[Cover photo credit to Jason Quigley]
Portland, Oregon-based musician, engineer, and Producer Steve Drizos has been a professional touring musician for more than twenty-seven years and is also studio owner. He’s currently the drummer for Jerry Joseph and The Jackmormons or but he also helms his SE Portland recording studio, The Panther. Steve Drizos is gearing up to release his sophomore full-length album, i love you now leave me alone, which will arrive via Cavity Search Records and is set for release on February 16, 2024.
Today, we’re very pleased to premier the video for the album’s second single “katie” which the artist wrote in honor of his wife. The track also has an interestingly long life-span that suggests Drizos’ careful search for the right tone and mood. In fact, the song does have a very measured tone, balancing a search for stability and answers in life against the key relationships that reassure us and, importantly, keep us from too much introspection.
The song’s structure has an interesting build up of detail that reveals more about the narrator’s state of mind, searching first for himself, then for the “unmoved mover” as a kind of rationale to the universe. But the real quest seems to be for assurance, so rare in this world, that a mainstay relationship will last. The warm guitars, addition of harmonized vocals, and hints of emotion and earnestness in the vocal delivery all give a mellower, meditative feel to what might otherwise be a communication of relatable existential dread.
What the video does for the song “katie” is a vivid projection and intensification of that warmer feel hiding in the track, but it also intensifies the sometimes absurd isolation that the narrator might feel from his surrounds. Shot in bright daylight in a green, open, park-like space, most of the video holds Drizos in the center of the frame as an increasingly celebratory parade of people turn the song into a dance party. Let’s not forget the adorable dog who opens and closes the video and who Drizos, no doubt, found it hard not to react to.
It’s a wonderfully colorful and energetic video that intentionally undermines some of the seriousness of the lyrics that Drizos delivers with a poker face, but on a bigger scale, it may well resonate with many of us who feel at times like life is one big celebration that we didn’t come dressed for. That sense of inclusion is something various people in the video seem to offer, even painting Drizos’ face for him, but the outcome makes its own statement about his state of mind. As a love story, the song and video return to their chief concern. Is love something that we can really depend on? Only “katie” can answer that question.
Of the single, Drizos says:
The song is written for my wife, though the names have been changed to protect the innocent. I started the song almost 20 years ago, shortly after we first met, and it took me this long to come up with a version I was happy with. The track features Todd Wright on guitar and backing vocals, Tim Murphy on bass and backing vocals, Jenny Conlee on keyboards, and Joe Mengis on drums. It was ecorded and mixed by me at The Panther, Portland, Oregon.
Having worked with an array of artists at The Panther, including Patterson Hood (Drive-By Truckers), Debbi Peterson (The Bangles), Spencer Tweedy, Chris Funk (The Decembrists), and Scott McCaughey (R.E.M., Minus 5, The Young Fresh Fellows), as well as his wife, The Decemberists’ Jenny Conlee, Drizos familiarity with the studio culminated in his debut solo album, Axiom, which was released on Cavity Search Records in 2021.
Written and recorded during the start of the pandemic, Axiom was Drizos’ chance to experiment in the studio, playing most of the instruments himself. However, with the upcoming collection, i love you now leave me alone, he decided to demo everything and build a band around the songs. This has led to a collection that shows his evolution as a songwriter and collaborator and channels the influence in 90s guitar-Rock, Pop, and Folk.
Discussing how his second album came about, Drizos says:
My first record, Axiom, got a lot more attention and positive feedback than I ever could have imagined, so I felt really motivated to release a follow up as soon as possible. And where Axiom was very much done on my own, I wanted this project to be a band, tracking the songs live and having much more collaboration. Once I had a batch of songs that I felt good about, I assembled the players and got to work.
The band includes drummer Joe Mengis (Eels), Tim Murphy (RoughCuts) on bass and backing vocals, Todd Wright on electric guitars and backing vocals, and his wife, Jenny Conlee on piano and electric piano.
Whereas Axiom was introspective and about Drizos and his newfound sobriety, i love you now leave me alone focuses more on Drizos’ loved ones and his relationships with them.
Most of the songs on this album are about my relationships with those closest to me. Some songs are pretty direct, like ‘troubled heart’ is a song directly for my wife, while others are more of an amalgamation of people in my life. My first album was much more introspective, so I wanted this one to be looking out and talk about some of those relationships.