STEPHEN JOSEPH JOSHUA POLTZ GOING NUTS IN ADELAIDE by Robert Dunstan
Many who witnessed the craziness of visiting Canadian-born singer songwriter Steve Poltz (pictured here somewhere on Adelaide’s Gouger St) when he recently came to town as special guest of Bob Evans were pleased to hear the former announce from the stage that he was coming back to town in a few weeks to undertake his own show. The 300-strong audience, with many experiencing Poltz for the first time, also gladly sang along with him when he delivered You Were Meant For Me, the million-seller he penned back in 1997 with Jewel, but many may have thought he was merely doing a cover song. Poltzy, as he likes to be known, was born in Hailfax, Novia Scotia, but his family migrated to the USA in the early ’60s. After completing a political science degree at university, he then played around the San Diego area before forming a band known as The Rugburns and then going solo. He has since released a series of albums, the latest of which, Traveling, Poltzy is currently promoting with another tour of Australia. We meet up with Poltzy at a reasturant for lunch but before we even have chance to reel off a list of pertinent questions, he immediately kicks off the interview. “So your first question is, ‘Why the moustache?’ Well, that’s a good question – a really good question. I hadn’t shaved because I was on a ski trip in Whistler [Canada] and I thought, ‘Hmm, let’s go ’70s porn. Let’s go Dukes Of Hazzard’, so the mo just appeared much to the dismay and chagrin of the promoter who brings me over to Australia. He’s disgusted because none of my current press shots show me with a mo. “And I get special treatment from Qantas because I now get to go into The Qantas Club,” he adds with delight. “And I always wanted to see what a ’70s porn star looked like.” You should mosey back down to Australia in Movember. “People say that. That sounds good. Movember.” Poltzy again asks himself the next question “So, Poltzy, is this your eighth trip to Australia? “It is, yeah,” he then says to himself. “And it’s my 10th anniversary. And let’s just say I wouldn’t be sitting here in my favourite Adelaide restaurant in the world if it wasn’t for Jewel. Let’s pay homage to Jewel because she brought me over here in 1999 as the guitarist in her band and also as her support act. So I did double duty but fell in love with Australia. I would have never come to Australia if it wasn’t for Jewel. “So I feel like a regular now and on this tour I’ve got to see more of the regional areas. Gee, we even went to Gee-Long the other night and saw a bar fight. That was cool. It was right by the merch desk and we filmed it. I need to put that up on my MySpace site.” Poltzy has been posting clips of his latest Australian adventures on his MySpace site which includes one of him eating crocodile pie and another of him singing with Bill Chambers with whom he’d toured Australia, along with US singer songwriter Mary Gauthier, during the early part of this decade. “I’d told everyone at the gig I was crazy in love with Kasey Chambers and wanted to meet the man who’d fathered her,” Poltzy says of the recent clip with Kasey’s dad. “But earlier that day I’d phoned Bill to invite him to the gig and also said I wanted him to come up on stage and sing with me. So I sent him a verse to learn but he didn’t know quite how I was going to lead it in. So I did this whole shtick at the beginning of the song where I said I had a big, big crush on Kasey and if I could only get to meet her dad. So by the time Bill got up to the stage, he was cracking up. “And yes, I did get to eat crocodile pie. You should try it sometime. It’s pretty cool. So I put that film up on MySpace. I love technology.” Poltzy, who travels with a US and Canadian passport so that he can be ‘conveniently Canadian’ in the event of a hostage situation, is travelling with a new CD, Traveling. “What happened was I put out a new live CD and DVD called Tales From The Tavern [which can be bought at gigs] and then I put out Traveling in the US about 18 months ago but it never really got a proper release in Australia. So, because it’s got legs, it’s now getting a proper release in Australia.” The Weekend Australian reviewed Traveling very favourably but referred to Poltz as Stoltz. “How funny was that? That was awesome! I always wanted to be Kelley Stoltz. And people keep asking me if I’m Steve Holt from that TV show Arrested Development. And I just got the whole series of that on DVD so I will brush up on it before the end of this tour so I can speak it fluently.” The musician says that his name also caused some confusion on his last visit. “That damn Rip It Up magazine had me listed in the Gig Guide as [UK reggae band] Steel Pulse. “So hundreds of reggae fans turned up and I had to all my songs reggae-style,” he says before delivering a reggae version of You Were Meant For Me to everyone at the dining table. Poltzy’s You Remind Me was recently used for a Chrysler Jeep television commercial which was screened around the world. How did that come about? “Dumb luck. Dumb stoopid luck. An advertising agency had been asked by Chrysler to supply some songs for a new add. So they sent off You Remind Me. “But we cheated,” Poltzy then says without any hint of guilt. “Instead of putting the song on a CD once and sending it off to them, we filled up the whole CD with it so by the time they’d heard it about 20 times they couldn’t get it out of their heads. They were going, ‘We love this song, we love this song’. “And I wrote You Remind Me with Anya Marina, a girl who is doing really well for herself at the moment. So it’s it funny that the two songs that have brought me most success [You Were Meant For Me and You Remind Me] were both co-writes with ex-girlfriends? “And, as payment, Chrysler gave me 50 brand new jeeps to give away to all my friends. And I had one left over so I was going to send one down to Australia but just ended up donating it to charity.” San Diego-based singer songwriter Gregory Page, who lovingly describes Poltzy as a cross between Bob Dylan and Andy Kaufman, will soon be joining Poltzy on tour as he also did back in 2007. He therefore must have recovered from that last outing. “Oh, Gregory’s okay now but he had to go to counselling every week for Post Poltz Tour Stress Syndrome. But he’s back ready to do it again. “So Gregory will open the shows doing his own set and then I’m sure he’ll join me for a few songs. And we’ll be recording these shows and then selling them after the gig.” Steve Poltz plays Jive with San Diego’s Gregory Page on Thu Jun 18.