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Steve Bello / Blog

live and free

Hey all! This Saturday will be my 44th year on your planet, and while it still confounds me often, I enjoy it here. Think I will stay a while longer :)

Anthony Gemignani (owner of AllStar Music Empire in Flemington, NJ) recorded Steve Bello Band's debut performance at his store on October 19th this year. I listened to all the tracks and they sound great, love how raw they sound. It was our second show w/new drummer Kamran Vaziri, and even with just two rehearsals, he fits right in.

I thought to myself, "Self, let the good people of Earth hear some of these live tracks!" And then another thought balloon appeared over my head: "Let them download these tracks for FREE, but only if they sign the mailing list." Sounds fair, yes? So...

Some of the files were too big for this site, so I picked the ones that fit within the 8MB range. I wanted to include the medley of "Insane Rain/To Be Human Again" but it was too large a file. I purposely left off the two newest songs we played, because I am a tease like that. So, I was able to upload "Scratch That Itch/Burn The Sky" and "Go Berzerk!/Surfing To Venus" and am pleased that some people already signed up to download them.

What I am impressed with is that these tracks are 100% live, recorded direct to tape, no overdubs, no studio trickery, no Auto-Tune LOL! Are there mistakes? Yes, and that's part of the charm of live music. But I can sleep at night knowing that what YOU are hearing is honest-to-God, real raw music...the best part is that it's FREE!! So even though it's my birthday, I am giving you the gifts!!

Dig in!!!

back-to-back attack

Yesterday was the second show w/Steve Bello Band MK V, featuring new drummer Kamran Vaziri, at the grand opening of AllStar Music Empire (Flemington, NJ). We were also the very first band to "christen" the stage there, so it feels good to finally be a "first" at something with music!

The crowd was very decent, everyone was mingling around, looking at guitars and just how wicked cool the store is. I am almost 44 years old, and I felt like I was 16 again being in this place. I wish there was a music store like AllStar Music Empire in North Jersey. But hey, I won't mind making the hour-long trip once in a while, you know?

As for the show, it was definitely the best we ever sounded, even if it was only our second show. I am gauging past shows that SBB has done over the past 10 years (has it been that long?) with the various line-ups it has had. The sound system had SWEET tones, such fat bass and soaring highs. The acoustics in the room were perfect, and for once, everything was at the right levels. But poor Kamran had to play being a plexiglass divider; it was weird turning around to cue him and I had to stare at this clear wall. Hey, stranger things have happened...

Joe, Kamran, and I really play off each other quite well. Joe's bass sound was so powerful and had the right blend of perfection and looseness. It compliments Kam's style real well, which is great for me, as I like to take chances on stage with the music. I have always said that without a great rhythm section, my riffs are meaningless.

We debuted another new song yesterday called "Slippery Gypsy" (so named because of a funny comment under a Paul Gilbert video that I came across on YouTube) and the people in the room were treated to something that sounded like it was from Mars. The intro alone is very progressive-sounding, but then it turns into a sludgy funk/metal ride. Kinda like King Crimson meets Zeppelin, if you will (with some jazzy chord changes for Joe to fly over). We pulled this song off quite well, and we only rehearsed it a handful of times a few days prior to the show. The rest of the set was most of GO BERZERK! (I dropped "Throwing Away My Skin" and "Sometimes Hidden"), "Burn The Sky", and the other new song we debuted at PETS ROCK, called "Quicker Than The Devil". The set list was total high-energy, no wasted spaces, no dead air. It only took me 10 years to get a set list that paced itself right!

After the show, crowd reaction ranged from "Man, you guys were SO loud" to "When's your next gig?" The best part of the show was this one little kid standing NEXT TO THE STAGE, seemingly soaking in the sounds we were making. I hope that kid doesn't have vertigo now LOL!

Next Sunday I will be heading to Kam's place to lay down demos for him to put beats over. From there, hopefully one more rehearsal before the November 2nd gig at Buddies' Tavern. Even if we don't get to jam out, I am confident that we will put on a good show.

So...three SBB shows almost back-to-back. I could get used to more shows soon...

moving ahead...finally

I am pleased to announce that Steve Bello Band has a new drummer! His name is Kamran Vaziri and he made his debut with us back on September 27th at Roxy & Duke's for PETS ROCK. Aside from the small technical problems early in the set, Kamran played his arms off and really impressed Joe and myself. We had one rehearsal before that gig and he aced it well. We got to debut a new song called "Quicker Than The Devil" and it was met with a great response...

