Shortly before the upcoming tour of STONE AXE, Tony Dallas Reed has been kind enough to answer some of my questions. I really didn't expect that because he is always busy with his music. Currently his main focus is on STONE AXE but he has more than one iron in the fire, not only as a musician but also in his role as a producer. In both these areas of activity, Tony has won an enviable reputation over the last ten years. No wonder, then, that Saint Vitus have hired him to produce their new album 'Lillie: F-65'. But in other respects, too, he bubbles over with energy and creativity. A new MOS GENERATOR album is in the making and in addition he has launched a new project named HEAVY PINK. As I said, there is no break in sight. I welcome his unyielding passion, especially since his music testifies to the dignity and self-confidence, integrity and traditional roots of a remarkable musician. To cut a long story short, it was time again to send a couple of questions to Tony D. Reed. That makes him a regular guest at Cosmic Lava because it's our fourth interview within four years. So I hope that you will enjoy it as much as I did.
In a few weeks STONE AXE embarks on its second European tour. How was your last visit in Europe and what have been your best moments?
Our last tour was much better than we had hoped. Every night the crowds were enthusiastic and ready to rock n roll. The Vortex in Siegen was a particularly great show. Siegen and the Roadburn fest were definitely the highlights.
On the upcoming tour, you'll play two shows under the name STONE FREE. It is obvious that it has something to do with Free who are one of the numerous influences in the music of STONE AXE. Please, tell me more about that tribute band.
When we got asked to play desertfest I thought it would be a great idea to do a set of FREE songs as well as a Stone Axe set. Luckily Reece (Desertfest) was hip with that idea too. Once Jens Heide got wind that we were doing that, he requested that we do the same thing in Siegen a week later. We have spend some time learning 10 songs. It has been a real challenge for us to completely learn the style of another band. It is a challenge that I am enjoying.
Ripple Music will release a live album entitled 'Stone Axe: Captured Live! Roadburn Festival 2011'. A very good idea as I think; because they have always a good live sound at that festival and, more importantly, STONE AXE offer their full potential on stage. How did it come so far and who came up with the idea of a STONE AXE live album?
The two times that I have played the Roadburn festival I have requested to be sent the multi-track files so that I could mix the show at my studio and see if I could come up with a proper release. When Stone Axe played the 2011 fest, we played nineteen songs and 90% of the songs ended up being usable for a live album. The LP has nine songs and the CD ended up with fifteen songs. There is a lot of energy in these performances and I think I managed to bring that out in the mix. Energy is one of the hardest things to capture in a mix. I chose to include many of the songs that we don't normally play live in our regular set. It ends up being about half "classics" and half oddities.
Once again, you will be supported by Stubb and Trippy Wicked. How did this came about?
Jack from STUBB had booked a tour for SUN GODS IN EXILE a few years back and I got the contact from Tony of Sun Gods. When we did the tour together last year we all got along so well that we decided to try it again this year. We know that we will get along and have a good time together and that is an important part of touring.
There are also two new STONE AXE releases. Firstly, there is the deluxe edition of your second album that will be released on April 10th and, secondly, a split 12" with the German band Wight. What led to the cooperation with Wight and their record label Fat & Holy?
After our set at Roadburn I spoke to Joe from Wight about some video he shot of us that night. We started talking about working together and that is how it went down.
What is STONE AXE's contribution to the 12"?
When I heard Wight's side of the split and realized that they were live jams, I wanted to apply the same thing to our side of the record. Mykey, Mike and I set up in the studio and wrote/recorded three songs in two hours. I kept all of the bed tracks and layered mellotron, organ, and a few extra guitar parts of the songs. Then Dru came in and did vocals on two of the songs. The songs end up sounding very different than our other material. Along with it being a studio recording with the whole band I used a completely different guitar and amp setup which gave me a different sound.
Let's now talk about MOS GENERATOR. In our last interview you have mentioned that you are working on a new album. This was very good news! What is the current state of play?
The music for nine songs is all finished but I am having trouble with my voice. I haven't sang lead vocals regularly in almost three years and I'm having trouble getting it back in shape to finish the tracks. I will be able to spend more time with it when we get back from tour. The recording has turned out to be a very stripped down mix. There are virtually no guitar overdubs and is very direct sounding. A change from the usual wall of sound technique I apply to the Mos Generator mixes. It has a tentative title of 'NOMADS'.
Could you imagine touring with both bands?
We have played a show or two together. It was very fun for me. I enjoy being a front man just as much as I enjoy not being one.
Apart of playing and writing music, you spend a lot of time producing albums for other bands. Over time, the list has grown and includes names such as Poobah, Blood Of The Sun, Grifter and Saint Vitus. I know you have always liked to work in your studio, but now seems to me that you attach great priority to it. How do you see the situation and what fascinates you so much about producing an album?
With some of these bands I am restoring and/or mastering their records. I prefer playing music over recording it and I am at the point now where I can choose what projects I want to work on. It just so happens that I am getting a lot of requests from bands I enjoy. My recent and current projects include mixing and mastering for STUBB, TRIPPY WICKED, ALUNAH, WIGHT, JPT SCARE BAND and continuing restoration work on the next POOBAH re-issues. I am also still gathering material for a live NECROMANDUS album. I have been collecting shows for about two years now so I can build a killer release.
While working with the bands, do you see yourself as an extension of the musicians or do you try to mold the sound after your ideas?
I see myself as an extension for sure. I will put my ideas out there and if they work and everybody agrees on them then that is good. If they don't work that is good too. Many times I will have retracted my own ideas. It has to work for the song. The song is the most important part.
What prompted the collaboration with Saint Vitus and how long did you work on 'Lillie: F-65'?
I also work in Blood Of The Sun with Henry from Vitus. When Vitus came through Seattle in April 2011 I had them come to the studio to do a live demo of a new song. Based on how that demo turned out, they decided to use me for the full-length. They scheduled ten days and stayed at my house. We spent three days tracking the album at my analog studio then I mixed the record at my home studio HeavyHeavy Recording Co. It was cool having Vitus at my house. You wouldn't believe the stories. After they left I was thinking that I should do a documentary about them. Quite an experience.
Now, one could think that you already have enough stress, but apparently there was enough time for another project named HEAVY PINK. At the end of 2001, The Maple Forum has released the first 7" and, in my opinion, both cuts are amongst the best you have ever recorded. It's heavy yet psychedelic and shows another side of your musical spectrum. What is the background story of HEAVY PINK? Are there plans for an album?
When Mos Generator took it's hiatus we were working on an album called 'Heavy Pink'. I just took the concept (and some of the ideas) and elaborated in it. Heavy Pink is what my mind is on right now. It allows me to work on music with no boundaries. I can try anything. Right now I have framework recorded for six new songs. I would like to have an album out by fall.
Lastly, a question: do you still have enough time for your private life?
Music is my life. I do nothing else but watch M*A*S*H*.
Thanks a lot, Tony! I wish you all the best for the tour and good luck!
Thank you so much Klaus. You have been a big supporter of what I do for years and I appreciate it more than you realize. Thank you.