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Stone Meadow Interview

When did you decide that a career in music was for you?

I’d dabbled in original music since I was about 22, the usual sort of stuff everyone goes through when they start a band from scratch, playing gigs in empty venues because you’d only managed to sell tickets to your parents, organising multi-band nights so you guarantee yourself a crowd of at least the other band members and their parents… sound familiar? When I got to 26, my band at the time had gained a bit of traction and we were writing songs that weren’t just Smoke on the Water played backwards, we had a tight set and we knew we had the tools to perform to bigger audiences. With a bit of luck and a couple of white lies, the right email at the right time landed us a gig at Stratford-Upon-Avon’s most popular music venue (which we were shitting ourselves about…). We were rough and ready, and very different to the other acts that performed there regularly, but we were tight as a unit and backed ourselves with what we did. 

 

Anyway, we preceded to play to a packed house, tore the place down, got paid (?!) and earned ourselves a monthly residency there which we still have to this day. Watching people dance to our original music and our covers, punters buying us pints, and then getting paid afterwards was a bit of a watershed moment for me personally, I knew from that moment on that I wanted to keep pursuing that feeling. I’m 29 now, and I still enjoy it as much as the first day I stepped on stage.

 

Who are your musical inspirations and why?

I’m a classic rock guy through and through, Lynyrd Skynyrd, AC/DC, ZZ Top, Motorhead and Thin Lizzy were my biggest influences when I started out with guitar, and they still are to this day, they are what I’d call true Hard Rock bands. I love the energy, the creativity, the skill and the soulfulness they all brought to music, all 5 bands were never about one individual, they were all a sum of their parts and were powerhouses both live and in the studio. I’m also a huge fan of the band Faces, I always loved Ron Woods rhythm guitar work and Rod Stewart, for me at least, was the best rock and roll singer of all time.  

 

Can you tell me 3 things about yourself that people might not already know?

I am semi fluent in Polish (I say hesitantly…), my missus is from Poland and i’ve been learning the language for the last 4/5 years, so I’ve no excuses. I’m addicted to sherry, granted, its not a typical young guys drink, but it’s absolutely top tier and anyone that says otherwise either hasn’t tried it or is lying to you, albeit if I attempted to drink it on a night out, my mates would probably fill me in. I’m right handed and left footed (is ambidextrous the word?) and I can solve a Rubix Cube in under 30 seconds… (won’t win me any awards I know…).

 

If you could perform a gig at any venue where would it be and why?

It would be easy here to answer with Wembley, Woodstock, Knebworth etc etc but I’m not a massive fan of the whole ‘stadium experience’… As a band, we absolutely love playing when people are right up in front of us, when you can interact with them and feed off their energy – and for that reason my dream gig would be to play at the Whiskey a Go Go on Sunset Boulevard in America. So many famous bands learned their craft at that place and it’s drenched in rock history!

 

What has been your best achievement to date and what would you like to achieve in the future?

I’d always say that playing my first live gig was my greatest achievement, taking that leap from being a bedroom rocker to a genuine live musician is still the best feeling a self-taught musician like myself can have. Playing our first wedding was the next big step, the extra pressure of having to nail that first dance song, higher fee, higher stakes… Just to keep this ball rolling and be playing 20 odd weddings/events a year by 2025/2026 would be my ideal scenario. Alongside that, opening for a major band, playing a gig abroad and being signed to a record label would all rank pretty highly for me personally.

 

What do you like best about being a musician and why?

My favourite past times are playing guitar, and sinking beers down the pub with my pals… Being a musician basically allows me to do both of those things at the same time! On top of that, it’s also a great outlet to express myself in front of people who are as music mad as me. I love all the other stuff that comes with a live gig, the in-depth gear related conversations with punters, bouncers kicking out the drunk dude who was using the PA speaker as a walking stick, getting asked to do song requests that nobody has ever heard of, seeing people wearing your merch! It’s all good fun.

What has been the best gig you have been too as a fan and can you tell us about it?

The craziest gig I’ve been to was Airbourne, Joel is an absolute nutcase, he was in the crowd half the time, shredding on just about every terrace the venue had to offer… chucking jaeger bombs out to people and just doing rock and roll a damn good service. The most intimate was Gaslight Anthem, we waited out the back after the gig in the hope of meeting the band, 2 hours later Brian Fallon came out with an acoustic guitar and played a bunch more tunes for those that had stuck around, a wicked touch. Best gig I ever went to was when I went to watch a band called Tantric play at the Underworld in Camden, London. It was a unique case of a band who were pretty big in America, but relatively unknown in the UK, which meant there was only about 80 people there, 50-odd pissed up punters and 30-odd superfans… Anyway they absolutely blew the roof off the place, and it was great being able to stand right in front of them and watch how they interacted with people, see what gear they were using, and just get a really fucking great, intimate experience of a band I’ve listened to for years.

