The Cute Lepers, condensed but not diminished in the shadow of the full name Steve E. Nix and the Cute Lepers, blast through your speakers from their geographical location of the
The interview starts off with Steve making the observation that LA crowds are a bit funny when it comes to attendance at shows in that they are there just for whomever they came to see. And that’s true. The average LA concert attendee isn’t there for the rest of the bill beyond the chosen band over whom they obsess. But there is no doubt that those who came early or stuck around to see The Cute Lepers perform that night got their money’s worth. This man, when compared with the multitude of musicians that I have interviewed, is a charming conversationalist and adeptly articulate with his thoughts regarding the music scene and his place within that world. The catalyst for his musical life was a tape…an ABBA tape. A bit unexpected for this “record collecting geek” but an artifact whose existence is explained: “When I was in second grade I wanted to get a Kiss record,” starts Steve, the but that is to follow lingering mid-sentence. “But my parents wouldn’t let me. They got me ABBA instead…and I loved it. I had the tape memorized.” After that tape, Steve constantly had songs running through his head and it was simply a “natural attraction.”
Aside from Kiss, many influences exist within Steve’s veins. Be it first wave punk rock from England which includes Johnny Thunders, the Buzzcocks, the Vibrators, and all the “good English stuff”, or the Danger House scene in LA like the Weirdos and the Bags, Steve has a love for “raw music with hooks.” Maybe that can be attributed to all the power pop that has been gracing his ears over the past couple of years.
After the dissolution of The Briefs, which happened for various reasons after roughly an eight year stint, Steve decided that he “wanted to create a band that [he] could do no matter what. That would be more of a democracy.” So he set to the task at hand. When one is already familiar with the ways of being in a band and of the logistics of creating a band, the task doesn’t seem that daunting. Kicks came from the Briefs and the remaining musicians were nabbed from the
The final lineup provides an “entertaining, heartfelt, passionate, and unreserved” experience for the concert-goer. These may be Steve’s own words referring to what the band itself is striving to achieve with its live show, but it’s a goal that has already been reached. Steve is paying for this creation with his demanding involvement on stage. “In the Briefs I didn’t have to sing all the songs,” he explains. “We took turns singing, and I could just play guitar some of the time. In this band I have to sing all the songs, and I don’t think that I even really want to. It sort of happened by default.” Either intentional or accidental, it’s a happening that is a positive addition to the resume of this music scene veteran.
And this participant in the music scene isn’t satisfied with the music that is churned out by the many bands that flood the scene. Just look at the title of the album: Can’t Stand Modern Music. If that doesn’t scream loudly enough, then what is needed to make the statement clear? In defense of the album title, Steve adds, “I think the majority of what gets passed off as rock music on the radio is terrible. It sounds like it comes out of a factory where it’s just processed to appeal to the lowest common denominator and that’s not the spirit of rock n roll.” But even with a plethora of bands spilling into the greedy public’s airwaves, there is to be something positive gained: if there is bad music in existence, however plentiful, there is going to be good music that is created to “rise against it.” Steve hopes to offer up his own taste to sway the ears of the record-buying public and diminish the existence of “punk-by-numbers bands.” A gallant feat if it can be accomplished. It seems as though people are more compelled to thoughtlessly snag the latest chart-topper while brushing past those albums offering musical integrity.
So while The Cute Lepers are riding in a van from state to state, catch a show. It might break up the monotony of your life just as shows break up the monotony of being on tour for the aforementioned band. But Steve takes pleasure in the characters that he meets on the road and the “sense of humor that goes around. The most retarded things become really funny and entertaining because you have to find something to cover the monotony…you get used to [being in a van for eight hours] but it puts you in a weird state.”
However, come prepared because the Cute Lepers do deliver. So pop in Can’t Stand Modern Music, a “compelling mixture of power pop mod revival and first wave punk rock with some dynamite backup vocals and amazing guitar tones”, and let its sounds take you to a place of wonder and melody. And Steve wouldn’t want you to forget that the show comes complete with “a handsome drummer.”