fbpx skip to Main Content

One rainy March morning, we tucked ourselves away in the studio to work with singer/songwriter Simon Stewart’s on some of his tunes. Cups of english breakfast and some California Rock wafted into a faux sense of sunshine, reminiscent of a summer that, this year, didn’t show up . In an attempt to get a dose of vitamin d, we began tracking some acoustic guitar. Simon’s style just oozes late seventies Neil Young (think Comes a Time or Rust Never Sleeps). It carries a certain lyrical nonchalance that never ceases to put a smile on your face with comical stories and touching love ballads. Recalling a quote from Brian Eno (“Whilst living in an apartment on a busy New York street corner, I made the quietest music I could – Contrary when I lived in the English countryside I made some of the loudest music I’d ever made”) Simon took us and our sodden shoes to a world of sunshine and margaritas.
Whilst Matt was doing some editing I took the opportunity to shoot Simon some questions. We sat in the vocal booth, loud playback of a tune spills  through a door we should have shut properly before recording the following conversation. 

 

What’s up Simon!

What’s up man! 

How are you feeling? I heard you’ve recently recovered from a rough dose of the spicy cough. 

Yeah. It really took the wind out of me, so to speak. 

Literally, hah!

Yeah.because I had cancer when I was 17 and the treatment that was used for the cancer like Leomycin, are really obstructive to your lungs. I also had radiation exposure, chemo sorta thing. So I got the call from the Covid nurse and she said, yeah, just be wary of symptoms, breathing and problems with your heart and stuff like that. At first I thought I’d get away with it, but then it was like day seven and I got out of the brain fog,  Then it got into my lungs, and then that took about a month to get over. But there was one day there where I was like, oh, my God, I really couldn’t breathe very well.

Wow ok, was it like a bad flu or more of a different animal? 

Yeah, a different animal. The brain fog is one big thing where It’s like being stoned, like going to the fridge and not knowing why you’re there and you’re not even hungry. But it wasn’t in a fun way.

I still havn’t managed to get it (Covid). It’s weird. I feel a bit left out! Anyway, you said you’ve been playing a couple of gigs since you’ve recovered?

Yeah I’ve had a few. Rogue Scholar, Pattision hotel. I actually got asked a couple of times for the pourhouse house, but then when I was still recovering and struggling with my breath. I just didn’t want to get on stage, and then not be able to finish.

That’s fair enough. It’s better to be on your game. 

Yep. 

So you’re a pretty new father, I guess. Are you still writing music or has your focus kind of been elsewhere? (Congratulations by the way) 

I’ve still been writing as always. But I think the difference between when I’m being productive is I finish things off and I’m always writing, but often I get books full of stuff kind of like ideas. Yeah, just ideas.

Probably the last song I wrote was Rock and Roll Vampire. And then when I came back to you guys I went back through, like, I’ve been looking over some songs that I did so long ago, but I hadn’t finished them off. Like Pseudo Love, the song we’re working on now. I never really thought about the structure enough. I just wrote out. There was a verse and chorus and bridge and it ends up being just however I play it on the day. That’s how it is.

Then I come to the studio and I start to think about how I can finish things off and make them actually complete.

Congratulations on the release of your single ‘Rock’n’Roll Vampire’ by the way!

Thank you. My son loves it. Even if no one ever listens to this song, he falls asleep to it all the time in the car. He cracks it in the car, starts screaming, but when we put that tune on he drifts off. 

Please correct me if I’m wrong, but is the tune a love story about a vigilante couple robbing banks along the east coast of Australia? 

The woman’s a vampire, she bites her partner after the heist goes wrong. In the third verse he comes out bleeding with a suitcase full of money. And then with those vampire fangs, she bites down and saves his life. And then they’re rock and roll vampires together.

So when you’re a vampire, if you bite another person, they become a vampire as well?

Yeah. And that’s the only way that she could save him because he’s bleeding to death after being shot by the police.

You must have had a lot of fun piecing that story together. There is something just so comical about the imagery you create, it’s a lot of fun to listen to! What is your process for writing tunes like this? How do you come up with these stories?

Yeah, with Rock and Roll Vampire, in my previous house I had a studio.I actually just drunk a heap of beers. Then I just started singing. It actually started off as a a tune called ‘bite down blues’ (Simon Starts singing the hook of ‘Bite Down Blues’) the original idea was because Warren Zevun sang ‘Werewolves of London’ in west of London, when he plays it live, when they go to the solo he says ‘bite down’. I was like, oh that’s awesome, Bite down. I can do a song called Bite Down Blues. Then I started off with Bite Down Blues. Then I thought I needed something a bit more catchy. So I started thinking about vampires and armed robberies and things like that!

A quick aside, who inspires you? 

Maybe Joni Mitchell. I’ve always loved Joni Mitchell songs and I never really play along with them because I can never figure out what she was doing. Lyric wise she is just so vivid. 

I’m so very keen to hear more exciting stories of adventure and heartbreak! So there definitely is a Simon Stewart Album in the works?

Yeah. Hopefully it’ll be ready sometime this year. 

Cool, man. I just had this stupid question, but I’ve got a real ‘live from folsom prison’ vibe from ‘Rock and Roll Vampire’

Oh, yeah?

And it’s just infectious. But musically, should we expect a similar country-rockabilly style and feel for the album or will you be kind of pushing to do some different kind of sounding stuff?

Yeah there will definitely be some different styles in there. So the thing was, when I was writing over the years I didn’t think I was writing for myself, I would always think ‘ill just write this down’ and maybe someone else would play it one day. I’ve been playing both in bands and in solo acts but mostly I was just building elevators in Sweden. 

HAH Building Elevators in Sweden?

Yeah haha, I wrote a bunch of songs over there. One song called ‘Gambling With My Life’ I wrote whilst doing a maths exam. Mostly I was just writing to get out of study! 

Well thanks for chatting Simon, let’s get back to making some music hey? I really appreciate you taking the time to do this! 

No worries at all! 

 

Check out Simon via the links below. Fingers crossed he’ll have an album ready to blast through your speakers in the coming months. It might be just the thing to transport you from a cold winter’s day to a bank robbing holiday in Byron Bay. 

 

https://www.instagram.com/simonstewartmusic/