My musical history

I have always had an interest in music.  Some of my fondest gifts from my childhood revolve around music and musical instruments.  I got a drum set when I was about 7 or 8 and a kid's starter guitar sometime the following year. I did the usual school band thing when I was in grammar school (I played the flute because it was light and they didn't need any more drummers) but I never got really far into the band thing so I dropped it after a few years. I continued on with chorus and school plays and actually was the lead in quite a few.  All of that changed however when I got to high school.  I still did the chorus thing for a few years but never to the extent of my earlier years.  I got an electric guitar for my 16th birthday but for some reason guitar just never came naturally to me so I never got very good at it.  I kind of gave up on it as other interests starting to infringe on my activity time (my 1968 Camaro that I was restoring, plus ya know, girls).  So music became more of something I listened to than attempted to create. I was listening to a lot of Depeche Mode, OMD, The Police and INXS at that time so at least my musical tastes were pretty well developed by then.

When I was about 19 years old I decided I wanted to try my hand at playing music again.  I had seen that commercial on MTV for the Yamaha DX-100 keyboard.  It was fairly cheap ($300) and it seemed pretty cool for someone who wasn't really much of a keyboard player.  So I went out and bought one. I used that for about 6 months until I realized I would need something better if I was ever going to try to do this seriously.  I was in my first year of college at the time and as summer approached I tried to figure out a way to make enough money to get something more professional.  It so happened that my parents wanted to have the house painted that year and offered me the job (on top of my regular summer gig working at our family video store), in exchange they would buy me the keyboard of my choice (up to a limit).  I had pretty much decided on the Roland D-50 which was the primo standard at the time and fit into my proposed budget.  So I worked all summer and got (most of) the painting done.  It came time to spend my earnings so my dad and I trucked down to Brighton Sound (they had a store on Titus Ave in Irondequoit at the time) and planned to purchase my Roland D-50.  When we got there, the sales guy (who was really helpful and knowledgeable) started to tell me about something new that had just recently come on the market that he suggested I look into.  It was the Yamaha DX7II and it was set to become the new standard (according to the sales guy).  So I checked it out and to make a long story short (too late) I ended up walking out with it (after paying of course).  So there it was, my first "pro" board.  It was miles ahead of what I had been using and immediately I noticed an improvement in my playing and enjoyment of music.  I added an aftermarket sequencing package to it shortly there after and started to create my own music.

I trudged on like that for a few years and churned out a number of "finished" songs (some of which are available on the left there).  I stuck mostly to instrumentals at the time and slowly started to evolve into more complete pop songs.  After college I moved to the NYC area (New Jersey, East Village, Williamsburg Brooklyn, White Plains) for about 6 years and joined a couple of bands there but never got much beyond playing a few shows every now and then and rarely did I contribute a lot to the song writing process.  I moved back to Rochester for personal reasons around 1994 and spent a jobless summer creating music and collecting unemployment. That was really my most creative period and I completed my most finished material then, including singing the lyrics along with the music (though I've never really felt I had much of a voice).  I returned to the NYC area for another year in late 1994 and got a job working at Sam Ash music on Long Island.  I sent a number of demo tapes out to record companies just to see what would happen (nothing did) and in the Fall of 1995 I returned to Rochester (again for personal reasons). 

I ended up with a job (the same one I'm still at...ughh) and didn't really have much ambition for music at that time (personal reasons...again). It was sometime right around then that the original Vertex opened for business.  I was actually there the very first night they were ever open for customers, on a Wednesday night, along with my friend Robert.  We had been camped out for Nine Inch Nails (at the Auditorium Theatre, with Marilyn Manson) and got bored so we decided to check out the new place.  I had been a patron at Scrap, Mirage and Idols for a few years prior so we knew the building. I had always retained my alternative musical influences (in fact one of the main criticism I received from records labels about my music was that it sound too much like Depeche Mode) so I was pretty familiar with most of the music being played in the early days.  I believe Mike Dailor was DJing (was that you Mike??) and Scot Walsh was bartending that first night. Needless to say I spent a lot of nights at Vertex over the next few years.  Robert ended up DJing there for quite a while until the fire.  It was there that I actually started to get involved with playing music again.  The first time I actually remember doing something again was when Mark and Cedric from Rist Rocket asked me if I could add some keyboards to a few songs on their upcoming album as a surprise for Rick the drummer.  It actually came out pretty well (I think) and they used it on the album.  Some time shortly after that I started getting into DJing.  At first I would fill in when needed, then I ended up doing every other Saturday downstairs for the last few months before the fire. As it turned out,  I was one of the last 5 customers to leave the night before the fire so I can pretty much say I was there for the whole Vertex 1.0 experience.

Ironically, it was after the fire that things started to pick up for me musically.  I was not able to be involved weekly in the Vertex on the road nights at GQ because of the lack of available slots but I was the first person asked to fill in when someone needed a night off so I did manage to do a few nights there. It was actually at Piranha where I started to make something happen on the DJ side.  For those who don't know, Piranha occupied what is now The Club at Water Street,  except it also included the bulk of the basement area which is now closed off.  Mike Dailor had been doing his Underground 80's nights there for a while and asked me to fill in for him a few times.  It always ended up going really well when I was there so when Dan Dangler began looking for something to do there on Friday nights, he came up with the Scene Battle concept and we took it from there.  I was the regular DJ downstairs in the dungeon (my first regular weekly gig) and every week he'd bring in a different DJ to do the main floor.  I'd spin mostly industrial and gothic and the main floor DJs would do a more techno and dance style of music.  It was really a fun time and I especially liked it because often I had the opportunity to spin more dance and trance styles on the nights when the Goth/Industrial crowd was light.  This was really where I started to develop my own particular style of DJing, combining the harder industrial with the more dancey trance styles and exploring the differences and similarities between the two seemingly disparate styles.  Piranha was never really meant to be a long term thing, although it was a cool space, lots of work was needed to really make it a club, so by the time Vertex was ready to re-open, we pretty much knew it was over at Piranha. It was there though that Mark actually approached me about starting a Cure cover band.  I think I was in the DJ booth on the main floor that night when Mark came in and somewhat drunkenly extolled the virtues of this great idea he'd had "Let's start a Cure cover band!!"  He yelled over the music.  I, of course was skeptical, Mark often had great ideas but didn't always follow through so well.  So I nodded and smiled and told him to call me when we could talk about it, then told him to get his drunk ass out of the booth. To my surprise, sometime during the next few weeks he actually did call me with a fully realized plan and 3 other musicians who are all still involved in the band to this day! So that is the unglamorous beginnings of one of my current musical projects.

I had already been hired to work at Vertex when it re-opened.  I picked Saturdays because I hoped to keep Piranha going on Fridays for a while (that only lasted about 6 weeks before we closed it). So when Vertex re-opened I was there once again from the beginning.  I DJed my first night there on the Saturday of opening week and have been doing it ever since.  It is still my main source of musical inspiration and creative energy and I hope to continue with it for many years.

So why all this overflow of words?  Mostly just to get it all straight in my head but also to let you in on some of the steps I've taken to get to where I am today.  Not that I'm anywhere all that important but hopefully this will continue and I will continue to find ways to develop my musical abilities.

Give a listen to some of the songs on the left if you'd like to hear some of my original stuff.  Keep in mind most of it is pretty old and a little rough around the edges.  This stuff was all recorded in my bedroom studio and everything you hear was done by me so it's not always the most professional sounding.

Thanks for reading and enjoy!

Steve

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