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Punk rocker goes back to his East Coast roots

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After years playing and recording with Halifax punk outfit The New Breed, singer Jonny Stevens decided it was time to do something different.





At the urging of his wife, the 26-year-old decided to follow the example of his musical idols — those unafraid to take their sound in new directions — and record his first solo album.





“My heroes are guys like Joe Strummer who played in a punk band and went on to do world music in the end, and Billy Bragg who’s been all over the map. I think it’s okay to be a little all over the place,” Stevens comments during a break from his “pay the bills” job at a restaurant.





With hints at his punk past, and glimpses of his roots rock future, his self-titled debut makes for a great listen, thanks in large part to catchy tunes like the aptly titled single Starting Over.





It certainly didn’t hurt to have help from some of his East Coast rocker friends, like Matt Mays and Ruth Minnikin.





But Stevens chalks a solid final product up to his own methodical nature, which meant more than two years were spent working and re-working the album.





“I am a bit of a perfectionist, but after my punk band broke up I wanted to do something a little bit more positive that I could be proud of,” he says.





He doesn’t expect to get rich off the album, but he hopes it nets enough to put gas in the tank as he and bandmates Ian Mosher, Serge Samson, Chris Gillis and Norman Love start a seven-city tour of Quebec and Ontario this month.





The indie life is a tough one, but he’s already done the record label thing with The New Breed, and in this Internet age, Stevens says major labels can sometimes be more of a hindrance than a help.





“A label is not a very efficient way of doing things. Now I can write a new song, record it in my house on Thursday, mix it on Friday, and have it online for people to download in 24 hours.”





If downloading means more people will hear his music and attend his live show, then all the better.





Jonny Stevens & The Racket play at Babylon, 317 Bank St., on Sunday.




kim.mannixvermette@metronews.ca