MUSIC | “These songs are the best we have ever written”: Steve Duder and Lyle Anderson of Sweet Gravitii

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You have to hand it to R&B rocker Steve Duder for sticktoitiveness. Hard luck dogs him like a lovesick suitor, but Duder keeps shrugging it off, pulling himself back together and getting on with the business of making music.

Duder saw his band Sexual Chocolate and the White Boys through one potentially derailing mishap only to have it fall victim to another. And another. After they finished the solid debut CD Sexual Chocolate and the White Boys, their lead singer ran into more personal trouble than being in the band could accommodate. Duder weathered that storm through to the release of their follow-up, the profoundly impressive Pure Poison, with a new vocalist—only to see guitarist Lyle Anderson up and get married, abandoning the band Anderson had, in fact, started. Then the new vocalist, along with everybody else, took a powder, leaving bassist Duder all on his lonesome. At this point no one would blame him for saying the hell with the whole thing and throwing in the towel. Not Steve. He hitched up his britches and stepped back into the fray, rejoining forces with Lyle for an outfit they decided to call Sweet Gravitii.

Attention-grabbing name or not, I guess anyone would’ve been through calling anything Sexual Chocolate and the White Boys, too, opting for clean a break from the troubled past as possible. Didn’t help. No sooner had Sweet Gravitii started recording than the singer simply just didn’t work out. There’s even more bad news, but we’ll get to that in the interview. Meanwhile, the beat, as they used to say, goes on. At myspace.com/sweetgravitii the group officially is Steve Duder and Lyle Anderson and whoever they happen to be playing with at the time. The last time I spoke with Duder, he was looking for yet another vocalist. I hinted that I was available, but he didn’t bite.

How’d the audition go that night I was going to try and stop by?
Steve Duder: The drummer actually flaked out the day of the audition. You know, the “I realized that I don’t have time to commit to the band” excuse. It never ceases to amaze that people can’t figure that out before they answer an ad, but that is what happens more often than not when conducting auditions. I’m afraid that we will go through a few more of those before we land a good drummer again. I already miss Patrick Wilson’s beats.

How is it working with Lyle again?
Steve Duder: It’s great! He has been my writing partner for about ten years and is also one of my best friends. A lot times I don’t even have to say what is on my mind musically and he gets what I’m saying with just one look and a nod. Sometimes that look is the look of death, but he knows that I’m not ripping on him. I’m just telling him what is working and what is not. He experiments with his sounds a lot and as his band mate, I let him know when something doesn’t sound good to my ears. He does the same for me. We don’t beat around the bush. We just say “that sucks, it isn’t working” and shrug our shoulders and move on until we find what works. When he quit SCWB shortly after he got married I felt the void of his absence. The band started getting greedy and started drifting into lame cover band territory instead of keeping it honest with original writings. Often times walking away from something puts it all in perspective. Since Lyle joined back up he has been truly awesome. It is like the old days where we jammed in the band Studiobum or after that when we released the first SCWB CD. The new writings are reminiscent of that period because we are returning to more technical harder hitting funk and jazzy sounds with more interesting arrangements.

How is it working with Steve again?
Lyle Anderson: Better then ever. Steve is coming up with some really nice solid grooves and he keeps re-inventing old ones. Despite the fact it’s just Steve and me, we are moving fast towards our third CD. Writing is a very complicated task on your own, but writing with Steve just works. Sometimes it takes a little while to find my place in a song, other times I just nail it in a night. When you’re in a band there’s a lot of work. Not just the music but all the set backs. Steve and I just shrug it off and move on.

How was the time away from the band?
Lyle Anderson: For the year I was away I was still popping in the latest songs we, Steve and I, wrote and playing along to gather more ideas. Sometimes away from something is a very good thing. I got married…and was able to focus on finding value in other things besides music. There was regret about leaving so quickly but my heart was no longer in the direction of the band. I knew it was time to move on. Lucky another original act I perform with, Audio Therapy, kept me busy, so music never left my side. There was always one thing Steve said to me that kept reverberating in my head: “On my death bed would I rather be remembered for some silly cover band I was in, or all the great original music I helped create for the people to enjoy and remember me when I am gone?”

How’d you guys come back together?
Steve Duder: Lyle and I have been friends for years. We went to computer school together. We were also roommates for several years. I didn’t talk to Lyle for like eight months. Our drummer friend who was our roommate and old drummer in Studiobum talked me into going over to Lyle’s to jam just for fun. A few months later…I called up Lyle just to chat. Next thing I hear from the other end of the phone was “so, you wanna start the band again?” Hell yes I did!

So, you’ve been writing together. That’s good news considering some of the material you’ve come up with in the past.
Lyle Anderson: [We] have not stopped writing since we have been back performing, rehearsing, or just hanging out. There are always new ideas and a renewed sense of direction for us with every new band lineup. The next album is going to incorporate a lot of styles and ideas. Working with so many musicians has given us new insight and the ability to weed out the ones who will slow us down, or just find money more important then the experience. I personally can’t wait to get in the studio and start recording but we have a lot of songs to critique and people work with.

What’s next for Sweet Gravitii?
Steve Duder: We have had some fits and starts and let some people go and other members have left. We took a hard look at where we are at and the 13 or 14 originals that we have written and decided that our best option was to start over with a new drummer, singer, and some keys and or horns. Since Lyle and I are the only bandmates right now we are going to continue the process of auditioning drummers and will keep writing. Our debut Sweet Gravitii CD will eventually come to fruition and these songs are the best that we have ever written.