Fusing elements of folk, jazz, bluegrass, and rock n roll, Steep Ravine continues to enthrall audiences with their soulful California sound. Songwriter Simon Linsteadt (guitar, lead vocals) and Jan Purat (violin, vocals) began playing music together in high school in Northern California, later moving on to study music at UC Santa Cruz and the California Jazz Conservatory. They met bassist Alex Bice (bass, vocals) through jam sessions in Santa Cruz. Percussionist Jeff Wilson, a close musical compadre, is the band’s most recent addition.
Following their humble beginnings playing at a Hawaiian barbecue spot in Santa Cruz and busking in the BART Metro Stations of San Francisco, Steep Ravine quickly gained a following in the Bay Area and throughout the west. After the release of their debut record TrampinTrampin On’, the band went on several national tours, including notable performances at High Sierra Music Festival, Four Corners Folk Festival, Pagosa Folk n’ Bluegrass, Outside Lands, and Strawberry Music Festival. In 2015, Steep Ravine released their second record The Pedestrian diving deeper into new musical terrain. TURNING OF THE FALL on April 7th, 2017.
Glide Magazine is proud to premiere Steep Ravine’s third LP Turning of the Fall (below) from their own label, Stormy Deep Records, due out on April 7th, 2017. Steep Ravine combines heavenly harmonies, acoustic guitars and memorable hooks to create a rich folk album steeped in Americana. Glide talked to Linsteadt about the new album and what makes a new composition a Steep Ravine keeper.
How is Turning of the Fall a progression from your 2015 release The Pedestrian?
Turning of the Fall features our newest band member, Jeff Wilson, on drums. The album has a more live feel than our previous releases and there’s a nice simplicity to the songwriting. The songs have a deeper groove and occasionally a bit of a harder edge. It was fun to add some new instruments like synthesizer, electric guitar, and marimba on a few tracks.
Which songs on the album are you most particularly fond of as the strongest representation of where you are today as artists?
I personally like “Wallflower” and “Sugar Sand” from a songwriting standpoint. The themes are cathartic for me and they have some colorful harmony and grooves throughout. We were all happy with the way “Wallflower” turned out in the studio.
Your music reminds my ears of The Jayhawks while incorporating a more modern approach to folk. Is it a challenge to write with current listening habits in mind while paying respect to your influences?
I try to keep those things out of my mind while I’m writing. It can get in the way if I overthink what I’m trying to say. I try to just play what I’m hearing in my head and let influences seep in naturally.
How does a song become a Steep Ravine song vs something better saved for another outlet?
Every so often we have a several day band practice and I bring in songs that could use a rhythm section and violin. It’s usually pretty obvious which songs should be saved for another outlet. Then we arrange the songs together and work out our own parts. Jan also brings in some original fiddle tunes. We all play in various other projects too.
Who are your biggest influence most present and past?
In the van we listen to all sorts of music. Bob Marley, Tony Rice Unit, Ryan Adams, Neil Young, and Elvis Costello come to mind.
You have a good number of shows coming up in May including an album release show at the Fillmore in San Francisco! What can you tell us about the album release show and what other venues and cities are you looking most forward to playing?
The Fillmore is a really exciting gig for us. It’ll be our first time playing there and we can’t wait to play our new songs in that amazing room. Coming up next week, we’ll be heading to the Northwest for a handful of shows. Check our website steepravineband.com for more details. We’re also looking forward to Strawberry Music Festival in late May in Grass Valley.