This summer Newman released his tenth album ‘Siren’. Woody took this opportunity to catch up with one of the unsung heroes of British melodic rock.
Hey Steve, your tenth album Siren is released on the 19th July on the AOR Heaven record label. You also have a new band member – Pete Newdeck (Eden’s Curse/ Tainted Nation) on Drums and he has also co-written a couple of tracks on the new album. How did you hook up with Pete and what do you think he brings to the band?
Hey Woody !!, great to speak with you again and hope you are keeping well. I first met Pete when he bounded up to me at the Gods in 1999, now, if you are aware of Pete’s appearance you can guess how scared I was !! But he came over to compliment me on my then new album “One Step Closer” I had previously watched him perform with The Shock that day and was equally impressed. I think we developed a mutual respect then and have been great friends ever since. I had the chance to work with Pete a little while ago on the Paris album “Only One Life” and we talked then about writing together. Nic Lipscombe had approached me late last year and was concerned about continuing in the band due to his other commitments and I fully understood his position. The call I made to Pete was a very natural decision to make and I’m just very touched he agreed. Pete is a power house of a drummer and he brings so much to the impact of the band, and of course, he is a great singer and songwriter too !!
You have yet again produced a stunning album in Siren which as we have become used to from you has a different feel to it than we’ve heard before. It’s undeniably Newman but with a really fresh edge to it, is important to you to make sure each album has something new or a different edge to it for fans to enjoy?
Thank you Woody, it’s really nice to hear that you’re digging this new album !!. I think you’re right, this is probably a more natural follow up to “The Art Of Balance” rather than “Under Southern Skies” which ended up being a more emotional and personal album for me to write given the circumstances that year. So far I have had a few comments on “Siren” which suggests that it sounds fresh and I’m really pleased with that although I never intend to steer an album on a particular course. I always try and write from the heart so I guess each album becomes a different point in my life. I’m just so pleased and touched when people relate to that.
You have worked again with Nick Workman (Vega) on the track ‘When It Comes To Love’, what’s it like working with Nick?
Awesome !!! As you are aware Woody, Nick and I go back a long way and are really close friends so when an opportunity arises to work together we both try and make it happen. I think Nick has brought something really cool to “When It Comes To Love” in both the lyrics and melody. He’s on a real high creatively at the moment with Vega and they’re producing some great songs.
Can you tell us a bit about some of the songs on Siren, how they were written and any stories or meanings behind them?
1. “Scar Of Love” : This song just had to be the opener. I think it has the same urgency as “Hero To Zero” from TAOB, although this one may just edge it on the chorus.
2. “Had Enough” is the real anthem of this album, although it’s a very simplistic song, I deliberately kept that way for maximum impact.
3. “Arcadia” : This song was written for my wife and I’m hoping it will relate to other people in the same way. It’s really a song about finding your one true love and then moving forward on your journey. I took inspiration from Mark Twain on the lyric content.
4. “Another Bitch Of A Night” I guess is a bit of a tip of the hat to Whitesnake although I think it has it’s own style in the chorus. I love the combination of the hard edged verses and the sweet chorus.
5. “Feel Her Again” is probably the most typical Newman sounding song on the album but I felt that the chorus was just so strong and uplifting even though the subject is about loss.
6. “Some Kind Of Wonderful” was one of two co-writes with Pete Newdeck and is a real rocker, I just love the almost punk attitude of the verses, and the urgency of the chorus.
7. “Siren” : The title track of the album deals with temptation wrapped up in the mythological meaning of the word. Once again this song has a real hard hitting chorus and moody verses sung in a slightly different style than usual.
8. “When It Comes To Love”: The song written by myself and Nick Workman. Nick originally sent me his take on this song and I wanted to keep his vocal high in the mix, I think the “woah” vocals on the verses almost add a Toto-esq type quality. Great solo by Shaun Bessant on this one too !!
