Boom Town Boys to release ‘Baby Wants’ single
When area musician Mike Steppe first recruited a couple of friends to join him in the recording studio last fall, his original concept was to create a solo album. What he got instead, was a whole new band — the Boom Town Boys — which is set to release its debut single, “Baby Wants,” tomorrow.
“I had a lot of songs that I had written that I wanted to record, so I got in touch with some guys and started talking with them about the possibility of them coming to a studio and basically being my backing band,” Steppe said. “What happened is that, when we got down to the studio and started making the songs, we realized that we produce a particular sound together; it felt a lot more like a band and not so much like a solo artist at that point, so we decided to do it that way instead.”
The first musician Steppe called on for assistance was bassist Nick Laylon, who he also plays with in the local band The Family Ties. Around the same time, he brought on drummer Mike Wrench, of the area group Moxie & Rebel, who he had previously played metal music with. Then, he rounded things out by bringing on Connor Schall as a keyboardist and pianist for the group.
Picking “Boom Town Boys” as the name of the group was a decision that derived from Steppe’s interest in local history.
“I have always liked the history of Williamsport being a boom town in the logging industry,” Steppe said. “It is just interesting to me to think about where Williamsport came from and how it has developed. I just liked giving a nod to the area.”
Steppe said that the Boom Town Boys’ sound is “not the easiest to describe,” but falls somewhere between Americana-rock and country-rock.
“I draw influence from musicians like Neil Young,Wilco, The Pixies and Dawes,” Steppe said. “But I was also raised on a farm in the Nippenose area and the only radio I knew until I was a teenager was country music. That influenced me greatly, and that comes through in my writing and singing.
“There is just an interesting sound that comes out,” he added. “It is country to a certain extent, but it is also very heavy.”
The “Baby Wants” single debuting tomorrow is the first off the Boom Town Boys’ forthcoming six-song EP “The River Song,” which is expected to be released on Feb. 8. The song was written by Steppe way back in 2005, and focuses on the struggle of loving a materialistic woman and the inability to keep up with her spending.
“It was so easy to write and it only took about five minutes,” he said. “I was married at the time — we are divorced now — and this was in the first year of our marriage. My former wife asked me for the credit card because she was going to go out Christmas shopping with her mom and I was working on a love song for her at the time. She asked me what I was going to do while she was gone and I told her I was probably going to finish up this pretty song. But when she came back I had this song ‘Baby Wants.’
“It was definitely not about her, because she was not materialistic by any means. It was just a narrative,” added Steppe. “In the chorus of the song, I refer to two credit cards being maxed out and the third being on the way; I think that was maybe just a little concern on my part that something might happen to the credit card because it was the first time I had ever put it in her hands.”
The song was recorded at Eight Days a Week Studio in Northumberland and was engineered, produced and mixed by Paul Smith, who has worked with many prominent Pennsylvania bands, including area favorite Breaking Benjamin.
“Paul was very good for the creative process,” said Steppe. “He really helped me realize that writing a song is one thing, but producing it is a different animal altogether. Obviously, there are dynamics to it as you are writing the song, but trying to have that come through on the record is a difficult thing; if you are just relying on yourself without an extra set of ears, it can become very difficult.”
Along with debuting the song, a music video was also created for “Baby Wants,” which can currently be viewed on Youtube.com. The video was filmed, edited and produced by Brady Hartman, of Hodgepodge Records. It features actress Cassey Chatham, who plays Steppe’s significant other and is shown over-spending at various businesses in downtown Williamsport throughout the video.
“It is a very funny video,” said Steppe. “There is a surprising reveal at the end that I think a lot of people are going to like.”
Overall, Steppe said the production of both the single and its video went much smoother than he ever anticipated.
“Everybody that has been involved with this project has been tremendous, from the producer and musicians to the actress and video producer,” he said. “Everybody has just been very professional and worked hard. The whole thing has been surprisingly easy. Usually, the recording process is very painstaking, but this has been a good time.”
Starting tomorrow, “Baby Wants” will be available through many digital streaming services, including iTunes, Apple Music, Amazon Music, Spotify, YouTube, Google Play. For more information, the Boom Town Boys can be found on Facebook.