Pittsburgh native Steve Moakler is mostly likely known for writing the song “Riser” which was recorded by country music star Dierks Bentley. However, what most don’t know is that Moakler is an exceptional talent himself. His music has been featured in commercials and on major networks such as MTV and ABC. Moakler’s style is extremely unique. His music is a mixture of country, classic rock and a tad bit of Americana. Musically diverse, Moakler has a wide variety of sounds and each song has its own authenticity. Moakler gives a whole new meaning to artistry.
1. Where are you answering these questions from and what are you wearing?
I’m at a Cracker Barrel south of Orlando. Got my comfy clothes on ’cause I’m driving today. Levi’s pocket T, Steelers athletic shorts, Nikes and a hat from a golf course in Oklahoma.
2. What’s your official title and favorite thing about what you do?
I’m a country music singer and songwriter. My favorite thing about what I do is telling stories that bring people together.
3. What are three things you CANNOT live without?
My wife Gracie, a guitar and The Bible.
4. What’s the first concert you’ve ever attended?
Haha. It was actually Green Day. I was in middle school. My buddies and I won a contest in the parking lot and ended up in the mosh pit. Didn’t know what we were getting ourselves into.
5. What’s your favorite cartoon character?
Bugs Bunny. Space Jam is my jam.
6. What’s the hardest life lesson you’ve learned?
Go with your gut. It’s not always logical, convenient, or easy, but it ends up saving you and other people time and pain in the long run.
7. Do you have a favorite restaurant in music city?
Mitchell’s Deli. Their Asian Flank steak sandwich is incredible!
8. Beer or whiskey?
Beer. Yuengling to be specific.
9. What’s your favorite country singer from the 90’s?
10. Out of all the songs you’ve written, do you have a favorite?
I didn’t for a long time but I would have to say it’s probably “Riser” (which Dierks Bentley recorded). I feel like that’s the kind of song that I’ll be able to sing as an old man and it will carry even more weight with time. It’s gonna wear like leather.
11. Do you have a favorite place to perform?
I have a lot of family in Pittsburgh and New York City and they are a rowdy and fun bunch. Those shows always feel like family reunions to me and I think the other fans in attendance get swept up into it too.
12. What’s one gift you will never forget?
My grandma’s boyfriend Tony was a limo driver who collected all kinds of things. He overheard me begging my mom to buy me a guitar when I was 14 and one morning I was leaving for school and there was a 1980 Alvarez acoustic from his collection that he had dropped off the night before. I’ll never forget that and I’ll always hold onto it.
13. What current event has your eyes and ears? What are you doing about it?
The Human Sex Trade breaks my heart. My friend Tim and I started something called Free The Birds in 2011 in partnership with my listeners. We sell birdhouses, t-shirts and frisbees and invite people to give donations at all of my headline shows. We give the money to nonprofits such as Abolition, Love146, and The Daughter Project – all who do a great job taking girls in who have been rescued and loving them back to life. It’s a sad and evil thing and I’m proud of my fans and the way they have rallied to help. They’ve raised over $20,000 and counting.
14. How do songwriters play a vital role in music today?
To me, songwriters are the foundation of the music business. Great artists, tours, labels and radio stations are all built on the foundation of great songs. They always have been and always will be.
15. What’s one super power you wish you had?
I mean, I can’t think of anything than to fly, right? I would also like to add the ability to hold onto to someone else so they could fly with me too. Kinda like a Southwest buddy pass kind of thing…but as a super power.
16. You’re making your favorite sandwich…what’s on it?
Well you gotta start with the bread. Great bread is KEY to a great sandwich. I’d start with fresh loaf of Italian bread and slice it right down the middle (hoagie style). Then, Boar’s Head Ham, pepperoni, and salami all sliced paper thin. Then add onions, lettuce, and tomato, all chopped up super fine. Finally, top it off with some oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, and oregano. Boom!
17. Name one artist of any genre besides country that you are a fan of and tell us why?
Bruce Springsteen. Bruce says that, “Music has to be about the light, but in order to see that light, we have to come at it from the dark.” He points us all towards hope but his angle is usually from some point of longing and desperation. I may or may not have shed a few tears watching him from the back row of an arena last year. He’s a huge inspiration.
18. What makes you laugh out loud?
Honestly, I think stupidity makes me laugh the most. Like America’s Funniest Home Videos kind of stuff. I think it makes me feel better about the all the dumb stuff I do.
19. Fill in the blank: It’s not a party until…
…there’s something to dip the chips in.
20. Fill in the blank: Country music has made me…
…feel more connected to my roots. Whether you are from the country or not, country music has a way of reminding you who you are and where you’re from.
Do you have a favorite Steve Moakler song? Tweet me and let me know @brittwv.
Pick up Steve Moakler’s recently released self-titled EP on iTunes.