Steve Reynolds

Steve Reynolds


Steve is an intelligent, melodic songwriter with a special spirit who tells his story with his brilliant guitar playing and incredible word-smithing. You cannot walk away after hearing Steve play without feeling something, anything, or everything.



A conversation with

Contact: Kurt Nishimura

310/558-3000 x203

Steve Reynolds is not a trust-fund bohemian. His thin, wiry body comes courtesy of the hard-knock jobs he’s held in the course of his 30-odd years on the planet – among them, construction worker and tugboat deckhand. His face is scruffy, and the undersides of his fingers are calloused, a condition thrown into high relief by the long translucent press-on fingernails he wears on his right hand. They’re for plucking his guitar. Clad in a white t-shirt, paint splattered worker’s shirt, faded blue jeans and well-worn work boots, he looks more like he should be doing odd jobs around the coffee-house we’re sitting in than talking about politics, movies and the books that inspire his surreal/poetic/clear-eyed lyrics and music. Sitting in an LA coffee house surrounded by thrift-store chic clad heiresses and the artfully distressed spawn of Hollywood powerbrokers, he sips his iced tea and sits comfortably in his own skin.
Reynolds’ debut CD, Exile (429 Records) is a study in contradictions. His voice can veer from deceptively airy to unexpectedly and movingly grainy. Having traveled the world as both wandering civilian and hard working artist, and armed with a head filled with movie images, heady literature and current events (he’s a voracious reader of the news) he’s penned songs that confidently skip through a host of themes and ideas.
“Dear Rose” is a grieving father’s song of bereavement, where the sadness in the words is underscored by the contrasting propulsiveness of the music, by the rushing sweep of guitar, drums and tender vocals. The swirl in the production echoes the emotional anguish of the father. The lovely “That Old Love,” a moving short story that layers scenes from a couple’s well-worn and unraveled relationship, lays bare the connection between old-school American country music and Irish folk songs, in the process recalling the more wistful work of the Pogues. Throughout the collection, a soulful but gritty vision of the world emerges, one where the tour guide gently nudges you to see and feel what the ordinary people all around you see and feel. It’s a work of warmth and compassion.
Bounding into the coffee shop after lending his construction-worker skills to a friend who is remodeling a new home, Reynolds is charming, blunt and very funny. At one point in the interview, he caps an anecdote with a sentence that could be his personal slogan: “I don’t want to be such a dictator in my own life that I don’t leave the space for happy accidents.”

E: So, you were just on a construction project?

S: Just helping out a friend; I used to do it in Canada.

E: You bloody immigrants.

S: [Laughs] It’s kind of funny, The U.S. government now demands that I play my guitar for a living and happily I get to leave the construction behind.

E: Did you play your guitar for them?

S: In a way. It’s really weird. I used to get strip-searched at borders. It’d be constant trouble. Now I have this visa – which is very hard to get – that’s called an Extraordinary Talent Visa. I’m not making that up. So, when you come in, they think you’re someone super famous. I’ve had them try to re-name my band. They’re like, “Steve Reynolds is the name of your band?! No!” And then they’ll try to come up with a new name for me. It’s a nice change because I used to be in the back in my underwear. A lot.

E: You know, people project all sorts of preconceptions onto artists and my questions will reflect my own assumptions, which you should feel free to dismantle. My first one is that you read a lot and are hugely influenced by novelists and poets because your lyrics have a very literary bent to them. They go from abstract to concise, concrete zingers. I wanted to ask who some of your favorite writers are, some of your literary heroes. Or even other songwriters.

S: I’m terrible with coming up with writers but one of the most recent books that I thought was compelling was the Kite Runner. I’m really into pseudo-non-fiction stuff that has a compelling arc to it. Musically, I’d say the Pogues and Van Morrison. I like honesty in a lyric. I think that’s why I respond to non-fiction. I like people that are telling me something about their world-view or their own personal experience that is empowering. When I was fifteen, David Bowie’s Hunky Dory & Pin Ups album was like, Yes! Yes! That’s it! I love stuff that’s just really real.

E: Many of your songs have a short-story quality that’s sadly lacking in much of the music we hear now…

S: Yeah, I don’t have a formula but I think I have a style. It doesn’t come from a very conscious place. For me it’s just a matter of going at it and never getting the brain involved until the last minute for the final polishing. That’s why I wish I could come up with more writers I like so you can get some idea of what inspires me. Oh, there’s that


First single from Exile "Dear Rose"
Second Single "Forsaken"

Set List

No covers, all original songs. Steve can play for 5 minutes or 60 minutes and his sets can include anywhere from 1 song to 15.