Stone is a three piece guitar, bass, and drums trio. It's a blues rock band. I'm the singer/song writer lead guitarist. The drummer is JJ Garcia and the bass player is Brian James. We've been together seven years and have toured across America nine times and made two albums together. One of the best things that happened to us is we hooked up with John Carpenter who is a film producer/director/writer and we worked together on his "Vampires" movie which became the number one movie in America on its release and we had the main song to that movie. John and the band won a Saturn Award together for it. We worked together with him on "The Ghost Of Mars" movie that he came out with and we're on both soundtracks.
That's definitely an accomplishment because he's one of the best directors out there I think.
He is. He's a musician and song writer himself. He does all his soundtracks to many, many movies and he's predominantly known to write scary stuff.
I love horror flicks.
He's a good guy. He's a lot of fun to be around. We were very lucky we were introduced to him through the Robb Brothers who own Cherokee Studios out here. They produce all of his soundtracks so when John had one scene left in "Vampires" where the vampire slayers had James Woods and everybody go back to the motel where they're staying to celebrate the fact that they got what they were all the vampires. They're having a big party and John needed an up and fun song and Bruce Robb introduced him to our song "Teaser" and he really liked it a lot. He said he had a spot in the movie for it and that really started it all for us because when the movie came out and went straight to number one, it gave us an opportunity to tour around America for the first time. And call people and ask them if they heard of the movie and they said it's playing in their town and we're in this scene here and they said they saw that. He was really helpful. Both the Robb Brothers and John Carpenter getting us the chance to go out there. Then we proceeded to stay on the road constantly for the next three years playing everywhere we could.
You guys have opened for bands such as Cheap Trick, .38 Special, Cinderella, and Dokken. Are there any opening slots that were memorable for you?
Yeah, for us a couple of things. First of all, Cheap Trick of course was incredible for us. We were going through the South which is a favorite part of the United States for us. New Orleans, Alabama, and Florida. All through there with Cheap Trick. Being fans of the band, to be working with them was pretty incredible. To be hanging with them, that was pretty exciting for us and also very inspiring. For a band to hang in and go through the ups and downs of being a rock and roll band. Cheap Trick was very inspiring for us but I think when we played with Cinderella out here in Los Angeles at the House Of Blues on the Sunset Strip, it was sold out and the House Of Blues up here on the Strip can really rock. They can really raise the roof up here when the people are in the mood. Stone and Cinderella at the House Of Blues was one of those nights where it stays with you for several days afterwards. We were pretty up about the whole situation. Of course we love the blues so I can't help but not mention BB King, Coco Montoya, Walter Trout, and some of the blues cats that have let us open their shows for them as well. As much as we love rock and roll, the blues are right in there with it.
I've always loved the combination of rock and blues that Cinderella, Great White, and other bands have successfully combined.
Oh yeah, going all the way back to Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, and some of the English rock bands. It's a potent combination of music. The feel of traditional blues with the power of rock and roll.
Some of your songs have been used on a soap opera called Passions.
Yeah, that was really a tremendous break for us. We were lucky enough, of course with the television industry based here in Los Angeles, to hook up with Paul Antonelli who is the music supervisor for that television show. It was just one of those roll of the dice, luck of the draw things and he happened to really take an interest in the Here Before record that he got a copy of and one thing led to another. Passions is a worldwide television show and I'm a BMI writer so it has been a tremendous opportunity for me. A real big break to help me as a musician and a writer.
You've won the L.A.'s "Best Blues Band" award for four years. That's a pretty good accomplishment.
Well, that we attribute to our good buddy, Ruben Mac Blue at the Rock City News magazine which has been around a long, long time. We play a lot of gigs and it just starts to add up. All those nights at the clubs. We can blow off four sets with no problems. A lot of tunes. Well over 100 tunes we can just roll right through. To win that award was just really I think a tip of the hat to the fact of how many nights we spend in the clubs.
You guys have had your music compared to Bruce Springsteen, Don Henley, and Eric Clapton. Pretty good compliment.
I agree with you. That is a wonderful compliment I think. The song writing is at the heart of what I do and I love to play the rip lead guitar and I love to get on to the vocals. But songs are really the most important aspect to me. The lyrics and trying to connect with the listener. Those artists are really tremendous song writers so I think it's a really wonderful compliment for people to take note of my song writing and to listen closely to the lyrics. That's at the heart of what I do. It's my main thing. I've been doing it a long time. Song writing is very, very important to me. I have a passion for it.
