Interview with Guitar Guru Steve Stine

By Mick Michaels

COSMICK VIEW: Hello, Steve! Welcome to The Cosmick View. Thank you for taking some time out of your day to chat with me, it is greatly appreciated.

CV: Steve, your career thus far has run the gamut; from musician, songwriter and performer, to renowned guitar instructor, product reviews, interviews and University professor...and that's just the tip of the iceberg. You are also a family man.  How do you balance it all and make the time?
Steve Stine: Back in the day my music took precedence...and I just learned how to make my family more important than everything else…and since then everything just kind of falls into place. I also make sure that I take time and I don't try and get too much done in one day.

CV: Besides music and guitar, do you have other passions, non music related, that your are involved with? Is it good to have other "distractions"?
SS: Yeah, absolutely it's good to have other things to do in your life. There are many times that I like to just get away from music all the way around. And usually, that's spending time with my wife and my kids…or spend time with friends and really just talking about things that are not music related at all.
I don't really have any other hobbies per say other than you know doing a lot of biking and stuff in the summertime with my with my daughter.

CV: Personally, I have always been impressed by individuals who are able to take their careers in multiple directions while remaining true to their core passion.  You spent time as a guitar instructor at North Dakota State University.  How did you come to teach on the collegiate level?
SS: Well when I was in college at Moorhead State University, which is in Moorhead, Minnesota, a lot of my professors over there wound up being professors over at North Dakota State University. And so I got a call from one of them asking if I would be interested in teaching a guitar class out at the University. Of course at that time in my life I never said no to anything…so I jumped at the chance and it was a great experience.

CV: Often, college music professors are portrayed as stuffy traditionalists who have no time or interest in modern music. :)  However, you are the contrary to such a boorish portrayal.  How was your Rock/Metal influences and attitude, during your time at North Dakota State, received by both the faculty and student base?
SS: It was awesome! For me it's always come down to personality. People judge you initially by the way you look but once they talk to you, they realize who you really are. I've really never had a problem with that…so teaching at North Dakota State was just a really wonderful experience with the students as well as working with the faculty.

CV: Would teaching guitar on a college level be something you would consider again in the future?
SS: Yeah absolutely. Right now I just have so much other stuff going on but no doubt I would certainly go back and teach at a college level.

CV: You have a long history with Steve Grimmett of Grim Reaper fame, which professionally includes the collaborative band GrimmStine and performing multiple times with Steve’s newer Grim Reaper line up.  How did you connect with Steve?
SS: Steve came to one of my shows here in the United States many, many years ago and that's where I first met him. While speaking to him that first time, I had mentioned to him that I was getting married in Scotland and he wanted to come to the wedding…he wound up being the best man at the wedding. And since then he and I have just maintained a really good friendship.

CV: Were you a fan of Grim Reaper back in the 80's?
SS: As a matter of fact, it's really funny because “See You in Hell,” which was a Grim Reaper album, was one of my most important albums learning how to play guitar…because at that time, I was learning how to play Ozzy and Def Leppard and Judas Priest…I would learn how to play either the whole album or one side of an album because it was just easier than learning the individual songs… “See You in Hell” was one of those albums that I would play. So it was ironic that so many years later I would wind up being good friends with him. You know he's was not only the best man at my wedding but he's the godfather to my 10 year old.

CV: Now that Steve is back in action, any chance we will get to see a second GrimmStine album release?
SS: I hope so. We keep talking about it…we've got lots of material written. Hopefully that will happen. I've got a bunch of other stuff already recorded…we just need time to get together and actually talk about it. But it would be awesome to see that happen.

CV: The music industry seems to be spinning on its heels these days.  Both fans and critics alike appear to have more negative comments than ever before.  Do you feel this is indicative of the times, where the internet and social media platforms have given everyone a place to be heard...or is there some truth in their complaints?

SS: Well there might be truth to the complaints but the truth is that social media has just given everybody an opportunity to be awful to each other. And I really don't care for it at all. In industry itself there are so many incredible bands, incredible musicians, and incredible guitar players out there. They're not known by everybody because they're not on the radio and unless you're kind of in that avenue of information, you never hear about them.

So there was a while where I thought there was nothing really good coming out and then I started realizing that I couldn't be more wrong. I started learning about all kinds of new bands, new guitar players, and just all kinds of other stuff that's just absolutely amazing…but you have to look for it. That's the most important thing, which for me, is completely different than the social media element…social media just makes everybody kind of awful to each other, unfortunately.

CV: Fans seem to be waiting, maybe even holding their breath, for the next big thing to come along and knock their socks off.  But is the waiting warranted on their part, or are they missing out on what is out there now, right in front of them, with so many new young bands popping up?
SS: Yeah, I don't even think about it as the next big thing because I don't even think of the music industry as being that way anymore. There are all kinds of great stuff out there…you just have to look for it that's all. And with platforms like Spotify and Apple Music and all that sort of thing, they're great for learning about new artists, new bands…all that sort of thing.

