Legendary Session Guitarist, Steve Hunter, Releases New Solo Album “Before The Lights Go Out”

CD Release Date: September 25

PHEONIX, ARIZONA – Although, perhaps not a “household name” to many, Steve Hunter’s guitar riffs have certainly ripped through your speakers or car radio over the years, whether you realize it or not. Known by his peers as “The Deacon,” Hunter’s guitar artistry has graced such iconic rock songs as Peter Gabriel’s “Solsbury Hill,” Aerosmith’s “Train Kept A Rollin’,” Lou Reed’s live “Sweet Jane,” as well as Alice Cooper’s classic-70’s Billion Dollar Babies and Welcome to My Nightmare albums.

Article by Joe Milliken * Photos courtesy of Steve and Karen Hunter

Along with the aforementioned legendary artists, some other bands and musicians that Hunter has worked with over the last, four-plus decades include Mick Jagger, Jack Bruce, Joe Perry, David Lee Roth, Dr. John, Robert Fripp, Tony Levin, Julian Lennon, Leslie West, Mitch Ryder, Tracy Chapman, Jason Becker, Flo & Eddie, and Bette Midler. He has also recorded and toured the world with the aforementioned Alice Cooper group, and their 2017 Paranormal album marks Steve’s ninth studio recording with the legendary rock band. Needless to say, Mr. Hunter has taken a ride or two around the ole’ rock-and-roll block.

As a solo artist, Hunter released his critically acclaimed debut in 1977, titled Swept Away, which was produced by the legendary Bob Ezrin. (Pink Floyd, Alice Cooper, Deep Purple, Peter Gabriel) Since then, Hunter has released five other solo albums, the last being 2014’s Tone Poems Live, which also featured bassist Tony Levin, pianist Phil Aaberg, and drummer Alvino Bennett.

Before The Lights Go Out is my seventh solo release,” Steve Hunter said in an exclusive SRO interview. “From start to finish, this album took a little over seven months to complete, including the mixing. I produced and engineered the entire album in my home studio, and brought in a few stellar musicians to participate. They recorded their tracks, sent them back to me and I dropped them into my sessions.”

Released on September 25, Before The Lights Go Out surely makes a statement about his failing eyesight, however, don’t think for a second that it is some sort of “good bye,” or even a “so long.” From the outset, this is an album full of blues-rockin’ grooves, melodic rockers and incredible guitar tones throughout!

Of course, you can also bet that any Steve Hunter release is going to have a melting pot of talent and styles, and the new release certainly follows suit; legendary guitarist, Joe Satriani, and bassists Erik Scott (Alice Cooper) and Andy Stoller (Ann Wilson, Tracy Chapman) all joined in the recording fun.

“I met Joe at one of Jason Becker’s ‘Not Dead Yet’ benefits in San Francisco, and he had asked me to join him onstage,” Hunter said. “We had a blast and started a nice friendship, and I am both pleased and honored to have him appear on another CD of mine. Joe had also played a great solo on a song called ‘Twilight Of Harlem,’ from my Manhatten Blues Project release.

“I finally met Eric when Alice Cooper played the House of Blues in Hollywood. We chatted briefly after the show, and then he had to leave. But in actual fact, we had never played together before. Erik then contacted me and asked if I would like to play on his newest CD, In The Company of Clouds, and that is how we reconnected. It’s a really cool track and I enjoyed working on it. Erik is a great bass player and did a great job on my song “Mojo Man.”

Erik Scott: “I never had the pleasure of playing with Steve until recently. Although we both have recorded and toured with Alice for years, we worked at different times. I was aware of his work, of course, and always admired it. So, two years ago, while recording my album, I thought an acoustic guitar would work nicely on one of the songs and I called him out of the blue.

“Having recently recovered from cancer, I was a bit more forward than I might normally have been, not wanting to waste any time in life, you know? Well, we soon discovered that we were quite sympatico about music and life in general, so I sent him my tune and idea for “Women of Avalon,” and he liked it… and played beautifully on it.

"I knew Steve was probably making a great rock guitar album, and I was a bit hungry to return the favor should he have any thoughts along those lines, since I admired his work and was coming to admire the man as well. A while later, Steve sent me what would become “Mojo Man,” and I was excited to contribute to a recording by one of our great guitarists, who has played on some of the truly iconic albums of our generation!"

Hunter met bassist, Andy Stoller, in the late 1990’s when they both worked with Boston-area solo artist, Tracy Chapman, and played other music events as well.

Andy Stoller: “I had been in Tracy Chapman’s recording and touring band for a few years, and when she shuffled things around and reformed the band for that year’s tour, she brought on Steve and Larry Campbell (Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Sheryl Crow) on guitar, Patrick Warren (Dylan, Bonnie Raitt, Graham Nash) on keys and Denny Fongheiser (Roger Waters, Heart, Peter Frampton) on drums. That was an amazing band! We did the Lilith Tour that summer, and various festivals including a couple of the Tibet Freedom Concerts and a few of the Fleadh Festivals.

“One of the most amazing gigs was in Paris at the 30th anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights concert… just an amazing group of artists and it was all super fun! After that, Steve and I played on a couple of Tracy’s records(Telling Stories, Let It Rain), although we were never in the studio at the same time.

“Steve is one motherfucking amazing musician! This is obvious to most people. I mention his name to guitarists, and they say “THE Steve Hunter?” They know him for his work with Alice and Lou…the Sweet Jane intro…his work with Dick Wagner. But what a lot of people don’t know is how sensitive and delicate he is, even when he is ‘rocking.’ He is giving and kind, and that comes out in his music. Being on the road with Steve was a total laugh a minute… it was just a bunch of guys in the band bus, and we had lots of fun. We played with Peter Gabriel at the Paris concert, and when Steve re-met Peter, there was this twinkle in their eyes that felt familiar. It was sweet to see.

“Working on the record was a treat, and Steve pretty much knew what he wanted from me, but, as with all good producers, he left it a little open for me to explore, while guiding with direction… a real pleasure. On “Bhodi Tree” I’m playing a fretless bass for most of the song, detuned to get that low D. Then on the bridge, I’m using a vintage Fender Precision, then back to the fretless. This is the kind of thing that Steve knew he wanted, and I never would have considered it… but I think it came out great!”

Before The Lights Go Out was an inspirational project to both Hunter, and the friends who participated, and it clearly shines through in the songs. “This album was a real joy for me on many levels,” Steve declared in a recent press release. “A big part of the inspiration and motivation that kept me going; was from all the people out there who had faith in me and encouraged me through the entire process with their donations and comments. It was really a wonderful experience having everyone be a part of it.”

For more information, to learn more about Steve Hunter’s amazing career, and to order the new CD, Before The Lights Go Out, please visit his official website at www.stevehunter.com.

Editor’s Note: Stay tuned to Standing Room Only for an upcoming CD review of Before The Lights Go Out. Also, below is a link to a previous, 2016 SRO interview with Mr. Hunter.