By MIKE CHAIKEN
Steve Broderick used to play it up big with arena rockers Trans-Siberian Orchestra.
But these days, the now-Mystic-based musician, is keeping things much simpler with a much more stripped down sound as a solo artist.
The singer and his band, The 100 Watt Suns, is heading northwest from his home this weekend as he takes the stage at the Apple Harvest Festival in Southington on Saturday, Oct. 12 on Riccio Way. He is currently promoting his new EP “Steve Broderick and The 100 Watt Suns,” which was released in September.
We caught up with Steve via email to talk to him about his past, present, and future as a musician.
Observer: The current music on “Steve Broderick and The 100 Watt Suns” is very rootsy and stripped down. But you were also part of Trans-Siberian Orchestra, which is very over the top. How does each entity reflect your own personality and musical tastes?
Steve: Great question. Without hopefully rambling too much, the first thing is that I am playing exactly the kind of music I want to play. There are obvious influences in what I do from some of my all time favorites like The Rolling Stones and Tom Petty and Van Morrison that I hopefully am adding some of my own individual spin on to create something unique. One X-factor for me in moving to the Connecticut coastline was getting reception of this radio station WEHM 96.9 that plays my favorites and also plays all of these new artists that are also using those influences to create current and relevant music — bands and singers like The Avett Brothers, Brett Dennen, Amos Lee, and Dawes.
The first couple of tours I did with the TSO were much simpler productions, based around a pretty touching Christmas story and really special. The over-the-top production did not come until about five years in when the show went from theaters to arenas. And it was really fun to experience that and tour at that level. I did love Kiss as a kid. But even with that, my biggest part of the show was me singing with an acoustic guitar.
O: With TSO, of course, you’re performing someone else’s music. And with your solo records, it’s your own material. What are the blessings of both approach?
S: It was definitely a blessing to be a part of the full blown arena tours. What a kick sometimes to go, “This was Neil Young’s dressing room last night!!” And it’s also a blessing to have my own music and band where I get to write and express what I want.
O: When you are trying to record and write as Steve Broderick, where do you pick up your artistic influences, both musically and lyrically?
S: I mentioned the music influences that are, I think, pretty upfront, and one of my guiding kind of frameworks is in the simplicity of the writing. I think Tom Petty is such a phenomenal songwriter and if you go to learn to play one of his songs, there is a simplicity in the chords and structure, that is always a goal. But it is harder than it seems.
Lyrically, I write about things that are close to me. Sometimes deep, sometimes light – like life, you can’t be heavy all the time. Off the new “The 100 Watt Suns” CD – “You Can’t Hide” is on the light side, but I do have this theory that everybody is a little crazy. For some people, you meet you see the crazy in the first five minutes, and for others it could take years. But eventually something will come out where you go, oh, they’re a little nuts too.
“Couldn’t Hold A Candle” is about moving to New York City and leaving a long-term relationship. And even with getting fully immersed in everything NYC had to offer – the shows on the lower east side, the circus of Central Park, there was nudge of missing what I had. Fortunately, it eventually went away and I could fully enjoy the city.
“Round The Bend” in one of my favorites lyrically because I think it is universal. Those salad days of starting out, struggling, trying to get your feet on the ground, the job interviews, and the grind and the hope that one day soon it is all going to be worth it.
O: You moved to rural Connecticut, how has that helped stoke the fires for your current approach to music?
S: Having space for gear and a place to play was big, NYC has tiny apartments and you have to go rent band rooms by the hour. Also all of the natural beauty where I am around the coast and Mystic, Stonington borough, it is incredible.
O: The more organic approach to your sound is making a comeback these days with artists like Mumford and Sons and the Lumineers foregoing a lot of the technology that had dominated the charts. Why do you think the public is being drawn to sounds such as yours?
S: I think for the connection to the great music that came before — the line that can be drawn to Neil Young, and Jackson Browne, those amazing songs and recordings. I freak over how diverse and modern deep Rolling Stones still sound — that radio station I like plays a lot of the acoustic things off of “Exile on Main Street” like “Sweet Virginia” and it could be a new recording by one of the bands you mentioned.
O: For people coming to the Apple Harvest Festival, what can they expect from a live Steve Broderick?
S: We take a “Here we are now, entertain us”-approach. We kick out the jams and try to be as engaging as possible, and like that line in “Fast Times at Ridgemont High”—“If I am here, and you’re here, doesn’t that make it our time.”
O: This performance is just a trip to the center of the state, what other plans are in the works for Steve Broderick in terms of touring and recording?
S: We play a lot local, get down to New Haven frequently, we really want to play regularly in different part of Connecticut, there are some amazing venues in this state.
For more information about the Apple Harvest Festival, go to Southington.org. For more information about Steve Broderick, go to SteveBroderick.com
Comments? Email mchaiken@BristolObserver. com.