Steve Tilston is one of Britain's finest songwriters. His career (detailed in our feature) has
spanned three decades and he has worked with many of the best-known names in folk, including
John Renbourn and Fairport Convention.
Most recently, he has released the critically-acclaimed album 'Such And Such' and completed a promotional
tour in November 2003.
|1. What are you currently up
At this very moment I'm just enjoying having a wind down after a
pretty successful band tour. Although somewhere in the back of my
brain box are countless little unfinished tasks that will soon need
What has been the highlight(s) and lowpoints(s) of your career
Having my song 'The Slipjigs and Reels,' as one of the most requested
songs on the Radio 2 folk prog, also having over 30 cover versions of
In the US this year I was told that my song 'Here's to Tom Paine,'
has been chosen by the TP society of America as their theme tune.
No low points spring to mind other than my career being moribund for
periods, but so far I've always managed to keep going my own sweet
|3. How did you first get into the music business? Who have been your
main influences on your career to date?
In my early years it was Elvis,Scotty Moore, Buddy Holly, Chuck
Berry, Josh White, Big Bill Broonzy, Skip James, John Hurt, Charlie
Byrd, Julian Bream, Segovia, Bob Dylan, Davey Graham, Bert Jansch, Martin Carthy,
Robin Williamson and loads more. For the last 20 or so years it's been
more musical genres rather than specific artists.
|4. 'Such And Such' marks a slight departure from your usual album.
It's mainstream and with a band. Did you make the conscious decision to write a band album?
Not at first, for me music is never quite that convenient. Having said that the
album I made a few years back 'Solorubato,' was as the title suggests
pretty much a solo effort-me and guitar, but most of the songs could
have been recorded in a band format. Conversely, most of these new
songs work fine just me and my old guitar.
Whatever the format, a song has to swing!
|5. How easy was it to come up with all the songs for the album? Were
they the result of ideas you had over a longer period or did they all come together quickly and specifically for the album?
About a quarter of the songs on the new album were started quite a while ago,
but about a year ago I knew that I wanted to make a band album, so the songs became slightly tailored to that end.
Although I'll add that once I got on a roll and became focused the ideas came pretty thick and fast.
|6. What is your favourite song on the album and what inspired you to
When I first finished the recording it was a toss up between Mirror
Dance and Waterhole. Mirror Dance not least because it was a hard
song to write and pull off in the studio. Waterhole because I thought
it was going to be a pig to record, but turned out a delight, I'm
really pleased with the vibe of the song, I think it captures the
significance of place ie the desert landscape in the
Last time I listened though it was 'The Sniper's Tale, for pretty
much the same reasons, I think Andy Sheppard's sax really adds to the
song's inherent tension.
|7. Do you think you will follow this album with another featuring a
band, or will you revert to solo again? Or are you seeing what the response is to Such And Such before making that decision?
I think that without out a doubt I will do another band format
album, until I've got the songs together I won't know exactly what
instrumentation to use. Whatever musical course I take it will be
less rather than more. You still have to be able to hear me plucking
and warbling up front.
|8. How have the recent live dates gone? How did you hook up with
Maartin Alcock (ex-Jethro Tull/Fairport Convention) & Clive Bunker (ex-Jethro Tull)?
I really loved the live dates, working with Maart, Clive and Anna Ryder.
Pretty much right from the word go the band was a cohesive unit and
we all knew it would work.
I've worked with Maart lots of times in the last decade, I was
conscripted to the band WAZ! that he helped start. He's a good mate
of mine. This was the first time I'd worked with Clive, he was just
great, knew instinctively what was required, couldn't have been
Anna is worth her weight in gold-and some. She plunks
keyboards, squeezes accordians and blows down bugle type things
(French Horn & Trumpet). I honestly can't praise them high enough as
both people and players.
|9. What do you do in your spare time outside of music?
Archery is my big passion. Traditional Longbow, just a bent stick
really, I make all my own arrows and brake a lot of them too. Targets
though, not furry or feathered animals!
I like walking. Up here in Yorkshire there's some great walks This
summer though I did a good stretch of the Cornish coast path, it was
breathtaking, I must do some more of it.
I also swim reguarly, half a mile (32 lengths)3 times a week. It all
helps balance out the wine I love to drink.
|10. Message to your fans...
Sincerest thanks, especially to those who have supported me over
the years, it means a lot to see familiar faces in what are quite
often unfamiliar surroundings. I have made some great friends over
the years both in Britain and all over the world especially the
States, it makes what can often be a solitary existence a really
pleasurable experience. I honestly can't think of anything I'd rather
be than a nomadic musician, it's the fans that make this still a
viable possibility. God bless you all, and tell your friends!
Steve Tilston website
Related>> Album Review
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Interview © 2003 Jason Ritchie/
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