New Orleans Rocks – Steve Witschel
Today we talk to Steve Witschel, a bass player with more than three decades of experience. Steve shares his thoughts on the New Orleans rock scene and the professional musician’s life in general. His advice for young musicians is very, let’s say, basic. See what we did there? 😉
Hey Steve, tell us a bit about yourself and what you do.
I’m a full-time bass player working in three different bands six nights a week every week in New Orleans, Louisiana. I relocated here from NJ where I had lived my entire life seeking an opportunity to play music for a living. I’ve been playing bass for 33 years. I studied music in college and have played with dozens of bands – both cover and original and have toured around the United States several times.I also spend every day running Cover Band Central on Facebook which is closing in on 20,000 followers.
When did you find out music was your thing?
I was a fan of music as early as I can remember. My mother played music around the house all of the time and I listened to the radio constantly. I didn’t start playing until I was a sophomore in high school, but I started studying right away along with jamming with my friends. I knew at that point that I wanted to play for the rest of my life.
You have experience with various genres – which one’s your favorite?
I play and listen to mostly rock music, so that’s definitely my favorite. But it also depends on my mood. I like to play blues, pop, dance and old school R&B as well.
Steve starring in Della Valle’s Legs (So Long it’s Crazy!). This video is hilarious 😀
Your favorite bass players?
As a child of the 70s and 80s, I was influenced by John Paul Jones, John Entwistle, Steve Harris, Geddy Lee and of course, Paul McCartney.
Describe the perfect band!
I’m not sure if there is such a thing…lol..but, for me, the perfect band is one in which all members can communicate without words and deliver a passionate performance where the whole becomes greater than the sum of its parts.
What have you learned from other musicians you’ve played with?
There is so much that I’ve learned by just being an active player that it’s difficult to pinpoint anything in particular. But I will say that playing with other musicians has taught me how to work with several people at once in harmony because of one collective purpose.
“Each time you jam you’ll learn something new. Also, listen to a lot of music, even genres that are outside of your comfort zone”
Give us some advice on touring.
It’s always good to prepare well ahead of time for the gig. Make sure you know your role before you head out, and definitely get a written agreement if you’re a hired gun. Budget yourself wisely. Eat well as it’s easy to get sucked into the array of fast food options on the road and you want to stay as healthy as you can, especially if you’re out on tour for an extended period of time. Also…pack a lot of socks!
What would you say to those of our readers who are just starting their musical journey?
Practice, practice, practice. It might not seem fun but it will pay off in the long run. Study some music theory either in school or on your own. You’ll be glad you did. And play with as many other musicians as you can. Each time you jam you’ll learn something new. Also, listen to a lot of music, even genres that are outside of your comfort zone.
What do you think of Drooble?
I think it’s a great idea for people to be able to connect and jam over the internet. I love the familiar social media layout as well. I’m expecting big things for Drooble!
Name three musicians we’ve probably never heard of before but are definitely worth checking out.
John Monnecka – a very hard working solo musician from NJ. He’s got a killer voice and can rip on guitar.
Jerad Finck – Singer/songwriter from Spokane, Washington that I’ve had the pleasure of touring with several times.
Elaine Tuttle – A die-hard vocalist from NJ who plays with a handful of bands in NY/NJ as well as down here in New Orleans.
How would you introduce yourself without mentioning anything about music?
I’m really not sure. Just about everything I do is music related. I guess I’d just say, “Hi, I’m Steve.”
When you hear New Orleans jazz is the first thing to come to mind. How’s the rock scene there?
The rock scene is quite vibrant for a city that is best known for jazz. Times change and the fact that New Orleans is city, that is so rich with music culture, this city rolls with the changes. You can still hear a wide variety of genres here including traditional New Orleans music, but there are several killer rock bands as well.
What’s the weirdest thing that’s happened to you during a gig?
Weird things happen all of the time, and being that I play around 300 gigs a year, it’s difficult to pick the single weirdest thing.
What do you look for in a song?
I guess I enjoy a good hook, a great vocal, and meaningful lyrics.
Steve Witschel from New Orleans, Louisiana. Follow him at drooble.com/steve.w