Interviews no image

Published on May 8th, 1997 | by Gerry Galipault

0

Corey Stevens travels the ‘Road to Zen’

If Zen is the intuitive illumination of the mind and spirit, then blues-rocker Corey Stevens’ mantra must be “I think I can, I think I can.”

After struggling nearly 20 years in the music business, the former Los Angeles third-grade teacher is finally seeing results from all his hard work, guts and mettle.

While mainstream America was nodding off, Stevens quietly sold more than 70,000 copies of his 1996 debut album “Blue Drops of Rain” (Eureka), and now his just-released follow-up “Road to Zen” (backed by Discovery Records’ distribution power), promises to open even more doors.

Stevens gives credit to where it’s due: rock radio.

“I’ve had real good luck with radio and a hard-core, loyal fan base,” Stevens said during a recent tour stop. “We just haven’t had the major media, like VH1 or Rolling Stone magazine. Which, to me, is kind of okay. It’s sometimes better to be the underdog. Fans will root for you that much more.

“The major media, they’re too busy covering No Doubt and Stone Temple Pilots. I’m not in and out of rehab, so I guess I have a boring life to them.”

Stevens’ working-class hero story, though, is intriguing. The Illinois native took up the guitar at an early age and eventually earned a bachelor’s degree in music at Southern Illinois University. He made the big move to Los Angeles in 1980 to pursue his rock dream, but low-paying gigs forced him to fall back on his teaching skills. He taught in the L.A. Unified School District for 10 years.

“It took me 14 years to get a record deal,” he said. “I quit the teaching job once I got signed to Eureka (in 1995). Teaching was always like a side job. My music was always more important to me.”

The critically acclaimed “Blue Drops of Rain” peaked at No. 7 and spent nearly 40 weeks on Billboard’s Top Blues Albums chart. Stevens also kept a torrid touring pace, logging more than 100,000 miles and 200-plus shows last year.

“I was just one of those guys who wanted it really bad,” he said. “I never really gave up on that dream I had when I was a teenager. I think it’s something in your blood. It’s like, why do surfers jump out into the ocean when it’s 30 degrees? You just love it, I guess. That’s why I stuck with it all those years.”

Stevens has watched his popularity soar before his eyes.

“Take Pittsburgh, for instance,” he said. “Last year, we played there and we had like 25 people at the show. This time, we had over 1,000, because radio is playing me there. Then, the other night, we sold out the Newport Music Hall in Columbus, Ohio. That’s 1,700 people. It’s a great feeling, believe me.”

Stevens clearly has an appreciation for the blues, but his major influences are the Rolling Stones, Allman Brothers Band and Eric Clapton. For “Road to Zen,” he said he got his inspiration from Derek & The Dominos.

“I’ve been touring with a trio,” he said, “but eventually I’d like to have a bigger band, not so much like Derek & The Dominos, but like a harp player, another guitarist and a keyboard player. I love that big sound.”

Fans and critics often compare Stevens’ voice to Clapton’s soulful touch. He doesn’t mind.

“They always say it in a good way,” he said. “When you really dig deep down into your soul and let something out, I think a different voice comes out, and that’s my voice. If you listen to Clapton, he’s got all kinds of voices throughout his career. This just happens to be the way I sound.”

BWF (before we forget): The album’s first single, “One More Time,” reached No. 22 on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock Tracks chart.

Tags: ,


About the Author

Gerry Galipault debuted Pause & Play online in October 1997. Since then, it has become the definitive place for CD-release dates — with a worldwide audience.



Comments are closed.

Back to Top ↑
  • BEST OF THE WEB

     

    Entertainment Weekly names Pause & Play one of “the 100 greatest Web sites”

  • Album Release Dates

    * Release dates are subject to change due to the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic

    Sept. 24, 2021 » Mickey Guyton, Steely Dan, Ringo Starr, G-Eazy, Esperanza Spalding, Angels & Airwaves, Natalie Imbruglia, Donald Fagen, Japanese Breakfast, Sufjan Stevens & Angelo De Augustine, Alessia Cara, Vangelis, Anthony Hamilton, X Ambassadors, Billy Strings, Jesse Malin, Poppy, etc.

    Oct. 1, 2021 » Metallica, Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga, Brandi Carlile, The Doobie Brothers, Yes, the The, Ministry, Strand of Oaks, Roger Taylor, Newsboys, Asleep at the Wheel, Dar Williams, etc.

    Oct. 8, 2021 » James Arthur, James Blake, Josh Turner, Ladyhawke, Sam Fender, Billy Bragg, Natalie Hemby, Old Dominion, Trivium, Hiromi, LP, BADBADNOTGOOD, The Record Company, The Wild Feathers, The Velveteers, Shannon Lay, etc.

    More New Releases » Oct. 15 and Beyond: Coldplay, Santana, Kelly Clarkson, Zac Brown Band, FINNEAS, Tom Morello, Johnny Marr, JP Cooper, Lilly Hiatt, Men Without Hats, Elton John, Lana Del Rey, Lady A, Duran Duran, My Morning Jacket, Dream Theater, Ed Sheeran, Mastodon, Migos, Black Veil Brides, They Might Be Giants, ABBA, Diana Ross, Bullet For My Valentine, Steve Perry, Hanson, Aimee Mann, Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, Rod Stewart, Courtney Barnett, Eric Clapton, Damon Albarn, Allen Stone, Taylor Swift, Robert Plant | Alison Krauss, Sting, Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, Paul Weller, Underoath, and many more.

    More Upcoming Releases » Albums coming in 2021 and 2022 but yet to be scheduled

    Elton John loves Pauseandplay.comDeals of the DayBest SellersSennheiser MOMENTUM 2 Wireless Over-Ear HeadphonesIE 400 Pro In-Ear Monitors

  • New Merch at Hot TopicSave on Tablets at Walmart.comBand T-ShirtsTurntables & AccessoriesHome Audio SystemsAmazon Tap $40 OffSave up to 90% on Textbooks

    NOTE: Pauseandplay.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. We also participate in other affiliate programs.

  • Love Pauseandplay.com? We do, too … Help us keep it going. (Every little bit helps.) We ♥ u.

  • Recent Posts

  • Connect on Facebook

  • On Twitter