Steve (Stephen) Moramarco was born in Salt Lake, Uthah, in 1967. He moved to California in the mid 80s. He’s an actor, writer, director and musician. He’s a graduate of the UCLA School of Theater where he studied and worked with actors Jack Black and Michael Stuhlbarg.
He has appeared on television sitcom “Everybody Hates Chris” and “ER”.
His first Indie feature was “The Great Intervention” (2010) as an actor, writer, director and producer. He has since directed music videos, including two for American rock band “The Meat Puppets”.
He is the founding member of the music group “Superbean”.
I first heard about Steve was through his garage/post punk/Mod band “ Superbean” (which I adore!!) but I found out there’s a lot more to discover….!
Lucy Lo Russo – Punto & Linea Magazine: Hi Steve, thanks for accepting the interview. I know that you have Italian origins. Would you please tell me something about it?
Steve Moramarco: Certainly! My father’s family is from Gravina in Puglia in the Apulia region in southern Italy. Apparently, the name Moramarco is very common there. I haven’t been in a very long time but do have some family there still. In the early 1970s, my family spent six months in Milan as my dad was on a guest teaching position at the University of Milan as an English professor. I still remember the address of where we lived: 44 Via Benedetto Marcello St. This is because my mother made us memorize it in case we ever got lost. Wow, thanks for that memory.
Also, I had the great opportunity to co-write a book with my father on Italian culture. It was published in the US and it’s called “Italian Pride: 101 Reasons to be Proud You’re Italian.” It did very well for us and sold over 100,000 copies!
L.L.R. : You are quite an eclectic person and artist. Who started first?…the Actor, the Musician, the Director, the Writer?
S.M.: Thank you! Which came first, the chicken or the egg… I guess it was the actor, as I was first cast in “Miracle on 34th Street” when I was seven and then as Christopher Robin in a production of “Winnie the Pooh” when I was eight.
But very soon I was directing and writing, too. I loved the play “The Odd Couple” by Neil Simon and I recruited my friends to act in it and I directed them as well (I also played the part of Oscar Madison, the slob…).
L.L.R.: How old were you when you first directed it?
S.M.: I was eight or nine… I was in elementary school!
L.L.R.: Gosh! You were very precocious. But you’re right! Fascination for a career starts at that age …
S.M.: I would also write stories and plays. I began playing the guitar more seriously at fifteen and that’s when I started really writing music. Ten years ago I did a feature indie movie comedy called “The Great Intervention”. It starred myself with my father and features a lot of my music. Now, I’ve kind of wrapped all that into music, writing the songs, directing, editing, and acting in the videos.
L.L.R.: You make use of humour in your lyrics and videos. Why?
S.M.: I don’t know, it’s just what I do. I’m not necessarily trying to be funny, just have a different perspective on things. I want people to have fun and dance – I typically don’t do aggressive angry music.
L.L.R.: Has this ever led the audience to misunderstandings?
S.M.: Sometimes. For our song “Fuck Youth”, some people thought I was complaining particularly about Millenials. It was supposed to be a more generic statement about old vs. young. The younger generation always rebels against the older but now it’s reversed.
My song “We Never Went to The Moon” some people were turned off because they think it’s about a “conspiracy theory” but it’s actually about loneliness and heartbreak (the key line is “because if we never went to The Moon/Then I never fell in love with you”).
L.L.R.: What are the main subjects that you talk about in “Superbean”?
S.M.: Like most pop bands, the initial subject matter was girls – falling in and/or out of love, unrequited love, and other social frustrations and anxieties – joy and angst expressed in three minutes or less. Another important subject matter is growing old – my song “Fuck Youth” expressed it in a humorous way that resonated with a lot of people. I have another song called “Youth is Wasted” where the sentiment is “Youth is wasted on the young”. Other songs are just strange ideas I have – “Night Guard” is about the mouthpiece people wear at night to prevent their teeth from grinding and I have a new song called “Endless Scroll” about the horror of Facebook and other social media apps that won’t let you escape.
L.L.R.: Where does the name of the band come from?
S.M.: The name Superbean is third in a series of bean-related names I’ve performed under. The first was “Hill of Beans”, a folk duo. When we split, I decided to call myself “Bean”, which is when I first started playing power pop. When I decided to revive the concept in the late 2000s, I added the “Super.”
