DEAN CRAMER of SO LOW and formerly of FUNNY MONEY with STEVE WHITEMAN of KIX, is one of the most excellent musicians I ever met…fun, always smiling, very self-confident minus the ROCK STAR EGO too many musicians have… DEAN’S band SO LOW is missing from the music scene today….. 80’s hair-band-get-your-fun-loving’-groove-on with lots of melodic 80’s guitar going on with a fair share of ballads as well. If the late 70’s and 80’s hard rock and hair metal bands are your things, DEAN CRAMER’S SO LOW is a band you’ll want to check out already.
Also, if you ever get a chance to see DEAN CRAMER’S SO LOW live and in action…do not let it pass you by….you go to that show, and you take all your friends, and you’ll have one-hell-of-a-night you’ll not be forgetting anytime in your lifetime. It’ll be a full-on charged energy blast of excellent music by extraordinary musicians.
MARCY: I interviewed you (So Low) back in 2013 for my magazine RockBottom and loved it. I talked to you before that when you were in FUNNY MONEY w/STEVE WHITEMAN of KIX… Great to catch up with you again, I’ve been listening to “PUT IT ON YOUR LIPS.” It’s dated 2014. Great tunes with that same 80s hair band feel that earlier music of yours had. How would you describe your music??
DEAN: Musically wise, I’m much more of 70’s rock fan than the 80’s scene. My teen years wherein the ’80s, and that’s when I started to play out, which is undoubtedly part of my upbringing, but again, the ’70s is my main go-to period whenever I listen to music. I think that people might “hear” the 80’s thing in my original/SO LOW music because they know me from Funny Money, with the Kix connection. I don’t think that I write in that style (not that I’m trying to avoid it), but people hear what they hear, and it’s all good as long as they are listening to what I’m doing.
MARCY: The music I’ve been listening to is a little older…. I’ve watched covers you also have on YOUTUBE…loved your version of RED SHOES by FACE DANCER ( I LOVE THAT SONG!). I’ve watched other covers you did of uhhhhh. What?? 80s HAIR BANDS!!! Heehee. AWESOME COVERS! But back to YOUR music & CDs. How many CDs have you released, and have any been more recent than “PUT IT ON YOUR LIPS”? Tell us a little about the CDs that you published. What/who influences your lyrics & music?? How can the readers get their hands on your CDs?? Any other merchandise you have available on SO LOW?
DEAN: Right out of the gate, Face Dancer is one of my fave bands ever. Though they only released two records, they are also 2 of my fave records. I’ve been playing their “Red Shoes” since I started playing in bands, pretty much. I always make the joke that I think that I’ve played it more than they have at this point, hahaha! Just a stellar band to me. I have zero problems playing cover tunes. I like all of the songs that my band plays.
For SO LOW, there’s sadly only one out right now. I’m very “shiny squirrel guy,” getting sidetracked easily. As a result, tie flies by, and I need to refocus myself to that task. Trust me, there are lots of songs, partial songs, and ideas that I already have, and quickly enough for a new record, it’s solely up to me to get it done. We’re looking to try recording drum tracks in the coming weeks.
I write my songs in whatever “style” comes to mind. In other words, I’m not aiming for anything particular; I’m just writing whatever I feel like, which is the purpose of this band. As a recap, I started the whole thing because one of the groups that I was musically wise didn’t give me the results that I thought made the best song. As a result, I decided to do it all on my own. So if you like it or not, I get credit or blame for the results. I simply try to write songs that I think are right/cool. On this new record, I hope to elevate my lyrics this time. Often, I’ll use the Steven Tyler approach to some words, which is, while they might not seem to make sense, they do sound cool!
If anyone would like to pick up a copy of the “…Put It On Your Lips” CD, or a shirt, sticker. They can drop me an email at email@example.com. On Facebook, message me at https://www.facebook.com/dean.cramer.7.
MARCY: Is SO LOW signed to a label, or do you release your CDs yourself or what..???
DEAN: No, done in house. The first CD was recorded and produced at Mark Schenker’s home here in VA. The new one will to recorded in MD and VA, from what I can tell thus far. My musical company is Audio Sunshine, but because that’s what I’m trying to produce music that makes you feel good when you listen to it.
MARCY: Any videos out there by SO LOW?? If so, tell us about them. If not, do you plan on making any soon??
DEAN: All videos that are for public view can be found on YouTube. Just search Dean Cramer, Dean Cramer’s SO LOW or SO LOW.
MARCY: As I mentioned earlier, I interviewed you when you were in FUNNY MONEY W/ STEVE WHITEMAN of KIX…I saw FUNNY MONEY live a few times and AWESOME stage shows as usual by YOU and STEVE WHITEMAN. You left FUNNY MONEY in 2006, am I correct??? Why did you decide to leave FUNNY MONEY? FUNNY MONEY broke up not too long after you left the band…. right? Why did they break up (probably because you left the band, huh??? Ha.)?
