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Stevie And The Hi-StaXX Perform Live


Today, we bring you the soulful sounds of Stevie and The Hi-StaXX. We speak to vocalist Stevie Harris about what inspires his music, and about the experience he wants to create for the people who attend The Hi-StaXX live shows.

Stevie and The Hi-StaXX perform every Monday night at Bar Pink, and will be playing at the Pacific Beach Ale House on Friday May, 13th.

Today, we bring you the soulful sounds of Stevie and The Hi-StaXX. We speak to vocalist Stevie Harris about what inspires his music, and about the experience he wants to create for the people who attend The Hi-StaXX live shows.


Stevie Harris, electric guitar and vocals

Tim Felten, organ and Wurlitzer electric piano

Chuck Prada, percussion

Jake Najor, drums

Rick Nash, electric bass

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Transcript Disclaimer

This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

CAVANAUGH: Live music returns to These Days. We'll hear from local band, Stevie and the Hi-StaXX. I'm Maureen Cavanaugh, coming up on These Days, Steve Harris describes his new band as old school soul funk mixed with indie rock. You can make up your mind about the band yourself. May play for us live here at the KPBS studios. Then we'll discuss the latest figures on breast cancer, and address the debate unleashed last year regarding mammograms for women under 40 or under 50. That's all ahead this hour on These Days. First the news.

I'm Maureen Cavanaugh, and you're listening to These Days on KPBS. Making music is more of a vocation than a job. It's more like a passion than a profession. When a musician and his band become a fixture in San Diego, it means years of club dates and live show, and a pure commitment to the music. Steve Harris and his fellow musicians have been making that commitment, not just to live music in San Diego, but to the essence of soul am before we start a conversation, let's hear from Harris's band, Stevie and the Hi-StaXX, playing a song called Pompeii.

(Audio Played)

CAVANAUGH: That was Stevie and the Hi-StaXX, a song called Pompeii. Thank you, guys, that was great. I want to let everyone know who you are, okay? Steve Harris on electric guitar and vocals, Tim Felton, organ and Wurlitzer, electric piano. A familiar name here at KPBS. He used to work as a technical director on edition on morning edition. Chuck Prada on percussion, Jake Major, drums, and Rick Nash, electric base. So how would you describe, Steve, the sound of Stevie and the Hi-StaXX?

HARRIS: Stevie and the Hi-StaXX is my idea of soul mixed with indie rock, you know, punk rock, Southern California lo-fi music fixed with funkadellic funk. Mixed with my, like, Joni Mitchell aspirations. That's a lot of mixing. This is soul rock.

CAVANAUGH: And the name itself is attributed to big labels right?

HARRIS: Yeah. Hi records, Al Green, and a lot of great people, and Stacks records, Otis Redding. I'm trying to spell it differently so they don't sue me.

CAVANAUGH: Now, with all this mixing going on with the Hi-StaXX, it seems to me you probably have a real diverse musical background yourself, is that right?

HARRIS: Oh, yeah. Driving up here, I was thinking about my -- when I was 12, my family had an intervention because I was liking rock and roll music. All my aunts and uncles got together and were, like, really concerned. What are you listening to? What are you doing? They were soul singers. And they taught me at a young age that opening your mind and reaching for something out of your environment can be dangerous to some people, but that danger is probably something you should seek.

CAVANAUGH: Well, it looked like the intervention worked pretty well, right?

HARRIS: Exactly. I'm gonna have to send this tape to my uncle Larry.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Now, a lot of people in San Diego know you, Steve, as the front man for a band called the style tones.

HARRIS: Style tones forever.

CAVANAUGH: Now, how is style tones different from Stevie and the Hi-StaXX?

HARRIS: Style tone system very 1968, James brown reviewish. I'm wearing a white Seuss, and I'm dancing, and the guitar player is way better than me. And it's a show of it's a soul show. Eight-piece band, three-piece horn section. And I'm real particular about our sound, and the era we're like speaking from.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And this is different for one thing, you're playing the guitar.

HARRIS: I play the guitar. I wrote all these songs. And we're playing, like, modern ridiculous and roll sounds, we're playing modern funk sounds, and incorporating hip hop and free jazz and things like that, it's like an Al Green arrangement, like Pompeii.

CAVANAUGH: Right. Exactly. So these are all original songs.


CAVANAUGH: With the Hi-StaXX.


CAVANAUGH: That's a big difference.

HARRIS: It's a big difference. Style tones has original songs also. We're just completing our album. We gotta record four more songs, so stick around. Style Tones of. And music's just a beautiful thing. It's a beautiful clique that I'm part of it, I'm thankful. [CHECK AUDIO] the fire eat are, and it's a beautiful, artistic clique, and we just need to make music, you know?

CAVANAUGH: I want to talk to you more about making music here in San Diego. And how you do that, and how you survive. But I want to ask you to play another song for us, if you would. I think you're gonna may a song called Tend Your Flowers?

HARRIS: That's right. I'll Tend Your Flowers.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Okay. This is Stevie and the Hi-StaXX.

