The Steppes Interview with John Fallon
The beginning…playing in bands in Chicago as a teenager from 1976-79. Was that the beginning? Got a Gibson folk guitar for Christmas 1970…then a Japanese Teisco Del Ray electric guitar June 1971 for my birthday….I believe there were several beginnings. Anyway, The Blue Macs…this began in early 1982. We had moved to the Los Angeles area in 1979 but David and I couldn’t settle…we went to Ireland and stayed with relatives in Co. Mayo. By 1982 I returned to Chicago to finish my studies at Loyola University…for some reason I started writing songs…it turned out that David was doing the same thing at “home” in California. It really was odd. I went home for Easter break and between us we had written a solid stash of interesting tunes! We decided to get back into having a band. I invited a friend of mine to L.A. from Chicago, Eddie Grzyb. We had played together in a band in ’79 doing covers of The Stones, Faces, Who, etc. I knew he could play. So the summer of ’82 was busy with rehearsing, gigging, and then recording 5 songs for a 7″ EP. We played shows a MOD house parties…we were VERY into The Who and The Jam…it showed, we kicked ass! Later in the year, I finished college and got the records pressed in Chicago…200 copies. David and I relocated to Dublin in Feb. ’83 and sent a tape of the songs to Melody Maker magazine. They freakin’ loved it!(you can read this review, a copy is on our facebook page under the “wall” section). This rave review gave us a big lift…a note from Paul Weller, himself! Also, a letter from Slash Records in Hollywood! They said they’d be interested if we were in Calif. Well, our parents were in L.A. still so we went there! We then did a bucket full of acoustic demos for a producer at Chrysalis Records…then we did 4 tracks that were later used on our Mystic Records 8 song, 12″ EP.
I think my 2 favourite albums are “Drop of the Creature” and “Harps and Hammers”. “Drop…” was a total thrill to do. The album has a great feel to it…a bold beginning!Many years later, The Times of London said it was the best debut LP since “The Doors”!!! Now that was one hell of a compliment. Strangely, both LPs have a fair bit in common…they both have distinct overall sound that unifies the proceedings. We experimented with sounds throughout the sessions. We truly wanted to step up and record a great album. The kind of album that could be played back to back with the greats…Beatles, Stones, Who, Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Hendrix, Cream, Byrds, Buffalo Springfield…it was a joy to create…sound and image came together in a perfect union.
Our influences are many! In music we love the big 4…Beatles, Stones, Zep, and The Who…love The Kinks, Dylan, Byrds, Neil Young, Donovan, Chicago Chess Records blues, Vivaldi, Handel, Irish folk, American hillbilly, Elvis, Chuck Berry, a lot of stuff…
“Harps…” Working again with a great engineer named Mark Dawson…he was perfect for us…the guitar sounds we achieved with his help are for others to be jealous of ’til the end of time, haha. I remember Tim always sleeping in too late and we’d leave for the studio without him! I’d lay all the guitars down…almost finish everything…then Tim strolls in 5 hours late and lays down a freakin’ brilliant lick on one song and then a great, complete lead on another!!! The guy is a total natural, he has perfect pitch, too! I work on guitar stuff…he creates perfect finishes…we were very good together…just listen to the two of us on “Let Me Love You”…we are almost Abbey Road on that!
The Steppes fell apart in 1991 due to being screwed over by Mother Records/U2/ Paul McGuinness. We were supposed to record an album in U2’s Dublin studio. We are gathered in my rented cottage in Westport, Co. Mayo. Went to meet Pal McGuinness(U2’s manager), we were promised a tour of Ireland, TV, radio, and a full album. We were left high and dry…no tour, no album, no nothing…in fact, they owe us $18,000 plus interest for the last 20 years! By the summer of ’91 it was over. I did a solo LP for Voxx called “Atomic Cossack” back in London at the same studio with Mark Dawson.
These days I run our YouTube channel, SteppesTV and our facebook page( and my facebook page,too…it’s Steppes related really). This came about because we’ve signed a deal with Cherry Red Records in London to re-release our entire back catalogue.
To wrap this up, I now live in Las Vegas, I drive hip cars from the ’60s and early ’70s, I’ve been happily married for over 20 years, I have a great son, and I have a wonderful dachshund named Sammy..”the best revenge is living well”, Oscar Wilde….see, I’m still an intellectual acid dandy…except these days I don’t wear green velvet…I tend to look more like a private detective from a ’60s TV show…and that’s fine by me,haha.
Interview made by Klemen Breznikar / 2011