DEAN: Thanks for the compliments about the shows. As well as the rest of the boys (Mark and Jimmy Chalfant), Steve and I strive to give an excellent visual presentation, not just a good audio one. Rock and roll is a super obvious thing. I think that we listen with our eyes as much as our ears. It’s a 2 part thing. Some bands wear the same clothes on stage that they had on when they are setting up their gear. That’s not how I approach it at all. I had an old SO LOW member message me. He said that it was to be 100 degrees for the outdoor show that day and wanted to know if I was getting dressed as I usually do. Of course, he already knew the answer, but I replied that I was. It’s a SHOW.
With the Funny Money band members, we lost 3 of them in one shot (Billy Andrews, Ned Meloni, and Geoff Burrell). Steve asked me whether I wanted to fold the band or continue. There was no doubt in my mind that we should continue. That’s when we got Sam Stilwell and Louise Coppola in the group. Eventually, that morphed into the band’s final version, with Steve, Mark, Jimmy, and myself. The band never did stop playing from 1996-2014. Our last show was on Dec 31, 2014. I was gone to try to do something with Skid Row’s Sebastian Bach for a bit but returned about two years later. So, except for Steve, I was in the band longer than anyone else, for a total of over 16 years.
MARCY: Who are the present members of SO LOW??? Have there been a lot of lineup changes over the years?
DEAN: We’ve been through several members throughout the years, which isn’t the funniest thing to have to deal with, but it happens. We’ve got a great lineup now: I’m lead vocals and guitar, Harley Kuhn is also guitar and backup vocals, Dylan Howes plays the bass and sings backups, Murray Gurnall is on the drums. I’ve known Murray for decades now, having played with him in a Western MD band, Idiots Rule, a great group. He’s also been in the SO LOW band several times, and I’m glad to have him back in with us. Dylan played bass with Ronnie Younkins’ Blues Vultures band and replied to a Facebook posting about SO LOW needing a bassist. He’s been a massive plus in that area, always prepared and willing to do whatever’s necessary to get the job done—a real pleasure to have in the fold. Harley’s played in Western MD bands throughout the recent years, and I came across him through some acoustic shows we did together. Again, another person who likes to make the group the best it can be. The music comes first, playing what the song needs, not just playing what you want to play.
MARCY: I noticed you are still teaching guitar lessons… How would someone get in contact with you if interested in your guitar lessons??? Do you have a lot of people who you are teaching at the moment?
DEAN: Absolutely, I’m still teaching. I do online lessons through Zoom as well as in person, be they at my home or at the student’s home. Currently, I’m at around 30 students a week. At one point, in the ’90s, I was up 52 students a week. That all stemmed from reading an article on Randy Rhoads, where he was teaching 40+ a week, so that sounded like a good goal to me. I teach from complete beginners up through advanced. You can contact me through Facebook. You can also send me an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
MARCY: How is COVID-19 treating SO LOW??? Can’t play live shows for one and that sux…I know you had lots of shows booked. How many did you have to cancel or reschedule??
DEAN: Honestly, as of this writing, I/we’ve been off for 2 1/2 months. It blows since we had some extra cool shows that were booked within this period, all of which got scrapped or moved. Even looking ahead to the next couple of months, things are likely to suffer, though hopefully less as time ticks away. We, that being the band and all of our musical friends throughout the country and world, are anxious to hit stages again and move on from all of this. We hope that those who support what we do by attending shows will be out in full force. I play shows every week (at least 2), whether it’s with SO LOW or another entity, so I’m missing out on a lot of financial things. It’s tough, make no bones about it…
MARCY: Do you think things are going to be different after the ‘lockdowns’ are lifted? If so, how, why & what would be different??? If not, why??
DEAN: Sure, there’s no doubt things will be different, as there are already such. While the SO LOW band hasn’t been allowed to play in the past 3 months, we’ve gotten together for rehearsals and I’ve got the fire under my butt to get a new record out, which stokes me the most. With regard to how things will be different, that’s all dependant upon what the regulations are put on the venues that we’ll be playing at. If they need to adhere to the distancing thing, it makes it tough for the bar to bring in the people needed to make money to pay the bands a fair wage for their efforts. I know that everyone needs to make money-it’s a business. It all boils down to the home, and people can get together if they need to keep a distance between no another. Right now, I’ve just started doing some acoustic shows, which must be outside. Despite all the changes, it’s better to be back out making music. I think that it’s what I do best.
MARCY: I would love to ask tons more of questions like I would love to with all my interviews, but sadly, they must end… I’ll let you end it with anything you’d like to share about SO LOW….soooo GO!!!
DEAN: Before everything came to a screeching halt, we were on a nice roll, playing more than we’ve ever been playing, which is extremely gratifying for me, personally. I’ve had this band for a while now, and I believe that it’s a great example of what a rock n roll band should be: getting dress up for the show and having a blast the whole time. It’s supposed to be fun for everyone involved, not just the audience. When we’re really cooking, there’s nothing better. If you haven’t seen us, please give us the opportunity to give you a great show and tons of fun in the process. Support your local music, and be sure to check out someone new. It might just be that you’ll discover your fave new band!
Thanks a bunch for reaching out, Marcy! You’re a great example of the spirit that is needed to keep music alive and thriving.
MARCY: Thanks for your time & patience, Dean, with this interview!!! I appreciate it more than you know!!!