Your latest release is Here Before.
It's the latest release from Stone. I wanted to say that on my newest record, my solo record, that JJ and Brian my long time partners are slamming on the rhythm section on my newest record. My solo record. Regarding the Here Before record, it's a record that I have to attribute that we got from Doug Aldrich who's the lead guitarist for Whitesnake currently and has introduced me to the engineer who did my Brad Wilson record, Brian Daugherty. He did all the Dio records that Aldrich was on. It was like Here Before, we were hanging with Doug Aldrich who has been in a lot of really great, great bands and has his own solo record and he's just a hot guitarist. He's currently the lead guitarist for Whitesnake. Doug engineered and I worked with him to produce and mix the Here Before record. It's a collection of songs that we had really been playing in the clubs a lot and had been touring a lot so the record was really easy for us to go in and do. We had been playing the songs night after night after night prior to getting to the recording session which is not always the case as you know. Most of the time you write, rehearse, and then record. These songs we had been on the road playing, "The Ballad Of John Lee", a tribute song that we had written when we were down in Memphis and "Home" which we had written when we were coming across the Plains. There's a giant space between California and the Mississippi River, the Great Plains, and sometimes we'll be traveling out there and you'll see a ranch and a house out so far. Of course this is in western Texas for you folks and you just can't believe people are out there. They've got their own well and their own means of surviving out there. When "Home" was written, we were traveling around the United States and we could see how self-sufficient a lot of folks would be way out in the wilds of the West. "Here Before", the title track, was written on the eve of getting ready to travel and we were getting down into Memphis and Birmingham for center stages for some of the festivals we've been playing down south. That was what really inspired the title for the song and the album. It's about traveling so each one of the songs really was a composite of our experiences around the United States. Memphis, Nashville, and even down around Austin when we'd get down there. I think it's fourth or fifth or sixth street, right down in there which we had some really great times playing down there with The Derrick Trucks Band. Here Before is a traveling album and it's all about our experiences around the United States and then we came back into town and hooked up with Doug Aldrich, ripping lead guitarist from Dio and Whitesnake. We went right in the studio and he did a wonderful job on the engineering. He just really wowed us and that led up to my new record. He introduced me to Brian Daugherty, Ronnie James Dio's engineer, and Wyn Davis. That's how I got off onto my new solo record. One thing leads to another.
Three of your songs have been added to the DMX Music channel.
Yeah, as an independent band and an independent artist, radio is precious and we were thrilled to be a part of that because it just blasts out to so many people nonstop commercial free on the cable network. To any recording artist, opportunities to reach people are really precious so we were thrilled to be a part of that.
Tell me about your solo album.
The solo record is a 13 song collection of tunes that I wanted to step up the rock on a little bit. We went into Total Access Studios with Brian Daugherty and the Ronnie James Dio team here in Redondo Beach down by the ocean and I got a chance to work with Brian Daugherty who is a guitar maestro specialist for high volume guitar. It was a chance for me to move a little bit away from some of the more southern rock bands that I really enjoy like Lynyrd Skynyrd and The Allman Brothers and just try to do something that's a little more crunchy. A little more hard rock. We started off with a song called "Rocket" on there and "The Healer". Also during the recording of it, during the time of the start of the Iraq war, we came up with a song called "Hands On The Wheel" and "Got The Feeling". We were just trying to do an all American rock and roll record. Something that was just inspiring and powerful from an American rock vision. It was really great. I hooked up with the Robb Brothers for the mix down at Cherokee Studios who are three very famous producers and they were wonderful to bring the sound to the finished product. The record for me is about countless, countless hours of playing lead guitar and getting a chance to concentrate on ripping it up a little bit.
You're one of the few bands that are composed of three people. Does being a trio work the best for you?
