Flyin’ Free

With three great kids, a wonderful wife, a new house and—finally—control of his musical destiny, life is sweet for Steve Azar.

Mississippi native Steve Azar comes from delta blues and rock roots and has one of the most distinctive sounds in country music. And with his excellent new Indianola cd, Steve has delivered a powerful follow-up to his acclaimed 2002 Waitin’ on Joe and it’s Top 5 single, “I Don’t Have to Be Me Till Monday.” He recently opened up his home to CW and talked about his family, career and his other passion—golf. Here’s part of what he had to say.

CW
Tell me about your most memorable Father’s Day?
SA
The last one . . . each one of ’em. Because the kids are growin’ and there’s so much more they’re doin’ now. So the last one, and the next one will be the best. Just watchin’ them all grow into the beautiful God-given blessings they've been to my wife and me and develop. It’s fantastic.
CW
Are they golfers?
SA
I take the boys out . . . and even my little girl . . . and we go out and we putt. The other day I lost $40 ’cause I said, “If I don’t chip this in . . . I had six balls . . . then I’ll give Adrian $20.” I owed him $20 ’cause I took it out of his wallet to go to the airport the other day. So he goes, “You've gotta double it.” And the sucker made me pay him! (laughs) But we go hit balls together, we're startin’ to play golf together, I’m on the Taylormade [equipment manufacturer] staff, so they’re startin’ to send golf clubs. So that’s been cool. I think that sport is so important. And being right here close to the course is great, cause we can be there in three seconds.
CW
How’s your game?
SA
I got hit by a truck this year at Christmas . . . I’m glad the kids weren’t with me. I got hit in the side in my Ranger Rover. I’ve been going through physical therapy and my back has some muscle scar tissue, and it hurts. So I’ve had to change my swing. So it’s a big deal to be able to take the kids out to play.
CW
I know you were in a label situation for your last album that wasn’t what you’d hoped it would be.
SA
I think in life, you have to sort of go through troubled times. It’s funny, my business partner’s wife, Kathy, sent me an email the other day. It said, “God creates problems because . . . we’re in ’em, we’re comin’ out of one or we’re gonna have something big or small in our future . . . he creates ’em because He’s more interested in our character than our comfort.” And I started thinkin’ about “You Don’t Know a Thing” . . . your emotions, you don’t know how you're gonna react to somethin’ . . . until you go through it. A lot of this record about Indianola is that . . . and then it takes its turn.
I wrote this thing “Home on the Bus” which takes me strictly to Mississippi. And once I do this, it turns all “Flatlands,” “Blues Tune,” “Mississippi Minute,” “Highway 61,” “Indianola” . . . it turns down that road. I grew up listening to Springsteen records, and he'd talk our life, and then he’d take you to his home. And I hope I’ve done just a touch of what he’s done.
CW
You family has really been the glue, hasn’t it?
SA
Hey, I do have a lot of friends goin’ through divorces and tough times, and the one thing I got right, and lookin’ back I was very lucky, but the one thing I got right was my wife. And how she’s been grounded through all of this. She’s gone through the second half of my career, ’cause my career started when I was 9,10, 11 . . . so she’s gotten the bulk of the mess and the stress. She’s the one who said, “Hey, make your music and do it your way. And when you're finally doin’ that, I’ll never bother you again.” And it’s funny, work started comin’. I've got a great agent in Darron Murphy. He got me the [Bob] Seger tour, he got me that chance and it turned into a whole year. It allowed me to know, “OK, I’m still doin’ this right. His fans accepted it. His critics accepted it. His whole band . . . during the show, Don Brewer from Grand Funk Railroad was watchin’ every show every night. He said it fired him up, especially when we got to “Flatlands” “I Don’t Have to Be Me Till Monday” and all that. He says it was sort of his warm-up. That’s a pretty cool compliment coming from a guy whose music you grew up playing.
CW
Where does the journey end?
SA
It doesn’t. I want to be doin’ what Willie’s doin’. I hope it never ends. I never chose to do this. There was never a time when, “I want to be a star!” It never has ever been that. When we're rehearsin’ and the band’s feelin’ right, I love it. I’m not the guy that you put one song on TV and say, “Go do it.” Maybe with “Flatlands,” if you do it right. But I’m the guy you give an hour and a half to and you settle in and you learn about the songwriter and about the life and about the guys on stage. It’s not just about me. It’s about all of us. Then, at the end of the day, whether it’s 6 people in the room or 80,000, it becomes all about that. And I think, at the end of the night, when you're playin’ live, when you're all there together, big or small crowd, the feelin’ is absolutely something worth repeating.
CW
Where can people find out what’s going on with you or check out your music?
SA
Our website is steveazarlive.com. We’re gonna be on iTunes, we’re gonna be in Wal-Mart, we’re gonna be in Best Buy, we’re gonna be in Borders . . . and the internet presence is gonna be everywhere.

For more on Steve, check out the June 30 issue of Country Weekly.

Comments