Steve Newman best known as vocalist with his band Newman and recently with Progressive Metal band Compass, expands on his singing career and what the future holds with regard to new music and live gigs.
Who were your influences in the early days and have you always wanted to be a singer?
I started in bands as the lead guitar player but always tried to help with BV’s, usually in falsetto. I only really attempted to start singing lead vocal for my first album after the singer I wanted for the album (Mark Thompson-Smith) was tied up with other projects. I studied the styles of Steve Lukather and Richard Page, as their range was similar to mine, and I listened very carefully to how they used their voices to get the best out of them. My influences were very mixed, but I suppose the ones that have really stuck with me are Mickey Thomas, Richard Page and Tommy Funderburk.
Have you ever auditioned for the vocal spot in any notable bands?
Not really auditioned. After I had released my first album I was approached by the drummer of one of my previous bands to work in a duo and we were together for around 3 years, playing usually 3-4 times a week, so that helped me get my voice and stage craft a lot stronger… tough audiences 😊
I was approached by Phil Hammond from the UK band Burn to sing on their last album, which was a lot of fun.
You have appeared on a number of albums. Do you have a favourite and why?
Probably a lot of the Newman albums, they were written for my voice, so I feel comfortable singing those songs and also challenging myself. I also really enjoyed playing lead guitar and writing the songs for the second Toby Hitchcock album, that was a lot of fun.
Do you still get the same buzz out of singing live as you did in the past?
Yes absolutely, although the band hasn’t played live for a little while, it’s definitely something I want to get back to at some stage. It’s also a great excuse to meet up with so many people I haven’t seen in a while, so it’s always good to see your extended family!!
Some vocalists are on strict dietary regimes or gargle with special liquids. How have you kept your voice in tip top shape all these years?
I don’t smoke, and never have. I don’t think JD and coke is a special liquid, well, certainly not in a singing sense 😉 But seriously, when I know the band has live dates lined up I will go through a few months eating a bit more healthily and cross-training, this helps with not only stamina but also breathing on stage which I think is really important. I think it comes down to being sensible, especially when we have a string of dates, drinking plenty of water and taking plenty of sleep is such an important step for me.
Are there any musicians that you have not worked with, but would like to in the future?
Quite a few actually, and some that I have promised to work with, and still not had the chance. I’d love to work with Jeff Paris, and I’d like to work again with Anders Rydholm (Grand Illusion), we work really well together and he is a great friend of mine, so I hope we get to work on something again in the future.
Is there any unreleased recorded material from your days with Newman, or any other projects you’ve been involved with that could be released?
Usually. Anything that is not recorded or released for the Newman albums appears on one of the Decade albums 😊. I sometimes come back to ideas that I may have recorded in the past that may have not fitted with what I was currently doing at that time, and change them around, maybe pull a chorus, or a pre-chorus idea from them etc…
Do you have any plans to release a solo album, or do you consider Newman to be your solo output?
I suppose the Newman albums are quite close to solo albums really, and having recorded for those for so many years I guess that’s why I decided to start the band Compass, which gives me another avenue, and musical landscape to explore.
I enjoyed your sets at various Firefests. With the live circuit opening up again, is there a possibility that we could see you performing some live shows in the UK?
Thank you, they were great festivals, and I hope that something comes along which is as good, and organised in the same professional way, they were fantastic weekends. Of course I really hope that the band can do some more shows in the UK. There isn’t much demand for it at the moment, and we certainly haven’t been approached by anyone to get involved with anything, but you never know.
Have you ever thought about doing any production work outside of Newman?
I have always recorded, engineered albums for other people, and now I am working with Paul Rudland from AOR BLVD Records. We’re going to be really busy, so there will be plenty of other albums with my name associated, it’s great to write and record for other people, it’s always a fantastic learning experience.
I enjoyed your albums with Compass. Is this a direction you want to continue?
Thank you!! Yes, I certainly want to continue with the Compass band, I think there is so much ground to be covered both musically and lyrically within that cross genre of music, and the guys I work with, Toni, Dave, and Ben, always bring so much to the table.
Do you have anything in the pipeline at the moment that you would like to share?
Well, on the subject of Compass, we are recording a new album currently, which will be released late this year. In regards to AOR BLVD Records, I have just completed work on David Forbes’ (Boulevard) solo album which is due for release in June, so we have some exciting stuff on the horizon. As well as some other projects in the pipeline throughout 2023 and into 2024..when I get time, I am throwing down some ideas for the next Newman album, but I have no idea when that will be finished. But thanks for taking the time to have a chat, and as always thanks to you and all your readers and the fans out there for your support, I really love to hear your comments and feedback on all the music that I produce. It’s always great positivity and encourages me to work harder and try to become the best that I can be.
Interview by Stuart Dryden