Steve Overland of FM talks Heroes And Villians
On Monday the 9th of March Rockgig was lucky enough to speak to Steve Overland of FM about their new album Heroes And Villians.
Rockgig We are here to talk about your new cd Heroes And Villians but I have a couple of other questions first. Who were you influenced by at the start of your career?
Steve The start of my career bands like Free and probably earlier than that would have been people like Stevie Wonder and Tamla Motown stuff and that was my first love and then I discovered this man called Paul Rodgers . From there I got in to the usual stuff like Bad Company and that blues based rock.
Rockgig I read that you started as a guitar player and became a singer by accident is that true?
Steve Totally true mate I never wanted to be a singer. My brother's band the singer had a sore throat one night and he had heard me singing in the bedroom with a mate. I must have been 12 years old and was told you are coming to do a gig with me tonight and they had sacked the singer. So this school boy became a frontman by accident really.
Rockgig Lucky for us you did, on the 30th anniversary tour you seemed to be playing more lead guitar than usual was that just the songs you were playing and do you enjoy it?
Steve I love it I would still rather be a guitar player than a singer. It is just the way it is and how the new songs are with the twin lead guitar on a lot of tunes and just the way the writing is going that it needs that clean guitar and heavy guitar sound on all the songs.I have just got back into doing it a lot more and I love it mate to be honest. I enjoy playing more guitar in the set.
Rockgig As a long time fan having Jim Kirkpatrick in the band seems to have revitalised FM how did you meet and what has he brought to the band?
Steve A load of headaches really no not really he is sitting near me as we have been rehearsing today. When we got back together we decided that we were going to continue and that we were going to take it seriously again and really have another go at it. Andy wasn't really around and we needed 100 % per cent commitment and to do it better than we had done it before and that is what we wanted to do. Andy couldn't give us that really with what was going on in his life so we auditioned a load of guitar players and Jim had been playing with Thea Gilmour and was living about 7 miles away and he was a mate of mine anyway.We auditioned a few players and I said to the boys that I have got this brilliant guitar player and he lives close to me.I said to Jim and remember he is 20 years younger than us he had been to see the band and had a couple of the albums anyway so I said to him do you want to come down and have a play and he came down and we recorded all of the rehearsals and he was totally the right man for FM.Since he has been in he is younger so he approaches things in a different way and also makes us look at things in a different way.
He is great he is heavily involved in the writing and everything that we do he is a major part of the band.
Rockgig After releasing the 2 Rockville albums had you cleared the decks completely of songs ideas?
Steve At the time we had we had intended to keep some of those songs back but it isn't something that we really worry about because of the response since we came back has been so brilliant.We are never short of writing ideas and we write on the road and we have wrote most of the next album we just keep writing because it inspires you. The reaction to the stuff we are putting out and what we are doing inspires you to keep going so people are coming up with songs all the time.We are making head way on the next record and this ones not out yet.
Rockgig Do you write separately or together?
Steve A bit of everything mate really.We tend to write separately with an initial idea and then the band get their hands on it and make it into an FM tune and make it sound like FM.
Rockgig Do you demo the songs before entering the studio?
Steve On this album funnily enough we didn't.We came into the studio rocked them out in the studio and went straight into recording them which made them sound slightly different to the other ones.We had no set plan but we do demo it and then send it out to people and they say I really like that bit or why don't you do this and get an idea of what the song is about before they actually play on it.
Rockgig How long did it take to write and record Heroes And Villians?
Steve Not that long really mate because we had been touring quite a lot last year.The main reason is because we are so busy at the moment is popping into the studio when we can between gigs.We don't go into a studio like a lot of bands for 6 weeks and record the whole record.We will go in do 3 songs and then might do a batch of gigs or something else and then we will go back in and do another 3.We tend to do it a few at a time as it keeps it fresh.Every song gets 100 % attention because you are not recording a big block of songs and they get the attention they deserve.
Rockgig Where did you record the new album?
Steve We recorded it funnily enough just down the road from me and Jim at a place called Tremelo Studios.Jim did a session there for someone else and said there is this great little studio and the gear and the engineer are fantastic .So we recorded it all there and they let us have it when we need it .We tend to go out on the road and then a week in the studio it is all fits and starts.
