Band Q&A – Bon Viveur

Bon Viveur is a 1 man band, Steve Proctor, playing all instruments and song writing.

1. Who are your top 3 influences?

I have quite a diaspora of influences from around the musical sphere, but the top 3 would be narrowed down to Green Day, The Ramones and Blink 182. Both Green Day and The Ramones have a means of classic pop song writing that for me particularly evokes the 50s/60s American pop sound that I’ve always enjoyed, overlaid with that punk “scuzziness” that marries so perfectly with the melodies in creating pop punk. Blink would be in there for the sense of humour and all-round playfulness; that humour I find so refreshing in this day and age which I try in a way to inject into my music too!

2. Where did the name ‘Bon Viveur’ come from?

“Bon Viveur” is a French word borrowed into English, meaning one who lives well or who sees themselves in that light. It’s a bit of a tongue-in-cheek joke, in that those people were really just using “good living” as an excuse for doing too much of what they enjoyed and how perhaps some of us get away with doing that today!

3. What is your song writing process?

The vast majority of my songs begin with a vocal melody and take life from there. I’m primarily a bass player by trade, so I work basslines in second and shape the guitars around with riffs and hooks where they fit. Oh and keys, nothing like a bit of retro Casio keyboard to throw in over the top for that added warm vibe! Location-wise, songs have taken form anywhere from my bedroom through to the M54, night shift break rooms and pub toilets so it happens when it needs to happen.

4. What do you hope to achieve a year from now?

I actually have EP2 written and ready to go, so the plan is to have that ready for a May 2020 release. In terms of where I see the project going, the aim is to take the songs as far around the world as possible and to places that might not exactly be on the top of most people’s hit list. I’m a small town guy and I think a lot of the subject matter in the music lends itself well to others in a similar boat, I’ve had a track off the EP played on the radio in rural England, the USA and now on FM105.5 in Armenia so there’s no place too small I won’t take it!

5. Biggest challenge so far?

My biggest challenge so far has probably been in the production aspect of my music, as it’s something I’ve taught myself over the last 10 years and through a few Youtube videos. I started out producing my own acoustic music but the full band setup has needed a lot more study and a lot of late nights with a drip-feed of caffeine.

6. What inspired your songs (lyrically) on your debut EP?

The first EP touches on a number of aspects of country life, collected from throughout my late teens and 20s. “Running” for example is about dating apps and the added allure of a new romance from a limited pool, whereas “Country Living” is a story of being the designated driver when a drunken village hall party goes wrong. I think everyone can find something to relate to in the lyrical content though, it’s just a more unique insight that I have compared to others in the scene perhaps!

7. Do you plan on adding any other members to Bon Viveur?

At the moment, no. However I wouldn’t rule it out as I’d love to play live, rather than just being a recording-only project, along with which I’ve just started a nursing job with “regular” hours so organised rehearsal is now back on the table. For the meantime, I’m happy working like one of these obscure Norwegian black metal bands that records once a year before disappearing back into the forest!

8. What inspired you to become a musician?

The biggest inspiration for me was idolising the likes of Mark Hoppus, Dexter Holland and Milo Aukerman growing up. Here were these regular guys like me who were able to thrill and unite a crowd with the music they created, so if they could then why not me? Hearing pop punk for the first time in the late 90s really brought home how feasible it was to create my own music and how that melodic immediacy could catch hold with anyone around the world.

9. What do you do when you’re not musically involved?

Outside of music I’m a nurse by trade, intensive care mostly but I’ve now worked my way through an MSc into teaching in the hospital. Though I might not follow Greg Graffin and Dexter Holland into the realms of a PhD thesis! Outside of work I’m involved with my local rugby 2nd team at Ludlow RFC and ski at least once every year, there’s really nothing like the mountain landscape for inspiration.

10. Funniest show story?

Every musician has that empty room story, though mine was at a bar in Bristol to the barman, his Jack Russel terrier and a lady reading her Kindle. The dog however was by far the most active audience member in attendance, going so far as to start humping my ankle while I moved the capo between two of the songs early in my set…

11. Pizza! What do you have?

First of all, I’m just going to throw it out there, pineapple is completely acceptable and mix in whatever you wish! However my favourite has to be the Swedish/Middle-Eastern delicacy that is the pizza-kebab. Literally just as you’d expect: throw lamb, chicken, cheese, peppers, onion and tomato on that pizza and finish up with garlic mayo and (most importantly) chips on top. Pick the chips off the top with the garlic mayo and you have 2 meals in one, perfect warming food for when it’s -15 outside so if you’re down in Halmstad then ask for the “Morris” and you won’t be disappointed!

12. If you could go on a dinner date with another musician in the scene, who would it be?

So many choices in the world of pop-punk and punk rock but my choice would have to be a man-date with Henry Rollins. One of the great story-tellers of all time and I’d just love to see somebody that intense put in a three-course meal order! Oh and he started out selling ice cream, so dessert craft would something I’d have to get the “scoop” on (sorry).

13. Fast forward and you’re a millionaire. What do you do with the money?

So, when I get that multi-platinum album that sends me interstellar…not much changes. At least half goes to charity, dementia research is chronically underfunded despite it being one of the biggest health challenges of our time so that’d be a big priority. Then for me, well, I’ll buy a hut somewhere in rural Sweden to escape to once in a while…to take a break from the world tour with a pair of skis, a fridge of Electric Nurse IPA and the real Swedish cultural heritage moment: the pizza kebab.

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