Now/It's: An Interview with Towne (Steevie Steeves, Jon Decious)

We're headed into a holiday weekend, but that doesn't mean any sort of slow down for us on the site. Rather than settling down, we're gearing up, as we run headfirst into spring with plenty of new and invigorating interviews. We're running the full gamut of folks in town, and we're so incredibly excited to kick off our Spring run of interviews with none other than Steevie Steeves and Jon Decious, otherwise known as Towne. The duo spurns genre classification (as it really is a frivolous endeavor) and industry conformity altogether. They've taken it upon themselves to navigate the waters between the two of them for as long as possible, and it looks to have already produced some great results. Coming off of the first of four single releases for 2018, Towne are set to make strides in 2018 after a few bumps in the road (if you will), most notably with the duo's upcoming single, "Camouflage," out April 6th. We cover some interesting topics, including how the duo operates despite only being a two-piece, horseback riding, and why they release music the in small bursts than one piece resistance. All in all, a great way to kick off your holiday weekend, and a nice look at what's to come for Towne throughout the rest of 2018.

Now/It's met with Towne at Barista Parlor Golden Sound, in the Gulch neighborhood of Nashville.

N/I - How’s it going?

Jon - It’s good. We got here a little early to catch up on some work stuff.

N/I - Right on.

Steevie - We’re making a Spotify playlist….

Jon - And all that good stuff.

N/I - That’s right. Is this the van one? Van jams?

Steevie - That was last week’s.

N/I - So this is a different one, then?

Steevie - Yeah. It’s rock n roll.

Jon - We’re trying.

N/I - So that’s just you guys, then? Was it something you started? Or something someone suggested you put together?

Jon - It was just us. We put a few songs on there depending on whatever we liked while we were doing things that week. We did a photoshoot yesterday, and [Steevie] had a [Rolling] Stones shirt on, and we got a picture, and we thought “Oh shit. Let’s make a playlist based off of that.”

N/I - Cool. So are you guys pretty much running everything yourselves - just the two of you?

Jon - Yep.

N/I - I would imagine that’s preferable for now.

Jon - Yeah…. Well….

Steevie - It’s really kind of nice to have.

N/I - I apologize - I realize in asking that, it may lead to some very strange avenues, because it is a business, after all. For example, it’s something that I don’t even have to consider on my end.

Jon - We had a manager up until three days before Thanksgiving, and we just had to kind of let it go. And everything good that has ever come from what we’ve done, is from putting ourselves out there and representing ourselves, because we’re better than anybody at doing that.

N/I - Sure.

Jon - So whenever the right person comes along, we’re all about hopping onboard with that, but the last thing kind of got a little….

N/I - Things can get harried sometimes.

Steevie - It’s a good thing to not have anyone else navigating your opinion of yourself. I think it’s been kind of nice. My advice to other bands would be to do the same thing - take control of your social media, and put yourself out there, and figure it out. That way, once it’s figured out, it’s so much easier [laughs].

N/I - That makes sense.

Jon - We’re at a point in our career where the worst thing you can do is overthink shit. The more people you have….

N/I - The more likely that is to happen.

Jon - You wind up with more opinions. They’ve got this opinion. You have yours. But really, until we figure it out, there’s no possible way you could ever know what is right. Honestly, the only wrong thing to do is to overthink it.

Steevie - That can throw everything off.

Jon - You just have to shoot from the hip and just go, because those are your natural instincts, because you find out who you are by doing that. Then you learn what you did wrong, and what you did right.

N/I - So how do you guys keep yourselves motivated, then? You’re touring, you’ve got business obligations, you have playlists - that’s a lot.

Steevie - Once you figure out how to do it in a fun way, it doesn’t feel like a job. Like [Jon] said, when you stop over-guessing, things figure themselves out. And we love engaging with our fans personally, so it’s nice to post something and see the response in real time. That’s a pretty cool innovation.

Jon - It’s the whole reason you do the thing.

N/I - Right. So have you guys seen that kind of interaction on the video you put out recently?

Jon - On Friday.

N/I - I guess it was Friday. That’s a good point.

Steevie - [Laughs] It’s Monday.

N/I - I lose track so easily, in terms of two days being just two days, not necessarily Friday, Saturday, etc. But that’s beside the point.

Steevie - We’re with you. We know how that is. Because we weren’t on the road this weekend, so this weekend - we finally had a warm Saturday - but it felt like a lazy Sunday. I kept thinking that things were going to close early, but it turned out it was Saturday. I had no idea it was St. Patrick’s Day.

