It's been a full 30 years since Steve Brown and Trixter released their self-titled debut album, but the guitarist seems to be busier than ever.
On the Trixter front, Brown and his bandmates plan to release a vinyl reissue of the album that launched their careers.
“We’re going to do a deluxe edition with all the demos that got us signed,” says Brown, who was barely out of high school when Trixter nabbed a major-label deal. “I dug up my original four-track demo of our first single, Give It to Me Good, and other tapes of songs that I didn’t even remember existed.
“I can’t believe the album came out so long ago – it’s surreal. Its success allowed me to fulfill every rock dream I ever had. We toured with Poison, Warrant, the Scorpions… It was insane!”
When not working with Trixter, who still perform, Brown tours with Dennis DeYoung of Styx, fellow veteran glam metallers Danger Danger and… a little band called Def Leppard. Although Trixter never opened for the British hard rock giants in the early Nineties, Brown was befriended by Def Leppard guitarist Phil Collen and his bandmates at the time.
“Phil and I first bonded about gear, and then he’d invite me to the shows. I’d get to the arena and the tour manager would bring me into the dressing room and the guys would be like fucking naked and taking showers. And I’m sitting there drinking a beer, like, ‘Do you want me to leave now?’ They treated me like family.”
When Def Leppard guitarist Vivian Campbell was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in 2013 and had to take a break from touring, Collen didn’t hesitate to recommend his long-time friend to step in.
“I had about a month to learn all of Vivian’s guitar and vocal parts,” Brown says. “And to this day, I’m on 24-hour call whenever Def Leppard is on tour in case Vivian can’t make the shows. I even had to fill in for Phil once when he had a family emergency, but I only had a couple of days to learn those parts!”
When he’s not digging through the Trixter archives or jetting off to play stadium shows at a moment’s notice, Brown can often be found in his New Jersey home studio working on music for Tokyo Motor Fist, the melodic hard rock band that features Danger Danger vocalist Ted Poley, drummer Greg Smith (Alice Cooper) and bassist Chuck Burgi (Rainbow).
The band’s sophomore album, Lions (Frontiers), features all of the big hooks, meaty riffs and massive backing vocal arrangements you’d expect from musicians so well versed in the genre.
“The sound is a combination of all of the bands we play in now, all the bands we’ve ever been in, and all bands we grew up loving,” Brown says. “There are hints of Trixter, Danger Danger, Def Leppard, Alice Cooper, Rainbow, Bon Jovi, Van Halen, Kiss…”
And just when it seems that the litany of artists who inspire him might continue for quite some time, Brown catches himself and condenses his thought with uniquely New Jersey flair: “Bro, what can I say? Tokyo Motor Fist is every melodic rock fan’s dream, including mine, and it’s all in one band.”