May 2009 - STONE AXE
I'm pretty sure 2009 will be a good year for STONE AXE from Port Orchard, Washington. In February 2009 the band's first album has been released thru Roadburn Records, after a debut 7" in 2008, and if you dig the heavy blues rock from the early 70's as much as I do than please take note here. If you have some knowledge of rock music history in the 60's and 70's then it should be no problem to detect the band's influences. There's also a bit of rock 'n' roll, folk and psychedelic in their music, even so they don't want to imitate the old sound at any price. Guitarist Tony Reed's capable to transfer all the good riffs and more from that period into this decade and then he sculpts some top-notch songs out of this refreshing process. He already proved that he's an excellent musician, because he's also guitarist/vocalist in Mos Generator, and maybe you've noticed that band somewhere before in Cosmic Lava and it's no surprise there's something of Mos Generator in his new band. Unfortunately, MG broke-up but for more info just read our interview. Exceptionally he's also playing bass and drums during a recording session supported by Dru Brinkerhoff, who's an amazing singer with a wide vocal range. STONE AXE will forge ahead, because the involved two musicians are brimming over with creativity, passion, and extraordinary musical skills. It's good to know that STONE AXE isn't only a studio project, because the band will play some live shows in 2009 and next year there are plans to visit Europe for the first time. So it's the second time to do an interview with Tony Reed, where he answered my questions about the early beginning of STONE AXE, the unimportance of rehearsels , his working method and more.
Hey Tony, it's a pleasure for me to do another interview with you. The last time we talked about MOS GENERATOR, but now we focus our attention on your new band STONE AXE. In February 2009 you finally released your first full-length, and this album is excellent. Before we talk about the record, I would like to know why you started this band. What is the reason for that descision and what was your intention?
In 2006 when I was writing songs for what would end up being 'The Vault Sessions' by Mos Generator, I had a lot of leftover riffs that didn't make it on the record because they were too classic sounding (although some of the songs on 'Vault Sessions' sound like they could be Stone Axe songs). I started recording these songs for my own pleasure just too see what they would sound like. Upon hearing them I knew that a friend of mine Dru Brinkerhoff would sound great singing on the tracks. 'Riders of the Night' was the first song he sang on and it was brilliant. We knew we had something cool.
You also play drums and bass, and I was surprised about the fact that you didn't formed the band with a complete line-up. Could it be that is was something like a personal wish to record a record, where you play nearly all instruments or why is STONE AXE only a two-piece band in the studio?
When we started writing and recording we never intended to put any of this stuff out. basically this album is a collection of demos that we did over a year and a half period. I played all of the instruments because I have all day to do things like that. So when Roadburn wanted to release it we decided to take it a bit more serious. you have to remember that Dru and I both had serious full time bands that we were pushing.
Where do you think is the main difference between STONE AXE and MOS GENERATOR? How would you explain the distinction to someone who has never heard one of this bands?
Stone Axe calls on the 60's rock sound more. Our influences aren't obscured at all. You can listen to each song and tell where the influence came from. We are paying tribute to our favorite bands of the 60's & 70's. Mos Generator, on the other hand, melts alot of influences together making the sound harder to label. MG is much heavier and most of the space in the music is filled up, but the Stone Axe sound has a lot of space and room in the groove. For a guitar player, they are two completely different places.
Finally the new album is out on Roadburn Records, and I already mentioned that it's an outstanding release. I suppose that you've recorded the album at the studio in your house. How long did you and Dru need for the whole process?
We started writing about two years ago but for the first year it was just considered a project. Most of the songs were written by the time we did the first single for Roadburn. The process was, and still is, that I write and record a song and then give a mix of it to Dru, he takes it home and writes the lyrics and melody then comes back in to record the vocals. We never have any rehearsal time, we just do it.
Have I ever told you that I have a strong liking for blueberries? Sounds funny, but it's the truth. Well, I only mentioned that because I like the cover artwork. It'unusual, and it looks damn good. Who's responsible for that photo?
I have a book of photography that i bought at a thrift store and that picture is in the book. I thought it was very striking when I saw it so I used it. On vinyl it looks really cool.
Once again you managed to capture the musical spirt of the late 60's and 70's without imitating the heavy bands from that period. Of course, I can hear some obvious influences, but I think it's more sounding like a Tony Reed album, because you have a very significant guitar style and sound. What do you think when someones says, that STONE AXE sounds like a tribut to your favourite bands?
That is exactly what it is. When I go to write a new song, I usually have a classic song in my head to work off of as the blueprint. same with the vocal. When Dru comes in to lay down a track we will usually discuss who it should sound like. Like "hey, do a Jack Bruce on this" or "do a Pete French or Phil Lynott". We are not trying to re-invent music at all. We are trying to make music that sounds like music that we love.
For me it's almost unbelievable that Dru Brinkerhoff is also the singer in The Swinos, because there his voice doesn't sound as good as in STONE AXE, which is perhaps down to the fact that The Swinos play a different kind of sound. Where did you met him and what do you think about his talent?
I have been producing Swinos recordings for 10 years now (I even played drums on the last one) so I have been in the studio with Dru quite a few times and I know his vocal skills. Poeple are really suprized when they hear him sing in Stone Axe. In the Swinos everything was going so fast that you couldn't really pick up on what a great singer he is. We both have an obsessive passion for classic and obscure rock of the 60's & 70's so that makes things flow really good when we are writing. It also helps that he has been on stage for the last 15 years so he knows how to work a crowd.
You've recruited the rhythm section of EARTHWRECK to promote the album live in 2009. Have you ever thought about a full line-up for the next studio recording session, and is it possible that the band will play some shows outside of the USA?
After trying out a handfull of people we have Mykey Haslip & Mike Dupont from Earthwreck (now Sower of Dischord). Most of Stone Axe II is already done but I am hoping to get a track or two with the whole band on it. We are going to spend 2009 in the States and we got invited to Roadburn 2010 so we will do that with a tour around it. It will be the first European tour experience for the rest of the band so we are very honored to be invited.
Mykey Haslip is the name of the drummer from EARTHWRECK, and I've asked myself if he's the borther of Scooter Haslip, who's the drummer of MOS GENERATOR. So, am I right or am I wrong?
Mykey is the little brother of Scooter.
Well, I can't do that interview without avoiding a question about Mos Generator. 2008 was a busy year for the band. You've played at Roadburn including a tour with Blood Of The Sun here in Europe. What are your plans for 2009 and what about a new record?
I haven't really gone public with this but...Mos Generator broke up. The bottom line was that we needed to do more work to get to the next level and some members of the band couldn't make time for that in thier lives so we called it quits. We were working on a record that might come out this year but other than that we won't be doing anything in the near future.
That's a bummer. Really. Ok, Tony, thanks again for answering my questions. Good luck and I hope to see you soon in Germany!
Thank you Klaus, always a pleasure my friend.