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Extra Virgin: Articles

Interview with Rogers Stevens for New York
regional paper, The Island Ear

By Greg Prato on March 16, 2000

How did you meet Rene, and how did the current line-up come together?

    Around 1997 or so, I used to go to this bar in New York that my friend owned.....the whole free drink scenario.  Rene played on night and my friend introduced us. I forced him to quit what he was doing and work with me. At the time, we were looking for a singer to move on with what was left of Blind Melon (under a different name), but it seemed to work better with just the two of us. The other guys felt the same way and they carried on with their thing. Rene and I went to see Johnny Lonely when we were in LA last year. Blind Melon opened our first show for his old band, Liquid Jesus, so I've known Johnny for 10 years or so. He was involved with another band, so he couldn't do it at the time.  Just after we had completely written him off, he called to say he was moving to New York and wanted to play. We met Bill Dobrow through Christopher Thorn, who was in my old band....Bill came highly recommended, so we called him. It took him a few months to come around as well, but he's in there now and it works great. Rene had know Jack Petrozelli before with some other group or something, so he came right in and knew the songs better that we did after about 3/4 of a rehearsal.

The current line-up was formed after '12 Stories High' was recorded, right?  Did studio musicians play on the album?

  Rene and I played a lot of the stuff on the record. The other guys weren't around yet when when we made it.  We'll probably re-record stuff with them later. All of these guys have enormous rock egos, so we have to be sensitive to their needs or they go into hysterics and make irrational demands. We've also got a bunch of new songs that we've worked out. These new tunes will be recorded and all the members will be properly credited in bold letters.

 Are you happy with how the album came out, how was the recording process?  You've recorded in New Orleans before, right?

  This is my third record to record at Kingsway in New Orleans, and it will be the last. The place is closing as of now because evidently the owner has a geniune stalker that he can't escape. This, of course, is all rumor and speculation. I think the record has some really cool things on it. One thing that I've learned is that they never come out as good as you think they will. But that's all subjective anyway. It's tough to tell. At times, I get into it, and at other times I think....What the hell were we doing!? I think it's probably two songs too long, but since there was no way any of the songs could be dropped after you averaged in everybody's opinions, it ended up the way it was.


How have the shows been thus far?

    I've got no complaints about the shows. The crowds seem to be getting bigger....and these people are fun to play with. I think it's much more bombastic live than on record. It's very hard to record that, but some people seem to be able to.

For longtime Blind Melon fans, how would you describe Extra Virgin's sound?

   In my mind, it flows pretty well from the old band to this one.  Obviously, Shannon and Rene are very different singers, so right up front it sounds different. But I still handle my part of things in the same way, so whatever my contribution was in Blind Melon can be heard somewhat in this band. I think the music is at least in the same neighborhood....being that it's sort of all over the map, but Rene brings a whole list of influences that I never considered to the picture. Now that we're all writing together as a band, it's going to be even more varied.  Johnny is very into early Scritti Politti...so that alone should at least change the course of rock history.

Are the newer songs the band's been playing in concert collaborative between all the members?  Any plans of recording the new material in the near future?

   I think i've answered this one.

Is a major label deal on the horizon?

   Label people seem pretty interested, so we'll check that out and see where it goes. You just never know until you sign your life away.


Interview with Rogers by Michael (from www.blindmelon.org)

By Michael on May 1, 2001 - Taken from My Universe

What was the first Extra Virgin song written?
I think "20 days" is the first song that we wrote that has survived. We were at my house in Woodstock, NY putting my studio together, and it popped out sideways. Its pretty intact from how it started, unlike a lot of others which are Frankenstein songs.

Who chose the name "Extra Virgin" and were there any other names considered?
Rene was at a bar with his friend Carrie, and they were brainstorming about band names. She looked at a bottle of olive oil on the wall and said "How about Extra Virgin?" He told me about it and we both knew right away that was our name. Coming up with a band name is so difficult. My new litmus test is that I go out and tell a bunch of people what it is, and if I'm embarassed to tell them, then the name is out. I didn't even wince to tell people that we were called Extra Virgin. I think Bill, our drummer, hated it, but I'm not sure. He may have just hated it that day.

Also, why was the first record named "Twelve Stories High?"
Rene came up with the name because there are 12 songs on the record. There are all sorts of other connotations in there.

How do you think the next record will compare with "Twelve Stories High?"
The new stuff is less ethereal and more rock. We've pushed the guitar up front, gotten rid of the keyboards, and kicked the whole thing in the ass. I would say that it is a much more immediate sound. The first time we played like this in March the response was apparent. Our crowd have gotten much bigger, and I think its because the band somehow found our whatever it is that our sound is.

Will it be on Old Lady records?
There are several record companies interested in us and we've just signed on with management, so we'll be doing this on a major label.

Do you plan to tour extensively in promotion of this record?
We will definately tour everywhere after this. Right now, we're doing as many shows in the northeast us as we can. Hopefully we'll also do Toronto and Montreal this summer as well as other stuff.

Whats the song writing process like for you guys? Do you write seperately? together? through jams?
Rene and I write most of the ideas and then get together with the band to arrange, deconstruct, and re-think. Its a cool collaboration. Bill is a different type drummer than I've been used to. His energy is really powerful, and he pushes me to do different stuff. Pat has great melodic and arrangement ideas. He also does his own music, which is really great. We also write by just getting in the room and playing together, and I think it'll really start going in that direction now.

What kind of things do you draw influences from? What's in your stereos?
We listen to a lot of jazz.....Thelonious Monk, Coltrane, old New Orleans stuff, Django Reindthart. Rock as well.....Beatles, Big Star, Flaming Lips, Zeppelin, pretty musch the standard everything there. Also things like the Meters, Neville Brothers. This all changes all the time.....

Will any of the songs which didn't make it on to "Twelve Stories High"ever be released?
We're pretty much moving ahead now with new stuff, and a lot of songs are being forgotten. I was listening to a tape of us the other day and it took me a while to recognize a song that we did a year ago. I would say that its doubtful for now that there will be other songs from that time coming out. We are having a difficult time keeping up with ourselves.

Lastly, is "Fat Laces" autobiographical?
"Fat Laces" was written by Rene about his teenage years. He's pretty much an uncoordinated slob, so there you go.

Many many thanks to Matthew Flood for spending a lot of time to retrieve all this stuff and to Rene Lopez and
Rogers Stevens for giving the authorization to put this online.
Articles taken from My Universe

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