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Music | Interview: Steve Gunn

Steve Gunn

Ahead of his show in The Workman’s Club, Dublin, Steve Gunn, the New York-based guitarist and songwriter with a career spanning nearly fifteen years has produced a vast array of solo and collaborative work. Work with contains a contemporary guitar sound that has seen him create a folky-psychedelic mixture.  In an interview with RobMoro, Steve gives an insight into touring new album ‘Way Out Weather’, recording the album, his favourite instrument and a sneaky insight to his time with Kurt Vile.

RobMoro: You are currently based in New York.  Do you have a studio there? Temporary or otherwise?

Steve Gunn: “I do live in New York City, and I record in Upstate NY at my bandmates Studio, Black Dirt Recordings.”

RobMoroHow is the ‘Way Out Weather’ tour going so far?

Steve Gunn: “I am currently on the tour for this album, and it’s going well. I’ve toured a lot for this record this year, so we’re trying different things with the songs to not get too bored by them. This will be the longest tour I have ever done. So were being careful to conserve ourselves emotionally, physically, and mentally for this long journey.”

RobMoroHow would you say this record differs from your previous, “Time Off”

Steve Gunn: “This album is more of a studio project. We took our time (not too much) getting the sounds and arrangements of the songs right.  We also talked a lot about how we wanted to record the songs and what the over feel of the album would be. A lot of late nights sitting around listening to old records, talking about microphones, etc.etc.

‘Time Off’ was more of a live studio album, where we went in and tracked the songs as if we were playing a gig. The process was pretty fast and we kept the songs as is.”

RobMoroWould you say that the sound of the guitar is of an avant-garde type on this record then?

Steve Gunn: “Not exactly, but that kind of sentiment sneaks in at moments during some of the songs. Some of my favourite guitar players who are considered avant-garde have a very abstract approach, and i think that my playing has a bit more of an accessibility to it. ”

RobMoroYou are playing The Workman’s Club tonight, is it your first show in Ireland?

Steve Gunn: “This will be my third proper solo show in Ireland. I passed though a few years ago with the Irish guitarist and good friend, Cian Nugent.  I am really looking forward to getting back to Ireland, it’s one of my favorite Countries.”

RobMoroDo you prefer intimate venues?

Steve Gunn: “I do like intimate venues, but I also like playing bigger venues as well. For me it more depends on the audience, and what I really prefer is if there are attentive and enjoying it. I’ll play anywhere if that is the case.”

RobMoro: Is the band larger for this tour?

Steve Gunn: “Yes, we will be joined by another guitar player from the States a bit later on this tour. His name is Paul and I’ve been touring with him for most of this year.”

RobMoro: What are your major influences?

Steve Gunn:  “It kind of changes every so often. Right now I’ve been reading the writings of Joseph Mitchell, and listening to a lot of Thelonious Monk.”

RobMoro: Is there any particular favourite song you like to play on tour?

Steve Gunn:  “I really like playing the song Tommy’s Congo, because we can really stretch out on it and it’s different every night”

RobMoro: And your favourite piece of equipment?

Steve Gunn: “I have a guitar that was custom-made in NYC that is made out wood that was excavated from an old broken down building. There are burn marks on the wood that seem like it was subject to a fire. I always get questions about it, and am happy to talk to people about it. It’s fully customized down to every detail, and I’ve really grown attached to it.  As a close second, I really like my Martin 000-18 also.”

RobMoro: What are your plans after the tour? More recording or more touring at festivals?

Steve Gunn: “We are playing a number of festivals on this tour, and after this summer I plan on going back into the studio to finish my next album.”

RobMoro: Finally Steve, you worked with Kurt Vile, what was that like?

Steve Gunn: “It was a really learning experience for me to work with him. I find his music inspiring and he works hard — as we as being a super funny guy. He kept me laughing.”

Steve Gunn plays The Workman’s Club on 21 May.