I think once you get into a few of the forums, like if you join a group on Facebook or whatever, it might be easy to learn about a lot of new bands that you might not have never heard of before. Then you can head over to Spotify or something and check them out and see if it's something that you like and want to support and purchase their records or whatever it might be.

So I don't think of it as the next big thing.  I just think there's just so much great stuff out there right now. But you got to look for it.

CV: Have music fans become too fickle by not giving these new bands a chance to shine?
SS: Maybe… again I think the hard part is it's just really hard. You know we used to base music on popularity…how popular band was or how much money they made or something like that…because it was so easy to do back in the days of Def Leppard and Bon Jovi and Kiss and AC/DC…and a lot of them are still out there doing there thing.

But the new generation doesn't really have that, so I think bands can shine to their capacity. I think the days of filling the domes and stadiums are gone. I don't know what the next big thing is going to be…but to be honest, I don't really care because most of my favorite bands aren't bands that would play for the most part in a stadium or a dome anyway.

CV: What do you think would be the music industry's ace in the hole to turn things around? Is it then the artists' responsibility alone to restore faith with the fans or more of a collaborative effort between label execs, promoters, venues, etc. as well as the artist?
SS: Well again that's a hard question because the industry is just different. I don't think we'll ever go back. The construct of the industry is just different. The artists…we do all of our own marketing at this point or most of it anyway, even if you belong to a label. You know if we separate ourselves as a Rock or Metal genre for instance, it's very different than the Pop genre or the Hip Hop genre…it's a different kind of thing.

I can't say what's going on over there because I don't follow it but in the genres on my side, on the things that I like, it's all our responsibility. It's our responsibility to get the word out…it's our responsibility to grow our brand…all of those sorts of things and do the best we can. But we have to do it because we love it. We don't just do it because of fame or money, because chances are you're not going to get a lot of either one of those in this industry nowadays. You have to do it because you love it.

CV: Your talents and expertise have brought you to be a Content Production Manager with  Tell us a little of how this partnership came to be?
SS: About ten years ago, the owner of GuitarZoom called me and asked me if I would be interested in making some videos for his company, which was GuitarZoom. As with everything else, I said yes…I never said no to anything at that point in my life. And from there it just sort of expanded into this global thing which wound up being what I do most of my time now…creating content for social media…creating guitar courses…things like that. But that's how the initial partnership came about; him calling me. He found a couple of really bad videos I did on YouTube and asked me if I'd be interested and we just developed a friendship and partnership from there.

CV: You have personally worked with thousands and thousands of individuals teaching guitar, but have also touched countless more whom you have never met; sharing your knowledge and experience through online lessons and videos. What type of feeling is that for you, knowing that what you do impacts so many and makes a difference in what they do to pursue a dream? Is just knowing reward enough?
SS: It is absolutely enough! I'm not in this to try and see how popular I can be or how much money I could make. I'm almost 50 years old and those aren't what’s important to me anymore. My main thing with even teaching in the last 30 some years that I have done  with local students and private lessons , is getting them to understand…getting them to see the light so to speak, and be able to make this something, make guitar playing, something they really want to do for the rest of their lives. That's always been the reward.

CV: Are you ever just blown away by how popular your guitar instruction videos are?
SS: Again, I guess I don't think about it all that much. I just keep going and doing what I love to do. I guess I would say I'm not as much blown away as I am very blessed at how I've been able to continue doing what I love to do after all these years…and it continues to expand and grow…so I am a very blessed person for sure.

CV: What's the one question you get asked most often about playing guitar?
SS: Most often it's about learning to solo or the confusion of modes. I think that's probably the big one… it’s modes. People just get really lost when it comes to that sort of thing.

CV: What do you feel would be the best words of encouragement to give to someone struggling with playing guitar?
SS: The most important thing is to stay inspired. You've got to be inspired…it can't just be practicing chords 10 minutes a day and whatever…you've got to find a way of staying inspired and if that means getting a teacher that inspires you that's great.
The other thing is making sure that you're learning stuff that's interesting to you…not just because the guitar teacher thinks you should have it, but that you find interesting…that keeps you wanting to play. I think those two things are really important. I guess the last one would be finding a path…have someone help you find a logical path so you can keep getting better so you don't just get stuck spinning your wheels.

CV: What's next for you Steve?
SS: The big thing for me is doing more guitar clinics conferences… things like that where I can go out and really be with people and inspire them…personally talk to them…jam with them. And you know, that's the big thing for me… it’s not just doing everything remotely but spending more time with people and inspiring them and helping them to get to the next level…on a personal level in person.

CV: Thank you again Steve for spending some time talking and sharing with our readers. It has been an honor. I wish you all the best and continued success.
SS: Thank you!

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My name is Mick Michaels...I'm an artist, music fan, songwriter, producer, dreamer and guitarist for the traditional Heavy Metal band Corners of Sanctuary. Writing has always been a creative outlet for me; what I couldn't say in speech, I was able to do with the written word.  Writing has given me a voice and a way for me to create on a multitude of platforms including music and song, articles, independent screenplays, books and now, artist interviews. The Cosmick View is an opportunity to raise the bar and showcase artists in a positive and inspirational light. For me, it's another out-of-this-world adventure.


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