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Catching Up With..Milijenko Matijevic of Steelheart

September 15, 2017 by  
Filed under Catching Up With..., Daily Music News

steelheartthroughworldscdSeptember 15 welcomes the brand new Steelheart album “Through Worlds of Stardust”.  Now this is the first new material since 2008 “Good 2B Alive”.  That was a very heavy record.  Is this more of a return to the magic of the late 1980’s/early 1990’s sound that longtime Steelheart fans long for?

This record is a return to the magic of that period.  What it was but still remains relevant today.    I cannot go back completely to the 80’s and that style because I’ve grown or evolved as an artist.  Music is a bit different today.   Our vision from the beginning was let’s recreate that magic again but let’s make it sound like today and be relevant today.  I hope I captured that.

For me, as a fan after, the first few times I listened to it I’d say about 6 of the ten tracks truly resonated with me and I enjoyed them very much.  Then I’d say the other four tracks although well written may not be my style necessarily or they trended in a more modern direction.  How much of an influence did Frontiers play in how this album sounds?      

None.  Zero.  No influence at all. It was all me.  That was one of the things I worked out with Frontiers which was basically let me do what I do.  That’s why this record has a little a bit of a modern edge to it but still please the longtime fans.  It has something for everyone.  I didn’t want to alienate my fans thinking I was going in a different direction. It really took some time to make sure the end result had something for everyone.

The problem that “classic” rock acts tend to fall into is that over time band members come and go.  They shift out, leave, get fired, get rehired, return, break up or form two factions sometimes using the same branding of what was once a cohesive unit.  So now Steelheart is solely your vision, given you’re its sole original member.  Does that change anything on your approach to creating new music or should it alter in any way for the listener?     

It’s always been my vision.  I spearheaded this band since day one. No disrespect intended to any past members, I love them all but if you honestly stripped it down it was me.  The writer, the singer, the direction we took.  It’s never changed to be honest with you. Now it’s becoming more prominent.  A new nucleus of Steelheart has become the core of this new album.  I’ve been working so hard to put this band together and worked my ass off to make sure everybody is happy and comfortable in this current setting.   I hope everybody understands that and respects that point of view.   The guys I have with me have been with me for a while now are having babies and their vision is changing a bit so I need to make sure their still comfortable moving forward. I need to focus on the brand and my fans.  I want everybody to have fun and bring that fun back with this record.

Is it tougher for established rock acts to determine their audience in 2017?  In other words, do you the artist create the music to satisfy yourself first and then hope the listener joins you on the journey that was the creation of these stories/songs?

No.  This is not a selfish record at all.   I did this with the full of intent to connect with my fans and hopefully other people as well.  It’s an honest record of everybody coming together because that’s what I want.  I don’t want to be alone with a record that only I enjoy. I want to be with a record that everybody understands, sees it and appreciates it and can relate to it along with me and like it all at the same time.  There’s all different ages at our shows now from 12 to 60 +.  I’m honored.  I’m flattered to see this diversity now. I don’t want to leave anybody out.  It wasn’t a Fuck You record or approach if you don’t like it so just don’t listen to it.  That wasn’t the intend at all.  I want everybody with me on this one.

Does it bother you when you perform for fans to demand to hear only songs from the S/T debut (1990) or from “Tangled In Reins” 1992? For many of them they may never have heard material from “Wait” (1996) or “Good to be Alive” (2008)?

It’s ok, It doesn’t bother me. “Wait” was only released in Asia.  I have no problem with it.  My whole professional life began on the strength of my first two songs “She’s Gone (Lady)”and “I’ll Never Let You Go”.  Those songs put me on the map.  Of course when they come to see me perform I’m expected to perform those for them and I do.  I want to play tunes that remind them of making out with their girlfriend in the back seat of their car.  Or maybe the loss of a girlfriend or a loved one. Evoke some sort of emotion.  But the deal is they are going to hear my other songs as well!  Creating the set list isn’t easy to begin with, so someone is always going to leave maybe disappointed.  The band can only learn so much material right?

Speaking of older tracks I got to tell you man I never get tired of hearing “She’s Gone (Lady)” .  I know you wrote it and it’s almost 30 years old but it’s a classic.  That’s also been a huge international hit especially in Korea correct?  That’s a big market for you right?

