West Midlands band Stone Broken released their highly anticipated second studio album, Ain’t Always Easy, on May 15th, 2018 (on Spinefarm Records). The new album was produced & mixed by Romesh Dodangoda (Motorhead, Bring Me The Horizon, Twin Atlantic) at Long Wave Recording Studios in South Wales. The band will play two Irish shows at Dublin Voodoo Lounge (w/Buckcherry) 11th June and Belfast Limelight 2 (w/Buckcherry) on 12th June.
Mark Millar caught up with Stone Broken singer/guitarist Rich Moss to talk about the upcoming shows and new album.
At the beginning of the decade, you had abandoned your lifelong dream of becoming a professional musician, following the tragic death of a former bandmate. Then you went on to build a successful career as an analyst. What was the catalyst that made you decide to form stone broken and follow your dream?
In a way, it was formed out of frustration. Id spent two and a half years of not doing anything musical whatsoever. It was when I was on a lunch break at my fulltime job sat in my car thinking "I've got to do something I've got to get back into music." So I spoke to our drummer Robyn Haycock (Drums / Vocals), and I said "we need to start a new band I've got to have an outlet for whatever is in my head I've got to get the songs out there and see if we can do anything again." that was the catalyst behind it. I was frustrated of just being sat in an office doing a mundane day to day job. Then we decided to get a rehearsal space which was our own. We would go in there twenty-four seven. After that we got a couple more musicians in - we got Kieron Conroy (Bass) in first, and he gelled well, and he brought Chris Davis (Guitar / Vocals) in. After that, it snowballed. Although we knew we wanted to do a new project and to create new music we didn't expect it to form so quickly - it was only a matter of months, and we were writing songs together.
The band recently released your second album Ain’t Always Easy and first on Spinefarm Records. Did you go into the recording with any preconceived ideas how it should sound and the kind of songs you wanted to write about?
We did, when we sit down to write an album the first thing we will do is decide how many tracks we want on the record and how we should shape the whole sound. We will break down what we want - like three or four quite heavy songs, a couple of softer songs and then we will want an anthemic sounding song. Then we go into the writing with that in mind and let the writing process be quite natural and then we assign those songs to what we think we set out to achieve. We wrote Heartbeat Away which is a rocker, and then we wrote a song called Home, and that was a soft one and that is kind of what we will do. The only difference with this album is we only had six weeks to write the whole thing - so we had to make these decisions quickly. In a way, it made for a more natural album because we had to go with gut instinct rather than overthinking songs. We do have a strategy and a plan behind, but also we try and let it be natural at the same time.
It certainly has a bigger sound than your debut album. Was that what you were going for?
Oh yeah, we always set out to achieve to most significant sound that we possibly can, and the focus on this album was trying to put in more production and layers to the sounds so we have got lots of dynamic parts on this album whereas we probably didn't have as many on the debut.
The songs on the album deal with weighty subjects such as addiction, loss, homesickness and domestic abuse on the song ‘Heartbeat Away’ which is a subject not often covered in rock music nowadays. Are the songs observational or are they written from things you have experienced?
When I write songs I try and make them relatable so people can grab hold of them and sometimes Ill be inspired by something that I've seen or something that I know someone is going through or I have been through myself, so its kind of a mixture across the album but every single song means something to me in a way but Heartbeat Away as you mentioned it hones in on domestic abuse and that is a subject that is quite close to me. I've seen the effects that it has on people. I've seen it almost right in front of me and how it can affect a whole family of people, not just one person thats involved in the actual situation so I thought it was essential to get that song off my chest and also to raise some awareness because as you say there is not a lot of people out there speaking about domestic abuse - its almost a taboo subject people don't want to talk about it becasue they are afraid of the repercussions that its kind of an open invitation to talk to someone and get out of that toxic situation.
There is also positivity on the album with the song I Believe you sing "Honestly, you can be anything you wanna be," "I've got a feeling you're gonna have the time of your life." Are you looking back at the time when you had left music behind?
