Nashville musicians, Steevie Steeves and Jon Decious, were led through a rollercoaster of emotional twists and turns when creating their band, Towne.
The country pop-rock duo first met at a writing seminar in Wyoming and, following an instant rapport, discovered that they actually both lived behind the same liquor store in Music City.
A band was formed and a romantic relationship ensued, but when they could see this was inhibiting their work, they made the brave and heart-breaking decision to separate, to make sure nothing stood in the way of the music.
What has blossomed is a friendship and collaboration that sets them apart, with a unique chemistry and no holds barred approach to their craft.
I sat down with the band in Nashville, to discuss the rising success of their debut EP, Games We Play and stunning new video clip, The One I Love.
Congratulations on the new EP and the video clip. Have you been surprised at the reaction to the song, The One I Love?
Jon – This song turned into something so much bigger than either of us could have foreseen when writing it. What started out as a simple story, turned into something that meant so much to so many people.
Steevie – We’re super happy about the direction of the video and how it turned out. We love seeing peoples’ reaction to the video and hearing their different interpretations of it.
You’ve created a really great balance between pop, rock and country. How did you go about achieving the Towne sound?
Jon – It’s total luck, I would say. But it really makes sense where the two of us are so far right and left. We just happened to meet in the middle.
Steevie – We’re different musically in so many ways, but the things we do have in common, we hold on tightly to and make them as strong as possible. He has what he likes; I have what I like and we stand strong on those things.
Somewhere in between, we come together with our harmonies and working out lyrics that we both agree on and feel are the strongest to portray anything that we’re trying to say. That’s our common ground.
Jon – I think we’ve found a way to complement each other on the parts we’re maybe not so proud of naturally, and we accentuate that. Like, I’m not the world’s best singer, but The Beach Boys have always been my favourite, just insane harmonies, and that’s like my favourite thing in the world, and that’s something that she happens to be one of the best I’ve ever met at. I’d been in a band (formerly The Pink Spiders’ bassist) for forever, but it (harmony) just wasn’t the thing, it was rock and fast. She still teaches me harmony to this day, and maybe that’s why it works so well, because we have to work extra hard and it’s not some second-nature thing.
Steevie – Nothing is a throw-away, we have to work hard. I hear things a certain way, and since I could sing, I naturally heard harmony and could sing it and had an ear for it. I had never really worked with anybody who couldn’t do that. So when I met Jon, it was quite a shock that he didn’t hear that, or had never attempted to sing harmony. That was really intriguing, and it makes me hear the songs differently, so it morphs into something really special. And, I tell you, when he learns a harmony, he learns it for the rest of days.
Do your differences allow you both to take the lead on various facets within the band?
Jon – If it were a second-nature thing and I were to just go and sing a harmony, it might sound good, but it’s not always interesting. But when she really has to step back and think about it, she thinks of these different parts and I think that helps us stand apart, because it’s not always what you think you’re going to hear. It’s kinda by design and kinda by necessity, so it just winds up working. We prop up each other’s weaknesses and complement each other.
I was for a long time in a rock band, and I kinda got tired of that, so tried my hand at another route and it’s taken me here. I kinda lucked out, to put it mildly. I always tell everybody I’m the luckiest person I’ve ever met, for a lot of reasons.
What do you think it is about your unique musical backgrounds that makes TOWNE stand out?
Steevie – We’re not fighting for anything. We’re not competing against each other in a group. Jon is more quiet and I’d rather talk all day. He’s super knowledgeable about everything musical, period, he’s all over the map and I have my things that I like.
Jon – This is certainly not the easiest band I’ve been in, whether that’s with my ex-girlfriend, or all of these different things. It wouldn’t be something that someone did on purpose. You know, how we met, it was completely bizarre, it’s not necessarily something that people would seek out and we’ve said that forever. Typically, when you see a duo, it’s two really great singers just singing together, and whether or not they write their own songs, who knows? Whereas with us, it’s two people who want to sing together, and the want is so strong, that’s why it works.
Steevie – Honestly, before I met Jon, I didn’t really have the urge, as much as I do now, to be in this business and fight for it. We test each other and we try to pull out the positives through all the ups and downs.
Is Games We Play the first project you’ve released together?
Steevie – It’s our first as Towne. We used to be The Devious Angels, that’s how we identified ourselves. We never really thought that we were going to pursue this as strongly when we first started out, so The Devious Angels was like, ‘do you want to start a Facebook page? Okay, well, we need to call ourselves something…’ We didn’t really put too much thought into it. We’ve always been the same band, we just had a different name and then further down the road, we just didn’t connect to it.