We have another show coming up this Saturday at All-Star Music Empire (Flemington, NJ) to help with their grand opening. We had another rehearsal on Monday night, added another new song in the mix and will debut that as well. After rehearsal, Joe and I agreed that Kamran is the right man for the job and I shook his hand and said, "You're in, the gig is yours now." He seemed pleased :)

So now we can finally move forward!!

I am fortunate that I have worked with some incredible drummers over the years, each bringing their own flair and style to the songs. Kamran reminds me of John Bonham in a lot of ways, very steady and solid, never unflagging from the groove. But when he does turn on the charm, he can pummel like Vinnie Paul! This is a good thing...

I stressed to Kamran that his drumming is definitely helping me re-think my song structure. I had done demos back in March, and my intention was to write pissed-off/ugly/weird tunes and it's a good thing most of those songs didn't take flight. I had a hard time listening to the songs, except for "Quicker" and the newer song we worked on, as well as a couple of choice riffs here and there. I think I am just tired of trying too hard to be "out there". I want to write SONGS, which I feel I have proved over and over than I can do decently. Kamran's style really made me think, "It's time to just BE!"

Will my songs still have "typical" twists and turns? Of course. Am I still going to combine melody with shred? Absolutely. Only now I am more relaxed and it shows. I am really looking forward to working on what will be the 6th album. I really also think that after GO BERZERK!, it was necessary to turn a corner. When I debuted "Quicker" at the Ibanez clinic back in July, it was met with wild enthusiasm. That was a sign for me to let go of whatever inhibitions I had and just focus on whatever feels good. And right now, things with SBB feel good again. I missed the spark, the fire, the creativity...

I hope you all did too because this is going to be GOOD!!

square one

Hello all, or the few who frequent this page :) Summer is still here but before you know, we'll be wishing each other a Merry Christmas. Start asking me what I want now so you can beat the lines in December...

As many of you know, I was working on demos for an upcoming sixth album. And, true to form, I stopped everything because I am neurotic like that. I was not happy with how things were going, felt like I was losing control to be blunt. I am a perfectionist and somewhat of a control freak, that is true. I am always open to ideas and suggestions but when the producer said to me "You sound like Dream Theatre" (which irks me, to be honest, as I sound nothing like them) and then followed up with "I can get you to have John Petrucci's tone", I had to pull the plug. Nothing against Petrucci at all but I have to sound like ME! Granted, I wear some influences on my sleeve but to be told who to sound like...no thanks.

As a result, I am back to square one, which can be a good thing. I was initially excited about the demos but after not listening to them for quite some time, I grew very dissatisfied with them. I have learned to edit myself over the years; it's easy to think everything you do is amazing. But when you take a huge step back, you have to ask yourself "Will I still enjoy this in 5 years?" The answer for me was "no".

Some of the songs I am keeping because I truly believe they are great. Others are going in the B pile or even the trash. I am still writing new material, whether it's a full song or three riffs glued together. I have to stay on top of that, or else I will feel dry.

But with every album I have done, I have always started off with the best of intentions and they quickly dissipate. It gets harder and harder to produce new music for various reasons. I used to question why bands such as Def Leppard, Boston, and Queen would take so long over the years to come up with new albums. Now I see why. In the beginning stages, the vibes are right and the energy level is high. But over time, the "band limbo" kicks in. And it's up to musicians whether or not they want to work through it or surrender. I admit that I do both.

"Bello gets defeated easily" is something I hear a lot, and yes that is 100% accurate. I am someone who does not like bumps in the road, I do not fly by the seat of my pants. I am very structured and methodical, have to have my ducks in a row. Whether it's a set list or when to get coffee, I have to have a plan or else I am lost. And when my plans get interrupted, I really feel like my hands are tied behind my back. For me, moving forward is the ONLY option. Sometimes it's not easy, especially when others don't feel the need to accommodate.

With all this being said, I still have every intention of creating new music, but only when the time is truly right. I haven't put out new music since 2011, with the exception of me playing a demo version of a new song at the clinic two weeks back. People seemed to respond to the new song quite well, and that pleased me. Maybe I will release a video/demo version like I did with "Surfing To Venus", as that definitely worked to my advantage before GO BERZERK! was being recorded. I have to see the clip and approve of it of course.

I have to make sure my hair looks good ;)

And I am working on things behind-the-scenes that of course I am not revealing until everything is 100% air-tight and ready to rock. In this business, one slip-up and everyone pulls out their daggers, waiting to cut you down. Thank God I have an attorney who gives me great advice on how to go about my business. And yes, it IS a business, and I have to treat it as such. But I will never lose the drive, the passion, the energy...nor will I lose my dignity and integrity.