(Audio Recording Played).

CAVANAUGH: That's I'll Tend Your Flowers with Stevie and the Hi-StaXX performing. And once again, that's Steve Harris, Tim Fulton, chuck Prada, Jake major, and Rick Nash. That was pretty.

HARRIS: Thank you. I wrote that for my number. I thought his wife had left him, and she used to tend the flowers on the balcony we share. And I noticed all the flowers were dying. So I was, like, wow, I think she might have left.

CAVANAUGH: That's heart breaking.

HARRIS: Right, so right away, I knew, whoa, that's definitely a song. But she was just on vacation.

CAVANAUGH: Oh, she was just on vacation. I'm glad you told us.

HARRIS: But I already wrote the song. So it sticks.

CAVANAUGH: So, it's good. It's good inspiration, right? Now, I'm wondering, what kind of experience do you want to create for people who attend your show, Steve?

HARRIS: I want to create a spiritual experience, you know? With the dynamics in replay, really slow song, really fast songs, really ugly song, really beautiful song, and I'm trying, to, like, jar people's emotions and senses so they can lose them. You know, in a nonsexual, in a non, you know, libational way.

CAVANAUGH: Nonlibational. I like that.

HARRIS: You know what I mean?

CAVANAUGH: Sure, yeah.

HARRIS: So I do this in bars but that's what I'm doing. I'm trying to help you reach that vibration, to get some oneness.

CAVANAUGH: Now you told, you said that there was a time that you wanted to uplift humanity with your music. Is that still your goal?

HARRIS: That's still my goal. I mean, I definitely get confused and I definitely sometimes forget that's what I'm doing. But luckily, I write these songs and I record them, so I forget what I say and I forget what I think. But I don't usually listen to them. But when I complain to my friends, they usually play one of my songs for me, and you said to do this, so why aren't you doing this? So that's kind of my thing right now. I'm turning 40 on Thursday. Which I probably shouldn't say. And that's my goal is to listen to myself.

CAVANAUGH: What's it like being a musician in San Diego? How hard is that?

HARRIS: It's hard. But it's also easy. It's easy because of musicians, because of Jake and Rick and Tim, and you know, it's easy because there are guys that are, like, at the top level. You know? And they're willing to give their heart and soul to play my songs with me, and I really appreciate that. It's hard to make some money.

CAVANAUGH: Yeah, that's what I mean. Well, yeah, I'm glad you answered it that way because that's really the root of everything of that's the heart of it. But how easy is it to or how hard is it to survive?

HARRIS: I mean, it's pretty hard to survive. I'm in this band, I'm in the style tones. I play acoustic also, which ironically makes the most money when I play alone acoustic. So you gotta work your hustle, and you gotta decide this is what you want to do, and you can't be afraid, and you gotta move forward with it, you know?

CAVANAUGH: If anybody wants to chime in, please let me know. But let me ask you Steve, first off, do people basically say, you know, you're kind of crazy doing this. You have could be doing other things and earning huge amounts of money.

HARRIS: My mother says it, my mother-in-law says it, I should have given this up a long time ago. But I didn't. So let's do this. Let's make some music, make some art, and this is what I'm leaving to my children. This is it. I might not be able to afford to buy a house. But I'm gonna write these song, I'm gonna make these records, and that's that.

CAVANAUGH: Is the San Diego music scene, the musicians and the people who frequent the clubs, are they really supportive? Is this a good place to play?

HARRIS: Oh, yeah. People really love music in San Diego. They really love it, and they really come out for it, and they tell you and they come up to you, and hold your hand and tell you what your song or the experience meant to them, you know what I mean? I've been blessed to be playing regular gigs. And people know where to come find us. And it's a family. You know? It's a communion. And that's what we're trying to create. And I think people feel that, you know? They come out and they give back to us with their presence and with their love and with their acknowledgment that what you're doing is worth something.

CAVANAUGH: Well, I want to ask you what you're gonna be doing next with both bands. But first I want to ask you to play another song, okay?

HARRIS: Sure sure.

CAVANAUGH: This one, tell us with this one of sweet thing.

HARRIS: This song is sweet thing. And sweet thing is the soul, you know? I'm trying to wake up my soul. The sweetest part of my soul, the part of compassion. You know what I mean? The part that wants to be a giver. I'm trying to wake that part up. Every day. It's difficult for all of us. So this song is about compassion, the soul, the better side of you, trying to make that light the side that you put out to the world. Trying to wake up my sweet thing to come and rescue me.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Here is sweet thing, with Stevie and the Hi-StaXX.

(Audio Recording Played).

CAVANAUGH: That was fabulous. Thank you. Thank you so much. We are just about out of time. I want to thank Steve, tim, chuck, Jake, Rick. Thanks a lot. I really appreciate it. Stevie and the Hi-StaXX perform every Friday night at bar pink and will be playing at the Pacific beach ale house on Friday, May 14th. If you want more information, you can go to Days. We'll link to Steve's website. Thanks again.

HARRIS: Thank you.

CAVANAUGH: You're listening to These Days on KPBS.


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