Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Satellite Interview with Steven McMorran (vocals/bass)

While many guys hide behind the fallacy that they only watch One Tree Hill for it's amazing taste in music, I do not. The music that is chosen for each episode does in fact enhance the emotions tied to each individual scene, but stands alone just as well. During this current season, I was introduced to a song called "Ring the Bells," by a fairly new group by the name of Satellite. I was immediately drawn to the vocalist's honest lyrics and soulful sound. Steven McMorran (vocalist) began writing "Satellite" songs a couple of years ago, without the intent of others hearing them. Steven then joined up with Mitch Allan,writer/producer and former lead vocalist/guitarist of SR-71, Josh Dunahoo (guitarist) and  Justin Glasco (drums) to create Satellite. Check out their debut EP, Ring The Bells EP and visit their site http://www.satellite-music.com/fr_home.cfm.

This project seems to be fairly new, can you briefly describe the story behind how it began? With you and Mitch Allan correct?

I wrote Ring The Bells in late '08. Say The Words was next. I honestly expected no one wanted to hear them. Something about them felt relieving but a little too honest. Whatever it was, I didn't want them lumped in with other songs I'd written. At songwriter's night that Mitch was hosting at a bar in LA, I played one of the songs, and at the end of it there was just silence and a lot of shocked expressions. People were moved, and I was surprised in a way. I did it again the next week and then Mitch (a long time friend and cowriter) asked if I wanted to start a band. The goal was to just see what happens. We asked Josh into it, and He and Mitch started taking it to another level musically. Glasco was the last piece of the puzzle and the glue that holds us together. Collectively, we feel like we've made a ship we'd be proud to go down with. That's a nice feeling. It's a nice thing to be able to say.
In July you released the "Ring the Bells Ep," were the songs on this album written specifically for the Ep? Had you been working on them, prior to the band?
Say The Words, Ring The Bells, and Saving Us Tonight, were all just songs I had written prior. Once the EP discussion started happening, we finished it out with the Silhouette, Turning On My Own and What You Need.
The song "Ring the Bells" seems incredibly personal. Is there a story/specific inspiration behind it?
It's about my friend who was in the middle of a divorce. I just felt so bad for them. They did things the way they were told, and ten years later they were calling it quits. He was pretty confused and she was becoming venomous. It was strange because, the song came out in about 2 hours, which NEVER happens for me. I didn't really intend on writing about it. It just happened and I went with it.
Is there a full length in the works?
YES. It's gonna be wrapping up in July. It will have Oh Carry On on it, as well as 3-4 others we're excited about.
I absolutely love your music video for "Say the Words," how did that come together? Did you come up with the concept yourselves?
Walter May, the director, is a friend of Josh and mine. He heard the song and asked me to read a treatment he made. The focal point was chaos going on around the lead, but everyone is wearing the censors. I loved how it tied into the meaning of the song. There's a million ways we sabotage ourselves. Their names and identities are secondary to the fact that we allow ourselves to put up with them. That's the heart of it. The rest was just making sure that the theme was overtly reckless, rather then overtly sexual. I'm not too worried either way, but I get the impression a lot of people don't like the video. Like it's too confusing… but whatever, we tried. We still love it.
How does the writing process pan out for you guys?
Well so far it's been mostly me in my living room after midnight. That's changing though. As we were finishing up the EP, Josh and I wrote Turning On My Own. It just kind of turned into that phrase and we loved the double meaning it had. What You Need was the three of us (pre-Glasco). We are starting to fall into certain roles as we progress and I think I'll always be in charge of melody and lyrics, and Mitch will always be the scientist making the pieces fit together. No matter how the songs arrive, we are all trying to form the sound; it's us as a band and we are trying to define it as Satellite.
Can you tell me a little bit about the recording process behind the Ring the Bells Ep?
I love that we had all the time we needed for development. Bands don't get enough of that anymore. We stole a few hours a day and got together at Mitch's place, and each time we got there with fresh ears, and no timer. I think we cut vocals on Say The Words at least 3 times before we felt like it was perfect. Today that's a luxury. The whole record went like that.
With such emotionally driven lyrics, do you find it difficult to perform them live sometimes?
It can be difficult, but mostly it feels very relieving. At first it feels like showing up to school without your pants on, but always gets better.
Who would you say are some of your biggest musical influences?
It's hard to say. I love Dylan's lyrics and grew up with the pop sensibilities of Paul Simon James Taylor, and Peter Gabriel. Radiohead, and Coldplay are somehow always on the recently played list, and leaving out Nirvana and Rage Against The Machine would be wrong. As a writer, I hope to be a Dylan or a Springsteen, but only in the sense that they were able to describe emotion so well. That's why songs can feel like friends; they describe what you're feeling, and that alone can remind you you're part of a bigger story.
What about influences as far as live performances, anyone you may have drawn from?
I think, as a band, we aim for the great bands we grew up buying tickets to see. Stuff like REM, the Cranberries, Radiohead, Coldplay, U2… to modern shows like that of Kings Of Leon and Muse. I'm becoming a big fan of Grizzly Bear and the way they interact with their songs. I can't say we are trying to be any of these bands, but I know I identify with the way every one of these lead singers means what they're saying. If that comes across, then the performance is doing it's job. All things have to serve the connection we feel towards the songs.
Perfect day, you are driving in your car with the windows down, what are you listening to?
Probably Ryan Adams' "Heartbreaker" album.
What is next for you guys? Touring?
We have a lot of plans, including SXSW in March. Touring is a big part of next year. In the mean time we are making the rest of the LP and trying to keep the momentum going with the tv/film placements.

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