Jon - Well our week gets so fucked up, because typically, you’re playing shows on weekends, but this past week, we were in Pennsylvania doing a radio thing on Monday, and we were in New York City Tuesday, doing this show, and then we did this other thing on Wednesday. So it felt like Friday, Saturday, Sunday and then once we got home on the weekend, we were like “What’s going on?”

Steevie - [Points at shirt] I love this shirt.

N/I - [Points at Jon’s shirt] Well I see Jon likes illustrative shirts as well.

Steevie - I like both of them. [To Jon] You need to get this one.

N/I - I’m a sucker for very, very graphic shirts - graphic in the sense of design…..

Jon - [Laughs] Right.

N/I - That will sound very bad out of context.

Jon - [Jokingly] I’ve got one with some hardcore on it.

Steevie - [Laughing] Oh my god.

N/I - I’ve unintentionally derailed this into a conversation on kink. Just kidding. Graphic design. Geez.

Steevie - [Laughing] Oh no.

N/I - Anyway, let’s see if we can’t pick this back up from where it went of the rails [laughs]. You guys seem to have a pretty good rapport with each other, at least in sense of humor. Has that strengthened since the post-Thanksgiving developments? I would imagine being a duo isn’t too rocky? Or maybe it is.

 Steevie Steeves

Steevie Steeves

Steevie - We’ve had our moments. We’re with each other every day. And we create.

Jon - Well, we used to date, so you could say a lot of things to your exes that you don’t hang out with that you couldn’t say to just regular people. Anyone who wasn’t there with you.

Steevie - We’re like an old married couple. So much love.

N/I - Right. But there’s not the toxicity from other aspects of being in a relationship.

Jon - Exactly.

Steevie - We’ve always had the same goals from the very beginning - that’s why it’s worked out so well. A lot of people will view music as a hobby, but we’ve never viewed it like that. It was “the thing.” We’re always on the same playing field, always. So it makes it really easy on the band.

N/I - Well the way you guys met, through the Skip Ewing songwriting…. AND horse riding.

Jon - Horse and writer.

Steevie - So, so clever [laughs].

N/I - I thought it was interesting. Are you guys big equestrian people?

Steevie - No.

Jon - No. So actually, I grew up on a farm in Kentucky.

Steevie - I kind of did too, in Pennsylvania.

Jon - But the thing with me - we had horses and all that - but every time I would go around them, I would wind up in the emergency room, because I was so allergic to them. It was awful. My head would swell up like a pumpkin. Every couple months I would be back in the ER. So whenever I applied to go to this thing, the worst fear I had - I’m a pretty fearless guys in general, I do a lot of dumb shit - but I thought, if we’re going to be in the very middle of nowhere, and I have to go to the hospital, I’m fucked. I am so fucked. Because there was nothing. We were in the middle of a Marlboro commercial. In the mountains.

Steevie - But you didn’t die!

Jon - Well, you know, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve grown out of certain allergies, and some just aren’t as bad. Cats for whatever reason are still bad, but dogs not so. So I hoped horses would wind up being the same way, otherwise I was screwed. But I went out there and was totally, totally fine.

N/I - Well that’s a massive relief.

Steevie - It was funny, because when we signed up for that thing - we didn’t know each other before, we met out there - you have to fill out this paper that asks for your level experience as a rider….

Jon - Because they put you with different horses.

Steevie - Well they put you with different groups. I said I was good to go, just because I had rode horses before. But the horse that I rode growing up was super old and chill - she would go around the perimeter of the fence, touching it with her tail.

N/I - Like a tactile thing?

Steevie - Right. She would never buck me off. Nothing like that. So they put me with this brand new horse that was new to the whole group, and it was wild as fuck, and it was trying to buck me off the whole time. He wanted to be the leader of the whole group, because he was new, and I was shitting my pants the whole time. They said I could switch horses, but then I thought we had bonded in a way. Even though he was trying to buck me off.

Jon - I’d say that was pretty indicative of how he felt about the relationship.

Steevie - The moral of the story is that I totally lied on my horse resume. Anyway, so that was a whole other thing.

N/I - The horse aspect of the writer’s retreat. So that was where you guys met - that’s been pretty well covered - but how long until you guys got together to form what has now come to be known as Towne? I’d imagine there’s some adjusting to get there.

Steevie - Yeah. We started off writing a lot of music together, and then we started the same band, but with a different name. We went out into the world as the “Devious Angels,” which is really funny when I think about it, because we were trying to combine our names - his last name is Decious and my last name is Steeves - so we were trying to figure out what word you could make up, and so we got “Devious.”

