Updated April 16, 2014
Last month Steven Drozd and Rock Sucker discussed the status of his long awaited children’s album with Steve Burns. “The problem is deciding what we want to do,” Steven said. “If a record comes out and people start expecting a live show, we just don’t know how we’d do it because The Flaming Lips are so busy, I have so little time anyway and I don’t know if I want to spend the little bit of off-time I have touring with another project! So we’re still trying to figure out what’s going to happen.“
Although news of a physical issue (or a record label to release it) has yet to come, stevenstevenawesome.com was launched on April 14, 2014 with twelve tracks streaming.
Visit stevenstevenawesome.com to hear the full debut album by Steve-n-steveN.
In an interview with Pop Matters last spring, Steven Drozd recalled meeting Steve Burns. It was 2001. Burns – then the host of the wildly popular children’s program Blue’s Clues – was a Flaming Lips fanatic and aspiring musician. Drozd meanwhile was “going through the worst of kicking heroin.” Burns trekked to Dave Fridmann’s Tarbox Road Studios in the Fredonia, New York to connect with the Lips any way he could. “He came to Dave,” Drozd recalled, “and I was up at Daves and within 30 minutes of meeting each other we really hit it off. So here I was, this junkie going through the throws of withdraw, and here is, the host of Blue’s Clues, and we’re upstairs making up these goofy songs within 30 minutes of meeting each other.”
“Steve Burns changed my life. We’re still really good friends to this day.”
Drozd went on to extensively work on Burns’ debut album, Songs for Dustmites, released in 2003, and its follow-up Deep Sea Recovery Efforts (scheduled to drop in 2009, never officially issued but bootlegged on the web, including YouTube). These are all out, kick-ass indie-rock albums; not kiddie tunes or mere side projects.
“I guess in around 2001/2002, when he first ‘retired’ from Blue’s Clues,” Drozd told Rock Sucker, “there was a big urban myth that he’d OD’d, that he was a heroin addict, all this crazy stuff that people like to get going. I think some people thought it was true, and it’s housewives and kids so it’s a weird group of people. We met at the end of 2001 when I was actually kicking heroin. I was trying to change my whole life at that point when I met him and we couldn’t have been more opposite: I’d be curled up on the couch like a junkie, trying to get well, and then: “Here he is! He’s the guy from Blue’s Clues!”
“So he went from being the host of this children’s show to hanging out with drug addict rock and rollers in no time. He’s one of the smartest people I’ve known in my whole life, he’s just a brilliant guy and a really good friend of mine now.”
Their partnership changed directions after writing and recording “I Hog the Ground,” a collaborative song for the Groundhog Day 2007 episode of Nick Jr.’s Jack’s Big Music Show. “He wrote the lyrics, I wrote the music and we wrote the vocal melodies together in an hour over a bottle of wine at my house,” Drozd told Rock Sucker. “We recorded it the next day, sent it to Nickelodeon and they loved it. They shot a video a month later and it still pops up on Nickelodeon to this day. After we did that song, we thought, “Man, we should just make a whole record. I bet we could do this.” So over the course of a couple of years he would fly down to Oklahoma from New York to spend five days in the recording studio, and we came up with eleven or twelve songs.”
Fast forward to March 28, 2009 – the day a MySpace page for Steven-n-steveN appeared, along with six tracks of “Melodramatic Popular Song / Psychedelic / Rock” they had recorded in 2008. The profile described their sound as “a glam unicorn accompanied by a psychedelic octopus ” and listed their “influences” as “Wondering, Burt, Black Sabbath, cephalopods, Grover, toy commercials from the 1970’s, Harry Nilsson, Dr. Seuss, Science, Bill Conti, Queen, futzees, Rocky Balboa, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, true love, Neil Diamond, the zoo, Holly Hobbie, fairy tales, David Bowie and Mister Rogers.
It also included this bio:
“One day, while searching everywhere for Princess Rainbow, a lonely unicorn named Steve Burns met a magical musical octopus named Steven Drozd in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. “Hi,” said Steve to Steven. “I like writing stories about outer space, wizards, and feelings.” “That’s cool,” said Steven to Steve while playing a bass guitar, Micro Moog synthesizer, and two Stylophones simultaneously. “I like to make brain burning musical soundscapes. Maybe you could add your stories to my music.” “Okay”, answered Steve, “let’s always do that right here in Oklahoma and never in New York City.” And that’s just what they did… for all us children.”
All of the material is fun for adults – sometimes rocking hard, as on “Space Rock Rock” – but geared towards little ones. “Both of my kids have heard all of those songs at least fifty times, because I’d play them and be like, ‘Is this catchy to you? Does it make you want to dance?‘” Steven told Rock Sucker. “I had a pretty good test market right in my own home!”
Not your typical “children’s album,” Steven told MTV last year that “anyone that’s heard it has just really flipped out on it. Kids love it, parents love it — if you have kids and don’t want to listen to Barney or Raffi or whatever, this is another thing you can put on.”
“We wanted to make a more adult-friendly, a more parent-friendly, kids’ psychedelic rock record,” he told Rock Sucker.
Drozd added to Pop Matters: “It’s just him doing all the singing and me doing all the music…It helped me get through some of the worst of the depressing and stuff just to stay busy and do those recordings ‘cos he such a fun-loving guy.”
Although it was rumored in 2010 that Sub Pop was interested in issuing the album, that now appears to be bogus internet hearsay, as no release followed. (The original MySpace page joke listed the duo’s “Record Label” as “the best one ever? who are you?“) In fact, nothing came of the project until a couple of years later when “Animation Art Director” David Bizarro created a cartoon music video for “Fact is a Gift,” one of the standouts from the MySpace preview tracks. After delays it was finally released in October 2012 by DELO Creative, a Flaming Lips-associated graphics and video production group:
Mostly completed since 2008, Steven tweeted about finally finishing off the album in March 2013, and Kliph Scurlock mastered it. That spring, right as the Lips were releasing The Terror, Steve and Steven teamed with Bizarro again to “shoot a bunch of videos … for this kids record.”
First came a video shoot for the “rocktopus” effect pictured below (via sideshowgoshko.blogspot; visit for more photos and details):
A casting call for a May 4, 2013 “OK Toilet Bowl” video shoot – choreographed by Kyla Piscopink – sought “Children: between the ages of 3-12 with outgoing personalities and a love of music.”
In March 2014 Steven Drozd explained the album delay to Rock Sucker. “We’ve got a whole record that’s been done since 2008,” Steven said. “I think Steve thought that since I’m in The Flaming Lips and Scott Booker’s my manager and I have Grammies, I think he thought, ‘This will happen, Steven knows what he’s doing.’ And at the same time I thought, ‘Steve Burns, he’s kind of a big star and knows a lot of people in all the industries. Surely he can get something going.’ So I think both of us were waiting for the other to do something!”
On the brink of it becoming the Chinese Democracy of the pre-school set, it looks like the time has finally come for Steve-n-steveN. If the tabs at stevenstevenawesome.com are any indication videos, live shows and blog entries are all to follow throughout 2014…
…and hopefully a physical release too!