By Ryan Meehan
Steve Gorman is probably best known for his time spent as the percussionist in The Black Crowes during their heyday in the nineties. While grunge ruled the airwaves, the Crowes struck a nerve with their mix of roots rock and Southern blues and quickly developed a very strong cult fanbase. Not only has Gorman remained an integral part of their sound, he also handled drumming duties for the British rock band Stereophonics and is currently playing with Trigger Hippy, which includes singer and songwriter Joan Osborne as well as many other southern musicians. In March 2010, he hooked up with longtime friends Mitch Blum and Brandon Gnetz to create a sports, music and pop culture podcast and website called Steve Gorman Sports. The show is also broadcast on the Nashville radio station 102.5 The Game from 2-3PM Monday-Friday, and we are honored to have Steve Gorman as our guest today in 5 questions.
FOH: Is there ever a part of you that thinks that if Jeff Sullivan had never left Chris and Rich to join Drivin N’ Cryin that you might not have gotten the opportunity to have such a successful career within the music industry?
SG: Nope. Never thought about it once, in fact. Of course, it’s a perfectly valid question. But, I saw that writing on the wall well before it happened and it was the most natural thing in the world at the time to step into the band. That said, of course it was a huge thing looking back. But at the time it was just another Sunday. The list of things that have contributed to my success is, like anyone’s, a hundred miles long. Never falling asleep while driving the van back in the day would have to factor in pretty heavily too.
FOH: What place do you believe the Black Crowes will have in rock n’ roll history? Which achievement are you most proud of when you consider all of the time you spent as a part of that band?
SG: I don’t have any idea, really. I am thankful that the band has stayed around long enough to have a few new generations of fans turn up at the shows. Teenagers who saw us in 2010 for the first time were there because they dug the music. They had no connection to the early imaging of the band or to the times as they were when we first came around. They just liked the songs. That’s what we always saw this as. Our early success was confounding to us, actually. We imagined this as a very long term proposition. Peaks and valleys, marathon not a sprint…that sort of thing. As long as we played together and it felt right and it felt good, we always planned to do it. I read a commencement address a few years ago by Greg Downs, a writer, and he said : “My work, then, is not the work to blast a brand-new trail, but to keep the old ones still visible so other people, if they choose to, may walk them too and in their own way.” I think for a lot of people, we represent that same ideal. And that’s cool with me. The number of young fans who credit us with opening their eyes to so much “older” music is a constant reminder that we’ve served a great purpose to our fans and to our elders. But as I say that, I must also say that we are and have always been a current band. Whatever the band was doing at any given moment was all we cared about. We never consciously looked back, and at the same time we never ran from our influences in an attempt to sound cutting edge. And over 25 years, that all adds up and a more appropriate narrative starts to show itself, I suppose.
FOH: What was the craziest thing that happened to you guys during the band’s heyday? Which moment stuck out to you as something that you just could not believe happened?
SG: The first thing that comes to mind is the first time Jimmy Page played onstage with us. We were at Le Zenith in Paris in 95. We had met Jimmy at our gig in London the week before. He turned up in Paris and we asked him to sit in for the encores. He did, and for those few minutes on stage I remember thinking – “this is way beyond any of the stupid things I used to wish would happen”. It had never once dawned on me to imagine playing with Page, so when it happened it was unbelievable.
And then, on the truly bizarre side of things, I remember a fan sending me an ice cube tray with a letter asking me to fill it with semen so that she could start the Steve Gorman Army. As always, it’s good to remember that “fan” is short for “fanatic”.
FOH: How did you end up playing in Stereophonics?
SG: I was living in LA, and they had come over for quick run of US dates. They landed in San Francisco, and on the flight, Stuart Cable had fallen ill and couldn’t perform. They rang me up and asked if I could fly up to SF the next day to play the gig. We had been friends already for a few years and I knew their records well so I said I would do so happily. It was a fun night – and my first time to play the Fillmore. The day after was a gig in LA and I had to play that one too. Stuart still wasn’t ready to play after that one, and as it turned out, he flew home to Wales and they asked me to finish the next four shows of the run. I did so, and at the end of the week Stuart left the band for good. I ended up staying on board for the next ten months.
FOH: At what point in your life did you come to realize that radio and podcasting were really what you wanted to do?
SG: I had been kicking the idea around since the mid 90’s, since the first time I ever heard The Jim Rome Show. It struck me that sports talk radio was rapidly evolving beyond just stats and predictions. I could see right away that a sports/music hybrid show would be interesting to a lot of people like myself, who split their time and passions in those two realms. It took a while for me to realize that I would be the one to have to do it, of course. After living in Nashville for a few years, it hit me that there’s no better town to try to launch such an idea.
FOH: You’re based out of Nashville down there on 102.5 FM, and that’s Titans country. Were you a fan of the Atlanta teams growing up? What was your earliest sports memory?
SG: Not at all. I grew up in Maryland and Kentucky, but my family originated in Michigan…..so my favorite teams are scattered all over the place. My earliest sports memory is going to my oldest brother’s basketball game at a community college when I was 5 or 6. They were giving away door prizes and I won a Bee Gees album, Two Years On. A fine example of how I always had sports and music fused together in my brain.
FOH: You’ve been pretty vocal about your displeasure regarding the NHL Lockout…What are the first couple of reasons that come to your head as to why the sports world so desperately needs the National Hockey League right now?
SG: I am thinking primarily about the economic impact of the cities with teams. Screw the owners, screw the players. I don’t care about them. It’s the bars, restaurants, parking lots, hotels, etc. in all of these cities that are getting hammered. Nashville just lost 41 nights where thousands of fans were going to spend millions of dollars. Same for all the cities, of course, and plenty of NHL towns have a lot less going on, tourism wise, than we do, so the impact is quite serious.
FOH: What’s up next for Steve Gorman in the twelve months to come? Anything big in the works that we should know about?
SG: Nothing new. The radio show and my band, Trigger Hippy, are going to continue to develop and we’ll see how far we can take them.
Official Website: stevegormansports.com
Steve on Twitter: @sgormansports
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