The trio works best for me. I play a lot of guitar. Big fan of the great Hendrix, ZZ Top, Stevie Ray. For example, going in to cut the tracks live because me, JJ, and Brian have worked so much together and traveled thousands and thousands of miles together in a van in the middle of a blizzard coming up through Chicago on 57. It was easy for us to just go in and go live so there's room in a trio for Brian to rip on the bass, JJ to rip on the drums, and me to move around on the guitar without having to lock into having the keyboard player or the sax player or the rhythm guitarist have the framework so rigid. Within a trio and especially working in a band a long time, I can hear something and go after it without having to adhere so much to the arrangement. We did an instrumental on the new album called "Cruisin' The Coast" which is all guitar and again like "The Healer", it's another song on the new album where the band would do the song a few times in the studio and I was just looking for more of a live take. We didn't use the click track. We didn't cut the song up in bits which a lot of digital artists are doing today. We just set the band up in this big room and started cranking. In a trio setting for me, especially on this new album where I just wanted to revisit the intensity of a band that's been together a long time and not worried about the fact that we're going to chop the song digitally into a bunch of bits. The song "The Healer" on the record is just live. That's it. Just hit the record button. "Cruisin' The Coast" is similar to that. This last song, "Two Belong", the whole album is intact the way we recorded it so to work in a trio setting for me is the best because I'm going after the feeling of a live concert on the song. A feeling of rock and roll energy because I'm not using a click track and I don't want JJ sitting there with headphones on thinking "did I miss a snare? Boy, I'm going to fix it in the thing later." You're trying to make a Timex watch record. On the new record we weren't doing that at all. We went into a big room with high volume amps and started ripping.
It's pretty much the old school way of recording albums.
I agree it is because when I listen to Jimi Hendrix and Zeppelin, I'm thinking did these guys use digital click tracks and John Bonham with headphones on thinking if he's a little fast or a little slow. They went in there and at the end of the recording session you sit in the control room and you listen to three or four takes. You say "hey, that one's got vibe. That one sounds like us." That's what I did when I was producing this record. I would listen to the tracks and say if there's a slight flaw or two, I'm not going to worry about digitally chopping it up. We used tape up until the mix down section and then I moved it to digital to save time and because so many of the studios have moved to digital. I recorded all the songs on tape and I did it with the idea that I liked the old school way of doing it. I have nothing against digital because it's economical and it's quick and it's efficient and it can be done brilliantly. On this particular record, because the band had been together so long for seven years, I was looking to do something like a Zeppelin record. Something that was heavy and live.
Have you guys been doing a lot of touring?
On this record here, currently we are not doing a lot of touring. We're going to take some time off because the way we have been living which is out of a van and moving quick and coming in and out of town. You don't get to take care of your pets. You're having trouble keeping your relationships together and things are changing all the time. JJ and Brian are going to settle back and let me work this new record, Brad Wilson, and I've got plans of touring this summer. I don't know what musicians I'm going to go out with. I am excited about the new record and I'm still in contact with JJ and Brian who are taking some time off. They're not quite as relentless about it as I am. They're thrilled to afford to relax a little bit and I'm going to tour all over the United States in support of this record. I'm thrilled to get an opportunity to promote it and as you can see on the back cover, the record represents the three of us. It sounds like Stone but I'm going to do all the work to get it into the marketplace.
Any other thoughts or ideas?
I think that the Internet and the webzines and the worldwide beauty of the Internet is a terrifc thing. It's wonderful to be in contact with folks all around the world via email and web sites. The wonderful aspect that the web offers. I think it's a tremendous boost for rock and roll and rock and rollers in general to be able to get into contact with each other and check out all the great web sites. I'm a big fan of how rock and roll has been united on a worldwide basis through the Internet. I'm thrilled with it and I'm thrilled to be a part of what's happening right now in the world. It's a great time to be out promoting my new record. I'm really excited to reach people on a worldwide basis from Japan to Germany to England and just get an idea of how powerful rock and roll is and how powerful the music is. I'm thrilled to be a part of it.
BMX has people from the Middle East, Latin America, and Africa tuning in. That's amazing.
It's amazing. It is. I think it's so wonderful and Internet radio and the people pick up on your stuff and they communicate from here to there in a blink without the cost or time of a letter or a phone. They just jump to the computer and say wow, they're digging on it. Keep up the good work. It's just such a thrilling time to be out there. I'm excited about this brand new record. It turned out really, really well. I'm really excited about working with Brian Daugherty and Total Access and the Dio people and the Robb Brothers at Cherokee were wonderful. I just won a "Best Songwriting" award. JJ hosted the All Access Music Awards here in Los Angeles with Debra Stocker, the editor, and JJ as the host. I won for best song writer of the year. It's an exciting time. I go into '04 extremely up and positive about what's happening right now. I am really ready to rock.