As one of Britain’s fastest-rising rock bands wrap up their debut headline tour of the UK we pay tribute to the the monster that is the Stone Gods by posting the second part of a cracking interview with the skin tight quartet.
Leaving behind The Darkness and ensuring rock fans finally see the light we’re expecting some awesome festival shows from the band this summer followed by another bigger and better headline tour before the year is out. And maybe a follow up to their brilliant debut album? Who knows.
One thing’s for sure – at a time when traditional British rock is enjoying a long overdue resurgence, the Stone Gods are setting the standard. And they know it.
rushonrock: As musicians is playing a sold out Academy II in Newcastle just as exciting as playing a sold out Metro Radio Arena?
Richie: It’s a completely different experience and one which is, in its own way, equally as great. Anyone who tells you that it’s not fantastic standing in front of 80,000 people going nuts is lying because it’s f***ing awesome. But at the same time it’s just as f***ing great to stand in front of a few hundred people who are within touching distance and hear every word of you new band’s songs.
Robin: The thing about Stone Gods is that we’ve really worked hard to reach the level where there’s 400 people paying to see our shows. This was and always will be where it’s at for bands. It’s like Lewis Hamilton. He drives around in a Mercedes most of the time and gets in a Formula One car once in a while. Years from now he might be driving around in a Mercedes most of the time and I’m sure he’ll be happy. It’s the same thin. It’s great to be here but it’s even better to be in a Formula One car – or playing huge shows – once in a while. But there are no guarantees.
Dan: First time around playing the smaller shows I don’t think I reall y appreciated it because it was my first time doing it at that level. When you get to go back to those venues after a bit of experience you don’t have the stage fright and it’s just great.
Robin: But if you’re on the kind of ride that The Darkness was on it’s difficult to take in anything. That band was just on an out of control upward spiral for so long. It’s great but at the same time you never get to catch up with it and truly appreciate your situation. You’re just running around like a headless chicken. We’ve all had that chance but I’ve enjoyed the fact that in Stone Gods I’m able to savour every minute of being in a proper rock band without a load of baggage flying around you.
rushonrock: And is that baggage hard to handle?
Robin: It can be. There’s the media commitments, the meet and greets, the tickets to sort out. This huge vortex is created around you and there are very few handles built in for you to grab hold of. Eventually you build your own into your brain, your life and the way you play and when you get that calm back it’s great. We’re at that point now. It’s why Stone Gods play so well live. It’s because we don’t have a lot of that f***ing nervous energy which we used to have – we used to think that was the way to play. But when you listen back you realise that you weren’t in control as much as you thought you were. But now I, personally, have all the time in the world when I’m sat behind my drumkit. I suppose it’s like a footballer playing at the highest level and he can stroke the ball about at his own pace.
Richie: But any gig is great whether you’re playing in front of 20 people or 20,000 people. You’ve got to feel quite honoured that anybody’s been out and bought a ticket to see your band and we can enjoy that feeling even more now.
Robin: That’s right. Everybody’s got millions of distractions, there are millions of bands out there and you can find any music you like on the internet very quickly.
Dan: I don’t think anyone will have stumbled upon us on this tour. They’ll all have made an effort to choose Stone Gods over anyone else and we appreciate that.
rushonrock: But a lot of people are still making a big effort to watch live music despite the current economic climate.
Robin: With recessions come the need to watch bands. The celebratory nature of a gig, providing it’s still affordable, will mean live music always survive. That experience of being at a gig is still something special and something you don’t get listening to a record. When you’re there – both as a band and an audience – you’re making something happen on the night and that release of energy is much needed when things are as shit as they can possibly get.
rushonrock: The gigs are coming thick and fast and still selling out – will that continue?
Robin: I think so. You just have to look at the quality and quantity of this summer’s festivals to realise the market’s out there. There’s about 15 bands who could headline any one festivals and at Download and Sonisphere they’re all on one bill over two or three days! I think a lot of that’s to do with bands being a bit afraid of the economy. Bands are grouping up just to guarantee the big venues and the sell-out shows and make the ticket bulletproof.
rushonrock: On the subject of festivals can you confirm any slots yet for this summer?
Richie: We can’t confirm anything at this moment. We will be doing some but we’re not allowed to say what or where right now.
Robin: There’s still a lot of jockying for position going on. We will get somewhere but we just can’t say where.
Richie: I think everyone’s got an eye on Download. It’s looking like the best line-up ever and especially after last year I think the organizers have a few points to prove. On the face of it the overall bill was pretty appalling by their standards in 2008 and with Sonisphere throwing down the gauntlet, if Download didn’t pull out all the stops then they’d be f***ed. That Sonisphere bill is really coming together now and it’s looking like the business. Download has done exactly the right thing and delivered the bill everyone wanted to see.
Dan: It’s gone back to it’s Monsters Of Rocks roots – certainly on the Sunday – and that’s what Donington is all about and what it should be about.
rushonrock: Finally for your fans in the North East what does it mean for a band like Stone Gods to play Newcastle in 2009?
Richie: The moment you get up north it’s a different experience.
Robin: And there’s still that culture of going out in the north which there isn’t down south. People at our shows in Newcastle get to the pub early, have a couple of pints, get to the show, have a couple more and have one thing in mind – to enjoy themselves. They don’t take anything for granted and want to get full value from their night out. I’ll take that attitude all night long over an attitude of indifference.