Thursday, July 01, 2010

Stone Axe interview


Stone Axe play a style of heavy music that reached back to the 1960's and 70's. I recently had a chance to talk to Tony Reed to find out more about the band, their music and their future plans.

Tell us a little about the history of how Stone Axe came to be.

The Stone Axe name came from my first band when I was 11. I couldn't play yet but I had a band name and a logo.

The music came 27 years later. During the writing for 'the vault session' by Mos Generator I had a few riffs that didn't make it to the final stage of writing. one of those songs ended up being 'riders of the night'. I started writing tunes for a side band that were all in the style of the late 60's early 70's. when it came to the vocals I wasn't interested in singing on them. I had thought of Dru because I worked with him in a few bands and produced him in the studio. I knew he was a great vocalist and had the same love for classic rock as I did. I gave him a few songs to put lyrics and melodies to and when he came over and laid down 'riders' in one take I knew we had something cool.

Who are some of your influences?

Obviously stone axe is influenced by hard rock of the 1960's and 70's but the original idea of the band came from FREE. I wanted to do something that had a lot of space in it. Then once the songs started getting written other styles started creeping in. CREAM, The FACES, Peter Green FLEETWOOD MAC and early AC/DC play a big part in the influence on the first Stone Axe album.

Stone Axe 2 came out recently. Tell us about it?

On Stone Axe II we made an effort to push the music into a more seventies feel. we talked about having bigger choruses and more of a straight ahead rock feel. there is more of a production on this record. We are still riding on the wave of the first record and it appears that SAII is falling in line just fine.

What are some of your favorite tracks on the new album and why?

I like 'On with the Show' a lot. It has a big rock sound, a great singalong chorus and some notey bits in the bridge. It seem to be a well rounded rock tune. 'Chasing Dragons' is cool because it has a different take on the seventies sound. the acoustic intro with the song building a bit with every section works well. the lyrics are great and Dru's delivery is awesome. I had a great time putting together 'Turned To Stone'. The organs and the mellotron make the song super epic. To me it's a mix between Pocol Hrum & Bind Faith.

Did you use any special retro equipment to give your music the tones like it was recorded 35-40 years ago?

We try to use vintage gear as much as possible. I am a huge Laney amplifier fan so I use those as much as possible in the studio. Live I always use my 1970 Laney supergroup head. I have a ton of vintage amplifiers and drum sets. when I am recording I also use as much tube and vintage recording gear as i can. i want the recording to sound vintage as well.


How would you describe your sound to someone who has never heard you before?

Here is an excerpt from a review we got for the first album. To me it says a lot. "If you were to hear this album without the aid of any background information on its origins, your instincts would probably tell you it was 60's-era rock, carefully unearthed from the vaults of an overlooked rock band along the lines of Free or Cream. The fact that it's a new recording is a testament to the precision with which the group crafts not only their songs, but their sound. If you feel like you've exhausted your classic rock options, this is a great place to get a fresh start."

All of your albums are getting various vinyl releases. So I take it that you are huge vinyl fans. How many albums do you own? Do you any great rarities in your collection?

I own a couple of thousand albums. I had a lot more but went through and weeded out stuff that wasn't in good shape or that I didn't listen to much. as far as rarities go, my biggest rarity collections are stuff like Sabbath, Bowie, big star, soundtrack, and bootlegs. A while back I got $1,800 in trade towards my first mellotron for the first nirvana single.


You are getting to play some dates with Saint Vitus really soon. What are your expectations about these shows?

We are very excited and honored to be doing these shows. We are hoping to gain a bigger fan base and set up more connections for our own future tours.

Any other tour plans in the works for the end of Summer or Fall?

We are going to take the summer off and write/record as many songs as well can and then hopefully get to the UK in october. Right now we are having trouble finding anybody to help us out with that (nudge nudge, wink wink-readers).

Who would you love to share a stage with?

Bowie 1973

Tell us about some of your most memorable shows?

I think one of my favorite shows with stone axe was at the Charleston in Brooklyn with Mighty High. it was our first tour, we were headling this show and I was really worried about it, but when went on the room all of the sudden had this great vibe and we knew it was coming across the way we like it to. Nothing really crazy has happened to us yet.

You have a split seven inch with Mighty High coming out soon on Ripple Music. Can you tell us more about that?

I contacted Wood from Mighty High to see if he wanted to do a split 7". He talked to his mates at Ripple and they were into the idea. Since then I have started working for the Ripple music label as their mastering guy. They are also going to re-issue some Stone Axe and Mos Generator discs.

The song we put on the split is called 'Metal Damage'. It has a real 1978-'80 Judas Priest feel. The music was actually written for Mos Generator a few years ago. I like the way it turned out.

Your sound recalls bands from the late 60’s-70’s. What do you think made the music of that time period so special?

There was a lot of uncharted territory. The musical canvas seemed unlimited and bands were allowed to develop their craft over many albums. I think radio played a big part in how people viewed music back then. In an hour you might hear Cream, Anne Murray, the Monkees, and the Spinners all on the same station. I know that radio played a big part in my musical upbringing. Not necessarily me listening to it but my mom.

If you could only listen to three albums over the next month then what would you pick?

Black Sabbath-Master of reality

Necromandus-Orexis of death

Todd rundgren-something/anything

What do you think about the state of the music industry in general these days?

Confusion. I try not to think about it and just try to be successful at my own thing.

What are some of the best albums you have heard so far in 2010?

I haven't heard any albums from 2010. Only re-issues.

Is Mos Generator still going on?

Yes. A year and a half ago we took a break. We still haven't decided what to do. we played a show in February and it felt great but we haven't done anything since. When we started the break we had 6 songs written for a new record. I see us finishing 5 or 6 more songs and putting something new out. I don't know about shows though.


I love the first album cover, but have to ask about the blueberries. Any significance to them on the cover or did it just look good?

I was looking through a book of photography and saw that picture. It looked very striking to me so decided to use it. It's funny how much I get asked about that.

Pick the band from the following pairs that you prefer and tell why you picked them.

I've been pondering over this question for two days. A couple of these pairings are very difficult. We are talking about some of my favorite bands and I feel like I am betraying one by picking the other.

AC/DC or Thin Lizzy

I will have to go with AC/DC because of their amazing catalog. So many great albums. but Lizzy has so many more dimensions to their music. it's truly beautiful and has a feeling that no other hard rock music has.

Budgie or Deep Purple

Deep Purple hands down. You have to bow to the musicians alone, not to mention the mind blowing tunes.

Cream or Free

Very difficult. free is where stone axe comes from. That is our core sound but Cream are the masters of freeform jamming. If you listen to the live jams and just take them in it is amazing. Cream wins by a very small margin.

Black Sabbath or Pentagram

Black Sabbath is the greatest band of all time. Nothing moves me more. I am actually obsessed.

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