Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Interview With Steev Custer From My Big Beautiful/The Boneyard Brawlers

Critical Mass: Thanks for taking the time to talk with Critical Mass, Steev! You've played with so many bands over the years. Let's start with My Big Beautiful. Can you give us a little history on the band?

Steev Custer: I have played in a million bands, and I'm thankful I have the opportunity to play with so many great people. I started My Big Beautiful in 1993. The day Nirvana's In Utero came out was the first time original drummer Mark London and I got together. We started out as a four piece and played one show with that singer and bassist before those guys disappeared. Mark and I worked on songs for maybe 6 months with me playing guitar and doing vocals until Stev Walker came along. I had played in some Joliet bands with him prior to My Big Beautiful. Stev plays bass and sings and has been putting up with me for 18 years now. He deserves a medal for that. Mark moved to Florida in 1996 and Paul Garcia took over drums for a few months. I was newly married then and felt like I should be home more so I left the band later that year. I didn't play in any bands for 5 years, and during that time Walker sang for the Tarts with Bill Stephens (currently of Naked Raygun) and when I came back to music I played bass in The Bomb. Mark moved back to IL. when I was in the Bomb and he was at a show The Bomb played in Joliet and we decided to do one reunion show, and we just sort of fell back into doing the band. I think once we were back together it just felt like it was where we were all supposed to be. We have three releases: King (a 4 song cassette released in 1994) She Loves Me, She Loves Me Not (our first full length with both Walker and I handling vocals) and our most recent The Way Things Are: The Soundtrack To My Life Volume 1. The Soundtrack to my life is the first part of a double album that is taking forever to complete. The idea is that the songs on the first album were written by me and the second album will be written by Stev. I came up with the idea to showcase the different songwriting perspectives of both of the songwriters in the band. Volume 1 was a joint release by 2 Chicago labels: the now defunct Fudge Sick Kill Records and Underground Communique. I am anticipating the release of Stev's record next year. My Big Beautiful recently went through a line up change: we're back to being a four piece with me on guitar, Walker on bass and vocals, Jon Birchfield on second guitar and Dan Bolton on drums. So far so good!

CM: You're also in a band with your former Bomb bandmate Paul Garcia, The Boneyard Brawlers! How did you guy's get together?

SC: I always say that Paul Garcia and I are not friends, we're brothers. We're really close, but when we fight: look out, it gets bad. HAHA! Paul and I were in our first band together in 1989 (Fractured Adolescents) and he is responsible for pulling me out of retirement to play bass in The Bomb. He had been asked to sing for The Boneyard Brawlers after he and I left The Bomb and was in the Brawlers for a year when their guitarist quit. Paul is also famous for asking me to join a band and giving me about a week to learn all their material before playing a big show. With The Bomb I joined a week before opening for Rollins Band at Metro and with The Brawlers I got a week before opening for The Meteors in Milwaukee. I played with the Brawlers for about a year the first time and to be honest I was pretty horrible at it! I was still working in printing at the time, and was married with one kid and had another on the way and was writing the most current My Big Beautiful record at the time. Plus pyschobilly was new to me, so I had a hard time falling into the mix. I played with them for about a year and did a lot of out of town shows during that time. My last show with The Brawlers in my first stint ended with Paul and I getting into a fist fight onstage at the Pontiac. Like I said: brothers! HAHA! The Brawlers also went through a lot of line up changes and had broken up about the time I was going through my divorce a year ago. Paul and I were trying to get a new project going and The Brawlers got an offer to play the after party for this year's Spring Fling at Reggie's, so Paul asked if I was interested and here we are again. Everybody who knows the band is wondering when Paul and I will get into it again. (EDITER: They don't call them The Brawlers for nothing!)

CM: Can we expect any new material by My Big Beautiful or Boneyard Brawlers in the near future?

SC: I'm hoping for a new My Big Beautiful release next year, I've written a ton of songs that I'd like to record with all the friends I've made in music over the years, and as for The Boneyard Brawlers, I think new stuff is inevitable, but we really haven't had the discussion just yet. Paul and I can't help but write songs together, so I'm sure something will be recorded.

CM: As mentioned, you also did time playing bass in The Bomb back when Paul and John Maxwell were still in the band (circa 2002). How did you get involved in the band?

