Sam Stevens: World5: The James Bond of the Musical World
The members of World5 are based in Sweden, U.S., New Zealand and England, and include: Raimund Breitfeld on the drums, Jimmy Olsson playing bass, Joe Gavito on guitars, Steffen Goeres on guitar and trumpet and Sam Stevens on lead vocals. They consider their music mainly for adults playing soft rock, pop and adult contemporary with a splash of espionage dream pop.
Louder than War spoke with Sam Stevens, the newest member of band, who resides in Nottingham, and can easily be mistaken for Robin-hood, or at least one of his Chivalrous Merry Men….
So you are in Nottingham now?
That’s it, I’m in not to sunny Nottingham. It’s been raining all day. The music scene here is fantastic, it really is. Apart from playing with bands and doing the whole big club thing and so on, I love doing things like the open mic, not quite like Ed Sheeran, it’s more grown up than that, and doing solo things.
So what have you done in your life that stands out in your mind right away? What is the coolest thing you’ve ever done?
I played on stage with Prince.
That is really awesome!
In Minneapolis there is an area called the Five Corners. Anyway, I’m a massive, massive Prince fan. When the guys came over here in 88 I think it was, I made friends with Tommy Elms who is a stage hand, purely because he mistook me for Paul Peterson who use to be in the Family. Wrong guy, but I look the same. We struck up a friendship. So I went to Minneapolis a few times and hung out in various clubs. There is a bar over there which is like a big pub, called Bunkers, in the Five Corners. It’s where Michael Bland who was the drummer for Prince and Tommy Barbarella and a few of the others use to keep themselves busy. Prince use to have them on call. So they use to play in this band, Margie Cox was the singer. Tommy asked me to step up in the back and play a little guitar. I was star struck with the rest of the band. They were all great, I fell in love with them. So I was standing in the back, playing a few chords, to “Just My Imagination”. I think this was set up, Tommy sort of did it as a wind up for me, really. I was 16 bars into the beginning, and the doors opened. A load of bouncers, huge guys, 7-8 feet tall came in. Then Prince comes in and he picked his tiny little guitar up, he got on stage and played the lead solo that he always played for ” Just Your Imagination”. He throw his guitar up in the air for 30 seconds and walked out.
That’s definitely one of the coolest stories ever.
I couldn’t speak! I could not speak! There are some lovely, really sweet people I’ve met through the years. I’ve always been that guy. I’ve always been “why not”, and it’s lead me to some great places and I’ve met some great people. Not just celebrities. Celebrities are their own thing. Apart from the Prince situation I’m not a star struck kind of person. If you approach life with a really positive attitude then you can meet the most wonderful people. Someone near the bus stop that you talk about the war with, to anyone, even young kids.
So I want to talk about your single, “I Won’t Let You Down”, it’s so James Bond.
That’s exactly what we intended. Basically, I’ve done lots of music, played session guitar and stuff. My dad was a jazz guitarist, so I’ve been in music for a long time. I got through the 80’s, I managed to survive. I still remember most of it. They say if you can remember the 80’s then you weren’t there. Which is when I met people like Adam Ant, the Spandau Ballet guys, and Steve Strange, all in the same sort of scene if you’d like. I did the whole sort of 80’s thing. Then my mother always told me to get a proper job. So I survived the 80’s. My mum is great. She’s only about 5 feet tall now, but she’s amazing. She keeps me in line. Then I started working in the city. I’ve always been a musician no matter what. I’ve always been writing and recording and doing sessions. I’ve done guitar sessions for people like Jamiroquai, Sinead O’Connor, lots of people. You know it’s only one session. You turn up in the studio, you’re only there for a few hours, then you leave. All interweaved during this time, I was still going to gigs, especially Prince and stuff.
Just for the record, I loved Prince too.
He was amazing. Like I said, I made friends with the band, with Tommy and some guys from the band. We used to have to wait until 3 in the morning until they came on, dressed and looking super. We looked like tramps. We came on looking absolutely angelic…..
So, I got to the point where I was working constantly recording and playing, and I started my company. I’m an interior designer. I design schools, primary schools. I’ve got a nice car, I’ve got a nice home and all that stuff. So what do I do with what’s left over? Every year for the past six or seven I take a few weeks off and go to the studio and I record an album. There is a load of legacy material. It just so happens that last October I went to a really wonderful studio. Did you ever hear of a plane called Karma Sound Studios in Thailand?
