Yorkshire, UK guitarist and songwriter SteveB is so natural and free-flowing in his distinctive classic rock-meets-blues style that it would surprise most that his music and band, Never2Late, hasn’t been his full-time career from the start. He’s actually a semi-retired orthopedic surgeon.
When you think about it, it does sort of make sense: both surgery and guitar playing require exacting precision with one’s hands, and blues guitar likely would be excellent cross-training for a surgeon. That said, it’s clear that the inspiration and creativity of blues rock flow through SteveB organically.
Never2Late’s latest single, “Love Is Wise,” is a re-work of the single off their first album, 2015’s It’s Hell In Happy Town.
CelebMix caught up with Never2Late to discuss the inspiration for “Love Is Wise” and how he got started in music.
What inspired your latest single, “Love Is Wise?”
I read the quote from the philosopher Bertrand Russell – “Love is wise, hatred is foolish” and it sadly just seems more relevant than ever in our troubled world.
Let’s talk gear for a moment. What kind of guitar, amps, and pedals are you using?
On the single, I am multitracking my Knaggs Kenai T/S Eric Steckel signature guitar through a Kemper stage profiler. I like to use a TC Helicon Voicelive Play for my vocals.
Do you use any special recording techniques in the studio?
Not really – I always play to a click track which makes it easier to glue it all together. My recording engineer tells me it is actually uncommon to find someone who can play exactly in time over a click track! (he could be just trying to flatter me!)
How did you get started in music?
I played in a band in my youth but like many, work/marriage/kids/more work/divorce/work/remarriage/more kids/more work really got in the way of my rockstar ambitions. After going into semi-retirement, I made a pilgrimage to Glastonbury and was inspired to go up into the loft, and retrieve my guitar, and start a band. Initially a covers band, we played a gig that required you to play at least 4 original songs and I thought I’d give it a go and discovered a love of creating songs.
Which musicians/singers influenced you?
Too many to mention and very eclectic! I was lucky enough to grow up during a time of truly great songwriters – Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Roy Harper, Al Stewart, Paul Simon, and Van Morrison to name a few. The Beatles, XTC, Tom Waits, Cage the Elephant, Kevin Ayers, The National – anyone writing songs that are not formulaic and say something about life and the human condition. Guitarists – JJ Cale, Joe Bonamassa, Jeff Beck, John McLaughlin, Frank Zappa, Eric Steckel. For pure energy, Led Zepplin, and Thin Lizzy!
If you had to explain your sound to the uninitiated, what would you say?
Eclectic! Everything from mournful acoustic (‘Requiem for a Friend’ or ‘I Still Talk to You Everyday,’ both written during lockdown) to social comment blues such as ‘Sometimes I’m Ashamed to be a Man’ or ‘Motel 22’ (about the plight of the homeless in Silicon Valley) to rockier stuff such as the current single ‘Love Is Wise,’ ‘Tempted’ or ‘Filthy Lucre.’ There’s even the odd love song – ‘You’re My Rock’ – dedicated to my long-suffering wife!
Did your sound evolve naturally, or did you deliberately push it in a certain direction?
I write as something impacts me – I am dragged to where the muse takes me.
What can you share about your writing process?
I try to avoid the standard boy meets girl, falls in love with girl, girl dumps boy, boy is broken-hearted type cliché. I’m with George Harrison who said – “I could write hundreds of songs like ‘Hey baby what you gonna do’ but I don’t want to. If I’m going to say something I’d like it to have some kind of importance. Some value so that in 20 years’ time it’s not just some dumb song that made some royalties.”
I generally have several sets of lyrics on the go.
I play my guitar every day, set stuff to start with then wander off into new territory. Every now and then I suddenly put two things together and a song is born. It is then honed and honed and honed until I am reasonably happy with the result. Songwriting is a bit like the process of giving birth (not that I have any personal experience!). Sometimes the labor is prolonged and difficult, sometimes straightforward. Very occasionally it’s like an emergency caesarian when the words and music rapidly tumble out – ‘Blinking In The Light’ was written in 30 minutes start to finish.
I often hear the tunes in my head and if it sounds like it needs something I can’t personally provide I’ve used Fiverr (female vocalist on ‘Refugees,’ Saxophone on ‘Broken Promises’). I also met a very talented violinist (Joana Carvalhas) at a singer-songwriter gig I was playing at and she has provided the violin on ‘Refugees’ and ‘Requiem for a Friend.’ It is still exciting for me (being a complete Luddite) to send a WAV file across the globe and then have contributions returned in a couple of days.
Which artists in your opinion are killing it right now?
I love The National. Accomplished musicians, great live (I saw them 10 days ago), fantastic catalog of songs. I’m loving the guitar of Eric Steckel at the moment.
How do you define success?
I’ve already had a very rewarding career in a completely different field, have a lovely wife and four wonderful sons who have grown up to be kindhearted and generous-spirited young men – that is success for me! I write music for the love of it. If anyone listens to the music, relates to the words, and remembers it the next day I’m a happy and contented man!