Steevan Mars is starting to make a name for himself, no pun intended, as he moves toward dropping the Mars moniker and debuting a new band. He previously released two solo EPs and is now moving in a new direction. With a melodic, pop driven sound, topped with harmonies and bright guitar tones, he’s been a staple at Crossroads in Garwood, as well as prestigious venues such as the Knitting Factory and The Bitter End in New York. I caught up with Steevan to find out about the new band and his new album.

You released two EPs as a solo artist but now you’re working with a band. What made you decide to go in this direction?

Loneliness! Seriously, my music is only enjoyable to me when I’m sharing with others. I’ve had a long desire to work with other musicians but no one came around until now. The music was made for others to play. I never recorded just me and guitar. It was always a full band production.

Who are the band members?

On bass and guitar I have Matt Hessinger, who also arranges cello parts for his wife, Diana, who’s also in the band. On backing vocals and percussion [is] Joanna Quick. Our voices blend so well together and I love having a female voice above mine. Diana is a classically trained clarinetist and cellist, and she does symphony stuff. Pop/rock is new to her. And Joanna used to be a torch song piano bar singer. We are going to be adding keys and percussion along the way too.

How did you get the band get together?

Well, I met Joanna through her husband, Tim Quick, who produced and played guitar on my latest EP. I knew she sang so I asked her to join me. It clicked immediately. Diana I’ve known my whole life growing up and I’ve been waiting for her to learn cello, been bugging her for like 10 years to play with me! Then I met Matt at a concert, and he and I actually started playing together last summer. It just seemed natural to add Diana on cello. The timing was right. They are all great people to be friends with and to play music with.

How would you describe the music that you do?

Well, things are changing. On record, the music is in the alternative pop rock genre, electric guitar driven three-and-a-half minute songs. Now, I’ve gone back to a more intimate coffeehouse type acoustic folk rock sound reminiscent of California bands from the ‘70s. A lot of emphasis on vocal harmonies and melodies, more open sounding, alternate tunings and more poetic lyrics. I love Americana, neo folk music, but being from New Jersey, I’m still learning what that is.

How does the writing process work for you?

I always work alone, and can be very prolific at times. And other times, months of nothing. I write everything on acoustic guitar and usually just free write. I’m not trained on guitar and so I keep it simple. That’s where Matt comes in. He’s good at expanding the simplicity of the music into something more.

Who are your influences?

All over the place. I really love Brit Pop. Classic folk rock. The ‘70s is my favorite decade for music. I love Zeppelin, Yes, Pink Floyd, the Eagles and Fleetwood Mac, so there you go, all over the place. But I got into the ‘80s/‘90s alternative scene and love bands like The Smiths, Catherine Wheel, The Posies, and REM. I love the Beatles, particularly McCartney. Grew up on Neil Young and Dylan, my older brothers had a great vinyl collection. These days I’m listening to Dawes, Ryan Adams, The Head And The Heart, Fleet Foxes and The Jayhawks.

Any particular songs that are favorites of fans or yourself?

I feel very strong about some songs I’ve recorded that mean something to me—“Long Time,” “Lonely Day,” “Into Your Arms.” I tend to like stuff that I am doing right now, yet to be recorded but being played live.

Is it different in a band situation as opposed to working solo?

Yes, you have to play in time! It’s just more fun playing off of others and especially with people you like as people.

What are your goals, musically and professionally?

I want to reinvent myself as an artist, and drop the Steevan Mars name. My real name is Mauriello. Steevan Mars was supposed to be a band name, but somewhere along the line I became that guy. I’m calling this new project Leaves Of October and I want it to be a band that is the voice to my writing. I want to stretch out musically in an organic live setting, not so much invented in the studio—which is what I’ve previously done. Professionally, I would love to hear my songs on TV, in movies, on XM radio, etc. I am not money driven but it would be welcomed. I have always made music for me, to say what I want to say, but always in the hopes that other people will dig it. This year and next, I am going to get it out more to the masses and hopefully people will like it. But more than anything, I just want to be an artist and continue to express myself whether people listen or not.

 

You can get more information on Steevan Mars and find out his about upcoming shows at steevanmars.com.

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