He’s a right hand man to Bruce Springsteen in the E Street Band, has starred in The Sopranos and is a much-loved and incredibly talented musician.
But Steven Van Zandt knows that he has to win audiences over song by song with his current project, Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul.
The 68-year-old is currently on tour having released his first album of original music in over twenty years and.
Speaking ahead of his Glasgow date, he admitted that it’s a completely different experience to when he was last in the city, rocking the Hampden stage.
“It’s obviously a bit different than going out with the E Street Band knowing that the fans are all there knowing everything you’ve done,” he says. “It’s a celebration of your past work in a lot of ways.
“This is a different experience, it’s winning people over song by song. We’ve done it for two years with the previous album and now with the new album.
“You just assume that people are there out of curiosity perhaps. My audiences have been very open to hearing new things which is nice. It’s very exciting, it’s brand new right now.”
The challenge of doing his own thing again after over twenty years adds to the thrill of touring the album, titled Summer of Sorcery.
Indeed, Steven insists he had no plans to come back with Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul – he released his debut solo album Men Without Women under that name in 1982 – until he was asked to throw a band together for a bit of fun at a blues festival.
“I put some of my old songs on a list and started playing and thought, these things are quite interesting actually,” he recalls.
“They’re kind of their own genre, this rock meets soul thing which is quite unique. I thought nobody was really doing it and that it has value.
“I felt I needed to reconnect with it myself then reconnect it with an audience or connect to an audience for the first time really.
“I really do think it has a different kind of quality than what’s going on these days. We grew up in a very intense time, a renaissance period where the greatest art being made was also the most commercial and there’s an intensity to it that we took for granted. We were closer to our roots back then.
“Now life is casual, the music of the modern world is casual and that’s fine, but when people hear a little bit of intensity they respond to it. They recognise it and can feel that emotional content. I think it’s a healthy thing to be experiencing this kind of music which you don’t hear very often.”
Last night, Steven brought his hit Underground Garage radio show to Glasgow’s Hard Rock Cafe, who have sponsored it for the past 17 years.
Playing tracks with a summery, surf vibe, the set was a perfect taster for the following night’s gig at the O2 Academy.
“When I do a new show I do a whole new show,” Steven explains. “It’s the entire new album plus bits and pieces of the past that fit into the concept, which is basically a celebration of summer.
“The new songs are really translating well live, you never know until you try them out how the audience going to react.”
With four shows in the bag already – two in the US featuring surprise guest appearances from old pal Springsteen – Steven has been blown away by the response from the crowd.
Los Angeles, New York, Liverpool and Leeds have all so far loved what he and the band have come up with.
Steven adds: “They’ve been going absolutely crazy! The reaction has been beyond my wildest imagination. The album’s literally just out so they’re reacting spontaneously.
“The record is like an outline almost, the bones of the show, then you flesh it out and adjust the arrangements and have a few fun surprises and things and it becomes a show.”
Steven says that the buzz of going on stage has ‘never changed’ but having dabbled in acting in The Sopranos and Lilyhammer and taking part in various other off-stage projects, there’s always room to try his hand at something new.
“I get bored quickly!” he laughs. “I like to give 100% to what I’m doing but it’s nice to move around.
“I had to put the TV aside for a while. I thought if I was going to do this I’d do it for a couple of years, and then see what happens after that. I’ll go back to it eventually.”
First priority, though, Steven says, always goes to The Boss.
Having been friends and bandmates since they were both teenagers, their relationship goes back a long way and is destined to continue for many years to come.
“I booked this tour through early November just to leave space in case Bruce wants to jump in the studio,” he says.
“We’ll talk later in the year and see what he wants to do but I try to give him first priority and you have to, otherwise it’s complete chaos!”
Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul, tonight, O2 Academy Glasgow