it and enjoy it.
What song speaks to you the most right now?
There's a tune called "Dancing in the Fire". It's a semi-ballad, but it's not a sappy love song. There's more power to it. It's got a Queen thing with a soaring four-part background harmony and a nice melody. It's an interesting twist on the love song theme. I wrote about getting into a relationship you know is going to end badly. You know it, but you've got to do it anyway because you can't not do it. You know either you or her is going to get hurt, but you still go for it. I thought it was a different twist. It's not a "make you love me" or "breakup song". This is a "We're going to get into this and get hurt" song. I'm happy with how it was arranged. That's my favorite right now.
What do you look forward to play the most?
At this point, it's the more up-tempo funky tracks like "Make You Love Me". There's a tune called "Goodbye to Summer" that everyone seems to be digging live.
Let It In incorporates a variety of sounds and emotions.
That was definitely the goal! I don't like hearing records that are the same song or vibe the entire time. I tried to diversify. I also have trouble writing songs that are all the same. It's better to be different than the same though. The approach is organic, pure musicianship for me. We recorded a lot of stuff to tape. We did the tracking live. There were no click tracks or metronomes. It wasn't about making everything perfect on a grid. That's not the way it was on the records I grew up listening to. For me, it's about honesty, having fun, playing the instruments, and writing songs and instruments like in the old days.
Does co-owning a music store inspire writing songs?
It can! Musicians are coming in all day, and I meet all kinds of cool people. There has been a time or two where I strike up a friendship with somebody and we end up writing music together or jamming there. I'll discover new bands there. All of that can help the creativity. It's partly a job, but it's mostly fun. It's a great situation. It's a lot better than being in a cubicle.
Steven Roth Concert Dates:
1/30 Staples Center Los Angeles, CA*
2/1 Moody's Truckee, CA
2/2 Moody's Truckee, CA
2/5 Frog and Peach San Luis Obispo, CA
2/6 Torch Club Sacramento, CA
2/7 Frog and Peach San Luis Obispo, CA
3/12 Frog and Peach San Luis Obispo, CA
3/13 Torch Club Sacramento, CA
3/14 Harvard and Stone Hollywood, CA
*Supporting The Who
Will you be seeing Steven Roth with The Who?