Steve Dockery's Musical Autobiography

Early Years

I was born in Manassas, Virginia on April 4, 1962. In spite of the fact that my Dad was a musician, and there were always guitars around the house, it never occured to me to pick up one of them until I was 17 years old. I started learning some acoustic folk-rock songs, and I was presented with my own Yamaha acoustic as a high school graduation present from my parents (a guitar which I still own and play).

The summer I graduated from high school, I started practicing with Marc Roulier, who had been playing the bass as long as I had been playing guitar (although he had an advantage on me, having played double bass in the high school orchestra). Marc taught me some rock songs, so it's all really his fault.

We almost immediately started imagining what sort of band we might have, and what sort of music we might play. The next summer, we formed a cover band called "Prelude" with some friends to play at a party.

Meanwhile, I was starting to write some music, and Marc went off on vacation at one point with some music I wrote, some lyrics our friend B.J. wrote, and returned with the two of them fused into a song, our first original tune, "There Will Be Noise."

We formed a new band which we called "*Batteries Not Included," which played primarily cover songs, but which also did our new original song, and we played at several parties.

We also worked on a few more originals. It was in this period that I wrote my first complete song, "Camera Lies," followed by "Too Busy" (a collabration with Marc, who wrote the music) and "New World."

*Batteries Not Included in NJ

In the spring of 1984, Marc and I moved to New Jersey so I (and eventually he) could attend Rutgers University. Once there, we advertised for additional musicians to finally form an original-music band. After a couple false starts, we ended up with our first *Batteries Not Included lineup in New Jersey: Me on vocals and guitar, Marc on bass, Karthik Swaminathan on guitar, Steve Beste on drums, and Laurie Stier on keyboards. Laurie was soon asked to leave (but we remained on good terms), and we played as a 4-piece at many venues in the central and northern NJ area, including several appearances around the college.

After a couple of years, Karthik and Steve Beste left to pursue more experimental music, and we advertised again for a guitarist and drummer. Fortunately, Jeff Ganis and Paul Bergen arrived as a solid unit, having played together for a long time, and we were back in business in a short while. The second NJ *BNI lineup went on to play to bigger audiences and more places (including CBGB and The Stone Pony). Along the way, we added John Kuzel on keyboards, but he eventually left, justifiably, due to the fact that we just weren't writing keyboard-friendly songs (ironically, there are keyboards all over the "Meet The Stevos" recordings I've just done).

We had made several demo tapes ourselves, but we finally booked some studio time and recorded two tracks, "Corridor" and "Something To Hide." (Alas, we did not get to keep the master tapes, so all I have from these sessions is a mix-down to cassette.)

Toward the end of the 80's, frustrated by our inability to "hit it big", and with some of us getting married and having less time to devote to such an all-consuming hobby, we went our separate ways. I graduated from Rutgers with a degree in Visual Art, and started working as a graphic designer.

After *BNI

Afterwards, I briefly played in another band, "Gangter Clairvoyants," including much different arrangements of some of the same songs I'd done with *BNI, but once I moved back to the Northern Virginia area in 1990, I didn't have the time or mental energy to devote to a serious band, so for years I just jammed with friends and formed temporary bands to play at parties (such as "Simon Millgan and the Hecubi", "The Ravens" and "The Unprepared"). Marc continued to play in cover bands here and there, and participated in these ad-hoc bands as well. Once back in the DC area, I went to work for a company that provided output services for graphic artists. I also began to design and build websites, and that line of work became a larger and larger part of what I did until it was my primary focus.

In the spring of 2004, something happened to give me a musical kick in the pants. Apple released a music package so easy to use, so powerful, and so cheap, that there was no good excuse not to start playing with it. As I worked with it, I found myself able to create recordings that were of such high technical quality compared to our old demo tapes (indeed, even as good as what we'd done on the cheap at the studio) that I found myself wanting to record all the old songs properly, once and for all.

One thing led to another; Marc lent his talents to a few songs, then more, then all of them; I recruited Harrison Sherwood to embellish a couple, and even managed to interpolate a drum loop from an old *BNI demo into one of the songs. I was so inspired, I began writing again.

Meanwhile, I had located the final NJ lineup *BNI members (the internet is a wonderful thing) and discovered they were all eager to get together for a one-off reunion show, including erstwhile keyboardist John Kuzel. Jeff Ganis (who continues to play with Paul Bergen in a cover band called "Prankster") booked us to play at a charity marathon show in NJ in August 2005, which we did. It was enormous fun, and in many ways, it was as if no time had passed.

Recent Years

Over the past few years, I have continued to build websites and my musical career has grown. I now play solo acoustic sets at a local sandwich shop, and I have played for weddings and other events, and run sound for a couple of bands. I've formed my own band, called String Theorists, which has played two live shows, and we intend to do some recording and play additional shows in the future.