Rockgig Who came up with the album title and why?
Steve Merv came up with the album title and there is no big secret really.We had a load of titles and you know the emblem the skulls and we just felt it fitted well together.So we picked that one from the batch we had.
Rockgig Any heroes and villians in the band?
Steve All of us ( laughing !!!)
Rockgig Can you give us any idea on what the new songs are about? Any specific stories?
Steve Not really as I said we write when on the road. Walking With Angels the last song that song had been around since when we recorded Metropolis. I basically played it in the studio and I remember Jim saying that is a great song and because of the amount of songs we write it got left.On this album Jim said have you still got that ballad and I had to go back and relearn it and because it sounded so great with Jim playing an acoustic and I was and everyone said lets leave it like that. We didn't want to try to turn it into a big band song because you can lose the vibe.It is a really old song because it has been hanging around for a while.
Rockgig Do you have a personal favourite ? Mine seems to change daily!
Steve That is great to hear mate and I have to say when I listen to it weekly we are really proud of it. We do an album and we work hard at it and I am really proud of it like we have been on all the albums since we got back together.The band is progressing all the time and the writing is and I am really proud of it but I don't have one favourite song to be honest.
Rockgig Do you feel pressure when writing new material that it has to stay within the confines of the melodic rock genre and in relation to your past work?
Steve Not really.To be honest we write all sorts of songs like Walking With Angels which is an acoustic guitar and voice song and as long as it has feel.We take a song and make it into an FM song that tends to be what happens to it.We just write songs and if it is great give it the band sound we never think I tell you we will write this.We just write songs!
That is the great thing about the band now unlike when we were signed to major labels we are totally in control of our destiny we can do what we want we have no one saying you have to do this you have to do that we don't have that anymore.
Rockgig Funnily enough the next question relates to that you are now on Frontiers Records how are they to work with?
Steve So far no complaints mate it has been fantastic.When we got back together they were fans of the band the guys at Frontiers and for this one we finally said we will go with them and so far the partnership is going great.We hope that it will be great for this album and in the future.
Rockgig Do you have a more than one album deal with them?
Steve I won't go into that one!! Wait and see. At the moment we work great together and the way they have come up with things has been great.They are very enthusiastic and have given us what we want.Fingers crossed it carries on we are really excited about going out and promoting the album and working with them on that side of things.
Rockgig The music industry has changed hugely in your career what are your thoughts on the music industry now?
Steve Some things I think are great and some things I don't like.I don't like that music has become so disposable to be honest and at the touch of a button you have what you want.Records used to be a real possession I think but then again you look at it and we can get to the whole world within a second If you are doing something and going out and doing shows you can get to the whole world in seconds .There are good and bad things about it. It is all completely different now and that is why we have Jim so he can explain everything to us!!
Rockgig What do you see as success in 2015? Critical acclaim, cd and tickets sales or more on a personal level?
Steve For me success is really is 30 years of the band and still being able to do this and having another go at this.We didn't expect this sort of reaction when we came back and for me success is the band being able to play big arenas again and going out and selling out gigs.We will take everything as it comes we don't expect anything because we didn't expect it to steam roller forward like the way it has done.We will never be Bon Jovi now and we know that and that day has passed but we are quite happy with FM being what FM are now and so I think we are successful in the way that we make our albums and we are proud of what we do.So we can make albums like the one that we just made and that is success.
Rockgig Last year you played some 30th anniversary shows how were they to do?
Steve Fantastic.To be able to go out and see people singing every word of every song it still gives us the same buzz.You write songs and touch peoples lives they are a big part of a lot of peoples lives. I mean that first comeback gig there were people crying their eyes out in the audience or it may have been because we were so shite!!! It was just overwhelming and it still is.To be able to do what we do again and I never expected the fans to be as patient as they were when we stopped and they are all back again.We never take it for granted it is just fantastic to be able to do this again.To have the same career at that level again we are just loving every minute of it.
Rockgig We have had Indiscreet in full and then the 30th anniversary show any chance of any more retrospective shows? Tough It Out maybe?
