Hailing from Pennsylvania and Kentucky respectively, Nashville- based duo TOWNE - Steevie Steeves and Jon Decious - crossed paths far away from home at Skip Ewing’s Horse and Writer Seminar in Wyoming where they immediately had a musical connection. After returning to Nashville, where they discovered they lived in close proximity to one another, Steevie and Jon began writing and performing together ultimately forming TOWNE - blending pop and country into music that is emotional, real and relatable. Taking some time from their busy schedule, Steeves and Decious kindly took the time to chat about their latest EP, Games We Play, what’s ahead and more.
It seems like the two of you meeting at the writer’s seminar in Wyoming was fate.
Jon Decious (JD): We were two of eight people from places like Alaska, Canada, and California who had gotten a scholarship to attend that seminar and one day we were riding horses and chatting and realized we lived across the street from one another in Nashville.
Steevie Steeves (SS): We just hit it off, and after we came back, we started writing songs, doing writer’s nights and playing out together so much that people were asking what our band name was and whether they could get a cd. After a few months of that, we looked at each other and said, ‘Maybe we should pursue this’ and it grew from there.
I read that if Fleetwood Mac, Adele, and One Republic were to somehow make a musical baby, the result would be TOWNE. Are those your main musical influences?
SS: We do relate to that type of music and meet somewhere in the middle between One Republic and Fleetwood Mac. When we first met, John had a plethora of different records that I maybe wasn’t into and the same with my collection, but I remember going through them and seeing that we both loved Fleetwood Mac, which was a nice common ground to have. We draw from the male and female parts in their songs and their sound which can be country as well as pop and rock.
How about Country/Americana; are there any artists from those musical realms who you draw from?
JD: We appreciate the work of Hank Cochran and Jason Isbell, but there are so many good, and great, songwriters in this town and around the world that it’s hard to pin down just one. And as more and more people come to town and bring different influences it’s gotten more competitive, but it's also very inspiring.
SS: I aspire to write country music because the lyrics in the genre are just so well-written and really hit home, but I am definitely more pop than John. So, what we did with our music was blend our two voices where you get John, who is more in the singer-songwriter vein, and myself, who is more of a powerhouse vocalist....and even we say that we would never have thought to have been paired together, but every time we write and sing it feels like the perfect pairing.
It's a combination that works.
Your latest EP, Games We Play, was released in February. Is there any significance to the title?
SS: John and I obviously draw from our personal lives in our music. When we first wrote together in 2010-2011 there was a spark of a romantic relationship between us but somewhere along the lines we both agreed to focus on the music as opposed to going down the relationship rollercoaster.
At one point we thought it might be confusing or weird to try and work together, but we’ve noticed our situation is not different from most and surprisingly enough, the songs are very relatable and people dig them.
The current single “Runnin' Into You” definitely reflects the relationship between the two of you; you even act in the video.
SS: We’re not so much actors, but the song is about us for sure, so we thought why not just bring it to life? We wrote that song based on the fact that we have to run into each other every single day – but it’s not as bad as it seems in the video (laughing). I’m all right with having him around every day.
That takes some maturity as when most people break-up they don’t want anything to do with their ex.
SS: It definitely takes a level of maturity that I didn’t foresee, but once you travel over that mountain of getting over all of the crap, it can actually be a beautiful thing. John and I are best friends and many people our age can’t wrap their minds around that, but when you have a good thing, you wouldn’t trade it for the world.
That’s really terrific.
Returning to the songs, my personal favorite right now is “The One I Love.” Is there a story behind that song?
SS: There are a lot of stories behind that song. The original idea came from a napkin I kept from an earlier relationship. For some reason, after the break-up I kept this poem he wrote on a napkin in my wallet for years - even when I changed my wallet I put the napkin in the new wallet. I’m sentimental for sure, but I don’t know why I did it; I guess I must have cared more about him more than I thought.
That napkin sparked this whole idea that maybe you’re not with the one you love if you're holding onto something as silly as a note on a napkin. After we wrote it, we didn’t know if the song was relatable to anyone other than us, then Jon read a feature on Mavis Staples who talked about being unable to pursue a relationship with Bob Dylan because at the time being with someone of another race was unheard of - but how to this day their kiss was the best kiss of her life. That story made us realize that this song can relate to other situations and down the road the more we played it out the more people would say it’s their favorite song.
JD: What started out as a song about a napkin turned out to be a special song that’s a lot bigger than either of us or anything we could have possibly tried to do. It’s a magical thing.
SS: We’re so glad it made the EP too because we literally wrote it a week before we went into the studio and when our producer heard it he said it definitely needed to be on the EP.
It was definitely meant to be on there.
The closing song, “The Rest,” is a quiet way to end and carries a different sound than the rest of the EP.
JD: We were looking for a song that I would take lead vocals on and as we were going through our voice memos our producer said, “That’s amazing, can we do that?” And we were like “Yeah, but we don’t have any more money.” (laughing) So we went over to his house, set up a microphone and recorded the song with guitar and vocals. It’s a special song that I think was meant to be on the EP.
SS: For me, it’s probably one of my favorite songs we’ve ever written; it’s incredibly powerful and was definitely a song that had to be on the EP because anytime John takes lead vocals, it’s really special.
As the year winds down, what are your plans for the remainder of 2016/early 2017?
SS: Our December is super busy in the most wonderful ways and we’re looking forward to everything that’s coming. The next couple of months we’re getting out and playing shows, but our main focus is our next project. We’re working on the new EP, trying to write and narrow down the songs but given how some of the songs ended up on this EP, we could write a song two days before our recording session that ends up being on there! We’re also really looking forward to “The One I Love” coming out as the next single and seeing people’s response to it. Hopefully people will gravitate to it and love it as much as we do.
JD: It's really exciting when you release a song, but it also scares me shitless because you work so hard and even though you think it's really good you wonder if it will get noticed because if it doesn’t it stings a little bit. It’s scary, but in a good way. It’s like that feeling when you’re at the top of a rollercoaster: it’s either a fun kid ride or the beast and you don’t know which one it’s going to be.
SS: It’s totally like that and all you can do is hope for the best. I hope the rollercoaster doesn’t derail!
Finally, with all of the “Best Of” lists coming, is there any album that has your vote for album of the year?
JD: I have so many. I love Jason Isbell, Adele, One Republic, and Margo Price. Brent Cobb and Anderson East’s albums were great too.
SS: It’s weird for me to play an album over and over these days, but Adele man, she does it for me.
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