A Conversation with Singer & Songwriter ‘Stephen Monroe’
Checkout our recent interview with singer and songwriter Stephen Monroe.
Twist Online : First tell us about the start of your music career?
Stephen Monroe : I went to my big brothers band practice when I was in my teens and helped them with their gear for their shows. I was taking drum lessons and they got me up to play drums on Satisfaction so the drummer could sing. I was in my first band the year I graduated high school, playing bass guitar.
Twist Online : Your brother is also a musician how much it helped or influenced you as an artist growing up?
Stephen Monroe : My brother David has been a huge influence. He challenges my writing. He has a different ear than me and I suspect perfect pitch. We love The Band and the blues. When I send him my songs, he will put me through the ringer and I have to ask myself,”is this really what I want to do or say?” His critical appraisal has been huge. Sometimes he says WHY? and I say CUZ THATS WHAT I WANT IT TO BE. Asking that Twist Online is huge
Twist Online : Tell us about your recent release ” Driving the Sky Highway” ?
Stephen Monroe : My brother David got me a Boss BR-600 after my cancer surgery a while back ( 8 year Colon Cancer survivor!) and I recorded the whole CD on the 600. I wrote all the songs, wrote all the vocal and instrumental parts, played all the instruments and did all the singing. I was in various bedrooms to record as I had been laid off from my job and I was bouncing around staying at my daughters and my folks. I am very proud of what I did. The guitars were not big time instruments, the keyboard a Cascio. I mixed it myself and only recently a friend of mine in Guam got a friend of his to remaster it. Its all me.
Twist Online : What kind of response you CD is receiving. It must be good?
Stephen Monroe : I have had some great responses. Through Radio Submit its played all over the US and in Europe. The main thing for me is when someone tells me they have it in the player and they are listening to it while they drive or excersize. I sell a few at shows. But over all, it’s been received really well by musicians and music lovers
Twist Online : I recently listened to your song “The Devil” its amazing. You have written it yourself?
Stephen Monroe : Yes, I do all my writing by myself. I did collaborate with a lovely lady a while back but it is all me. I love that you dig this track. It’s realting a transitional period in my life that got me on the good foot. I play solo, just me and my acoustic most of the time and simple sometimes is exactly what is needed. My brother and my honey agree with you about “The Devil” and I thank you.
Twist Online : Are you inspired of someone in music industry ?
Stephen Monroe : The stories about producers that just bring out the best in already great musicians really inspires me to do my best and perhaps one day be able to go into a studio with some one that GETS me and we can have a great time laying some tracks down. Tom Dowd is a guy that really blew me away. Any one that can keep at it doing what they love and bringing out the best in people are a real inspiration. There are so many, the ones that shun auto-tune are my favorties
Twist Online : Songwriting, singer or guitar player what’s the most enjoyable job ?
Stephen Monroe : All of it really.I would love to have someone look at my catalogue of music, pick out what they like and make it sound fabulous while I sit with my sweety on the front porch of a cabin drinking coffee. The creative process is absolutely amazing to me. Sometimes I fear starting sometimes because I know the cost has to be paid to get the best results, but I love it. I feel like I have finally got a semi-grip on singing. I’ve been at it as long as I’ve been playing but I tunes my guitar down a full step and that has helped but I feel good about singing these days and I love doing it. The guitar is a constant challenge. I have a beat up acoustic I keep in my car and I usually play over my lunch hour everyday. I’m terrible at lessons but I play and play and play as often as I can. If I’m going to ask people to pay me to play, I have to bring the best I can offer, every time.
Twist Online : You have been performing live with your friends in college days.How often do you perform live now?
Stephen Monroe : I play as often as possible and that varies. This last month has been at least once a weekend, a lot of times twice. I have a M-F 8-5 job so I’m not as free as I would like…it’s that rent, gas and eating thing. I have a friend of mine that we’ve been playing in his dining room for years and last night we went out to one of my gigs to play and we slayed um. Great people that are used to great music. It was blissful. I played one weekend where I started on Friday with a set for a blood drive by some radio stations in town, I was playing 6:30 AM..then I gave blood,went to work and had a neighborhood party on Saturday evening and an early Sunday playing for the Boxer 500, a colon cancer awareness walk/run. It was my 7th year with these great folks. Love to play
Twist Online : Are you working on any new project?
Stephen Monroe : I have a more earthy project, next CD I’m working on. Simpler, folkier but still bluesy and moving along at a proper clip. We listen to THE FOLK SAMPLER on NPR and really love that music and I write in all kinds of genres so I’m going to keep this somewhat simple but still be me. I’ve been recording myself again and we shall see if that stays that way. It’s a matter of sitting down and turning on the machine. I really love it.