Stalking the Muse Note by Note
Written by Rob McCorkle
Seated at an outdoor table at The Game Sports Bar and Grill and sipping on a brew, longtime local singer-songwriter Steve Macintyre jokes about cramming some original music down the throats of Las Crucens long addicted to the familiar bar band cover tunes played throughout the Mesilla Valley. He has returned recently from Phoenix where he heard the controversial, Nineties heavy metal band, Marilyn Manson, one of his earliest musical influences.
But don’t expect to hear any head-banging, hard rock when Steve plays Las Cruces gigs under his stage name, AlisterM, which derives from his middle name and first initial of his last name. The England native, who moved at age 11 to California with his Scottish dad and British mom, plays acoustic guitar and sings melodious, pop-inspired original tunes in a high-pitched, alto voice.
“It’s very poppy and catchy with lots of abstract tinges. I don’t want it to be real straightforward in the pop sense, sort of like the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s, but mixed with Nirvana and the Pixies.”
The 38-year-old doesn’t have anything against playing covers of popular artists, having performed many a Tom Petty tune the past couple of decades in local venues playing solo or with others, but Macintyre has come to a musical crossroads in his life. He is recording his first CD in seven years, working with local recording engineer Alexander Wunderlich, who has a studio in his Las Cruces home.
For the new album, Steve recorded rough demos on his computer, using the Garage Band software program. The songwriter says he works out a basic melody on guitar, adds some vocals with perhaps a harmony overlay, and sends it to Alexander to add a little bass or baby grand piano to the mix. The new album will feature five new AlisterM originals.
Steve picked up a guitar for the first time while attending New Mexico State University, where he graduated in 2002 with a mass communications degree. “I loved it and started getting better in small increments and realized I could sing to accompany the guitar,” he recalls.
In about 2000, the NMSU student and a friend of his who played bass auditioned and hired to join a popular local cover band, Sarin’s End. The five-man band was pulling down $500 a show, playing in popular venues of the day, such as The Club and Hurricane Alley. But Sarin’s End, like most bands, somewhat akin to dysfunctional families, ultimately dissolved. Steve then joined with friend Sam Greene to play in an Indie rock band, The Dead Rose Sinclair, performing about half cover songs and half originals written by Steve.
After Sam moved to Phoenix, Steve began playing solo under the AlisterM moniker. He would add a player or two as his career evolved, ultimately playing KRUXfest at the Pan Am Center in 2009, opening for headliners, Sleeper Car. The next two years, AlisterM, consisting of Steve on guitar and a keyboard player, played several house parties and unofficial venues during Austin’s renowned South By Southwest Music Festival. (It was during this period that Steve shot a music video in Austin, singing “Excuses,” which can be viewed online on Steve’s ReverbNation page: reverbnation/alisterm. )
Steve would record three albums of originals at recording engineer Sam Greene’s Mesa, Arizona studio: The Year of Independence (2008), Vaudevillian (2009), and Pop Culture (2010).
Recent years have found Steve playing either solo or with an occasional sidekick, doing mostly cover tunes mixed with an original or two, at venues like High Desert Brewing Co. and NM Vintage Wine. The breakup of a short-lived musical partnership with a keyboard player made him realize it was important to return to writing and performing original songs.
“There are crowds in Las Cruces that really appreciate original music, while others want to hear music they’re more familiar with,” Steve says. “It can be a challenge here, but I like to think of Las Cruces as a town that’s maturing musically.”
AlisterM released his latest CD, Ashurst Bridge, at the end of February.
Find his album, Vaudevillian, on Spotify.