*All visuals were virtually created, nothing real or human in it!
New York City guitarist, singer and songwriter Steve Conte has found the way back to center stage with his first solo album in five years, the attitude-infused Bronx Cheer, releasing Friday, November 5th on Wicked Cool Records. Bronx Cheer is brimming with the spirit of New York both past and present. “I remember the danger, dirty streets, the garbage strike, sleazy 42nd Street,” Conte recalls of his first visits to the city as a kid in the 1970s. “When I moved here in the mid-1980s it was not all that different – but it’s very different now. Yet somehow, I still love it – and hate it. To me that’s what the Blues and Punk Rock have in common – complaining!”
Long known for his memorable guitar work as a member of New York Dolls, as well as former Hanoi Rocks frontman Michael Monroe’s band (with whom he still performs), Steve found international fame in recent years via his collaborations with Japanese composer and artist Yoko Kanno on the soundtracks to several hit anime series, including Cowboy Bebop.
The album’s 11 tuneful new songs, all written by Conte (with one co-written by Brynn Arens) swing like a citified update on Paul Westerberg or Old 97’s. The core of Bronx Cheer consists of Steve on guitar and vocals with bass by his brother John Conte (Southside Johnny & The Jukes, David Bowie, Ian Hunter) and the renowned Charley Drayton (Keith Richards, Iggy Pop, The Replacements) on drums.
And here we have the video for the album’s lead single “Recovery Doll,” a fast-paced tale of excess that traces a descent from fun times to darker spaces. Blending old school rock and roll, doo wop background vocals, and a healthy dose of New York attitude, the song is a fast-paced guitar rocker that is hard-hitting, infectious and fun. The video combines live action with digital effects to create an effect that is simultaneously bizarre and engaging.
Steve describes the inspiration & process behind the song & its music video:
“I presented this song to both New York Dolls and Michael Monroe, so it was written with a fun and punky feel in mind. But then, in keeping with my usual Libra contrast/balance, the subject matter gets serious about addiction and recovery. I was thinking of a lot of people when making the composite person that the song is about: Amy Winehouse, Sylvain, Killer Kane & Thunders from the Dolls, Hendrix, Janis, Prince, Petty, etc. We are always rooting for them to recover, but sometimes they go the other way. When I came up with the girl-group background vocals – “mm-bop-shoo-bop” – I knew I had to put my then-11-year-old son Zia’s voice on top of the girls. He’s been singing his butt off since he was a toddler. I had him sing on the Michael Monroe track “Child Of The Revolution” when he was three!. When I approached (director) Tim (Roth) about making this video I said 3 things: The images should include a female rocker, a dirty hospital, and a sense of struggle. It was a fine line to walk because the sound of the song is very much upbeat, fun rock n roll – but the subject matter is somewhat heavy, about addiction and recovery – so I wanted it to be cartoonish but with an edge. This is always my struggle as a Libra- maintaining this sense of balance, between light/dark…but I think in the end, we nailed it! We had to make the video this way because it was during Covid times when musicians were not playing together in the same room, so I knew it couldn’t be a live band video – and I didn’t want to film just me playing solo so I thought I’d go for a whole different concept. And the digital domain is Tim’s world.”
Video Director Tim Roth adds his own two cents:
“When Steve Conte came to me with the idea of doing a music video for his new single “Recovery Doll,” I thought it would be a great opportunity to try out some new visual techniques I’ve been playing with lately. Steve’s original concept was to use still photographs of a “rocker chick” in various states of disrepair, backed by some concert scenes, showing a slow decline in the life of a celebrity musician. I knew finding photographs depicting exactly the scenes I’d need would be nearly impossible, so I decided to create a complete CGI backdrop, complete with CGI characters, which would allow me to build any scenes I needed. This entire video was created in Unreal Engine using the new MetaHuman creator to create the “actors.” Visually, I took my cue from the album artwork, I wanted to keep it looking a bit surreal and slightly cartoonish, while still having a bit of fun with the “blowup doll” concept.”