9. “Crossfire” is, lyrically, probably the most challenging on the album, it deals with the victims of war, and in that sense I mean the innocent victims who still have to pick up the pieces after the soldiers have gone. This song is very progressive in nature and has more of the style of “The Art Of Balance”.
10.”Waiting For The Day” is the second song I wrote with Pete and I just love the way the vocal runs on the verses, very different in style to the way I usually song and a great challenge.
11. “The Foolish One” : I knew I had to write a pretty special ballad for this album to come up to the 11 rock songs and I think I achieved it with this song.
12. “Don’t Know Why” originally appeared on the ARfm sampler “The Undying Fire”. I really loved this song and always wanted to re-record it. I think it brings a great close to “Siren”.
You have a couple of acoustic shows lined-up for this year’s Firefest after shows. Are you looking forward to it and what can fans expect from your sets?
I’m really excited about this. Shaun and I have done a couple of these shows and I can tell you now, don’t expect any massively polished performances J We tend to go off on tangents throughout the set and I love that. It keeps it fresh and exciting for both us and the fans. It’s all about having fun and it’s really great to connect with an audience more intimately. I’m not giving any real secrets away, but you can certainly expect a few songs from the Newman live set done in slightly different ways !!
Do you have any plans to perform any other acoustic shows?
At the moment we have the two Firefest shows and a private function. I really hope that this continues as it’s a whole load of fun !
Also do you have any other live dates or festivals you can tell us about?
We are appearing at MRF3 in Chicago on September 28th, this is a full band show so we’re really looking forward to playing the US, seeing the fans, and being part of a great weekend with great bands. We are currently in talks trying to secure more dates later in the year and into 2014.
You have gained a lot of respect over the years as a consistently strong songwriter and lyricist. Do you find it hard to maintain the high standards and how do you find your inspirations?
Thank you Woody, that’s very kind.
I just write/record, and know if something feels right. If I’m not feeling any particular aspect of what I’m hearing then I can’t expect anybody else to either really. For me it has to feel good on primarily an artistic level as well as a technical level, recording, mix etc. Once I have that in place then I know I’m pretty close and hopefully that will always be to the standard that Newman fans expect. As for inspiration, I take that from experience and observation and I always like to maintain colour particularly in my lyrical content. I know in the past you have commented on that, and I’m really pleased when people observe that my lyrics can contain a bit more depth than say “cruisin’ down the boulevard looking for chicks”. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a place for that too, but not on a Newman album !! J
Siren is your second release on the AOR Heaven label, what advantages or indeed disadvantages does this give you, as you have firsthand knowledge of dealing with independent releases?
That’s correct, Dealing with Georg Siegl at AOR Heaven is always a pleasure, he is one of the very few honest guys in this business and I have a great deal of respect for him and the label. The great thing, with the arrangement that we have, is that I can let them do what they do best and promote the album but I still have full creative control over the product which I think is really important for me as an artist. I don’t see any disadvantages to this and I think that’s why it works so well for both party’s.
What bands are you enjoying at the moment and who would you love to support or tour with?
I’m catching up on a few lost AOR classics and tracking down some of the albums recorded by Brian “Too Loud” Macleod. I think he was one of the most underrated song writers/producers of his time.
I would have loved to have been part of the recent FM tour with Vega. I think that would have been a great line-up, however, witnessing the show I think everyone did really well so I’m pleased it was a success. There are so many bands I’d like to tour with…. Do we have a few hours ? J
Is there any Newman gossip or hush hush ‘you didn’t hear this from me’ secrets you can divulge?
mmm. I am currently in the early stages of developing something that I know you, and Newman fans will be particularly interested in. But, I have already said too much… J
Is there anything else you would like to add or say to Fireworks readers?
As always, it’s been a pleasure talking to you Woody. I’d just like to wish yourself and the readers of Fireworks all the best and thank you for your support over the years. It’s always truly humbling to have the kind of belief that this genre shows us, I really hope that people take “Siren” into their hearts.
Thanks again, and see you all on the road very soon….. Steve