Steve Schiltz considers himself kind of lucky. In fact, he considers himself very lucky.
For years, Schiltz has been the frontman for the long-standing New York-based rock group Longwave, whose pop-oriented guitar attack has always generated some incredible music, but not necessarily the sales that RCA Records was hoping for in the beginning. After taking a break by serving as ax man for Albert Hammond, Jr.’s touring ensemble and then returning in fine form with Longwave’s fourth (and best) album in 2008, Schiltz continued to work on songs for himself in a project that he dubbed Hurricane Bells. Initially thinking of just putting out the Bells’ debut album Tonight is the Ghost by himself, a funny little thing happened along the way…
Although the Bells’ debut is only ten songs long, a couple of the B-sides began making the rounds in music circles, and it wasn’t long before New Moon director Chris Weitz heard a track called “Monsters”. Next thing you know, Schiltz’s fuzzed out little pop song wound up on the soundtrack to the second movie in the insanely-popular Twilight franchise, and before long, the soundtrack topped the charts, sold hundreds of thousands of copies in its first week, and Hurricane Bells got signed to Vagrant Records.
Still reeling from the release of the Bells’ debut, Schiltz took some time out of his day to answer PopMatters’ 20 Questions, revealing a secret love of Star Search, a newfound obsession with Marvin Gaye, and how his ideal dinner guest would be… the Keebler Elves.
1. The latest book or movie that made you cry?
The Road by Cormac McCarthy. I can’t wait to see the movie… and a Nick Cave soundtrack? I may cry again.
2. The fictional character most like you?
3. The greatest album, ever?
What’s Going On by Marvin Gaye. I recently saw a PBS special on him, and I was riveted when they got to this part. His voice… and the sound of that group of musicians… is just otherworldly. I just close my eyes and picture him singing in the room and it’s so beautiful. I wish I could have played guitar on this record.
4. Star Trek or Star Wars?
Star Search! Bobbi Brown, and that funny ‘80s dancing? Come on.
5. Your ideal brain food?
CNN. The New York Times. The Spanish signs in my Brooklyn supermarket.
6. You’re proud of this accomplishment, but why?
I made this Hurricane Bells record on the same laptop that I am typing on now. I am proud of it because I made and finished it myself, without anyone asking for it. Just because I wanted to see it done. So there.
7. You want to be remembered for… ?
Looking good in a suit.
8. Of those who’ve come before, the most inspirational are?
M. Ward. Dave Fridmann. T Bone Burnett. Daniel Lanois.
9. The creative masterpiece you wish bore your signature?
The Declaration of Independence.
10. Your hidden talents… ?
11. The best piece of advice you actually followed?
Keep your hands to yourself.
12. The best thing you ever bought, stole, or borrowed?
I bought a computer for my mom three years ago. That still makes her so happy. I stole a beautiful old snare drum from an old landlord I had. That evens the computer thing out. I am borrowing a Neil Young live CD from one of the guys in Longwave and I hope he doesn’t read this and remember.
13. You feel best in Armani or Levis or… ?
14. Your dinner guest at the Ritz would be?
The Keebler Elves!
15. Time travel: where, when and why?
Golden World/Motown Studios, 1970. See “Marvin Gaye”, above.
16. Stress management: hit man, spa vacation or Prozac?
17. Essential to life: coffee, vodka, cigarettes, chocolate, or . . .?
Reese’s peanut butter Christmas trees.
18. Environ of choice: city or country, and where on the map?
I live in New York because I have to. I believe I will live in the country when I am older, playing an old Gibson guitar in a rocking chair on my porch.
19. What do you want to say to the leader of your country?
20. Last but certainly not least, what are you working on, now?
Hurricane Bells B-sides and videos. I have a bunch of these that I am trying to finish by Christmas, for Japan, [the] UK, and who knows what. Also just finished a Scout record. Scout is my friend Ashen’s band and I play guitar. Trying to find a label for that. Finally, I am gonna take a long nap.