Whether or not his name rings any bells, there is a very good chance you know the work of indie-pop-folk singer-songwriter Steve Poltz.
In addition to being a prolific artist in his own right with no less than 13 releases to his credit, the Halifax-born Poltz also has the distinction of being a songwriter who co-wrote a No. 2 hit on the Billboard Singles Chart.
Steve’s indie-rocker past comes courtesy of The Rugburns, a band that, during their relatively short existence of six years, built a small but mighty following throughout the United States.
In the time between the dissolution of The Rugburns and his 1998 solo debut One Left Shoe , Poltz added a rather large feather to his cap. Having met singer-songwriter Jewel when she was a struggling artist, Poltz co-wrote her song ‘You Were Meant For Me.’ Upon initial release, Jewel’s debut record that contained the song failed to make much of an impact. Eventually however, the album would be certified for more than 12 million records sold in the United States alone; ‘You Were Meant For Me’ was a big part of that success.
So why exactly hasn’t Poltz become a household name of his own? It certainly isn’t for lack of trying but in speaking with the casual and laid-back artist, it becomes clear that he doesn’t measure success by record sales or charts alone.
‘When I first became a solo artist, I was always billed as Steve Poltz from The Rugburns. Then the Jewel thing became the next tipping point and I became Steve Poltz that wrote the Jewel hit. It is really kind of funny,’ Steve laughs. ‘It is not something that has bothered me by any means.’
So how exactly does a Halifax-born Poltz end up near the top of the Billboard charts? Part of the credit goes to Steve’s father, whose low tolerance for Maritime winters would lead the family to California.
‘My Dad hated the snow and as the story goes, he slipped in the snow one day and vowed that we were moving to California. And so we did. We were the only ones from our family to leave the Maritimes – all of my cousins are still in the Maritimes.’
Born in Halifax a few moons ago, Steve had music engrained in him at a very early age. Growing up, Steve says that the music of Eddy Ar nold and Roger Miller filled his house. He saw the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show, a pivotal moment in television history that prompted his less than impressed father to remark, ‘Look at that dumb hair.’
After landing in California, Steve was introduced to the likes of Ella Fitzgerald and Julian Bream.
In addition to those influences however, Steve says that he tended to also gravitate toward the humorous side of entertainment as well. The Smother Brothers and the aforementioned Roger Miller showed Steve that music didn’t always need to be something that was serious.
While the humour in Steve’s recorded music might be a little more subtle, he refuses to hold back during his live show. He says that it is this feeling, as though everything could fall apart on stage at any given moment, that has made his live show one that is not to be missed. Steve’s ability to incorporate comedic anecdotal songs along with the more expected fare is what keeps audiences coming back.
‘I just recently returned from a tour of Wales, England and Scotland. What is interesting is that I am starting to really develop a following in Scotland and I can’t quite say why they are taking to me so well. The only thing I can figure is that they will gravitate towards you because they like the humour and pathos that come in a good song. It also seems as though they like it if you are a bit of a wreck on tour,’ Steve laughs.
Obviously, Steve has kept it together relatively well over the last 15 years of his solo career. Although his most recent release is 2012’s acclaimed Noineen Noiny Noin , he is gearing up for a trio of records to be released over the course of the next six to seven months.
The first release Steve has coming is the soundtrack to Running Wild: The Life Of Dayton O. Hyde. Released this coming October, the film examines the life of Hyde, a cowboy, conservationist and award-winning writer who runs the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary, a 12,000-acre home for more than 500 wild mustangs.
In addition to that soundtrack, Steve also has two new studio records completed, The Accident and The Claims Adjuster . While he anticipates releasing those two albums within a few months span of each other, he tells The Times & Transcript that The Accident is a ‘loud, rock n roll record’ while The Claims Adjuster is more along the lines of what his fans have come to expect from his music.
‘Every song on The Accident rocks really hard,’ he says. ‘For a lack of a better term though, The Accident really was an accident of sorts. I had this song that I had wanted to add drums to that could have probably fit onto one of ‘regular’ records. But then I went on a binge of writing rock songs so it made sense to put them all onto one record.’
Article published in the August 3, 2013 edition of the Times & Transcript
WHAT : Steve Poltz
WHEN : Monday, Aug. 5, 9 p.m.
WHERE : Tide & Boar Gastropub, 700 Main Street, Moncton