Steve Andrews is the musical force behind Beyond from Within, writing, performing, and singing his memorable, melodic rock tunes. In addition to creating BfW, Steve is a church choir conductor and a vocalist with a Greek Orthodox chant choir.
Recently Steve sat down with us and talked about the craft of making music, his inspirations, and what’s on the horizon for Beyond from Within.
Steve, I’m curious about your background. Is your family musical? How did you get started with playing – and creating – music?
My family is not musical. My first experience with music came when I was a vocalist in a grade school choir.
I started playing and creating music about fifteen years ago. At first, I did not know what a chord was, key signature, bass clef, treble clef, etc.
I started as a lyricist. Then, I took some guitar lessons, and everything else has evolved from there. I am considered a self taught musician (without a music degree).
So often music refuses to fit neatly into one category. The best songwriters and musicians are like that; though taking inspiration from various traditions, they create songs that are very original. Your music is like that; Beyond From Within’s sound draws from several genres. How would you describe your current sound?
My current sound is considered — Psychedelic/Folk-Rock/Pop/Symphonic.
Let’s talk a bit about your songwriting process. How does a song usually develop – do you first start with a lyric, melody, chord progression, or something else? Do you begin writing a song in your head before you pick up an instrument?
First, I like to develop a cool title for the song. Then I will complete the lyrics. I will pick up a guitar and start playing chords which will help me with preparing the melody.
Do you have favorite places where you like to write?
No, I do not have any favorite places that I like to write. However, the best time for me to write lyrics/compose music are the morning/early afternoon hours.
Are there interesting stories about how any of the songs on the new CD came to be?
Yes there are.
“Sidewalk Songs” is a tribute to the street corner musician. Many times I would encounter singers, violinists, trumpet players, guitar players, etc. “Sidewalk Songs” is dedicated to them.
Forever Road/Lonely Penny” — Wherever I go, every road I travel, many times I come across small change like pennies, nickels and dimes on the side of the road, in puddles of water, snow, etc. Everytime I see a lost coin, I will pick it up.
Do you feel there’s much of a distinction to be made between songwriters and poets? Years ago, a teacher of mine once claimed, in response to the statement that John Lennon was a great poet, that lyrics don’t count as poetry. What would you say to that? Are lyrics a type of poetry? Or are they two completely different things?
Lyric verse is a type of poetry. Poetry refined for song structure. The verses in traditional poetry are longer than the verses of song poetry. Another great poet was Jim Morrison. Many of The Doors songs were based on Jim’s lyric verse. (The End, Peace Frog).
You’re a triple threat – songwriter, musician, and singer. What do you enjoy most, and least?
I enjoy all about the same. Singing presents the biggest challenge because the voice has to be in top shape.
What instruments do you play, and which ones do you compose songs with? How about telling us a bit about the gear you most like to use?
My main instrument is the guitar. I use the guitar to lay out the chord structure and melody of the song. I use a drum machine and a music synthesizer to lay down the bass and symphonic tracks.
Do you find recording to be a challenge that you enjoy?
Yes, recording is a challenge that I enjoy. I practice every part over and over so when it comes time to record I will not make any mistakes. The challenge is in the mixdown part of the song. You have to make sure that all tracks are audible and not overbearing. The vocal track should be out front.
I’m interested in your musical roots – which musicians and songwriters have been the greatest influence? What are your favorite albums?
The Doors, Rolling Stones and the Who have been my greatest influence. Jim Morrison’s deep lyric verse has been a great influence on me.
My favorite albums are: The Doors first album called “The Doors,” The Rolling Stones album “Beggar’s Banquet” and the Who’s “Who’s Next.”
Who are your favorite current songwriters or musicians? Can you turn our readers on to someone they may not have heard of yet?
Chris Daughtry is one of my current favorites. Two of his songs — “Home” and “Tonight” are great songs.
A great local Pittsburgh band that many may have not heard of yet is Joe Grushecky and the Houserockers.”
What do you think about the internet as a tool for promoting yourself & your music?
The Internet is an incredible promotional tool for independent musicians. You can get radio play, grow a fan base, create a distribution channel, manufacture and sell CDs and music downloads all online. You can use the Internet to create exposure for your music.
Do you ever perform live?
Currently, I do not perform live. However, I am looking into the prospect of performing a couple of shows in the future.
What are your plans for the future? Your CD was recently released and has been getting some solid reviews. What’s next for you and Beyond from Within?
My future plans are to keep writing music and let the world know about Beyond From Within.
Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with us here at Empty Mirror, Steve!
Learn more about Beyond From Within
and Steve Andrews
Be sure to visit Beyond From Within – Official Website to learn more, listen to songs, read lyrics & reviews, or contact Steve.
Beyond From Within CD can be purchased at iTunes and other online retailers.