As the current owner of Pub Rock Live in Scottsdale, a venue that until a few weeks ago hosted an array of bands each week (and hordes of Kansas City Chiefs fans during the NFL season), she has worked on local festivals and in commercial radio for many years.
She took a few moments to speak with Phoenix New Times before the coronavirus shut down music venues to talk about working with up-and-coming talent behind the scenes.
Phoenix New Times: How has your career in the Arizona scene evolved over the years?
Nancy Stevens: I started out by applying for what I thought was a front desk job at an insurance company, but it turned out to be a radio station. Knowing nothing, yet very intrigued, I found myself working as hard as I could, climbing up the ladder until I was programming The Edge 106.3/100.3 FM, then 103.9, and putting on our favorite radio festivals: Warped Tour, That Damn Show, etc.
I took a brief break to move over and manage a couple of bands early on, such as The Format, Fenix TX, Authority Zero, and some others. I eventually went back to radio and worked with the greatest radio team ever at 98 KUPD and its sister station, ALT AZ. This past year, I have changed it up again to focus on festivals and the newly remodeled Pub Rock.
What is your favorite thing about the local scene?
I have always been fond of the amazing talent we’ve had here in Arizona. I don’t think our scene gets enough credit for the quality of bands we’ve had break out of here, such as Jimmy Eat World, The Format, DED, The Maine, and Authority Zero.
How do you think the scene could be stronger?
I believe our scene could be a lot stronger if we just all got along and weren’t so closed-minded. People are quick to judge a venue, show, or band before even listening or seeing them. As I mentioned, there is so much talent here that goes undiscovered, and as a venue owner, I see a large chunk of these bands. People really are missing out. Some nights, I walk out amazed at the local talent I see. I wish we had a better support system for local music.
What's been one of your most memorable stories from working in the local industry?
Probably working with The Format and meeting Nate and Sam when they were about 18. (Editor's note: This interview took place before the band reunited.) It’s amazing to see the following they have after all these years of being broken up, but also witness the success with fun., Nate’s solo career, and Hello Merch. Those two are the hardest-working people I’ve ever met.
What you’d like to see more of in the future?
I think it’d be great to see more shows coming through Phoenix. I’ve noticed a few bands skipping over us, and it’s always a bummer. I also would like to see radio here have more variety. Let's bring back some guitar, and allow some of these newer bands a chance to build an audience. I always tried to bring out new bands such as Sir Sly, Dreamers, The Wrecks, Yungblud, and Nothing But Thieves. We've had some success, but trust me, it's easier said than done these days.
As far as the festivals, I would like to see more variety and promotion around local artists. Maybe you will expose yourself to new fans and come out of your comfort zone. We have more great venues to play at than ever before, so take advantage of your surroundings.
Pub Rock Live is located 8005 East Roosevelt Street in Scottsdale.