QUITE a few artists have some famous ties but when it comes…
to Steve Rodgers; he has quite a prestigious and illustrious background. His father is the legendary musician Paul Rodgers – his sister, Jasmine, one of the finest new artists in the U.K. He has seen his work praised by Jimmy Page and Roger Taylor. There is no doubt Rodgers has witnessed a busy and exciting start to his career: toured and performed alongside other artists and marked himself as one of those songwriters to watch.
I ask Rodgers about his new single, I Will Grow, and working with producer Ken Nelson; what to expect from his upcoming album and some of those artists he tips for future success...
Hi, Steve. How are you? How has your week been?
It’s been great, thank you – how are you?
For those new to your work; can you introduce yourself, please?
I'm a singer/songwriter from the U.K. - who has just finished a new album with producer Ken Nelson (Coldplay, Snow Patrol; Gomez, Paolo Nutini) and mixed by Adrian Bushby (Muse, Foo Fighters)
I Will Grow is your new single. What can you tell us about its inspiration and what it means to you?
I was at a gig and the promoter’s girlfriend was a life-coach - and was asking for some music for her website. I felt that it had to be a piano song. I went home and wrote the song and sent it to her the next day.
It's about how 'life' can happen to all of us: no matter our background; it’s about how we pick ourselves up time after time; how we overcome our struggles. We either sink or we grow. We have to adapt and learn to succeed - even when life is being hard on us.
It’s about being triumphant in the face of adversity.
Ken Nelson produced the track. What was it like working with him?
It was great.
He is fantastic at getting the right sound. It’s exactly how I wanted to record the album: very organic, no Auto-Tune – what you hear is what we play. I love some of The Beatles' albums where every song had a different vibe - and that's what I tried to do with this album.
So, we have songs that are full-electric band: just a piano, recorded live; acoustic band or just a guitar etc. We recorded at Elevator Studio in Liverpool at a time when the city was having a celebration of music, too - which was great.
On every street corner, there was a piano left standing for passers-by to play. It was great to hear buskers, school-children; Classical, Jazz and Blues musicians; mothers and office workers creating music.
The video sees you in woodland, playing the piano. What was it like filming there and do you think the images/setting act as a metaphor for the song’s messages?
I was brought up there - so, it’s almost my back garden.
Yes; climbing a hill is a bit like life I guess: it’s enjoyable but can be hard at times – but ultimately growing and learning makes us feel alive.
PHOTO CREDIT: Jane Judd
Will the song form the basis of an E.P. or album? What is in the pipeline?
Yes, I have.
My first album, called Steve Rodgers, is being launched this October.
The likes of Jimmy Page and Roger Taylor have heaped praise on you. Is it quite scary getting that kind of kudos from legends?! Does it motivate you to keep recording?
No, it’s not scary.
It's a huge, huge compliment and icing on the cake to what I do already. To be out there doing what I love, and having an audience enjoy it, is what it’s all about.
Your dad is Free/Bad Company’s Paul Rodgers. Does your dad offer support and have you learn a lot from him, as a musician?
I've had to figure a lot out myself and I like it that way - because it means I've earned it. I have, of course, learnt a lot by just being around him - and hearing him sing and play at home; as well as on stage.
He's always been very encouraging. We recorded a charity song together called This Place Called Home - about all the steelworks shutting down in the U.K.
The money goes to Zoe's Baby Hospice in Middlesbrough - where my dad and family come from. It was great to watch him in the studio as an adult and see how focused he is on everything within the song.
I have met and reviewed Jasmine Rodgers. It seems there are a lot of very talented musicians in the family! Any plans to work with her anytime soon?
We have spent ten years in the same band, Boa; travelled and toured and recorded two albums – plus, done an acoustic tour together.
So, we have kind of done that already - but I think we would definitely do it again.
What was it like growing up in the family household? What kind of music were you listening to and did famous musicians often drop by for a cuppa?
It was how you would imagine...
Dad would be in the studio; my sister on the guitar (in her room) and me on the piano, downstairs. Earlier on, Dad had always tried to steer us both away from the 'business' as it can be tough. However, we would see him singing his heart out around the house or running upstairs with band members - and we thought: ''Hang on, he's having way too much fun here in this 'business".
I used to borrow dad's L.P.s and, so, I'd be introduced to whatever he had - like Albert King/Born Under a Bad Sign; Miles Davis/Tutu; Holst/The Planets – I remember I listened to a lot of Blues (for a thirteen-year- old: really old Blues, too) and I loved it.
Yes, we would often have famous people stop by: Jimmy Page, Peter Grant (Led Zeppelin/Bad Company’s manager); Bill Wyman and Bryan Adams - amongst the ones I can remember.
Your new work is, in my view, your most confident and memorable. How would you say you have changed and evolved since the early days – in your band, Boa, where you released two albums, for example?
Thank you very much.
I reckon, back then, I was more focused on how the music sounded – whereas, now, I feel I have something to say. I guess I felt lost for many years and wanted to find answers.
I think, like most of us, we're wondering what it’s all about - and is there a better way to live…to thrive rather than just exist.
So...it comes out in the songs along with heartbreaks and moments of real joy.
Where can we see you perform this year? Do you have any tour dates coming up?
I'm really excited (to be) coming back over to play with my band on a U.K. tour.
Friday 20th: The Bull Theatre, Barnet
21st: Cranleigh Arts Centre, Surrey
23rd: Waterfront Studio, Norwich
26th: The Diamond, Notts.
27th: The Globe, Newcastle
28th: The Salty Dog, Northwich
29th: The Cavern Club, Liverpool
30th: The Speakeasy (at The Voodoo Rooms), Edinburgh
IN THIS PHOTO: Jasmine Rodgers
Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?
No; just me! L.o.L
Yes. Obviously my sister, Jasmine Rodgers.
Scott Matthews is a favourite of mine.
If you had to select the one album that means the most to you; which would it be and why?
Any Led Zeppelin album – it always feels so warm and speaks of some other force that exists Plus...the musicianship is stellar.
What advice would you give to any new artists starting out right now?
I'd say get a great team of people behind you that love what they're doing.
Finally, and for being good sports; you can each name any song and I’ll play it here (not one of yours as I’ll do that).
Great, thank you…
Birdy – Wings
(Thanks again for the interview. Warm regards, Steve).
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