Eric Stepanian

Eric Stepanian

 Somerville, Massachusetts, USA
BandRockSinger/Songwriter

Joined by Grammy Award Winning Producer Malcolm Burn, ERIC STEPANIAN brings depth and rock and roll diversity to bear on the 12 songs of Goodnight Scarlett. His song, “Criminal” was recently heard on ESPN’s Baseball Tonight; the 29 year old has opened for Maroon 5, Jason Mraz, & Matt Nathanson.

Biography

"There is music I like that is not necessarily current but which is still relevant,” says Grammy Award winning producer Malcolm Burn, who has worked with Bob Dylan, Iggy Pop and Daniel Lanois, among others. “I hear something in Eric’s music that relates to ‘80s bands that I was excited about who had a lot of passion and enthusiasm to their music.”

Eric Stepanian’s Goodnight Scarlett, produced by Malcolm Burn, fits that narrative of music, which is relevant, immediate and powerful. Shorthand? Goodnight Scarlett is timeless, pure, American rock music, influenced by Stepanian’s twin heroes of Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan, tempered by ‘70s AM radio fare and personalized by the singer-songwriter’s unique history.

“The rock thing,” Stepanian remarks from Boston, referring to music that stoked his childhood passions. “Those are the songs I remember, being with my dad playing cassettes in his pick-up. Springsteen taps that real raw emotion conveyed in a blue collar way. Modern day, I enjoy alternative country stuff, like Ryan Adams. Lyrically, he’s honest but there’s a story in his songs. Often when songwriters are honest it’s all emotion but no story, it’s just angst. But you can hear the turmoil with Adams in a setting that’s real.”

Similarly, Stepanian’s songs are often charged with a subtle sense of inner turmoil, but his gift for storytelling is what attracts, not heart on the sleeve histrionics. The songs of Goodnight Scarlett are as relevant as real life. Recorded with a handpicked band: Burn on bass and keyboards, Jon Graboff –pedal steel ( Ryan Adam and The Cardinals/Norah Jones) drummer Ethan Eubanks (Teddy Thompson, Crash Test Dummies) and guitarist Craig Ross (Shawn Colvin, Patty Griffin) Goodnight Scarlett rocks a miracle mile, recalls melancholic memories like rotting rose petals, and ultimately finds release in redemption and self-acceptance. Prime movers include the Stones-ish swaggering “Bittersweet,” the raw nerves-on-ice glam of “Everybody,” sarcastic “Call Me When You’re Famous,” and the cinematic black eyed closer, “Last Goodbye” (imagine it playing as credits roll to the 1975 film “The Day of The Locust”).

Born in Springfield, MA to an elementary teacher and a Special Forces Green Beret, Eric Stepanian found his creative expression swinging a club. After fooling around with guitar in high school, he attended University of Delaware on a full golf scholarship. But Stepanian soon found his first love was also a trap.

“Golf was all about rules,” he recalls, “but songwriting allowed me to express how I was feeling, and I knew other people could relate to what I was feeling. That initial release of the unstructured, the creative side of it, allowed me to do what I wanted. You’re not a carbon copy. You could really put your style into your songwriting.”

Stepanian ditched the golf cash after his freshman year and hit the open mic scene, honing his songs, enjoying the immediacy of the unruly crowds. But his past continued to inform his present.

“The one thing I learned from golf is the ability to take a moment and react to it for what it’s worth,” Stepanian says. “So often in golf people either react wildly to a poor shot or get their emotions in check, because the next shot is as important as the one you just screwed up. In songwriting, it’s all about the emotion of the song, and understanding that emotion so the listener will understand it too. Understanding emotions makes it easier to write than if you’re writing blindly.

“A lot of people go through life feeling like in their worst moments that they’re alone,” he continues. “A good song lets that person know that they’re not alone. There is someone else who knows what they’re feeling and who shares in that moment.”

“Bittersweet” rocks Goodnight Scarlett from the start, complete with soulful Madeline Bell meets Tina Turner “woo-hoo” chorus, Ian McLagan worthy organ rolls and a rollicking rhythm.

“That was not part of the original 12 songs we recorded,” Stepanian says. “I had the song and we shelved it. Then I played it for Malcolm and the guys and they helped shape it. In its raw form, it’s a pop song with a really cool feel. It was a great way to lead off the record.”

Soon, darker emotions rise, as in “Everybody.” Is the song expressing a certain duality, that we often love what we despise?

“There is some tongue in cheek happening there,” Stepanian laughs. “Initially it was serious, a tip of the hat to the person. But the way it’s performed it sounds more sarcastic. ‘Everybody needs somebody like you’ is one lyric. There’s always that one person in your life who will affect you for good or bad, but everybody needs that person to shape them, whether it’s a shitty coach or a great girlfriend. Whatever or whoever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”

Goodnight Scarlett has its share of “girl who got away” scenarios, usually to Stepanian’s detriment. But “Call Me When You’re Famous” turns rejection on its ear. K

Discography

2010 - Goodnight Scarlett
2008 - Wait Out the Rain (Stepanian)
2005 - Autumn She Leaves (Stepanian)
2003 - For Lack of Better Words (Stepanian)