STEVE POLTZ DREAMS LAST FOR SO LONG by Robert Dunstan
Nova Scotia-born Steven Joseph Joshua Poltz has been a regular visitor to out shores since touring Australia with Jewel with whom he co-wrote You Were Meant For Me which is still the longest ever running song on Billboard’s Top 100. Since then his songs have been included in such films as Notting Hill and Jack Frost and he’s also gone from playing 10,000 seater venues to playing 10-seater loungerooms. But Poltz is now coming back to Australia so we email him a few questions and begin by asking why it’s been two years since his last visit. “I don’t know where the time goes,” Poltz replies. “Two years? I thought it was two months. Sheesh, I need to buy a calendar. I was just going to go in and record one or two songs and maybe play a few shows around Canada and the US. Next thing you know I had two CDs and I had to buy new tyres for my van. Oh yeah, and I got a few new grey hairs.” How are your annual songwriting camps at Yosemite National Park going? “Pretty good. We only had three people die this year as opposed to the whole 13 campers who were killed by a vicious grizzly bear attack last year. This year they were poisoned by eating some bad berries they mistakenly thought were edible. I’m being sued by more people than president George W.” And you’re going camping and songwriting in Costa Rica next year! “Yeah. I need to get out of the country for a while and go somewhere where they’re not so court crazy. Plus no one knows me over there so I can’t get any bad death press.” Would these songwriting camps work in Australia? We have some desert here. Or you could bring some with you. “I think it would be fantastic. I love to talk songwriting and it’s fun to see people progress and come up with songs. I love to inspire people to get out of their comfort zones. I think that once they see what an idiot I am they lose their shyness and say, ‘Screw it. If that fool can do it than so can I’. And I’m with them every step of the way. The best part is sitting around a campfire listening to someone sing their creation. It brings tears to my eyes. And sometimes we just laugh like kids.” Tell us about your brand new albums, Traveling and Unraveling. Incidentally, we spell travelling and unravelling with two ‘L’s in Oz. Why is that? “I think you spell them with two ‘L’s is because you’re cooler. I like the way it looks better your way. We drive on the wrong side of the road and carry guns in our cars on the freeways and shoot at each other. We’re savages and I like it that way. I see life through the eyes of hobos – nasty, brutish and short. “Anyway, the two CDs are a labor of love. Or labour of love. I ended up with 22 songs recorded after sifting through about 60. I didn’t want to weed out anything from the last 22 so I made two CDs. And I thought somebody else was paying for it until I realised the bills were being sent to me. Then I remembered that I am the record label. So I put 11 songs on each. I’m not really sure if they each have a theme but perhaps Unraveling is bit quirkier.” UK singer Graham Parker once claimed to have mercury poisoning. Did you ever get a dose? “I was on Mercury Records in the USA too. I just met Graham recently. Very sweet guy. I did have mercury poisoning but had fun getting it. They treat you like star until they’re done with you and then, when you call them up, they say, ‘Poltz? How do you spell that?’” The Bikram yoga fanatic is also appearing on New York’s The Hugh Thompson Show during which Poltz leads the house band and writes all the songs for the show’s guests. Does anyone now mistake you for Paul Schaffer? “Sometimes they do and then they try to punch me in the face. Then they realise I look nothing like him so they relax and offer me hugs.” Willys Jeep have also been using your You Remind Me for a television commercial in the US. How did that happen? “Weird, eh? Just dumb luck I guess. People have their people pitching songs all the time and vying to get songs in commercials. They can really pay well. I was just minding my own business when someone contacted me through <poltz.com> and said they wanted to use the song in a jeep commercial. Apparently the guy at the ad agency was a fan my music. Being the whore that I am I said, ‘Heck yes!’ They paid me enough to put out two new CDs. Not just one. Plus, I bought a new pair of socks, some shoes and a new toothbrush. “And I even had enough money left over to buy Rip It Up magazine so I’ve decided to do a story on me. I think I’ll even put myself on the cover. I love me. Me, me, me.” What do you have in store for us in Adelaide? “Nudity and hand guns. And I’m going to sing a lovely rendition of The Way We Were. Not as good as Barbra does it, but pretty close. I think I’ll give away money too. So people will be losing money by not coming out to the show. It’s funny cuz it’s true.” Anything more to add? “I like to pee in the shower.” Steve Poltz plays Jive on Wed Jan 9.