Who the hell is Stovepipe?
Stovepipe (aka Justin Stover) is a one man band, singer-songwriter, amateur fortune teller, and soapmaker.
He was born in the cute, thoroughly redneck villa of Maxfield, Maine. Population of this town remains 86, according to the national census. It has stayed this number for a while even though he has attended the funerals of several townsfolk. So the dead have either been quickly replaced or are zombies. Neither option would be surprising.
Stovepipe spent his time doing very little for several years. Eventually, he discovered the VCR, upon which he in turn discovered horror movies, The Goonies, and even music (via James Taylor on Sesame Street and, shortly after, KISS via church sermons about the dangers of KISS). This combination explains his music perfectly.
In 1994 he heard Green Day's "Basket Case." The result was increased stamina during games of One-on-One basketball with his brother, and a love for punk rock that continues to this day.
Now in 2019, whilst waiting for The Rapture, Stovepipe finds this odd combination of James Taylor, Kiss, horror, satanic panic, and punk have been a lovely influence on his music. He hopes you hear this influence and, if all works out well, that you'll at the very least try on some KISS makeup in your spare time.
Q&A w/ Stovepipe
Tell us about your one man band contraption and why you started playing it.
I first saw a one man band on an episode of Reading Rainbow when I was very young. I was in awe of the ability of so much musical noise being made by one person. I also just liked the inventiveness of the instrument. It had all kinds of wheels, pulleys, ropes, cymbals, you name it. It was part musical talent and part spectacle. This image memory stayed in my mind for a very long time. I had thought about building one myself and even attempted to but never made anything impressive. In 2013 I found out about a company called Farmer Foot Drums and absolutely had to get one of their contraptions. I've since become close friends with Farmer family who runs the company, and have close ties with other artists who use their instruments. I tell people that I became a songwriter pretty early in life, but I didn't become a musician until I found that foot drum and started playing. That's how much of a difference it made on my music.
Your last few albums talk about the occult and Satan a lot. Do you sacrifice goats?
Certainly not. I love goats. But I do find that occult material has been very inspiring in my music. I was raised in a very religious context, specifically during the Satanic Panic of the 80s. It's such an odd moment not only of our country's religious history but also of its pop culture. I love all the cheezy horror movies, the hysteria parents had over bands like Motley Crue and heavy metal in general. Not just heavy metal even but MUSIC itself. Our church said if you played Beatles records backwards that you'd get possessed by the devil. I mean, just nonsense. My parents mostly let me and my brother listen to whatever we wanted and they weren't religious nuts, so we never really took the satanic panic stuff seriously. But I met a lot of people who were hurt by it. The fact that parents honestly thought there were Satanic cults in the woods of their neighborhoods. In hindsight, almost all of that-if not all of that-was complete fabrication borne out of hysteria. Still fascinating, and makes for interesting songwriting material. I like to write songs about characters who either get out of or "defeat" their lousy circumstances. All kitschy Satanic pop stuff aside, I became very interested in writing a concept album where the overarching "lousy circumstances" surrounding the characters was Satanic panic itself. So I made Love in the Time of Satanic Panic in 2016. It is set in the 80s. I found a lot of my own struggles with religion, growing up, and just a sort of empathy for kids who were honestly "punished" for, well, being KIDS! You know, being grounded when their parents found KISS records under their bed, being forced to attend churches that encouraged all this, and then of course add the sex aspect that seems to always accompany being young, listening to rock music, and attending church. So to make a short story long, that's what happened.
Your newest album "Dimes on Her Knees" is a spiritual sequel to Love in the Time....It isn't necessarily concept album, but seems to have some of the same themes. Like its predecessor, there is a pentagram on the front. How is it a spiritual sequel?
Lots of the imagery from the first Love... is on Dimes... It really does have a lot of the same themes and circumstances, but I'd say it's more personal. With the exception of the "Kathy's Song" cover and a couple story songs, this is a personal album about me and my experiences, whereas the first one was essentially a collection of short stories set in the same town. So I think it has the same feel. It's a bunch of love songs that I wrote during a time when outside circumstances prevented the relationship from happening. It's not a good feeling to feel like something outside of you is dictating your life. But at the same time, there are some benefits. I think you try harder, come up with more creative solutions, and I'd argue write better music. As far as it being a sequel...this sounds very pretentious, but I really did "fall in love" with the characters in the first Love... album. And I'd say that's the benefit of concept albums and writing short-story songs. You take the focus off yourself by creating fictional characters. I felt so close to them, so that when I went through my own thing, I felt an odd kinship with those characters. Thus the 'spiritual' sequel bullshit.
What can we expect next?
I'm working on the songwriting and demos for the third and final Love in the Time of Satanic Panic album. This one will dig even deeper into my pop-punk roots. I want the album series to end on a hopeful note and pop-punk music is what makes me feel most hopeful, since it's so closely associated with growing up. There will be plenty of folk stuff in there as that's really the backbone of it all. But I want to make a fun record, a sort of "go get 'em" bunch of songs. I have a new Farmer Foot Drum which far exceeds the backpack kit I used to use. My guitar playing has veered a bit into slide guitar, lap steel, and even blues, which I'm horrified of because blues music is hard to do well. But I can see the influence getting in there. I think you're gonna see the occult strain continue. I think that might be my 'niche' for now. It's certainly the most fun I've had writing songs and making music.