Steve Poltz famously co-wrote the smash Jewel hit “You Were Meant For Me,” but in the last 20 some-odd years since his first solo album “One Left Shoe,” he’s been constantly on the move and creating and releasing new music – 12 albums so far. DaLuxe sat down with Poltz at in his dressing room before a show at Boulder, Colorado’s eTown where the lanky, soft-spoken musician, whose bio describes him as a “searcher, smartass, movie freak, lover of technology, news junkie, baseball fan to nth degree, lapsed catholic who still believes in god even though all his friends are atheists and think he’s an idiot, and maker of fun,” waxed about life, music and the road.
DaLuxe: Talk a little bit about your life before the hits started coming. Did you work a day job?
Steve Poltz: I did, and decided to quit in ’88. I traveled and had fun playing on the streets of Europe and I came back and worked for a little while, but I quit any kind of job for good in ’92. I still get some royalties from “You Were Meant For Me” but It’s not like the old days. I earn my money on the road now. I invest what I make back into my business, helping to pay bills while on the road. I just love the road, so I would have done it anyways. I love my life, that I get to do this, and travel everywhere.
DaLuxe: Tell me about some of the conveyances you use to get around with.
Steve Poltz: I fly a lot now. My touring has changed over the years. When I first started playing in Ireland, I would hitch everywhere. Then I strapped the guitar on my back and got around by bicycle. I came back and realized you could take buses from, say, Boston to Chinatown in New York for like 10 bucks, then. I did that a lot. As I started making more money I bought a van, a Ford 15-passenger thing and we would sleep in the van or get one room at Motel 6. I had a Sprinter for a little while, that was cool, I outfitted it so you could sleep in it.
Now I fly on Southwest airlines a lot in the States, because I have a “companion pass” where my girlfriend can fly with me for 5 bucks because I fly so much. I’ll fly in and rent a car. I love renting cars, I constantly try to get the newest one, and they all come now with Sirius XM. I like full-size, 4-door, and a big trunk. I put everything in the trunk and don’t have anything sitting on the seat so there’s no reason for people to break in.
DaLuxe: Yea, in NYC it used to be they’d break in if they saw a quarter in the center console.
Steve Poltz: That’s very true, you really had to be careful. You still do, but it’s not like it was in the 90s when you could almost expect to be robbed or have your car broken into. I still love that city, though. I used to do nights at the Living Room, Fez Under Time Café, and the Bottom Line, that was my favorite. Alan Pepper was the guy to see. He would scratch everything off that you had on your rider to eat and just give you an apple, some oreos, a nut bowl and a pitcher with water. You’d do two shows in one night. I was sad when it closed.
I’ve also traveled by train, that’s really nice. I’ve been boated out to islands to play. It’s so weird, all the ways you can travel and I’ve probably done them all. I travel with just one guitar, in a golf bag I get from Club Glove, it’s a really expensive golf and travel bag. I can fit two guitars in there. I put other stuff in that bag and check it, because you have a 50-pound limit. I could carry it on, but it’s heavy, I check it and don’t worry about it.
DaLuxe: How many guitars do you have?
Steve Poltz: I used to have a bunch but I downsized. I probably have about ten and I want to get rid of those, too. I only basically want this guitar, and the other Taylor that I have. Taylor’s given me these guitars, they’re really nice to me. I love that this is my job, I get to travel around, playing music.
DaLuxe: You had a stroke onstage in 2015. How’s your health now?
Steve Poltz: My health’s good! I’m lucky I survived that thing. It was intense. I look at it this way. There was a baseball player named Willie Randolph. He’d saunter up, real slow, conserving his energy, then hit the ball with an electric blast. So I’m talking to you now, like real slow, and when I get up onstage in a few minutes, I’ll become electrified. I feel like I’m the Willie Randolph of guitar players.
DaLuxe: Do you have a 5-year plan?
Steve Poltz: I still feel like my best moments are to come, otherwise I wouldn’t do this. I’m still delusional enough to think I’m about to break huge. I always think my next record that I’m going to put out is going to put me on top. But I’m not sure I’d want to be on top because I’ve been around a lot of fame in my time, and the pressure that comes with it. I fly under the radar and I don’t get hassled. I still get to play everywhere and have a following, which is really cool. I’m lucky that I get to do that. I can do “surgical strikes” because I’m solo. With a band, it’s a whole big thing.