10 Questions with ... Steve Gorman
April 22, 2014
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
Steve Gorman is best known as the drummer and founding member of one of Americaâ€™s preeminent rock â€˜nâ€™ roll bands, The Black Crowes. Over the last two decades, the band has sold more than 30 million albums and performed thousands of live shows. In 2010, following the release of their ninth studio album, Croweology and subsequent supporting tour, the band took a hiatus for two years to pursue individual projects. For Gorman, this was a chance to finally nurture his longtime vision of creating a radio show that combined his two passions: sports and music. What started as a weekly podcast quickly evolved into a weekly radio show, then to a nightly radio show, and later a local midday show in Nashville, Tenn. In 2013, Gorman reunited with The Black Crowes for the Lay Down With Number 13 World Tour, playing more than 120 shows. During the tour, he continued to broadcast daily from radio studios all over the country.
In January 2014, Steve Gorman joined Premiere Networksâ€™ syndicated FOX Sports Radio Network for the launch of Steve Gorman SPORTS!. With insider access and insight, Gorman interviews a wide variety of guests from the athletic and musical worlds, delivering unique sports commentary and entertainment, including whatâ€™s happening in sports, music and pop culture. Steve Gorman SPORTS! airs weekdays from 3 â€“ 6 p.m. ET/noon â€“ 3 p.m. PT on the 24/7 sports radio network.
1. The obvious question- one you're probably tired of answering - is how you got into sports radio while being a musician as well. How did you make the move, and who were the people who helped you make it?
I was a broadcasting major at Western Kentucky University in the â€˜80s, and my plan was to be a sportscaster. I dropped out midway through my senior year, moved to Atlanta to start a band with a buddy, and told everyone that if I didn't "make it" within three years, I'd come back, finish my degree, and get started on a real career. Ignorance being a strong ally at times, I blissfully managed to get a record deal and see my first album in stores exactly three years to the month after my arrival in Atlanta. Things went a little better than expected, so obviously my broadcasting notions became a thing of the past.
However, when sports talk radio really boomed in the mid-â€˜90s, I began to hear a loose sketch of a sports talk show in my head - one that would add a lot of music to the mix and one that I could do from the road. Shortly after moving to Nashville about a decade ago, the idea really started taking shape. I met Willy Daunic, another dad at our kids' preschool, who turned out to be a local drive-time sports talk show host. He invited me on his show for an hour and we had a good time. His PD at 104.5 The Zone, Brad Willis, heard my segment and asked me if I was interested in being a weekly guest. I replied, "actually, I'd like to start my own show.â€ To my amazement, he said, "let's get lunch and tell me what you're thinking.â€ A month later, Steve Gorman SPORTS! launched on The Zone Sunday nights, and Brad gave me additional hours whenever he could. I was in and out of town a lot over the next few years due to The Black Crowes touring schedule, but anytime I could jump on the air, I'd do it. Brad and Willy were always incredibly supportive, and it wasn't too long before I started to really get the swing of being on air.
2. What, if anything, about being a professional rock musician is analogous to being a pro athlete -- teamwork, life on the road, other stuff?
I've always felt that a rock band, if properly functioning, is exactly like a team â€“ a basketball team, to be specific. Someone's got to bring the ball up the court, someone's got to do the dirty work under the boards, and a few guys have to know exactly what their roles are. Now, I am not suggesting that my bandmates would ever subscribe to that line of thinking, but it's always made perfect sense to me. There's also, of course, transitions you have to make in life when your greatest passion becomes something you do, not only for love, but to make a living too. Your priorities have to shift somewhat when longtime dreams become reality. It can be confusing and disorienting, and it's important to have people in your life who care about you, the person, not just you, the commodity.
3. What do you consider your strongest sports topic? Your weakest? (Put another way, which of the major sports would you pick if you could only talk about one, and which would be the first to go if you had to eliminate one?)
Basketball would be the one sport I'd talk about and hockey would be out the door.
4. You're a novelty of a sort in sports radio because of your unique background, but going in the other direction, have you encountered many sports fans among your fellow musicians? Who, if anyone, among the rockers you know is a big sports fan?
There is at least one sports fan in just about every band I know. There's a balance to be found - I've always said that if a band were made entirely of sports fans, I probably wouldn't own their record. Off the top of my head, guys that I have talked sports with include: Robert Plant, Mike Mills from REM, Darius Rucker, Flea and Chad Smith from Red Hot Chili Peppers, Matt Flynn from Maroon 5, Clay Cook from Zac Brown Band, Derek Trucks, Bruce Hornsby, Jeff Ament from Pearl Jam - the list is endless.
5. Who are your mentors, influences, and heroes?
Wow, that's another endless list. Here are a few names that are either mentors, influences, heroes, or all three: my brother Jim Gorman, Hunter S. Thompson, Bruce Gilbert, Ringo Starr, Howard Zinn, Michael Chabon, John Sayles, Matt Taibbi and John Bonham. I could provide a different list every day.
6. What's your process -- how do you prepare for each show? What resources do you use?
My co-host Jeffrey Gorman, producer Brandon Gnetz, and I get together, and the first question is always, "What stories can we have the most fun talking about today?" There are almost always one or two things that we have both a strong opinion on, and that we can see a humorous angle from which to present. There are always the guests to consider, regularly appearing segments to prepare, etc. It's not quite a science, not quite an art.
7. You've played with some amazing artists; what was the most memorable moment of your music career to date, the moment you went out-of-body and thought, this is amazing?
Two things jump to mind immediately:
- The Black Crowes toured with Jimmy Page about 15 years ago. We were playing a lot of Zeppelin songs with Page - that was something I hadn't ever thought to daydream about, so when it was a reality and night after night we were seeing the reaction to him and his music from the stage, it was overwhelming. Every show was a perfect mix of reality and fantasy. We had a job to do, and during the gigs it became very natural to play off of him and anticipate his cues. But after the gigs, I would always stop for a few moments and think, "I can't believe that just happened.â€
- I played a track on Warren Zevon's last album, "The Wind." Iâ€™ve been a Zevon fan forever, and that session fell together quite unexpectedly. I was doing some recording with Billy Bob Thornton at his home studio when Warren turned up. They were old friends, and Billy had invited him by. Warren had already announced that he was terminally ill, and somehow the idea to record "Knocking on Heaven's Door" came up. Almost immediately, we all rushed back into the studio and put the track down before anyone could change their mind. To hear Warren singing those lyrics in my headphones, to watch him struggling to catch his breath between lines but still deliver such a beautiful vocal, it was incredibly bittersweet. It was the only occasion I ever spent time with Zevon, and I've always been so thankful that we got that performance out of it.
8. Of what are you most proud?
My family - two happy, healthy kids and a wife who puts up with me and has had my back for over 20 years.
9. Fill in the blank: I can't make it through the day without ___________.
10. What's the best advice you've ever gotten? The worst?
The best advice Iâ€™ve ever received came from a college buddy named Kevin Dugan - he told me to get honest with myself and admit that I really just wanted to play drums in a band, that I had not only been wasting time in college as a half-ass student, but also wasting a perfectly good Pell Grant that someone else would probably love to have. I dropped out of school shortly thereafter.
The worst advice was from a number of people about a decade ago who told me that it would be a great idea to jump into real estate. I'd love to have that one back.