Jon - Plus, “Steevius” is not a word.

Steevie - We were way overthinking at that point. We went out as that for a while, and it was super country music, just because we were really getting to know the craft of songwriting together, which brought out a lot of country influence, and then it started morphing and becoming more confident. We were more realized in our styles of music, and that’s when things started to move in a different direction. It wasn’t country - it was little left of center.

N/I - Why do you think you guys started out so country?

Steevie - I’ll say a little bit and then let Jon go - but how we met, the guy who put on that whole thing is a big country singer.

N/I - Right, he’s done some Reba songs and some others.

Jon - Kenny Chesney, “You Had Me From Hello,” Randy Travis was basically Skip Ewing’s catalog.

Steevie - And I was basically writing with a lot of country songwriters at the time, and I love writing country music - I think it’s some of the most well written stuff ever - and when I met Jon, he was so country when I met him. He had some really great mentors who were great in the country music scene, so I think that’s where it really started. That was our big initial thing in common. [To Jon] Is that it [laughs]?

Jon - From where I was, I was having a lot of luck in the beginning, just Forrest Gump-ing my way through life writing songs and getting heard by this guy who happened to be a Hall of Famer, and somehow they all liked me and wanted to work with me. So it kind of made sense, it was working, and then here came this really great singer, time to bring her into the fold, not necessarily thinking I should be writing for the singer versus writing for the songs. Because that’s what you do, you have the songs, but you don’t really know what’s happening until you’re most of the way through it. And the biggest shift was writing songs for your lead singer - that was the big shift for me - you’re still writing great songs, that’s the goal, but remember who you’re writing for, because you actually have a singer, as opposed to just writing a song you hope a great singer winds up singing. You just have to remember what you got.

N/I - Sure. That makes sense.

Jon - That was where the shift change was for me, personally. And that’s where the Towne thing became. It was a mixture of all those years….

Steevie - Of country-fied

Jon - Fleshing it out where everyone is like “I like what you do, but I don’t know what genre you guys are. It’s kind of rock, and it’s kind of pop, and it’s kind of country, but it’s none of those.” It was actually our old keyboard player who came up with it - he said “People ask me, and I say it’s like town music.”

Steevie - So that’s pretty much how we wound up changing our name to Towne.

N/I - That makes sense. So you guys are going to have a new LP out soon?

Jon - Just the EP.

Steevie - Just for now. We’re creating all the time, and hopefully a full length is in our future, as an artist we would love that, but we want to do what’s in demand. I think once we have enough fans who would actually dig a full length, that’s the goal.

 Jon Decious

Jon Decious

Jon - That’s what I see - we have so many friends who are doing this thing - and I’ve been in bands before, but you see a lot of people just wind up wasting a lot of money on full lengths, because they don’t have the demand, there’s not a demand for one song, two songs, much less ten. So we’re going about it like that. Singles releases and then we’ll package four into an EP and keep touring. I’ve said it forever, and Steevie can attest, putting out an LP is a lot like playing New York City, or South by Southwest - you’ll know when your time is there. Otherwise it’s a pain in your ass. People will let you know when it’s time to put out an LP, you won’t have to guess. Should we? Should we not? We won’t know until we know.

N/I - So there wasn’t much animus between the two of you in terms of one wanting singles versus an LP, or some outside entity suggesting otherwise?

Steevie - We do what’s natural. It’s always been what’s natural.

Jon - What we can afford.

[All laugh]

N/I - Margins are a very realistic aspect of all that.

Steevie - We do things in a very reasonable way.

Jon - We’re fiscally responsible, Steevie makes sure of it. She might as well have one of those poker hats on while doing the taxes.

N/I - The little green visors?

Steevie - [Joking] “Now looking at this month’s data….”

Jon - “Do you have the receipt for 9/12/17?”

Steevie - [Laughing] So mean.

N/I - So you guys handle absolutely everything then.

Steevie - We have a business manager.

Jon - Steevie does not trust anybody.

Steevie - I never trust anybody.

N/I - So you track everything for the hell of it anyway?

Steevie - I do everything, I make sure we’re all up to date and everything. Because, in my experience - even with my bank - looking at records, you can see something is wrong there. It happens sometimes. You’re suddenly like “Where did $2,000 go?”

N/I - You lose $2,000, that’s definitely an instance to ask, that’s not chump change. Or maybe it is, I don’t know?

Steevie - Okay, well I’ll say $2 then [laughs]. But a lot of things can get overlooked, and accidents happen when it comes to money. So if I’m able to keep track of stuff, I think everybody should. Because it’s your money. It’s your way to survive in this world. We have it down pat, now. I’ve know [Jon] now for what?

