How Delicate Steve Really Started
Delicate Steve had his first bio written by Chuck Klosterman, quite the honor, but it wasn't Steve's story. We gave Steve the chance at his autobiography. Delicate Steve's Positive Force is out now on Luaka Bop
» Forget the Azerrads and Klostermans. We let Steve tell it like it is.
Photo by Joe Appaluccio
If you think you know about Delicate Steve from the internet, you could be wrong. The one shot I had to tell the tale, in the form of a band bio, was hijacked by author Chuck Klosterman. He did a great job fabricating fascinating stories without having ever spoken to me. It was a PR tactic I was fully on board with. Band bios are boring. I know I wouldn't want to read about how someone made some music in their bedroom, because it's not that exciting. But I feel like there are some things I've done in the first quarter century of my life that Chuck might have included if he knew about them.
The beginning of my extraordinary experiences took place in Pennsylvania in 2000. I was 13 then, had never been away from home for more than a few days, and found myself sleeping in a Sibley (basically a twelve foot high tipi) for two weeks, riding horses through the battlefields of Gettysburg, starting the day at 6 AM with a run, rock climbing and repelling (and losing my fear of heights), hiking, white water rafting, spending a night in the middle of the woods by myself on what is called a 'solo', meeting lifelong friends…etc. It was Kid's Quest, which is a program my uncle's company Vision Quest offers for the children of the employees every summer.
Perhaps it was one of the most defining experiences of my life. It's hard to convey to someone who didn't have a similar experience at such a young age what it actually does to you. And how it shapes you years from the actual experience. I can tell you that it helped inspire me to do things like a 50 day cross-country road trip, visiting and camping in 16 National Parks across the US when I turned 20. I've been to the bottom of the Grand Canyon three times now, most recently as a staff member on a Kid's Quest, taking kids as young as AGE SEVEN to the bottom. These kids will all live extraordinary lives! Even if it takes them years for the experience to sink in…
Any way, although at the time I hated the morning P.T., I've grown to love running and biking and exercise. Within the past 3 years I've done two half-marathons, two 100-mile bike races, and a duathlon.
A love for adventure also materialized years later, as I learned (or was forced) to break out of my comfort zone at a young age. Most recently I took a trip to India by myself to travel around the country for a month. I've always been interested in India ever since a friend of mine started telling me years ago that I needed to go there. At that time I was just getting into meditation, initially for the physical benefit of improved concentration while playing guitar in my band from high school. Over the last 5 or so years I've had great experiences getting deeper into the power of meditating and am still on that path.
In between of all this, music has been the thread which keeps my life held together. My dream was to be in a band: to tour the world, be on a record label, make albums, have fans, be a rock star…
Generally, I've followed a disappointing musical experience--like my band from high school getting dropped from Warner Brothers, our record getting shelved, and eventually breaking up--with an extraordinary experience--the 50-day cross country road trip--always returning to music but never having the feeling of a wholly committed attitude towards it, out of both fear and frustration.
The summer of 2009 was another life changer. In late August, while in peak physical shape, 3 days before my first 100-mile bike ride and a week before my first triathlon, I woke up early in the morning feeling like I was having a heart attack. After being rushed to the ER, I found out that I had pericarditis, which is an inflammation of the membrane surrounding the heart. The cause of my pericarditis is still unknown and I've had it two additional times since then.
The event--not knowing whether or not I was about to die, having no idea if my heart was going to stop working--is something that puts your life into immediate perspective. Just breathing becomes enjoyable. When you are not worrying about anything because you are alive, simply waking up, walking, spending time outdoors, being with loved ones, and eating food all bring so much pleasure that you don't need to think about anything else.
During my recovery period I re-evaluated my life. I got deeper into meditation, reading, and goal-setting. I started to plot my return to exercise, setting goals for my first 10-mile run, half marathon, and 100-mile bike ride. I also performed a 3-day fast, and tried to read 23 books before turning 24, among other smaller goals.
Then one day, everything clicked for me. The feeling of being committed to music happened almost instantly, and during a time when I wasn't focused on any musical endeavors. With this feeling came a surge of creative energy.
On October 22, 2009, I was in Washington D.C. visiting a friend. That afternoon, in between completing my first ever 10-mile run that morning and seeing the Dirty Projectors at the Black Cat that evening, I had this feeling that I would record an album. I don't know how to describe it with more detail than that. It was a very simple feeling.
The next day, I began recording Wondervisions, long before I had the name for the album, and without any expectation of it materializing into anything. I was just making songs. I set a goal to finish the album in one month and self-release it. Soon after that I began sending the record out to labels and playing shows with the band, with a total sense of commitment for the first time in my life. Here I am three years later.
Delicate Steve is on tour:
08 Burlington, VT - Signal Kitchen
09 Waltham, MA - Brandeis University
10 Montreal, QB - Club Lambi
11 Toronto, ON - Black Box Theater
12 Detroit, MI - TBD
13 Chicago, IL - Beat Kitchen ~
14 Omaha, NE - Slowdown @
15 Denver, CO- Moe's~
16 Fort Collins, CO - GNU: Experience Gallery ~
18 Boise, ID - Neurolux ~
19 Portland, OR - Mississippi Studios ~
20 Seattle, WA - Vera Project ~
21 Vancouver BC - Waldorf Hotel ~
23 San Francisco, CA - Rickshaw~
24 Los Angeles CA - TBD
25 San Diego, CA - Soda Bar
26 Tucson, AZ - Plush
28 Austin, TX - Mohawk Inside
29 New Orleans, LA - Circle Bar
01 Charlottesville, VA - Twisted Tea Branch Bazaar
02 Philadelphia, PA - PhilaMOCA*
^ Gypsy Wig ~ Dana Buoy (Akron Family)
@Dana Buoy (Akron Family), UuVvWwZ