Hey hey again my excitable companions! It’s that time again, time to meet the new fan spotlight! Let me introduce you to Mr. Stephen Gwaltney!
Early nineties radio is how 311 was introduced into Stephen’s life. Then in 1996 they came to Nashville the day after his 18th birthday. His friend Jeff bought him a ticket as a gift, but they both worked together and their boss wasn’t going to let them have the night off. “So we both quit and went to the show. From the moment they took the stage I was hooked! Can’t really pinpoint exactly what draws me to their music. It’s just the positive vibes with a funky beat.”
75 is the count of live shows Stephen has seen with his wife, but he didn’t keep count until they got together so he’s probably closer to the 85 mark. When asked his favorite event or show, he had a hard time choosing because they basically plan their vacations around the big 311 events. “But if I had to choose just one, I would say cruise 4. Something magical happened on that deck while they were doing the Soundsystem set.”
The song “Sun Come Through” is one that Stephen loves, he says it gives him goosebumps every time he hears it. However he doesn’t have a specific song that means something special to him. “Stereolithic gives me the feels. I listened to that album at least once a day for at least 18 months straight…which reminds me, I need to listen to Stereolithic again lol!” Some of his favorite lyrics are: “Stay positive and love your life,” “Life’s a bowl of punch, go ahead and spike it,” and “The ones who aggravate you most and happen to be ever close, seem to be the ones lurching for the same things you are searching. The ones that make you feel ill and you think that nature should have killed, those curse when you’re alone, seem to be so close to home.”
Lexington, Kentucky is Stephen’s place of origin and he moved around a lot up until the fourth grade (he moved from K.Y. to Florida, back to K.Y. and then back to F.L.) when he finally landed in Nashville, Tennessee. Even though he changed schools a bunch he didn’t mind and says it’s probably why he likes meeting new people. At age 11 he began playing bass and was in a band all through high school. When he turned 18 though they all decided to go their separate ways and it was shortly after that he went to his first club to see a DJ. “Once I saw the way the DJ made the crowd move I knew that’s what I wanted to do. So I started DJing house music.” Shortly after that his friend Jeff, the one who took him to 311, introduced him to his wife. “She was a 311 fan AND a house head, it was meant to be! We’ve been together for over 17 years. No kids, just fur babies. I think we love traveling so much that slowing down to have kids wasn’t going to happen.”
In 2003 they moved to Chicago because they both wanted a change and it’s the birthplace of house music. “If I was rich I would own a summer home in Chicago. Greatest city in the world…during the summer. Winters can suck it lol.” Stephen started doing an internet radio show while in Chicago. It gave him a global audience and ultimately helped him get more gigs all over the U.S. and Europe. He still does the show on Friday nights at 8pm CST. Check it out on www.sugarshackrecordings.com.
Now back in Nashville (because they got tired of the winters), he has a monthly DJing residency and still travels for gigs occasionally. He’s mostly been focusing on his new business called Synergy Digital Graphics. “I do dye sublimation printing on t-shirts, hats, coffee mugs, and all kinds of other swag. I’ve been in the sign and large format printing industry for almost 20 years. This year I started my own company and do consulting for other start up printing businesses.” Oh and for those peeps in the Familia, he’s the one who made the new logo decals and he has been handing them out for almost 2 years now!
Fun fact about Stephen, he is a registered Native American (Osage). He is also a master at those claw machines. “I win so many plush toys from them that I donate several trash bags full of them each year for Christmas.” Guilty pleasure would be listening to movie scores while he works. “Do anything to the score from the Dark Knight movies and you’ll feel like a bad ass!”
Other bands that Stephen loves include: Tool, Muse, Pink Floyd, Pigeon John, Rebelution, Arctic Monkeys. Then the DJ’s he’s into are: Derrick Carter, Mark Farina, Hardkiss Bros., Giom, Inland Knights, and Corduroy Mavericks.
His personal message to 311 is a simple two words – “THANK YOU!!!” And his message to all the fans is the same:
“I guess I would just say the same thing to them, THANK YOU!!! Thanks for bringing your energy to the live shows. Thank you for continuing to support 311. Thank you for stopping me on the street because I have on a 311 hat or shirt and giving me a high five and a hug. THANK YOU!!!”
That is Stephen’s tale of his love for 311! Hope you all had fun reading as much as I did writing his story. Thanks for taking the time to meet Stephen! Now go kick some butt and have an excellent week. Until we meet again!
Much love – The Runt