Steve I can't tell you how many times I have been asked that one!! If St Johns Ambulance are standing by as they might need to revive me as that is the hardest album to sing live.You never know!! I never say yes or no as you never know what might happen?
Lots of people have asked for it because the few Indiscreet shows went down so well and you never know.
Rockgig We were lucky enough to win a meet and greet at Southampton on the last tour and when talking to Merv I brought up that Rockville 1 and 2 were very successful but you only played 3 songs from it on that tour.You then added a reworked Story Of My Life but now with 50 new songs since you have reformed any thoughts on just playing new songs on a tour?
Steve Please don't talk to our manager about that!! There always is someone but I will be honest mate we would rather play just new songs but we can't!! You always have to remember the fact that why people got into the band in the first place and where there memories lie.That Girl we could play blindfolded in our sleep as we have played it so many times .All of those tunes if we don't play them you know we tried it. We have tried by not playing a few songs from our past and we get so much grief.We have such a big catalogue now and we just can't get away with not playing That Girl and Bad Luck and a few of the other key songs of the bands career when we first started.If you look at how many songs we are going to play in the new set from the 3 new albums it actually takes up quite a bit of the set.When you look at somewhere like Spain Indiscreet was a really big album there and they love all that stuff and because we don't go there very often like in England when we go out there they want to hear Indiscreet well all of it really.We have a lot to consider when picking a setlist for this band it really is the biggest nightmare in the world!! We have to change it all the time can we move that one out and then you leave a key song out!! It is tough to pick a set.
Rockgig You start at the end of this week in Bedford and then at HRH AOR on Saturday with Night Ranger in Wales how are you looking forward to getting back out on the road?
Steve I can't wait.The last tour we did those suburb type places like Southampton and Southend not really major towns and we had such a brilliant time.We have been doing the album and we just want to get out and play.We went out and did it and then was asked to stand in for Vandenburg at PlanetRock and had an absolutely fantastic show there.
Rockgig How many new songs are you going to play?
Steve Not sure at this stage of the game I can't really say.
Rockgig What does the rest of 2015 hold for FM?
Steve Lots of festivals in Europe a headline tour of the UK and headline shows across the rest of Europe and lots of other things really.Wait and see the management are finalising things at the moment and if it comes off will be fantastic.Very very busy the busiest one we have had since we got back together without a doubt.
Rockgig I have asked you this before but here goes again 3 solo cd's any chance of any live shows Steve Overland on his own?
Steve Maybe yes it really is just the time Mark.Finding the time with all the other stuff. The record company would do it tomorrow and keep asking me to do it.The best way to sell rock albums now is to go out and play.If I get the time at some stage I may do that it is just finding the time.FM are so busy and take up so much of my time it is a job to find a slot when you aren't doing something with FM.
Rockgig Any more Shadowman?
Steve We have just done a new album and we finished it at the end of January. A couple of vocal things to finalise.Same band and we also got Didge to play keyboards on the album. He is playing all of the keys on the new Shadowman album and has done a brilliant job. It is going to be a great album we are really pleased with it I just have to do my little vocal thing on backing vocals and then it is off to be mixed so another one done.
Rockgig Will the Ozone cd with Chris Ousey ever see the light of day?
Steve Your guess is as good as mine.I did my stuff on that well that album has been going on for 3 years.I did my stuff a well long time ago and it went off to be mixed by Mike Slamer in America and I have heard one mix.He must be the slowest man on the planet and I can't even remember what the songs were it is such a long time ago.You just tend to get on with your other stuff and I have done 2 or 3 other albums.
Rockgig Any last thoughts for your fans?
Steve It is going to be a great year for the band and we thank everybody.We get a lot of stuff on the website for the new songs and everybody is made up the way the album has been received by guys like you in the press .Stick with it and we are really pleased with the new album and lots of gigs this year.We keep getting more and more enthused as we go along.
Rockgig Thanks a lot for taking the time to talk to Rockgig see you at Shepherds Bush and take care.
Steve You too mate thanks a lot.
A big thank you to Dave Clarke from Planet Earth Publicity for his time in setting up this interview.