Jon - Seven years?

Steevie - Seven years. And you start getting into your own habits and start realizing the other’s talents and abilities. He answers all the emails, I double check them.

N/I - Like spell check?

Steevie - I just make sure there’s no miscommunication.

Jon - That every question is asked that we need answers to. Stuff like that. So we’re a pretty good gear, now. That’s half the battle, dude. Probably more than half. It’s a lot. If we’re able to work together and run it somewhat business like…

Steevie - And have the care and the want to. It’s so much of it.

N/I - Absolutely. So have you guys finished this next EP?

Jon - Yeah. It’s all done.

N/I - But you haven’t released all of the songs yet, how many have you put out?

Steevie - Just one.

N/I - So what’s next on that agenda?

Steevie - Like what’s the next song?

N/I - What’s the next song? What’s after that? Because you had the video come out this past Friday….

Steevie - Right. Of us walking down the street.

Jon - Slow-mo.

N/I - Was that just one straight tracking shot?

Steevie - All the way, one take. Why not?

Jon - Yeah. So we’re coming out with our next single, it’s called “Camouflage.” It’ll be out April 6th.

Steevie - And we’re about to shoot a music video this week. We still have no idea what we’re doing for that.

Jon - But we took pictures yesterday!

Steevie - We’re doing something. But the song is really cool. I think it has the potential to reach people in a cool way. I’m proud of it. And I can’t wait for the next song to come out. We just love putting out music.

N/I - Absolutely. That’s what you guys have set out to do in the first place.

Jon - Well that was kind of the whole thing, in terms of our entire last year. You rewind a little bit, and the end of 2016, we wound up getting publishing deals and this artist development deal, because we had put out an EP by ourselves, and it had garnered a little bit of attention. So we spent all of last year having recorded these four sides, in February, and we were all excited, and wanted to release music to get on a schedule of release, release, release. But we were told in a not so subtle way that these songs will never see the light of day, just because of the - and in hindsight, it was probably the right call - we love the songs, but the production didn’t sound the way it needed to.

N/I - Just a general EQ issue?

Jon - Exactly. The particular production didn’t make sense for us. So our entire last year was really thrown a wrench with that happening, and we had to regroup. But we fell in with some new producers and they turned into really good friends, which led to cutting four new sides. So that is now what’s finally coming out. Things have been a grind, because we had all this momentum going, but if you don’t release music, it’s gone. So this year was maybe not square one, but it feels like some version of that. We’re just so excited to get back at it.

N/I - It’s a reintroduction of sorts. You weren’t gone completely, but this is the most realized version of Towne.

Steevie - Well you know, you fail - and we don’t see it so much as a failure - but it’s like building a house for somebody and having them say they don’t like it. You still built the house.

N/I - But they don’t like a particular shade of yellow on the walls or something.

Steevie - And that’s okay. That’s fine. We didn’t see it as a step back, we saw it as an opportunity to be better.

N/I - Absolutely. So tell me a little bit more about “Camouflage.” It’s a word with plenty of different connotations and interpretations surrounding it.

Steevie - Right. It’s definitely not a hunting song.

N/I - Sure. We can eliminate that one then.

Steevie - It’s not about rifles and deer. Not so much that. But this song is what I guess we would call the “Steevie song.” It showcases a moment in time about how I felt at one point. For me, it’s about being in a relationship where you’re so incredibly in love with this other person, but the fire has died somewhere. It’s a relationship where you can be the best version of yourself, but someone still doesn’t see you as who you want them to see you as. And that’s in any light. You could get dressed to the nines, and that person might look past you, and it hurts your feelings, like “What the fuck?”

N/I - A war of attrition.

Steevie - Yeah! That’s way better than what I was trying to say. I don’t use words like that. But the more I sing it, it kind of has a new meaning in the industry, because us girls have a little bit more of a fight to get any attention. So sometimes when I’m singing the song live, it’s almost like I’m singing it to the audience, where I’m asking “Do you see me? I must be wearing camouflage, because I’m not sure if you even give a shit that I’m up here.” So that’s what the song is. I think it’s easily relatable. Sometimes, when we’re in the writing room, I feel like if I’ve been through something, surely other people have. I’m not some sort of strange bird from planet Mars.

Jon - No, you’re supposed to be from Venus.

Steevie - That’s right. Sorry. So I think the song will be an anthem for how girls and guys feel. It’s a girl’s point of view, so maybe it’s a little more relatable to women and all that, but I think it’ll be a really cool introduction to another side of us.

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