Studio Session: The Steel Wheels

The Steel Wheels performs live and discusses their music and tour with KGNU’s Meredith Carson. The band chats about their new album “Sideways”, and overviews their summer touring schedule (Interview date: 5/24/2024)


Meredith Carson: We have a huge treat this morning. Great band Steel Wheels is playing for us live in the studio. They are all gathered around in our very snug studio here in downtown Denver. We are so happy to have you guys here. Welcome.You have been based loosely in Virginia, but all over the place. Give us an idea for people who are completely unfamiliar with Steel Wheels.

The Steel Wheels: The members, some of us have spread out a bit. And so we have hometowns in Nashville, Tennessee, and Brooklyn, New York, and Ann Arbor, Michigan, as well as Harrisonburg, Virginia these days.

Meredith Carson: That is all over the map.

The Steel Wheels: Yeah, it is. But it’s nice to have homes all over the place.

Meredith Carson: Absolutely, you are at home wherever you go.

The Steel Wheels: That’s exactly right.

Meredith Carson: In the Denver studios as well. Please just call this one of your western homes.

The Steel Wheels: Oh, absolutely. We love the Front Range.

Meredith Carson: Cool. So you all played Ophelia’s last night.

The Steel Wheels: Yes. Love that place. Oh, man, what a cool vibe.

Meredith Carson: It’s New Orleans-y. It feels a little bit like Tipitina’s in New Orleans with that upper level.

The Steel Wheels: Yeah. Absolutely. That’s great energy in there.

Meredith Carson: Cool, cool. Why don’t we just get right to live music?

The Steel Wheels: Let’s do it. Yeah, all right, we’re gonna play the lead off track off our newest record called “Wait On You”.

Meredith Carson: The Steel Wheels live in KGNU’s Denver downtown studios.

The Steel Wheels: Alright, we’re gonna do another one called “Hero” for ya.

Meredith Carson: Those are great. You guys really know your way around a funky mic setup. I’m glad it’s coming through all right. Everybody’s coming through. Your schedule between now and the end of August is mind-blowing.

The Steel Wheels: Oh is it?

Meredith Carson: Oh my god, you are not ever gonna see your home until the end of summer. You guys are partying all over the place.

The Steel Wheels: It’s gonna be a good one, yeah. We just came off of seven weeks at home, we’re good and rested.

Meredith Carson: That must have been exhausting.

The Steel Wheels: We try to keep it balanced, but when we’re home we get an itch to get back out on the road.

And then, after we’re out on the road for a few weeks, it’s time to be home.

Meredith Carson: It is festival season after all. It is. And I noticed you have a bunch of gigs with Little Feat.

The Steel Wheels: Yeah.

Meredith Carson: Fun!

The Steel Wheels: Yeah, we’re really looking forward to playing with those guys. Bunch of Northeast dates later in the summer.

But yeah, summer’s great for lots of outdoor shows and festivals, and so yeah, we’re making the best of it.

Meredith Carson: Absolutely. Let’s have maybe another couple of tunes indoors, or, actually, that first cut you played was from your most recent record. Let’s talk about that record for a second.

The Steel Wheels: Yes, absolutely.

So the new album is called Sideways. We released it earlier this year and we recorded it up in Maine with a producer named Sam Kassirer, spent 11 days up in this old renovated farmhouse that’s turned into a studio and came out with a record we were really proud of. Sideways, of course, it’s a lot of songs inspired by the last few years, which if you weren’t knocked sideways by the last few years, then I don’t know who you are, but I’d like to meet you. So a lot of that stuff has its way of coming through.

It’s not exactly a pandemic project, but we were all influenced by the last few years. And it doesn’t look like things are going to go anywhere but sideways. So it’s music for the future as well.

Meredith Carson: Okay, hoping not too much sideways in the future.

The Steel Wheels: We still have some hope in there, that’s for sure.

Meredith Carson: Maybe we’ve come out of the sideways curve a little bit and headed back toward just mere craziness. All right, more live music, please.

The Steel Wheels: Yes, absolutely. This one’s called “Easy on Your Way”. It’s a song for you when you don’t feel like you have a song.

Meredith Carson: You can see them tonight in Black Forest at the Meadowgrass Festival at 8:15. 

For all of you out there who are going to Meadowgrass, you can say, “Oh, yeah, I heard them this morning. They were fabulous”. And then tomorrow, Big B’s delicious orchards in Paonia. I’m so sorry it isn’t peach season yet, but there’ll be something fabulous in the orchards.

The Steel Wheels: Never been to Paonia, so really excited to get there.

Meredith Carson: Paonia is fabulous. And then, down in Ray, Colorado on Sunday at 4th and Main, and then off to Kansas.

The Steel Wheels: That’s right, off to Kansas.

Meredith Carson: All righty. I know I said three, but this is so fabulous. Could we have one more?

The Steel Wheels: Let’s do one more.

Meredith Carson: Can’t let you go yet. You’ll still get there by 8:15. Of course. 

The Steel Wheels: Let’s do the title track. Let’s do “Sideways”. Why not? It’s really fun to get to pare things down like this. We obviously play banjos and fiddles and stuff, but Kevin’s got a full drum kit when we get on stage. So it’s always fun to see what he pulls out for these kinds of appearances.

Meredith Carson: Kevin, what did you pull out this morning? What is that big thing?

The Steel Wheels: So I have a calabash, which is basically like a hollowed out pumpkin from Africa.

Meredith Carson: It’s pretty fabulous.

All right, we’re having a little banjo tuning going on. Always our favorite part of the show.

The Steel Wheels: Yeah, like we said, we’re going to be doing the title track “Sideways”. And yeah, it’s been really a pleasure to be in here. Thank you so much, Meredith.

Meredith Carson: You are so welcome. Come back anytime.

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Anya Sanchez


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