Amazing place. I went there and I recorded an album. The track “I Won’t Let You Down” was on that recording. It was purely for my own entertainment. I put it on SoundCloud and reverb nation. Music business managers like Simon Napier Bell have been trying to get me to do various versions of contemporary pop, (including game disco and Thai pop), well using my galaxy small focal is some kind of Nuevo Leonard Cohen. I make the decision to just do the music I like for the people that I like. Getting to a certain age and still having a child like drive and excitement for music as well as having my own design business so I don’t have to sacrifice change or what I do for the money is very liberating. Ray, the German guy phoned me up. He had heard the track and said to me, “You want to be in this band”? I didn’t know if it was a question or an order. He’s quite aggressive when he talks but he’s fun. So I said “Yes, let’s do that”. I asked him how we would do that if he were in Sweden. He said, ” don’t worry, the others are farther away”. We’ve got one in New Zealand, one in Texas, a German and a guy in Sweden, and me in the UK. The idea was really to decide what sort of song we wanted to write because each of us have got so many musical styles. Ray is into TOTO, and all those American rock stars. I am of course into Gary Numan, Brian Ferry, and Bowie, and all the UK stuff. That’s my thing, with a little Prince lead guitar here and there. It was kind of an interesting thing to try and find the style that suited everybody. So Ray said let’s try recording, “I Won’t Let You Down” because they really liked the single. I kept my original vocals which I recorded in Thailand and re-did all the instruments. It was pretty similar to the original but it had all the new World5 players on it. Bobby Collins at The Spectra Music Group said he really liked it, and wanted to record an album with the band. The Spectra Music Group has been amazing. They are really decent people. When you speak to other musicians sometimes you hear that the record companies didn’t do this or they didn’t do that. I would think they have a different understanding then your standard sort of SONY that are pop oriented. They understand the people of our genre. Just to put our kind of music out there is a great thing really. We did that and as they say, the rest is history. So what we did with it….I can write an album in a week because it puts me into a mindset. I write like crazy. I just started writing stuff I know and love with the rest of the band. We found an area that will work really well together. We are still doing it for the buzz and excitement and producing for people like us who feel that contemporary pop is not for us. We’d rather go see Adam Ant, Spandau ballet, Gary Numan and ABC rather than Arianna Grande or Ed Sheeran. I think when you were young their is music that grips you and there can be many reasons that music speaks to you and touches you, it’s the genre that stays with you and almost defines you at the core… So, why try and change just because someone else in the business says so? I’ve never been very good at following orders. I must say it’s been a revelation and very refreshing to work with the World5 guys who feel the same as I do creating music through file sharing as a melting pot of all our ideas and influences.
Do you plan to tour with this band?
I’m going to set the tours up and make cardboard copies of the others, and bring them along. The idea really is to finish the album. We’ve got another couple of singles to do. The idea really is instead of trying to do to make loads of money….I have my own business and make money, I’m just in this to have a great time, meet a lot of great people, and a place to do music. I still feel 21 and certainly have no problem with the creativity, energy levels and enthusiasm regarding music, as you know I can talk relentlessly and excitedly about it for hours. Equally there are people out there in their lives that will absolutely light up when they hear a piece of music that resonates with them and I’m sure you have seen it. “OMG!! I Love this one”…. that’s because it connects with them and you’ll see them transported back to being 21 in a moment. That’s what I’d like to be doing with World5 and the sounds we are creating. Whilst we see the fantastic Adam Ant, Spandau Ballet, Heaven 17, ABC, etc touring it’s not a revival, it’s just that bus for them and their fans, people that like that stuff, it never goes away. It’s a part of what makes us who we are. So, to all the bright young pop things and MUSIC managers who are chasing the buck for it, that is your choice, but leave us the ones with more just concerning taste to enjoy what we like, the music that gives us a buzz.
Age is just a number.
Absolutely and as long as you have that sort of idea, you can keep going, because hey…what else are we going to do?
You guys live so far apart, do you even talk to one another?
Yeah, I get strange calls in all different times of the night. We talk constantly. I really like those fellows. They are such nice fellows.
Did you ever meet them in person?
No, I’ve only met Ray before. I’ve only been in the same room as Ray, and that was a really weird experience. I traveled to Sweden and they stayed in his house. Do you know the program Little House on the Prairie? They’ve got the Swedish version of those. So I stayed there for the weekend. My room was in the eaves, like the attic. It’s 7 o’clock in the morning I heard knock, knock, knock on the window and it wouldn’t stop. So I went down and it was a seagull, the biggest seagull I’d ever seen. Every morning this seagull knocks on the window and they feed the seagull. They had fallen asleep and I was in the room that they were normally in. So the seagull was trying to wake me up to get fed.
If you could give the world advice, what would you say?
Keep it going. Here’s one thing. I like to encourage new artists. Younger people. My daughter is 17 now, she’s like 6 foot tall and gorgeous. I look at people and when they get to their 30s or 40s and they haven’t made it some people get depressed and disenchanted. I always say if you had any success in your early years remember, now you’ve got more experience but you’re still the same exact person you were then. All that stuff that made you successful way back then you still have, it’s still in there. Just some people forget to look for it, forget to find it as well as keep going. Just tap into the real you. Sometimes when you’re younger it’s the excitement of being younger, that vivaciousness of life and how creative you are that makes you who you are. It’s actually still in there for every single person. Just keep searching for it it’s still there.
Follow World5 on Twitter @World5Music
All words by Eileen Shapiro. More of Eileen’s writing can be found in her author’s archive.