Two and a half years after the release of their full length debut Creepfunk Crusade, Madison-based HT fave Steez recently released their long-awaited follow up entitled Kronos. In classic Steez fashion, what was intended as a simple four song EP ended up clocking in at over 40 minutes with most songs extending beyond the ten minute mark.
In an era when most jambands have been trying to distance themselves from the jam moniker, Steez still wears it as a badge of honor as Kronos dives deep into funky electronica in a gutsy display of improvisation in the studio setting. For jamband fans stumped on finding the next generation of good bands, Steez is a good place to start. To chat about the new album, their emblematic tour bus, and the origins of the name Kronos, we caught up with guitarist Steve Neary for a chat.
Hidden Track: First off, can you give a little background on the time frame, process, and environment of the recording process highlighting anything that ended up being particularly fun?
Steve Neary: The time frame on this album is considerably different than Creepfunk Crusade’s. That was almost a year and a half in the making, if I remember correctly. We primarily recorded Kronos in one weekend and have almost finished the mixing in only a couple of sessions. Part of that has to do with the fact that it is only 4 songs. Because of that, we aren’t really sure if it is an album or an EP. In all reality, that naming convention is just a formality that doesn’t really mean anything anymore. I mean, it is 42 minutes long. That is longer than some “full-length” albums! So as you can imagine, we take it pretty deep on some of the tracks…well, all of them I suppose.
We went with a different engineer this time around, which was a change for us. His name is Landon Arkens, and he runs the Blast House Studios here in Madison. He’s been very easy to work with and the studio is tops.
HT: Were there any happy accidents so-to-speak meaning unexpected twists that turned out to be highlights?
SN: To be honest, not really. It’s been so smooth from the recording to the mixing that everything has been moving along right on schedule. Raab and duder nailed their drum and bass tracks on the first couple takes of each song, so we didn’t have any crazy mishaps that took any of the songs in a different direction.
HT: How have you improved as a studio band since Creepfunk Crusade?
SN: One thing that I noticed is that we were much more efficient this time around. We had a vision of how we wanted each song to be, and for the most part we’ve achieved what we set out to accomplish. I think we did a good job of boiling our songs down from their “live” format without sacrificing any of the balls.
HT: What have been the biggest highlights for the band since Creepfunk Crusade?
SN: Last summer was basically one long highlight reel for us. Our 4th Summer Camp in a row was a milestone for sure. It was also great to travel the country and play some top notch festivals like Summerfest, Electric Forest, Wakarusa and Rootwire. I grew up going to Summerfest as a kid, so to be playing on the Harley Stage (one of the biggest stages there) was very humbling. I’ll always remember that show.
HT: Not to put a box around it or anything, but when you think about Steez, where do you envision the band fitting in between jamband, electronic music, indie, etc? Which of those fanbases does the music tend to resonate best with?
SN: I think we’re somewhere in the midst of the jam and electronic worlds. Because our music is becoming mostly instrumental and progressively more electronic, we are sort of tiptoeing the line between the two. We generally extend our songs in a live setting, and on any given night we weave in and out of different themes and jams. Sometimes, we’ll string 5 songs together and not stop playing for 30-45 minutes. I think that sort of mentality has appeal to fans of both jam and electronic music.
HT: Is there any significance to the name Kronos?
SN: Yes, there’s a couple reasons why Kronos resonated with us. Kronos was the father of all gods (Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, etc) in Ancient Greek mythology. I think the concept of putting together a collection of our best (as-yet) unrecorded material lends itself to the title. This album is our “Kronos”. Let’s just say he’s got a pretty powerful seed.
Kronos can also mean time, which was something that I also found appealing. In my opinion, this album is a snapshot of a point in time as far as Creepfunk is concerned. I think it showcases our evolution and progression as a band from our last album.
Also, Kronos is this hilarious gyro place that we tend to hit up when we stop at the Oasis on our way to Chicago. To get the full effect of this meaning, you’ll have to hear one of us say the name while flashing the appropriate hand gestures.
HT: How is the bus holding up?
SN: Big Brown is doin’ work. I think on our trip to Dubuque a few weeks ago we rolled over its 166,666.6th mile. Six sixes in a row and the ground didn’t open up and swallow us into the depths of Hell. So we’ve got that going for us, which is nice.
It gets pretty damn cold on there in the winter though. If only there were a “Pimp My Bus” show on MTV, we could finally put a good heater on there. A boy can dream, can’t he?