Earlier this year, LIKEYOUSAID had the chance to interview Steep Leans, an ambient surf rock band of Boston, Massachusetts. Gray Somers, the multi-instrumentalist responsible for the band’s melodic debut, Grips On Heat was joined by bassist, Chris Balzotti and drummer, Chris Eddleston for the duration of the interview. The trio avidly shared their experiences from their fall tour with Wavves, their appreciation for Neil Young, and a mixed bag of opinions on the subject of deep dish pizza. Since the interview, the band, which recently relocated to Philadelphia has added guitarist Al Hughes to its lineup.
To start this Steep Leans interview off, could you state your names and roles in the band?
Gray: Hi! I’m Gray Somers and I sing for Steep Leans.
Chris: I’m Chris Eddleston from Steep Leans and I play drums.
Balzotti: My name is Chris Balzotti and I play bass in the band.
Where do all of you draw your musical inspiration and what bands did you grow up listening to?
Gray: Musical inspiration, let’s see. You got a mix of country stuff, Dylan, your Townes Van Zandt, your crazy boy stuff, and then you have your middle aged bands, your rock bands, Sonic Youth, My Bloody Valentine.
“My Bloody Valentine” …I used to think that was just a song by Good Charlotte.
Gray: [Laughs.] I don’t know anything about Good Charlotte.
Chris: I love Good Charlotte…
Favorite song of all time?
Balzotti: “Hey Man” by Spacemen 3.
Gray: “You Are Not Needed Now” by Townes Van Zandt.
Both Chris’: That’s a beautiful song.
I love that you both just said at the same time.
Balzotti: “Columbia” by Steep Leans.
Chris: Yeah! Anything Steep Leans and Neil Young “Cortez the Killer”.
Gray: One of our T-shirts actually features Neil Young’s Tonight’s The Night cover. It’s my favorite picture ever. Maybe he’ll see the shirt sometime, he will actually. We’re going to have a Neil Young/Steep Leans tour in 2017. Don’t even worry about it.
Here’s to Neil Young supporting Steep Leans! (Raises glass.)
(Whole band toasts.)
Well, I think I speak for everyone when I say your debut album Grips On Heat is straight up amazing. Congratulations! The record has this indie pop, grunge rock taste to it and feels so sincere from start to finish. One of your singles off Grips On Heat is called “Nightmare City”. I’m wondering, is there a story behind the song?
Gray: Hey, thanks for that. “Nightmare City” — That song is mainly about a bad break up, leaving that break up, and going to a new place, but then that place isn’t exactly what you thought it would be.
Speaking of new places, what was it like touring with Wavves and Twin Peaks?
Gray: Amazing. Nathan Williams [of Wavves] signed us to his label Ghost Ramp, and then we went on tour right away.
You recently played some some shows in the Midwest, including a gig in Twin Peaks’ home city of Chicago. Have you tried Chicago’s famous deep dish pizza yet?
Gray: We haven’t! We need to. I was telling the Twin Peaks kids recently, like, “Hey, this is the best pizza!” – It’s Chicago pizza, so you gotta do it, go to Giuliani’s and Romano’s.
Balzotti: I’m not a fan of deep dish…
Gray: As a band, we’ve had a lot of Uno’s!
Balzotti: I like New York style pizza with the big slices.
Gray: He’s old school.
This next question is a tough one. I want you to answer this with your heart, not your head. Who is your favorite Spice Girl?
Balzotti: That’s gotta be Baby Spice.
Gray: Scary!!! She had a vibe on her, she’s cute, she had that tongue ring.
Chris: We got all different ones. Mine’s Sporty Spice! (Flexes muscles.)
Would you tour with them?
Gray: Maybe, probably not.
Chris: Oh no, I would! Just call us The Spice Boys.
Steep Leans in Auburn, Alabama. Photo by Rachel Boutwell.
So tell us, what’s next for Steep Leans?
Gray: I’m heading out to LA in the summer to record the follow up LP. It’s currently unnamed and it will be released through Ghost Ramp Records. I’m really stoked to share it with everyone.
When will the new Steep Leans album be released?
Gray: The slated release date is fall of 2016. We have a few shows coming up including the Northside Fest in NYC on June 11th at Black Bear, and we’re playing Union Pool in Brooklyn soon too!
Sounds fantastic. Thanks so much, boys.
Interview by Kayla Dupras, Alyce Packard, and Lia Gurin.
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