SC: I was living in Lake In The Hills and working in Tinley Park, and my then wife worked a lot of nights when I got involved with The Bomb. I was helping Jeff Pezzati with Jettison Records, mailing out orders and generally hanging out at practices, and Paul, Jeff and I went to see The Tarts one night. While we were at the show Paul asked if I was ever going to be in a band again, and said that he was worried about me because I had been retired so long (although I'm sure he'd deny being so caring these days. HAHA!) I hadn't given it much thought, and he called several days later to ask if I'd be interested in playing bass in The Bomb. I had my first kid on the way, which is not exactly the right time to get back to playing music, but how could I refuse? It's not everyday that you get the opportunity to play in an established band with one of your heroes, (Jeff P.) your long time musical brother (Paul) and make a new friend (John Maxwell.) I jumped at the chance and had a blast doing it. It's pretty surreal to not play any shows for 5 years and then find yourself one Saturday night in front of a sold out crowd at Metro with Jeff Pezzati standing next to you!

CM: With all the bands you've played with, and so many styles of music, who were some of your musical influences growing up?

SC: Out of all my friends, and all the bands I've been in, I've always been the most unapologetically happy pop kid. I've always been a huge Beatles fan, but my influences always came from the punk scene: The Dead Milkmen, Naked Raygun, Green Day, The Smoking Popes, Material Issue, Circle Jerks, Pegboy, and lately The Hold Steady. I'm sure there's a shit ton of other bands to name, but I'm drawing a blank right now.

CM: You're also the owner of Gearhead Guitar Repair. Can you give our readers some info on what you do and the services you offer?

SC: I started Gearhead Guitar Repair in 2009. I had been working in printing for 20 years and I just became burned out on it. I had made a great living, but I just really didn't care about it, it was just a paycheck. I had been working on guitars as a hobby over the years and took some classes and became obsessed with it, so I decided to make it my life. It really couldn't have been a better decision for me, for the first time in my life I'm passionate about what I do for a living, and I never grumble about having to go to work! Gearhead is a full service repair shop located in Joliet, IL. I service acoustic and electric guitars, banjos and mandolins. Pretty much anything with strings on it. I also have a top notch amp and effects repairman named Scott Wolz, and I offer private guitar lessons as well. As far as services we offer at Gearhead: we handle any and every issue an instrument can possibly have: setups, crack repairs, pickup replacement, bridge resets, the list could go on and on and on! I also offer pickup and delivery service for those with busy schedules, so needless to say, I'm always running!

CM: Coming up in the Chicago scene, you must have seen some amazing gigs along the way. What were some of the highlights for you? And what are your favorite places to see/play a show?

SC: Chicago has got to be one of the greatest cities in the world for live music, I really have seen it all! My first punk show was The Dead Milkmen at Metro in 1987, followed by 7 Seconds and The Circle Jerks at Medusa's in 1988. I've seen Naked Raygun more times than I can count, I saw Nirvana twice at the Aragon, this is a list that could go on forever as well. I saw Pegboy's first show at Cubby Bear. I'm a very fortunate guy! As far as venues in this city, I love the Metro and I will always have a soft spot in my heart for The Riviera because Fractured Adolescents opened for Naked Raygun there in 1991. I've seen a million great shows in this town, and I don't plan on slowing down anytime soon!

CM: Where can we find find out about news, up coming releases, shows and merch info? Would you like to plug any websites?

SC: The best place for info on My Big BeautifulThe Boneyard Brawlers and Gearhead Guitar Repair, Inc, inc. is to search us on facebook. Gearhead also has it's own website which you really should check out at www.gearheadguitarsinc.com

CM: Always good to talk with you, Steev. I want to thank you again for taking the time to talk with Critical Mass. I hope to see you in the near future. Thanks again!

SC: Thanks so much for interviewing me, I'm really flattered. Thanks Chris!

Gearhead Guitar Repair, inc. is a fully insured, comprehensive stringed instrument repair facility, located in Joliet, IL. Guitar Tech and owner Steev Custer takes the utmost pride in caring for your instrument and restoring it to it’s maximum condition and playability.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting interview! I've known Steev since he was a fan of The Monkees and I can say unequivocally that his passion for music has seen him through all the glories and hurdles in life. This passion is clear both on stage and in his thousand-watt smile.


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