Yeah, we started playing back then. Came together as a three piece from a bunch of different bands in the New York area. We put out our first EP that year. It's called Seven Easy Steps. Put it on our first label. Did our first tour that year with S.O.D. and Vision Of Disorder and just been really kicking it ever since. Touring in the van and the whole history after that I guess that we'll probably get into later.
What was it like to tour with S.O.D.? That has one of the guys from Anthrax in it, right?
Two of the guys actually. Charlie the drummer and Scott Ian were from Anthrax and are both in S.O.D. That was their first tour in about 10 years. Actually their first tour ever. They only did a couple of spotty shows here and there. That was really exciting for us. It was our first tour together. We went out and did a bunch of big shows. Really got the word out about the StepKings for the first time. It was great and the lead singer from S.O.D., Billy Malano, was our original manager. I've known Billy a long time. I was in an old hardcore band. I had toured with him and he was in M.O.D. over in Europe. We knew Billy a long time. It was just good being out with a lot of great bands and good friends.
Tell me about the infamous red van.
The old red van. We've still got the old red van. Actually bought that van from Billy Malano as well from S.O.D. He had that and that really gave us our start. Without that van we couldn't have toured like that and really got our name out which really put us on the map. There's definitely an affinity for the red van we have. We slept in it. We've done everything in that thing. Froze in it. We were hot in it. From Florida to Canada and everywhere in between. It's just a symbol of our days of being independent and struggling. Like I said, we're still in the red van here and there. We've upgraded to an RV in the past year or two so things have gotten better, but we still keep the van. We still use it for weekend runs or when we're playing locally.
It's a part of the family.
It's part of our armada as I call it now.
You recorded an album called Let's Get It On.
Let's Get It On was our first full length record. We recorded it and put it out on our own label. Again we did it with producer Machine who's worked with Hed Pe and Vision Of Disorder and a bunch of different bands. Actually he's done a couple of tracks on the new record as well. Recorded it with him and we put it out. As soon as we put it out, all these bigger labels started chasing us around the country. We were on tour and we ended up signing Roadrunner and they re-released the record.
How is Roadrunner as far as a label goes?
We didn't have the best experience with Roadrunner. I'm not going to talk bad about it now but we're not with those guys anymore. We're actually putting it out on a new independent label which comes out through our friends in a company called The Music Syndicate. They're a radio promotion company we've worked with for a long time. A bunch of great people and they started a new record label and we're the first new release coming out.
That would be We Put Out Records.
You got to tour with some major acts after you recorded that as well.
Oh yeah. I always say we toured with all the masked bands. We toured with Slipknot a little bit. Insane Clown Posse. Just recently, like a week or two ago, we were out doing a bunch of dates with Mushroomhead. Between them and Mudvayne as well, we've really covered all those masked bands. We've toured with a lot of hard-core and punk bands. We just toured with a band called Finch Wheel. It's on Drive Through Records now. Just everyone and everywhere pretty much.
You're managed by Jay Jay French of Twisted Sister fame.
Yeah, Jay Jay used to manage Sevendust and they're working with us right now.
How did you get hooked up with him?
There's another who was looking at us and is Jay Jay's partner now. He brought Jay Jay down to see us at CBGB's. We've had meetings and it all vibed so we went on ahead and did it.
Tell me about 3 The Hard Way.
3 The Hard Way I definitely think is the best thing we've ever done. Basically the three of us came together. It's a three piece band. It just symbolizes everything about what we've done. Our third release. We recorded most of it up in Toronto. We did some of the tracks with my friend Machine who did our last record. Then we did the rest with a guy called Greg Below up in Toronto last December and just really raw bone stuff. We've been touring it and the new stuff has been going over great. We're just really excited about it.
Are there any tracks you really like in particular?
I think "Helicopters". It's a track that is actually about living in New York post 9/11. I know everyone has a song about 9/11 these days. The song's not about that. It's more about living in New York afterwards. It was like a real war zone. Fern wrote that from his perspective living in Staten Island at the time. They were under house arrest. They weren't allowed to go out in the streets. All the bridges were closed. Every morning at 5 AM he'd get woken up by helicopters flying around outside his roof. It was things you're used to seeing on CNN in third world countries where they have that right in their home.
I've developed respect for people who live in countries where they're faced with that on a daily basis. You never really respect anyone until something like that happens to you. It's an eye opener.
No doubt. That's the truth.
Who handles a lot of the song writing in the band?
Myself and Fern. I write a lot of the lyrics. Fern writes a lot of the riffs. We put them all together with the three of us in the studio.
Who are some of your major musical influences?
I listen to a lot of stuff like Fugazi and Bad Brains and a lot of the post hard-core that came out of New York. We came out around '97. Bands like Quicksand and Orange 9 Millimeter were bands we were listening to a lot at the time. As a band influence I'd say a lot of those post hard-core bands. That's where our heads were at when we got together.
Have you had a lot of radio airplay?
Yeah, the last record definitely has and this record just went to radio. So far it's just on college radio and they're playing the hell out of it. It's going up the charts every week. They're going to get some commercial stations coming up next month so we'll see how that goes.
How long does it take for music that's caught on to college radio to catch on with commercial radio?
It depends. Commercial radio is always a tough nut to crack. At this point we aren't really as concerned with commercial radio. It's doing great on college. We're going to be touring a lot. We're breaking it that way. If it's good enough, if you're busy enough, they're going to have to play it. That's the way I see it. We also just did a video for the track "California". It should be done editing by next week and try to get that up on M2. I think MuchMusic's already going to put it in rotation so that'll help things along as well.
How difficult is it to get a video on MTV or MuchMusic?
It's very difficult. The record's coming out through EMI Records. EMI the store actually in Canada which is a much bigger operation up there. They've played it for the people of MuchMusic. They really like it so I think that's our in for MuchMusic because MuchMusic is based out of Canada obviously. It'll be played all over the U. S. on MuchMusic as well.
You toured with ILL NINO, Primer 55, and Sw1tched.
That was great. That was just recently we've been out. ILL NINO's been friends of ours a long time. We actually shared a rehearsal studio. Funny story about those guys. We've been friends with them for a long time going back three years now. We toured in that red van I was telling you about. Both bands with no trailer and all of our equipment in one van. Fern was actually filling in. They were without a guitar player at the time so Fern was filling in. He was playing for both bands while using the same gear and we're all riding in the same van. We did a week of shows up around the northeast. We go back with those guys. Been a lot of stories with those guys.
Are you on any more tours?
We're going on a headliner next week or actually this week. We leave Thursday to go out in the midwest. We're going up to Canada beginning in June and then we're going to come back out through the northeast with a band called Dry Kill Logic. Just probably tour throughout the summer. Definitely looking to be down in Texas sometime.
Any other comments?
Make sure you check out the website. It always has tour dates and stuff going on. If you can't find the record in stores, you can order it through CDNow. We'll have a link up on the site to get you there. It should be in stores but I know some kids in some rural places that aren't near bigger cities have had a problem getting it. It's always like that with independent records. It's out there but if you have a problem, you can get it through the Internet.
Is it easier dealing with an independent label than dealing with a major label?
It is. There's pros and cons with both. It depends. If you're a real priority for selling records, then it's great to be on a major. Sometimes it's harder to get things done on that level. Independents, it's a lot more intimate. You have more access to things and more input. At the same time there's not as much money behind things to push it. There's pros and cons to both. Right now we're very happy to be where we are. We've been on both sides. It's working out.