“Only snack on fresh fruits, dry fruits or nuts to restrict calorie intake. Your bag of chips or a jam donut is fine provided you work it off afterwards through exercise. Chew your food properly to help you eat more slowly. Most people bulk food without chewing properly or tasting it.”
I’d met Steve a few times through his work with Glen Matlock. He always struck me as a learned, self depreciating, somewhat shy, talented, and dare I say, slightly troubled man. On one occasion in Macclesfield he was reflecting on his walk around the town in the afternoon. He was thrilled with the town’s proximity to the Peak District, and felt the area was straight out of a Dickens novel. Wearing a long black coat and his mischievous grin, he too looked like a Dickens novel brought to life.
I asked him at the time if he’d like to give an interview about the Rich Kids for the site. He laughed, “The Rich Kids, who’s interested?” ' People are', I protested. He laughed again in disbelief, “The Rich Kids!” The 7th January 2010 reunion was to prove Steve wrong on this one.
My fondest memories of Steve stem from the few days I spent down at Sawmill Studios, Cornwall, during the recording and mixing of Glen’s album On Something in 2003. The studios can only be reached by boat during high tide, they are that remote. This means Sawmill Studios is very much a 24 hour a day, live-in experience, with overnight accommodation a part of the deal. Steve New was ensconced in the studios the entire time of my stay, so I got to know a little bit about him. I learnt that he missed the Pistols 1996 Finsbury Park gig due to drugs, even though he was living close by at the time. I discovered his love for Spinal Tap, late night internet surfing, and Frank Zappa. I could see the link between him and Zappa; both a touch zany, sharp witted, intelligent, and talented. Tragically, both are no longer with us.
I mentioned talented.... his wizardry on the guitar was a joy to behold. Whenever his input was required, either Glen, Greg the engineer, or myself would leave the studio and fetch him down from the living quarters, where he’d be relaxing. Whatever sound Glen was after, he’d explain to Steve who simply plugged in his guitar and let rip with as many permutations as required. He was simply astounding. It seemed so easy to him. He’d play identical solos or vary them slightly, whatever was required, however many times it was required.
On one particular occasion, Glen wanted handclaps on the track Piece Of The Action so both myself and Steve duly went into the recording studio to provide them in unison. I’ve only just realised while reliving this moment that I’m on the track alongside Steve. Oh my.
I referred earlier to Steve being slightly troubled. I base this not on what other people may say, but purely on my own observations down at Sawmill Studios. One morning when I staggered down from my room into the kitchen, there was Steve cooking breakfast for everyone, with a big grin on his face. This amused me so much I took the photo which is reproduced above. The following morning he was withdrawn and sullen, a total contrast, only to bounce back later in the day happily playing snooker with me while discussing with Glen how Mick Jones played the opening chords to London Calling.
He was also on top form the night we set out on a trek to the nearest pub. I use the word “near” loosely. A walk in the dark, through woodland and across a river was the only route. Fine, only there was no bridge. Typically it was me who wandered into the stream by missing a strategically placed rock. Steve kept me amused the remainder of the journey by recalling the time he had sex with Nancy Spungeon. Sid and Nancy were an item at the time, but this didn’t bother him. What did bother him was that Sid found out almost immediately and confronted him. Steve braced himself, waiting for Sid to go mad. After an awkward silence, Sid asked meekly “She’s not bad, is she?”
When we eventually made it to the pub, Steve insisted I took off my wet shoe and sock and dry them on the radiator. I was embarrassed about what the locals were thinking and couldn’t look them in the eye. Steve just laughed and went to the bar.
This piece began with a quotation. I should explain.... On one occasion during my stay at Sawmill Studios I walked into the lounge catching Steve unawares. He had in his hand my dictaphone. He quickly switched it off with that mischievous grin of his. A bit like a naughty school boy. When I returned home I labelled the tape Steve New and filed it away, not knowing what, if anything, was on it. The recent Rich Kids reunion made me recall my time at the Sawmill. I suddenly remembered this incident and wondered if I still had the tape. I did. There was Steve New, in a fittingly Fagin voice, delivering three sentences on healthy eating. For some reason it seemed to encapsulate the man perfectly. Quirky, humorous, and caring.
I only knew him briefly, but I’m glad I did.
God bless you, Steve New.
Text and photograph by Phil Singleton
(Written: 24th May 2010)
CHRIS MUSTO'S SAWMILL PHOTOGRAPHS
HUNG ON YOU - RICH KIDS: FOR ONE NIGHT ONLY. 7th JANUARY 2010