Here come the Suns: Steve Broderick reflects on his new band

Steve Broderick, center, and the 100 Watt Suns
Steve Broderick, center, and the 100 Watt Suns

By now, Steve Broderick is a bit of a musical philosopher. At 46, having toured the world as vocalist for the Trans-Siberian Orchestra and been in several on-the-cusp-of-stardom rock bands, he continues to write, perform and rejoice in the miracle that is rock music - and whatever happens, happens. Now, with his latest band, the 100 Watt Suns, Broderick has probably the best attitude any musician can have.

"Well, I hope we're taking what we're doing to the next level," Broderick laughs in a recent phone conversation. "My approach is to be a band and make sure the music comes first and foremost. (The goal is to) enjoy what we're doing and make sure it's a project we're proud of. If something comes of it, great. If not, that's okay, too."

After all these years - many of which he spent doggedly pursuing stardom - Broderick is a happy realist.

"I tell the band, let's just have fun," Broderick says. "The business of rock was really hard 20 years ago. It's a million times harder now. It's a long shot of a long shot. But what's great for us is how much we're enjoying what we're doing. It took a while to get this lineup together, but it's really gelled."

Along with Broderick, the 100 Watt Suns include guitarist/vocalist Dan Watson, guitarist/vocalist William Light, bassist/vocalist Marty Maroney, and drummer/vocalist Don "DC" Culp. The musicians gradually came together after Broderick, who grew up in New York City, left TSO to move to Stonington, his wife Amber's hometown. The couple has three daughters.

Enjoying rural Connecticut, Broderick casually worked on local gigs and new material that resulted in a solo CD called "Shamrock Eyes." Almost by accident and over time, as he played shows in support of the album, the fluidly talented guys who comprise the 100 Watt Suns began to coalesce as his permanent band.

With time, they began to work even fresher songs into their sets. Last year, they went into the studio and recorded a self-titled five-song EP that scored immediate cachet after Jay Messina agreed to mix the project; he's worked with dozens of huge artists including John Lennon, Miles Davis, the Rolling Stones, Cheap Trick and Aerosmith.

It also helps that the music is effortlessly catchy, well-played American rock. In that spirit, the first single from the EP, "You Can't Hide," charted on numerous adult album alternative (Triple A) radio stations across the country.

"I'm not sure everyone knows what Triple A radio is," Broderick laughs. "It'd be easier to say you're a country or a metal band, but I do think this is clearly where we fit. The format has the classic rock sound of older acts like Tom Petty, Van Morrison and the Stones, but it also features newer artists like Amos Lee, the Black Keys and Ray LaMontagne."

Through connections Broderick has made over the years, the Suns are also starting to score some high profile shows, including their second appearance, Wednesday, in the Mohegan Sun Wolf Den. Over Memorial Day Weekend, Broderick & the 100 Watt Suns will perform four shows during Marc's Great American Rib Cookoff & Music Festival - an event that includes headliners Joan Jett, Taking Back Sunday and Blackberry Smoke. And it looks as though the band will soon be confirmed for an early fall East Coast tour opening for the Gov't Mule side project, Planet of the Abst.

"It's funny. We're making headway in an industry where no one knows what's going on," Broderick says. "We're recording more songs, but everything's up in the air in terms of the future of CDs. I like to joke that we're in the antiques business. Our commitment is to new music - we just don't know what format it will appear in."

Broderick describes a one-off Trans-Siberian Orchestra gig he did on New Year's Eve in Berlin.

"There were some industry guys at the show and we were talking and they wanted to hear the 100 Watt Suns. I had the EP, but they didn't have a CD player or stereo. That's obsolete to them. It was hilarious," he says.

One accessible possibility is You Tube. Working with local videographer Ken Pottie, Broderick and the Suns have made four clever and very competitive videos. Broderick says, "We're having a blast with this. Hats off to Ken for moving us in that direction. So, even if I can't for sure tell for sure whether CD stores exist anymore, I know people will definitely watch videos and learn about bands that way."



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