January 8, 2011

2010 Review Steve Conte: Dolls/Monroe/Crazy Truth

It surely was a helluva year!

In this puzzle of a life I somehow fit pieces together to be able accomplish quite a bit in 2010... touring the globe with The Crazy Truth, New York Dolls and Michael Monroe, recording 2 albums with Michael and 1 with Bad Company/Free drummer Simon Kirke and playing charity shows on 2 continents; In Europe, solo acoustic sets for “Light Of Day” Parkinson’s disease shows w/Alejandro Escovedo, Willie Nile, Joe D’urso & Jesse Malin in Amsterdam & Belgium and an electric set for the “Casey Cares” foundation in Baltimore, MD w/ Jack Blades & Kelly Keagy (Night Ranger), Jeff Carlisi (.38 Special), Mark Rivera (Ringo, Foreigner) & Anton Fig (Letterman Show, etc).

Besides all the playing & singing, I also coached actors Zach Galifianakis & Emma Roberts to play onstage like rock stars in the feature film, “It’s Kind Of A Funny Story”, had a Crown Jewelssong, “Money Don’t Help” placed in the Fox TV series “The Good Guys” and made my radio DJ debut taking over for Steve Lillywhite on his East Village Radio program, “The Lillywhite Sessions”.

The details…


In January 2010, Classic Rock magazine gave our album a stellar review, 8 stars out of 10 saying, “Music to instigate & soundtrack fighting, fucking, speeding, hurling abuse and waking up buck-naked in a stranger’s bathroom…the crazy truth is, this might be even better than the last Dolls album” (not my words people…)

In addition to NY/NJ shows this year at Bowery Electric, Maxwell’s, The Court Tavern, The Wonder Bar and John Varvatos Showroom (formerly CBGB) The Crazy Truth made their SXSWdebut at Stubb’s Barbecue in Austin, TX to play Rachel Ray’s “Feedback” party (New York Dolls played the party last year where I struck up a friendship with Rachel & her musician husband John…super-cool Italians!) Leeko, Phil and I had a blast down there and it was a killer bill w/Tom Morello of Rage Against The Machine, Andrew WK and Jackob Dylan.

The song “Busload Of Hope” from The Crazy Truth’s debut album was used in an episode of theFX channel TV series “Sons Of Anarchy” (Season 2, Episode #11)

When the band played Maxwell’s in Hoboken I performed a song with 2 of my childhood heroes;Richie Ranno and Joe X. Dube from Starz, who were also in the band Stories. I played guitar and sang the Stories hit “Brother Louie” with them – what a gas!

In early July, I decided to become “bi-continental” and live both in NYC and The Netherlands. I recruited a band of excellent Dutch musicians to play with me on the European side of the Atlantic, Jeroen Polderman & Jozz Verhailen. By the end of the month we were doing our 1st UK tour, playing London, Southampton, Wolverhampton and Cardiff, Wales supported by Melodramas. The London show was a zoo…in the audience were members of The Quireboys, Thunder and the great Frankie Miller. That night we were joined onstage by Paul-Ronny Angel from The Urban Voodoo Machine and Gypsy Flamenco guitar legend Raimundo Amador from Sevilla, Spain. In December we returned, this time playing London, Manchester, Birmingham, Leicester, York and Glasgow. The tour ended with Wildhearts frontman Ginger jumping onstage in Manchester to rock a smokin’ version of Cheap Trick’s “Surrender” with us.


Michael Monroe

In February I got a call from fellow New York Doll, Sami Yaffa who was playing and writing new material with his old Hanoi Rocks band mate Michael Monroe. They asked if I would like to join up with them. Well, having been in a band with Sami for 6 years and knowing what an incredible front man Michael is - plus the fact that Ginger of The Wildhearts was also playing guitar made my decision easy. So off I went to LA to rehearse, play shows at the Finnish Consulate, Viper room and a handful of other Cali venues before heading down to Austin, TX to play 4 shows at SXSW. Our 1st show of South-By was opening for Motorhead @ Austin Music Hall...and on the 2nd show Cheetah Chrome of the Dead Boys joined us onstage for “Ain’t Nothin’ To Do”!

The band started vibing immediately and people began calling it some sort of a “Supergroup” (again, not my words…) Next stop was Michael & Sami’s homeland of Finland followed by dates in Sweden, New York, London and finishing out the summer in Japan. The band played theDownload, Summersonic & Ruisrock festivals among others, sharing the bill w/ acts like Guns ‘n Roses and Skunk Anansie and being joined by Hanoi Rocks' Nasty Sucide @ Tavastia in Helsinki & Charlie Harper of UK Subs @ Islington Academy for a rendition of his band’s song, “Endangered Species”.

During the summer we negotiated and finally signed a deal with Universal’s London-based labelSpinefarm and in the fall released the live album “Another Night In The Sun” recorded @ the Tavstia club in Helsinki.

We’d been writing songs all year long so we were more than ready in September when we entered the studio in Los Angeles with legendary producer Jack Douglas (Cheap Trick/Aerosmith/John Lennon) to make the new Michael Monroe album. The record features guest appearances fromLemmy of Motorhead & Lucinda Williams and will be released on March 14. In November we did an amazing 3 week tour with Motorhead in the UK to celebrate their 35th anniversary. Our band was pleasantly well received by the hardcore Motorhead crowd and many a bottle of Jack was emptied.


New York Dolls

In mid-April I headed to Europe w/ David, Syl, Sami & Brian. First stop was France to play Paris, Caen & the famous LeMans raceway. We then moved on to London, Dublin, Holland, Belgium and Berlin where I had dinner w/ The Fuzztones’ Rudi Protrudi and “99 Red Balloons” singer Nena – who is a real sweetheart! We finished up in Copenhagen (finally made it to Christiania, love that place), Sweden and a fairytale gorgeous, snow-covered Norway.

In late May we reconvened in London to play an event for Ray Ban (yes, I did manage to get a few pair of shades for myself & family) and afterwards, many drinks were consumed w/ Bobby Gillespie of Primal Scream, Patti Palladin of Johnny Thunders fame and family members of 2 of my favorite musicians; Tracie Hunter and Maggi Ronson.

In mid-June Sami and I did our last Dolls shows of 2010 in Pittsburgh, Chicago (w/ Nash Kato of Urge Overkill hanging @ front of stage all night), Detroit and finally Burlington, Ontario. During this tour the Dolls announced that there would be a new album and that recording sessions would start on September 6th in Newcastle, England. Ironically, that was the exact date Sami & I were already booked to start recording the Michael Monroe album in Los Angeles. Needless to say, it was a tough decision because I really love playing, writing & recording w/ the Dolls. But such is life and for New York Dolls 2011 a new chapter begins with Frank Infante (Blondie) on guitar and Jason Hill (Louis XIV) on bass and as the producer of their new album, “Dancing Backwards In High Heels”.


Stay tuned for more adventures w/ The Crazy Truth & Michael Monroe in 2011!

Peace & LUV-


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