Like Michael Corleone, Steve Gattermeyer tried to get out of the life but the life kept pulling him back in.
But unlike that fictitious mobster, "the life" for Gattermeyer doesn't include having his rivals catch bullets with their eye sockets. Instead, "the life" means long road trips, late hours and clubs full of drunks just for a chance to play the music he wants, the music he wrote.
After three releases of all original music, the Hamilton native tried to leave the unpredictable "originals" scene for the lucrative comfort of cover band security. That didn't last long.
"I had the most fun playing my own stuff even if there were only three people there," he says. "Playing covers wasn't as gratifying. The more I got away from it the more I missed it."
So guitarist/singer Gattermeyer recruited longtime friends Dave Lenehan (bass) and Roger Cottle (drums). The trio retreated to the studio in the spring of 2007.
The results are his fourth album, Stockholm Sin Drone
The 10-song CD is full of the hard-rocking Cheap Trick- and KISS-inspired sounds found on his previous releases.
"In the '70s, bands were really great: the old Aerosmith, the Stones, Blue Oyster Cult, Cheap Trick. Modern music is good but it's just not my thing," says the thirtysomething Gattermeyer regarding the sounds of his childhood. "I remember riding my bike to K-Mart to get an LP and riding home with that big bag hanging off my handlebars."
The title of the CD refers to Stockholm Syndrome, a condition where a captive begins to sympathize and eventually join their captors. Some could perceive the title as Gattermeyer admitting to being "captured" by the forces of creating original Rock & Roll, and his resistance has weakened to the point where he has given in and joined his captors.
Or it could just be a joke.
Actually, it's a tribute to the Scandinavians who snapped up more than 3,000 copies of Gattermeyer's 2002 CD, Winning Over the Better Half. The single "One Million More" received a push from Swedish radio, including one station that claims the lofty title of "The Rock Home of Stockholm."
"The title of the CD is a joke that, so far, no one gets except for a few people," Gattermeyer says. "It's just to pay homage to those folks who supported us. They noticed us when I couldn't give away the CDs here. It's just a funny title"
Thanks to the Internet, Gattermeyer is able to do a lot of overseas promotion. His schedule includes dozens of interviews with Swedish and Norwegian radio stations and publications. The song "Home Sweet Oslo" is being pushed as a single in Norway, while the pick for Death Metal-loving Sweden is "Black Candles and Bloody Noses."
"The scene over there seems to be full of more 97X-type (Alternative and Indie Rock) stations playing underground stuff. Radio's not monopolized."
Before the modest yet unexpected success he's had there, Gattermeyer says he knew little about Scandinavia except for what he learned from "listening to too much King Diamond and Candlemass."
Besides the land of reindeer and herring, Gattermeyer also does a lot of promotion in the land of Old Style Beer and deep-dish pizza.
"We play out of town a lot," he says. "We've made a lot of friends in Chicago. You can do your own thing there and you're welcome."
As a solo artist, all the responsibility for success or failure falls on his shoulders. The duties that go along with being in a band aren't divvied up between three or four people. He writes the songs, he makes the set lists, he books the studios, he books the tours and he finds hotel rooms (or at least couches) when playing out of town.
"It's hard work," he says. "If it doesn't sell, it doesn't sell, but it won't be for lack of trying. I mean, a title like 'Home Sweet Oslo' is some silly shit but I hope people catch on to it. I want people to like what I'm doing."
STEVE GATTERMEYER celebrates his new CD with a show Friday at Barb's Pub in Middletown.