I did lose my mind years ago though...nobody's perfect.

full circle

Hey there! Hope everyone's summer is going well. I love the heat but when it gets too humid, my asthma and my hair seem to dislike it. At least it's better than the alternative: wearing 14 layers of clothing just to start my car in the morning.

Anyway, this year is special because 10 years ago I signed on as an Ibanez endorser. They have been treating me well, even though I am still technically a nobody in this industry, compared to the artists they have on their roster. I am grateful that they gave me an opportunity to prove that the risk they took to take me on board was one that paid off for everyone involved.

Also, ten years ago, I did my very first clinic for Ibanez at Rondo Music (Union NJ) and it coincided nicely with the release of my first cd called TWISTED METAL. My attitude was "I will do some clinics, record some music, and that's that." I didn't expect things to take off the way they did. Since then, I've done five albums, had various line-ups over the years, and played some awesome shows as well as not-so-awesome (just being honest). Through it all, I can honestly say that I played my music on my terms...but that doesn't mean it was going to be accepted so easily. It was a nice challenge, but in the end, I have to admit defeat. It was either literally change my tune or walk away with my dignity and integrity intact.

I walked away from my own band out of strength, not weakness. And now it's paying off...

Things come full circle in everyone's lives. I am back to doing clinics and I cannot wait. I always loved inspiring people, and really, that should be the goal of a musician. Make someone say "Hey I want to play guitar" or "I bet I can learn the drums!" But it's also a two-way street, and as much as I enjoy playing shows, it's not inspiring to me when I have to play to a room full of people with crossed arms and smug "IMPRESS ME" looks on their faces. Doing clinics is more fun and everyone likes to get involved. I would encourage people to bring their guitars, and ask questions, really feel like THEY are part of the clinic too, not just have it be all about myself. Some clinicians only showboat, but I like to make my clinics interactive and fun!

A bigger thrill for me is that I will be doing my first clinic in 7 years at Taylor's Music (West Chester, PA)! I have known Chris and Leanne for a while and when I mentioned the possibility of doing a clinic in their store, they jumped at the chance. That felt good (better than a club owner saying "Ummm...let me get back to you...") and with that enthusiasm, a clinic was born. It even inspired me to contact other stores and see if they would be into it. The economy is tough, possibly tougher than it's ever been. Stores don't like to host clinics because they can get costly and there's never a guarantee of a good turnout. But if it's promoted properly, it's smooth sailing for everyone.

Also for my first clinic, not only will I play songs from my cd GO BERZERK! (going on two years old now!) but I will dip way back to the first album and play something from that, since that was the cd that got the ball rolling. I still have the backing tracks from all my albums, so I can cherry-pick what I want to do.

I may even threaten to play a new song, even in rough demo form..hmmmm....

back to the front

Sounds like I am quoting Metallica's "Disposable Heroes" in the header there. You may be right but read on...

Every time I hear "Rock You Like A Hurricane" by Scorpions (there's no "the", dammit!), I am instantly transported back to when I was 13 years old. I was in the thick of absorbing and being obsessed with guitar, it was truly a wild ride. When it came time to learn a full song from front to back (see where I am going?), I could have picked any song. I could have learned something by Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, you name it. But I had to sink my teeth into Scorpions' "RYLAH" for whatever reasons.

Maybe because I am a Scorpio?

I didn't have the best gear in the world, just my Guild Madiera Strat, Boss HM-2 Heavy Metal Pedal, and a small red amp that I got at Sam Goody's. Didn't matter to me. I was ready to tackle this song. Once I learned where to fret the first E chord, my fingers had a life of their own. After a few times, I pretty much nailed the song in a matter of two hours. It was an exhilirating feeling, and from there on in, I convinced myself that I would be a guitar god.

But when I also hear that song, I am instantly reminded that music is about having fun and bringing people together. Everyone eventually gets into the "business" side of things and forgets how to be a passionate player. That may work for some people, being a utilitarian and such. I can't see myself like that though. Do more pro-minded players stop to think "Am I having fun? Or is this only about a paycheck?" I never want my drive, my focus, and my passion for playing and writing music to evaporate. I think it was Tony Visconti who said (and I am paraphrasing here) "Musicians who make money get fat and conservative. The hunger is gone."

I wanna stay hungry as long as I can.

And was that an unintentional Twisted Sister reference? Christ, I am more 80s than I realize...

inspiration

Inspiration is a funny thing. It can hit you when you least expect it, and you better have a pen and paper ready, or some kind of small recording unit to sing into. It can also leave you for a while and make you feel like everything you do is worthless.

