The music industry is full of legends, and one of the most prominent is multi-talented rockstar-turned-actor Steven Van Zandt. An acclaimed guitarist, he is best known for being part of Bruce Springsteen’s E-Street Band and supporting “The Boss” for decades. As a musician, he is so respected that artists like Meat Loaf, Pearl Jam and Nancy Sinatra have all covered his songs.
However, he is not only an esteemed musician; his list of acting credits is also stellar. His most important role is that of Silvio in The Sopranosbut he also acted in Lilyhammer and lent his talent to Martin Scorsese The Irishman. Elsewhere, he engaged in various charitable causes and consistently proved himself to be one of rock’s most affable men.
Despite this multifaceted career, Van Zandt is first and foremost a revered musician. This status has made his musings on music some of the most coveted, his nuggets of wisdom always welcome. When he sat down with twirl in March 2022, he gave one of his best takes to date.
It was immediately brought to Van Zandt’s attention that he had recently said that rock ‘n’ roll had become “irrelevant”. When asked how things went, he responded with an informed answer that was hard to question.
He began by clarifying his starting point: “It doesn’t matter in terms of the industry. We must hasten to add that living it is the most important thing. The later generations don’t really go out to see bands every night, which we used to do, but they go to festivals. I think it’s a very healthy way to keep things alive.
“In the industry itself, we have returned to a pop era. The rock era lasted – I timed it almost exactly 30 years from the Rolling Stones to the death of Kurt Cobain. Almost exactly from ’65-’94. Then we came back to a pop era,” he continued.
“’Pop era’ is where we first found rock. Now we’re back to a pop era, which is mostly mediocre stuff, but that’s okay. Rock has now returned to worship, perhaps where it belongs. It was a cult in 1965 and 1966 when we did the chart coup with the Beatles, or the British invasion, and now we’ve gone back to the cult which I think, naturally, in many ways the rock belongs. ”
“The infrastructure has changed, you don’t have the local clubs, the local theaters necessarily. You don’t have tour support, it’s long gone. Every band gets sick when I tell them that, but the bands got $250,000 to make a record. You also received $250,000 for a tour. It was normal. Because we have to evolve. This is where greatness comes from. Greatness comes from development. Nobody is born big.
He concluded: “All that and more radio playing local bands – I would call the biggest FM station in town, talk to the DJ and ask for songs. This is the other reason why rock has withdrawn from the mainstream. MTV gave a ridiculous sales boost, but at the same time, it helped kill it. We were very excited when a group came to town. You could barely get a picture of them in a magazine.
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