Touring with Springsteen doesn’t keep guitarist Little Steven from fulfilling his “family” obligations. He’s also got his TV gig, playing consigliere Silvio Dante, and a second boss–Tony Soprano. And don’t forget: his syndicated radio show, “Little Steven’s Underground Garage.” NEWSWEEK’s Andrew Phillips caught up with Van Zandt on a rare day off.
Who’s a tougher boss: Bruce Springsteen or [“Sopranos” creator] David Chase? (Laughs) They’re very similar. You have two guys who have very specific visions and are engaged in every single facet of what they do. And both of them handpicked their cast.
Is it hard always playing the No. 2 man?
No, it’s what I do best. It’s what I prefer. I don’t like being the front guy.
So why a radio show where you’re the front guy?
There’s a contemporary garage-rock movement which I feel very strongly about.
Aren’t you worried those bands will eclipse–how to put this–older bands?
Please! Come, knock us off the stage! I’m trying to encourage bands that will someday replace us. I mean, look at what’s going on. If you look at the last 10 or 15 years, it’s not good.
Between your head scarf and the wig you wear on “The Sopranos,” I’ve never seen your hair.
The real me is the guy with the bandanna. Early in my 20s I was in a bad car accident. My head went through the windshield and the hair never quite grew in properly. It was either go to wigs early on or do this bandanna thing. Luckily, it kind of got accepted. You know, like “He’s just an eccentric rock-and-roll guy.”
“The Sopranos” is in production while you’re on tour. How do you do both?
Can you believe I have not missed a shoot yet? It’s a miracle. I did a shoot in between Canada and Europe. I flew back in the middle of Europe to do a shoot.
So who’s a better dresser? You or Silvio Dante?
Come on, it’s not even close. Little Stevie spends no time or thought on that stuff. Obviously. And Silvio thinks about nothing else.