Feature Artist: Steve Schiff
Don't You (Forget About Steve)
Steve Schiff, BBE Sound artist and long-time user of BBE Sonic Maximizer signal processors, audio software plugins and stomp boxes, chatted with us to tell us about how the hit song, Don’t You (Forget About Me), came to be.
Well, around 1980, I heard through a friend that Nina Hagen was looking for a guitar player. I heard her stuff and found it… very bizarre but still auditioned and got the gig. We then went into the studio and started recording with Giorgio Moroder and Keith Forsey, future producer of Billy Idol.
Keith and I became buddies in the process of doing Nina’s album and writing. We toured all over the world for about three years until 1984, then Keith called me when I was with Nina in Spain, and he had co-won an Oscar for co-writing What a Feeling from the Flashdance film with Georgio. And because of that, he got the gig to write all the songs and score the movie The Breakfast Club. So Keith asked, “When are you coming back ‘cause I want you to do this song writing with me!”
I came back to the US, quit Nina's band and we went in the studio and started writing songs for The Breakfast Club. We wrote like five different songs for different people like Wang Chung and so forth. And then when we wrote Don't You.
We thought about having Billy Idol do it but he was hot off the heels of Rebel Yell at the time and wasn't interested. So I was a huge fan of Simple Minds and said, “Let's send it up to them and see what they think.” Luckily, they did it and now Bob's your uncle!!!
How does it feel to have a song that's so many people of a generation know and love?
It’s an incredible honor I'm really touched by it actually. I can't tell you how many times I've run into people and they said, “Oh wow I love that song it's pretty remarkable!” Boy, it was really a great thing to happen.
How did you get started in the music business?
When I was an eight-year old kid, I got a funky guitar with Nylon strings and played it all the time. Plus, all through high school I was in bands. When we graduated, everybody went off to college to become, like, a session musician and I was really disappointed because about that time (early 70's), there was a lot of stuff going on in the music business that was really cool. But all of a sudden, there were no bands – everybody wanted to be a, quote, “PROFESSIONAL!”
Anyway, later in the 70's I was just playing and working odd jobs and then I formed a band called 1994 and we got a deal with A&M records. We were produced by Jack Douglas, and toured with Cheap Trick and Aerosmith. and I did all the writing and stuff with 1994 and was with them until about 1980.
I learned a lot from Jack Douglas. He was so inspiring. He came in and was hungry for every demo tape I could give him – song ideas and stuff like that. Any riff you had, he was game to go out there and mic it up in a weird way and make it sound great! Even though it was a long time ago, I mention it because it was a really helpful, formative kinda thing.
Jack Douglas is a wizard in the studio and approaches everything in the studio very creatively…
And he's a lovely chap on top of it!
So I was with 1994 until about 1980 and hanging around in LA looking for something else to do. Eventually, I hooked up with this guy who had a band called 20/20 and he had formed a new band called RadioMusic. His name was Mike Gallo and RadioMusic was really sort of pop – in the vein of Naked Eyes! Very intricate, well-produced parts in all his songs. We did that for a while though we never got a deal, but it was while I was playing with them that I started to do my own thing.