In the back of our minds, we always wanted to change the name. As time went by, our sound really started to take shape, and we were like, ‘wow, this is really something’. At first we didn’t know. We were songwriters, writing things very, very country, or very off-the-wall, and it took us time to come together and form what Towne is, which is something that we can relate to and we are very proud of. Whereas with The Devious Angels, we were trying to find ourselves.
Jon – This’ll tie it all up in a knot for ya. So, we were The Devious Angels and we were making this record by ourselves with some buddies. In Nashville, it’s a small town so word gets around that you’re making a record, or whatever, and so people inevitably ask, ‘what are they all about? What’s the sound like?’ and all that. And the keyboard player says, ‘well, it’s kinda like town music, it’s not really country, it’s not real like pop, or synth, or rock, or anything. It’s kinda somewhere in the middle. So that’s kinda where that name came from.
Steevie – As we were working on the EP, we still didn’t have a band name and we finally said, ‘I think this has to be TOWNE’. It has longevity and we have finally found something that we can continue.
How did you go about writing and selecting songs for the EP?
Steevie – We don’t really have a certain formula. We definitely take away from our personal lives and we try to hone in on that as much as possible, because we feel that’s the most important thing. With these songs we’re constantly reliving moments of our lives on stage, and it’s hard, but that’s what makes it good.
Jon – When it came down to choosing the songs, you look and you say, ‘which ones tell the story of us?’ because I think that’s the most important story to tell. Whenever you set out to do something, the first question is, ‘why?’ And so we talked about it, and we have a pretty unique relationship, in a lot of ways, and it seems like that’s a worthy story to tell, because it’s one I think a lot of people might relate to, but also I’ve never heard that particular love-thing going on.
Once you had made the decision to part as a couple, did it change the music you were creating?
Steevie – We broke up to continue doing the music. As focused as we both are, at the end of the day, you still want attention from the person you go to bed with and when all the attention is on the music and the song…There were a lot of things personally in our lives, and we both had personal obstacles to overcome. For me, there was no way we could go forward with things being romanticised, or even just going on stage when I’m pissed at him, which happens inevitably when you’re intimate with somebody. Things are taken so much more personally, so I wanted the friendship first and foremost, so we took on the friendship role, and it’s been awesome.
As hard as all of that must have been, did you have a sense that the music was strong enough to make that sacrifice?
Steevie – Yeah, it’s kinda like having children. You know, wanting them to be the best they can possibly be and knowing that maybe a marriage wasn’t going to work out, but apart you’d be better.
Jon – It’s so easy to get caught up in it and love gets the best of everyone, right? But I think that to have no regrets, and obviously if you get to stay great friends, then what’s the difference?
Steevie – I had a very strong purpose that was easily getting derailed because of the relationship we were forming, he saw that, and I saw that. Thankfully, we both had the forethought to say, ‘you know what? Let’s focus on the music and see where this takes us, because I think our lives are going to be so much more enriched and our friendship is going to be really, really awesome if we go down this route’. And so far, so good. We have our moments, but that’s what makes it so special and, of anything, we want to shed our skin for everybody.
Jon – You can only put it out there and see if people take to it, or they don’t.
How did you go about releasing the EP independently to begin with and what’s that process been like?
Jon – We put it out and literally the next day, it went up on Spotify and we got a message on Facebook from a publisher. It’s bizarre. Since that day, everything has just snowballed up until today. It’s been really cool.
Steevie – We’re just taking each day and working as hard as we possibly can. We’ve done everything organically and that helps me sleep at night. Our numbers might not be through the roof, but at least we have real people behind us and that’s always been really important to me, and to Jon. There’s no way I could do this if it was fake.
How does it feel to know that your work is now connecting with people and they’re reacting to it positively?
Jon – That’s all that you can hope for. It’s scary putting music out, because nobody wants to fail and it’s always a possibility. You throw it out there and you just pray. Luckily, we’ve been getting good feedback.
Steevie – With this project and what Towne is today, my Mom could not be more on board. She feels it’s truly authentic and she is so happy for us and that’s a true testament of how I feel and why I feel so good about it. My mother never tells me what I want to hear, she tells me what I need to hear. So hearing that she loves the music is huge for me.
Will you now be focusing on a debut album?
Steevie – We’re actually working on the next EP right now, and what I really want to do is come out with a record vinyl where you can get two EPs on one. I just love record stores. We try and go to every one when we’re on the road, so I wish I had vinyl to drop off. Still to this day, my Mom’s records were probably the best gift I’ve ever received and I want to be a part of that.
Jon – It’s something that you can hold on to. We’re really looking forward to that, but I think we’re going to start recording in February and we’re already booking dates for next year. We’ve got some really good stuff happening for next year, so we’re fired up.
Towne’s EP Games We Play is available now. Watch the new video for The One I Love below: