Do You Know This Man? Need A Clue?

Steve Burns knows why you're here, and it's OK. In fact, he agrees with you. This is weird. For six years Burns was sort of famous. He signed autographs and kissed screaming babies. At one point he was rumored dead. (Untrue.) He wasn't just a kids-TV star, he was the kids-TV star: Steve from "Blue's Clues," Nickelodeon's top-rated educational franchise. It was big news when he quit that job two years ago, but he's now back--only he's become... a rock singer? "But I think it makes the story that much more interesting," Burns says. "Yeah, I'm that guy--the one on TV. That's me. But I'm this guy, too." So on Aug. 12, Steve Burns, 29, a man who spent six years talking to an imaginary salt shaker, will release his debut CD, "Songs for Dustmites." And here's the weirdest thing of all: it's really good.

For a kiddie-land expat, "Songs for Dustmites" makes perfect sense. It's an album of adventurous alt-pop with wide-eyed lyrics about science and love. To avoid being brushed off as a novelty act, though, Burns recruited some of alternative rock's biggest brains to help him out: drummer Steven Drozd of the Flaming Lips and Dave Fridmann, the Lips' longtime producer. At points, Burns apes his beloved Lips a bit too closely, but if you're going to mine someone's sound, you could do a lot worse.

These days, Burns has settled easily back into anonymity. "I've grown some facial hair and lost some regular hair," he says over lunch near his loft in Brooklyn, N.Y. "I'm also about eight inches shorter than people assume I'm going to be." (Burns is 5 feet 6.) Size, or lack of it, is a running motif on "Dustmites." The opener, "Mighty Little Man," is about a lonely inventor's eureka moment, but it's also an anthem about inner strength. On the topic of "Blue's Clues," the CD is only faintly allusive--and never disparaging. "To me, that show is one for the ages," Burns says. "I have no interest in murdering Steve." All the same, he's happy to rejoin the world of adults. "I did feel pressure to live a squeaky-clean lifestyle," he admits. "There were a lot of bachelor parties that I didn't go to. But I've realized, you know, I'm kind of a fuddy-duddy anyway." Now there's a man who's ready to rock.

Do You Know This Man? Need A Clue? | News