Yes, it is the first verse is what I used to do when I got in from school so its - "get home music on I'm a million miles away." I would get home and lock myself in my bedroom and play along to songs on Youtube and backing tracks that I had. I always had the ambition to be like those guys that I was listening to on the record. And then the song progresses into the second verse where it's about being on the road and hoping we can carry on doing the same thing because we are having the time of our lives. We are able to go out there and play music for people almost every night so it's very much about us and me in a situation I was when I was younger and everything else which led up to this point summed up in one song. I think its kind of an encouragement song - if I can do it then you can do it but it takes practice and a lot of effort to get to where you want to go to but keep doing it, and you will get there.
What is your songwriting process? Does songwriting come easily to you?
Its tough really because there were a couple of songs on the album that was penned in around three hours from start to finish but then there's other songs that took a couple of days. You have to be in the right frame of mind to write something and get something out in the right way. Usually, I'll have an orchestration of the music first, and that will be every single instrument that will come together in my head first, and then I have to hope that I can translate that into actual music. Once that's down I'll work on lyrics because I'll have a melody as well to go along with all the instrumental parts and build the lyrics on top of that and tweak as I go along.
Was it an enjoyable experience recording the album?
We always have an excellent time recording because it's almost instant gratification as you are recording the songs you can see them coming to life in the final form. We demo every single track, and you get an idea of how it will sound, but when you are in the studio you can see it come to life and we always enjoy that process. The writing part can be stressful but by the time we go into the studio everything is done and then you start to bring it to life, and that's the gratifying part of the whole thing.
The band are selling out shows everywhere and are headlining the Steelhouse Festival in South Wales on July 27th, 2018 but more importantly, you are coming to Dublin and Belfast. Are you looking forward to the Irish dates?
You know what we have been trying to get over to Ireland for such a long time and this has been the best opportunity for us to get over there, so we are really looking forward to finally getting over there - it been a long time coming. We are playing two venues that we have heard loads about so we are looking forward to the whole thing.
How does it feel being a band in the current music climate?
Its a case of having to take the rough with the smooth because in one way the music industry isn't what it used to be when people used to buy records and CDs in the physical format but in another way there are lots of routes to get exposure. Its tough to make a living out of it I guess, certainly tougher than it used to be, but we have been able to get to a level through lots of different mediums such as press, magazines, webzines, and radio as well as social media like Facebook so its actually opened up a lot of avenues that bands can go down now. But the money side of being in a group is very tough, and we are trying desperately to make the band our fulltime living, and we are slowly but surely getting there and I think if we carry on in the way that we are it's doable. Although it's not the glitz and glamour that it was back in the day at least, we have still got the music industry.
Do you have a record that you always return to?
My musical tastes change day by day - sometimes I'll, wake up, and want to listen to some new modern Country music like Keith Urban and that sort of stuff and then sometimes I will wake up, and I'll want to hear to the new Five Finger Death Punch record. (laughs) At the moment I've got a Spotify playlist which covers the whole lot. Rather than an album guy, I'm probably more of a song guy. Not necessarily singles I like the album tracks as well - I love a lot of variation in what I'm listening to and if I can get a compilation of songs that I enjoy listening to then ill be fine.
Would you use Spotify a lot or would you be old school and buy a lot of vinyl and CDs?
Its great to have Spotify on the road because you just can't take out ten or fifteen albums so for us Spotify is , so we can listen to new music out on the road but what I will do if I really like a band's new album then I will go out and by the physical from a shop after I've listened to it on Spotify. Its a mixture of the two I like having the physical product, but I also love the fact that you can discover so many different bands on Spotify.
What’s next for Stone Broken?
We've still got a lot of work to do promoting the new record we've done the majority of the UK and bits of Europe, but we are going straight into the festival season from now - we have a few shows in Europe and the UK, and straight after that we are going out on tour with Fozzy in the states - which will be our first time over there, so we intend on being on the road for quite sometime.
Stone Broken Tour dates:
11 June Dublin Voodoo Lounge (w/Buckcherry)
12 June Belfast Limelight 2 (w/Buckcherry)
16 June London 02 – Stone Free Festival
27 July Ebbw Vale – Steelhouse Festival (HEADLINE SLOT)
28 July Buckley Tivoli