L.L.R.: Talking about one of your latest videos, “Marisol” – for example – what does come first, the video or the song? How did you conceive them?
S.M.: The songs come first – they are from an album I released called “Shit Show” Available on Lp in Europe via.
The story of the song is loosely based on an encounter I had at the local 99 Cent Store, the big discount chain. Usually the people that work there are not very attractive, but once I went to a store and saw a cute young girl there whose name tag read “Marisol.” The story is simply about an older man who is shopping at the store and imagines himself to be 17 again, with Marisol as his girlfriend. I knew we could never get permission, so for the shots in the 99 Cent Store we put a camera on the front of a shopping cart and did it “guerilla style”! I also wanted to incorporate a parody of an 80s hair metal band music video, which of course were famous for their “video vixens.”
L.L.R.: Who are the musicians that had the biggest impact on your artistic development?
S.M.: Paul Weller, the leader of Mod band “The Jam”. I was really influenced by “The Jam” as a kid – if you see our video of “Fuck Youth” we are wearing suits and I’m playing a Rickenbacker just like them. I especially liked their fusion of punk and soul music.
L.L.R.: I like Paul Weller a lot…!
S.M. : Otis Redding – I read his biography written by Jonthan Gould. He was so soulful and full of energy. He was a big inspiration, especially behind my earlier band “The Abe Lincoln Story” which had a horn section.
Ray Davies – The Kinks – One of the best songwriters of the 1960s. The Small Faces – one of the first Mod bands.
Beck – I did know him personally before he got famous and I was impressed by him back then. He was always so inventive and could be quite funny. We share a split 7” on Flipside Records, with Beck on one side and my band Bean on the other. It’s called “Beck / Bean”.
L.L.R.: How could you describe living in L.A.?
S.M.: Los Angeles has been home for most of my adult life. While I love many things about it – the old beautiful art deco homes, the beaches, eclectic neighborhoods, food (especially the tacos!) and of course the weather – I have watched as it has slowly turned into a hellscape apocalypse. Homeless encampments nearly everywhere, streets covered in garbage, broken roads, and traffic chokes the region threatening to destroy it completely. It’s heartbreaking on so many levels.
L.L.R.: Have you ever thought about moving to the East Coast – maybe N.Y. – for your work as an actor or musician?
S.M.: I actually did live in New York from 1999 – 2004. My parents were from Brooklyn and I always wanted to live there. Also, my life in LA had turned to shit: my dog died, my band (The Abe Lincoln Story) broke up, and my long time girlfriend and I had split.
So I took a leap of faith and moved to Williamsburg. I loved my time on the East Coast, but certain opportunities seemed to appear for me in Los Angeles, so I was lured back. I often think about returning, but that’s not really in the cards right now. I have a great apartment that’s relatively cheap, another huge dog named Otis, and my father’s piano that I inherited. My goal is to spend at least a few months of the year there at some point.
L.L.R.: What is a movie that you would like to recommend to our readers? What about a TV series?
S.M.: Well, first…I recommend they watch MY movie “The Great Intervention” (unfortunately there is no Italian translation)…
L.L.R.: It was very funny. I think even non-English speakers would enjoy it…!
S.M. : Thanks! As far as contemporary films, this year I enjoyed “Yesterday”. It’s about what would happen if The Beatles suddenly never existed and only one guy remembers all their songs. I thought I would hate it, but it actually had some really funny as well as profound moments about songwriting, fame, life, and love.
My favorite TV show is Wilfred (the US version). It’s about a guy who tries to kill himself and fails. When he wakes up, he starts seeing his next door neighbor’s dog not as an animal but as a guy in a dog suit – no one else sees it like this. The dog likes to come over and smoke pot with him all day. It’s kind of like the anti- Lassie. I thought it was hilarious!
L.L.R.: What is the next artistic project are you working on?
S.M.: I always have a lot of ideas on my plate. I’m writing and recording songs for a possible new Superbean album. I also recently re-formed “The Abe Lincoln Story” to explore that side of my musical ideas. I have screenplays I’m trying to polish up and sell. In 2020 I hope to get my acting career back on track. Everything is always very difficult and challenging but if I stop, I’m not sure what I would do with my life.
L.L.R.: Will you come to Italy again someday?
Steve Moramarco: It is my dream to sit at a cafe with you in Milan and sip a cappuccino J
Lucy Lo Russo: Ok Steve, would you mind if I go for a Martini?
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