multi-instrumentalist - producer - recording engineer - songwriter 

1. Talk about your first significant musical or guitar experience.
         My first significant musical experience would be about four or
five, back when I still lived in England. I can recall my dad playing a
reel-to-reel recorder in our living room. He would alternate his
recordings with my mother's. She would listen to The Lovin' Spoonful
("Daydream") and Mama Cass ("Dream A Little Dream Of Me).  My dad would
listen to old blues recordings by Mark Spolstra and Leadbelly. I recall
being transfixed by this technology.
        My first genuine guitar experience of note was when I was thirteen.
I had been messing about with the guitar for a while but it was Alice Cooper's "Billion Dollar Babies" album that made me want to play for real. I bought the songbook and learned every song within about two weeks. It was shortly after that I  joined my first band.

2. Talk about the first guitar/instruments you took a focused interest in.
         It was a Harmony solid body. It was a gift from my dad who had
received it from an East German feller. My amp was also a gift from my dad. It was a Danelectro and it had a great crappy sound.
    a.  What were you doing with it/them?
        Playing rhythm guitar for an egomaniac in a small high school band.
    b.  How did people around you respond/react?
        My dad was super supportive. My mom wished I was less mutated.
Everyone in high school hated me, so that is somewhat irrelevant. I made friends with some older musicians and they were good people, very encouraging.  In fact one of them is still one of my best friends to this day.

    c.  Was it fun? - What made it fun?
         Hell yeah. It gave me something to do and a place to focus. Up until
then I had been into art. But the academic art scene sucked. Rock music
was still anyone's game and still is as long as you don't listen to fools.

3.  Formal training? - Lessons? - Significant "tutor"/"mentor" experience?
        Self taught and filched whatever I could from other players. My dad
showed me E, E minor, A, A minor, C, G and B. That was it. Everything else came from long hours of tooling about.

4.  Have you taught?
         I have taught a few. But it is difficult, because so many want a
rarefied knowledge.

5.  Initial recording-experience memories?
         Bloody awful, I didn't realize how inept most studio owner/operators
were until I built my own. In fact that was why I built my own studio. I
got sick of hearing what could and could not be done. No is a tedious word.

6.  What gear/stuff do you play in a performing context?
      a.  Presently.
        For a guitar I use a '79 SG Standard. It is thinner than the early
and more recent models. In the seventies they finally got the scaling
somewhat close. It has hot rod pickups. I paid a hundred and fifty for
it. It has been on so many recordings that I have given up count. It
really does have a sweet tone. For a live backup I use an '80 metalburst
Gibson Les Paul Custom that I picked up for two hundred. The neck had
been busted so the guy glued it back together. It weighs a ton. I also
use a Danelectro 12 string. My rig is relatively straight forward. I
have an (very, very old) Ampeg v-4 amp, a fuzz box and a chorus. My
stomp box models change periodically. For a bass I play a DeArmond
Jetstar (it is really ugly.)
     b.  In the Past.
        About the same as I am using now. For a while I played a Tele and a
Gibson L6-S. (I still kick myself in the ass for letting that sweety go.)
      c.  Future aims and objectives?
         Maybe a pedal board....

7.  How, if at all, does the performance paradigm differ from the zeitgeist during the documentation/recording process?
        Well for me the gestalt of live performance is energy and excitement
over precision. Recording is permanent, so I really focus on tone and character.

Which do you prefer and why?
        I like 'em both. They both trigger different endorphins.

8.  Five favourite recorded songs/compositions (by others).
        1.      Love Or Confusion by Jimi Hendrix.
        2.      Busted Bicycle by Leo Kotke
        3.      Toad of Short Forest by Frank Zappa
        4.      Penetration by Iggy and The Stooges
        5.      Interstellar Overdrive by The Pink Floyd (Syd Barrett.)

9.  If you could edit your ten favourite recorded/experienced sonic moments together into a seamless loop, what would they be?
         In all candour, I dig sonic objects in their original context.

10.  What are your feelings about improvisation?
        There is a difference between improvisation and jamming.  Jamming is
usually wank.  True improvisation is listening and choosing carefully.  In the hands of a good listener, improvisation is exhilarating.  In the hands of a clod it is excruciating.  I like to improvise, but have found that making my performance dependent upon it is dangerous at best.  There are some nights where I just want to do a pro set and get off the stage.  I have never played the same solo twice, but then I don't play that many solos because most folks get really bored by them (yay Ramones!).

11. What strategies have proven effective to you in terms of successful group interactivity?
        Rule with an iron fist (just joking, sort of.) Listen to your fellow players (both musically and emotionally.) Be ready to drop an idea if it doesn't really work. Be ready to change course if a better idea comes along.

12.  Are you friendly with any resources, publications, or collaboratives which might be of utility or interest to our readers?
        I own a 16 track studio (Toad Hall) in MA, (USA) where you can record - real cheap.
13.   On what project(s) are you currently involved?
        My group (snakes & ladders) is in the process of recording two albums.
The first is called"Staring At The Sun  and will be a collection of our recent tunes. The second will be called "ExperiMental" and is just that think early Floyd and Public Image with a garnish of Varese.). We are also readying a video release called "Public Access," which will be a collection of our public access cable appearances, some studio and live stuff. On top of all that I am helping promote my other recent project called "Large Letters"" for the group Aslan. I play bass with that band. It's the only Christian Rock band with a Wiccan bassist.

14.   How can interested readers learn more about your work?
    a.  URL(s)?
   b.  Postal Address?
        Steve Blake/Instant Dogma
        Box 1288 Douglas, MA 01526, USA
   c.  Available published work?
        Tons... Please go to our website.

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