Still is.  In 2016 I spent 6 months in Korea.  I was on a program where I performed as a masked singer.  My opponent where’s a mask and we sing against each other.  I had to learn a Korean song and perform it in Korean as well.  I was the first International artist to do that.  When I took my mask off the place when nuts.  I then performed “She’s Gone” as well.  I did multiple shows while I was there and performed in stadium style shows as well.  I would walk down the street and be stopped.  Even in LA I was in a store and said hello to a Korean lady and she knew me from the shows.  So that song is very special to me.

Assuming you don’t have that horrible accident Halloween night 1992 do you think anything would have changed for Steelheart as a band given the shift in the musical climate at the time and the beginning stages of the grunge movement?

I think that the band would have evolved into something new.  The band was never a glam band.  I don’t know why they ever called us that.  I mean we all had long hair and rocked out but it always had a bit of an edge I thought.  I could be wrong.  We were always full of balls. We were ready to move with the times.  Evolving.  Not following.  It would be evolved into a new level or I would have gone solo.  The accident changed everything.  I was completely out.  Very serious accident.  It took me years to recover from.

I wanted to ask you about the movie “Rockstar” (2001).  First of all, how did you get involved in that project?  Also, were you ever on set during production?  What did you think of the film?    

Tom Werman brought me into that project.  He produced “Tangled in Reigns” (1992) and he called me and asked me if I wanted to audition because he thought I was the guy.  I was actually leaving for LA the next morning to start a new band and to get going again, so I was already on my way out there. Went in that afternoon sang for about 90 minutes.  I went in the next day and they gave me the gig.  I was not allowed on the set.  It was a massive contractual situation going on.  I was never allowed to tell anybody that I was the singer.  Everybody now knows it’s me so they can’t sue me today.  I loved the movie I thought it was great.  I think it’s got a cult following and done very well.  The movie was released on Sept 7, 2001 and by Sept. 11, 2001 it was forgotten about.  Obviously we were all wondering what would happen next or would we be at war so it was just bad timing. The song “We All Die Young” had a big massive video shot and tons of money backing it’s release and should have been a huge hit I think.  President Bush put a stop to any songs with death or blood in them and the song just went away before it got started. I got to hang with Mark Wahlberg and he really got into the character and he said meeting me helped.

In 2010 you toured with Ray Manzarek and Robby Krieger performing Doors material.  How did you get involved in that project and what was that experience like? 

I met their manager because I was looking for a manager at the time and my lawyer introduced me to him.  During lunch he told me he was managing this project and it was a big band and they were in need of a singer.  I think you’d be great for the spot.  Then he tells me it’s the Doors.  I’m like jeez ok sure.  Yea they are pretty big.  Sure I’ll give it a shot.  It was really interesting for me because I grew up with Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and Deep Purple.  The Doors was a different side that I wasn’t really that familiar with.  Once I connected with Ray and Robby and started to learn the songs boy I got to tell ya I got such a beautiful respect for all of them.   Jim too.  Boy I really connected with the spirit of Jim Morrison on this project.  After 4 songs during rehearsal they said were done.  We’d love to have ya in the band.  Great experience.  Still close to Robby.  Play golf every once in a while.

What was your first rock concert and at what point did you know you wanted to be a musician?

My first rock concert was Foreigner at Madison Square Garden.  That show was intense for me.  I knew I wanted to be a singer since I was 5 years old.  When I discovered Led Zeppelin when I was 11 or 12 that changed everything.  I’m going to be a rock star.  My spirit connected.  I just felt it.  I’ve been singing since I was 5 years old.  My whole life has been dedicated to this art.  Singing, writing, producing.  Connecting with people through music.

 

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I was watching on YouTube a live video “No Mercy “from a band called Red Alert from 1983.  You really have been at this a long time.   I think it’s time for a Red Alert CD of demos or live tracks!

I do have stuff.  I was going put 3 or 4 songs from the past on this record.  When I put it all together it just didn’t seem to work for this album.  I will do these songs but I will do them completely separate as something we did in the past.  It just wasn’t the same energy.   But I do have several things that could be seen down the road.

I know Steelheart was a New England more or less based band having got your start in Norwalk CT but do you have any memories of any notable gigs in the Boston area any clubs that might stand out for you?

The Channel.  I remember that place.  We rocked it hard on our first tour.  Cool vibe.  Small place.  Loved it.  There were some strange mirrors in that place.  I could see myself from the side of the stage.  Odd but cool.

 

Steelheart’s new album, “Through Worlds Of Stardust” is OUT NOW on CD, Vinyl, and MP3 from Frontiers Music Srl! Get your copy here

Visit Steelheart.com for more

 

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