When it came time to work on the demos for album #6, I will readily admit that I wasn't feeling it. Sure, I had the songs written down (as in "written down on manuscript paper") but the night before we went to the studio, I was out til all hours, coming home from a road trip for my job. I simply was not feeling up to even looking at my guitar but Joe convinced me to give it a whirl. With whatever energy I had in me, I hopped in Joe's truck and off to Queens we went.

We recorded the demo tracks on March 2nd, and Aady has been sending me the demos w/drum loops as guides to move the riffs along. When you're too close to the music (or art or whatever), it's hard to be objective. But I've been hearing the demos trickling in and I am genuinely surprised at one thing...

That I wrote these tunes?!

I am taking more chances than ever, and while they may not seem like much to some people, to me it's a big thing. I am really stretching and testing the limits of what I am capable of as a writer. Some of the riffs will have people say "Yeah, that's typical Bello" and that's fine. But I wrote some weird passages and I am sure the same people will be staring at their speakers funny. One song has an intro that (I didn't hear it at the time until tonight) reminds me of "Birds of Fire" by Mahavishnu Orchestra. Except my intro is in 4/4 and theirs is in 18/8 (trust me on that one!) Still, the way the chords move and how I played them, I still can't believe that that came out of my guitar.

I think with this album, moreso than any other, it's all about how many envelopes I can push. I can write metal in my sleep, and I have a good grasp on funk. But I am still learning more jazz chops and experimenting with crazy and unusual guitar tones.

Nobody will accuse me of "same ol same ol".

new music on the way

Hey all! I am glad that more people are tuning into Reverbnation, as it really is a great way to get the music out there. MySpace was all the rage, and FB has its perks but this is truly a professional site, great for musicians to get out there and strut their stuff!

As you all know, I started pre-production on the 6th SBB album. I do not have a target release date; I am happy that there was a target START date! HAHA! Last Sunday, I laid down 8 demo songs and I knew they were good when Joe and Aady started banging their heads to the riffs...and it was just me playing to a click track! Yeah, that means it's good stuff!!

Aady was the engineer for the last cd GO BERZERK! Now he is producing this album (and yes, it has a title, and no I am not revealing anything) and in his words, it's "heavy as hell". Guess that's a good thing! He sent me one demo song last night and he was right, it really is heavy as hell! But as I always say, it's got to have a groove and this track really swings, let me tell ya! The other songs run the gamut from straight-up heavy metal to...well, whatever I felt like writing HAHA! The songs have titles too but again, not saying a word. When everything is recorded, mixed, mastered, and the cd cover is printed up...then I will reveal everything.

I really believe that this new album is going to smoke, period! I started writing the music for this cd back in 2010, right after I finished recording GB! You can consider it a curse and a blessing that I am always writing; I am blessed to be creative, and people curse me under their breath LOL!

What I think is adding to the inspiration is that this is the first time I am recording music outside of NJ. I was apprehensive at first but once Joe and I hit NYC soil (Queens, to be exact), this wave of "you can do this" came over me. I needed that, and I think people will hear this renewed vigour in the music.

I know I do :)

killer rehearsal

Monday night, SBB had its first rehearsal of 2013 at Aarius Studios (Slayerville, NJ!) and needless to say, it was pretty killer!

This is the third show to feature the stellar talents of bassist Joe DeMott and drum legend TC Tolliver (Plasmatics/TM Stevens/CFR), and I am truly the luckiest guitar player on this planet! This is the best that SBB has ever sounded, so tight and so incredibly heavy and funky! When you can stand next to a slap-bass fiend, and heir to the throne of Bonham in the same room...you would feel the same way as I do :)

After this show coming up on Friday night, TC will be heading to Europe for a month-long tour w/TM Stevens and Neil Zaza. TC's been looking to tour Europe for a while and I am glad to see him finally flying over the pond. This will definitely give me time to finally work on the new songs, really nail them done in demo form so that he and Joe can work on them as well. It has been almost two years since the release of GO BERZERK! (and I wrote the music for that back in 2007) and I don't want to wait another two years, you know? Not going to rush getting new songs out but damn..I am dying to record with THESE GUYS, as they are the hottest rhythm section around.

Too bold of a statement? Nobody's challenged me yet!

blog time!

Hey everyone! I know I should be keeping more up-to-date with ReverbNation, as it is a great source for musicians.

The first show of 2013 is upon us, as Steve Bello Band will be performing at Crossroads (Garwood, NJ) for a benefit concert called ROCK FOR AUTISM! This is a special night for me, as my youngest son was diagnosed with mild autism. He is doing well, and if I can share my story about him in between the headbanging and loud music, then I will :) Info for the show can be found on my RN page.

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