 

What would your ideal festival line up be and why?

If I was to pretend classic rock didn’t exist, I’d probably go down the route of a 90’s grunge/alternative festival when the likes of Janes Addiction, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, Stone Temple Pilots and Nirvana were all at the peak of their powers. I wasn’t lucky enough to have been born/old enough in the very early 90’s but I look back at some of the concert footage from that time on YouTube and the energy is incredible… some of those gigs, Woodstock 99, Lollapalooza 91 and 93, they literally changed people’s lives.

 

What would you say is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?

It wasn’t advice given to me personally, but it was advice I took from Tony Iommi’s Gibson TV interview, ‘Believe In What You're Doing And Stick To It’. Black Sabbath knew that what they were doing at the time was very different to all the other bands of that era, some were going to love it, but some were going to absolutely despise it… Do we listen to the naysayers and change our style to be accepted by the many, or do we stick at it and be loved by the few? We all know what Sabbath did and look how it ended up! If you’re 100% committed to your plan, your sound, your image, not only will enjoy it more in the long run, it will rub off on the audience and you’ll stand out from the rest.

 

What things make you happy and what things annoy you?

This might sound odd, but when I started out playing in bands, people would come up to me after a gig with the usual “you guys were amazing!” or “wicked set guys!” and I used to absolutely hate it… I knew perfectly well we’d sounded like shit for the whole set, we’d barely learned to play our own instruments and had done about 3 or 4 rehearsals, we absolutely sucked! In my second band, the drummer’s dad (who had been in a signed band) used to sit in on our rehearsals and tell us all the things we were doing wrong, I used to love it! I thought to myself ‘this is exactly the sort of stuff we need to hear, it’s criticism, but it’s honest and we can do something about it…’. So yeah… compliments are great when you know deep down, you’re doing a good job, but when you’re starting out and finding your way, it’s great to have honest feedback.

 

What things do you like to do when you are away from music?

I’m a big football fan, I’m Yorkshire born and bred so spend most of my Saturdays glued to the tv/radio following Leeds United (for my sins). Me and my girlfriend are also massive horror film fanatics, we love watching the scariest shit on Netflix, and I probably spend the rest of my time nerding out on concert footage on YouTube. I love watching all the old school classic rock bands, all time great blues musicians like Freddie King, Jimmy Rogers, BB King, and golden bits of footage for me are things like the Old Grey Whistle Test and early Top of the Pops videos.

 

Do you think social media and the internet are a good thing in the music industry?

Not really, but it’s here to stay so I guess we all need to get on board with it. I’ve been to watch bands with 10,000 ‘followers’ on Facebook who have been awful live, then I’ve seen bands with 400-500 followers who have sounded as good as any professional band I’ve been to watch… I’m not too against the likes of Facebook and Instagram, I think it’s great that bands can express themselves online, reach out to more potential fans and that fans have easier access to gig dates, videos and merchandise. It’s when the social media following doesn’t match up to the quality of the band that bothers me the most, ‘paying for followers’ is a real thing and you can always tell when a band has done it, post engagement never lines up to the total followers... As for Spotify, the less I say the better… I use it myself every day, but it’s all but dried up a big source of income for aspiring musicians and it’s a big reason that we don’t see the same quality of bands these days, it’s just not financially viable to go full time anymore like it was back in the 70’s/80’s. I’m still a bit old school and try my best to spend some money every month on vinyl records and merch, we should all try to find some way of paying musicians for their service, considering the graft they go through.

 

How important do you think your look and image is when it comes to being in the music industry?

In our line of work, i.e agency jobs, weddings, functions etc, image plays a massive part in winning you bookings. You’re dealing with clients that are probably going to look only at your profile picture and watch the first 10-15 seconds of your promo video… you’ve got to make sure that first glimpse at your profile conveys what you’re about as quickly and as efficiently as possible, otherwise you lose their attention. In saying that, I’d always say that your live performances and overall sound come first, you could be the most handsome, photogenic band on the planet but if you can’t hold it together live then it's never gonna work long term.

 

If you run the country for a day what would you change about it and why?

It would probably butcher the economy, but I’d find some scheme or plan to get all people my age onto the housing ladder with a minimal deposit. I had to graft and save for ages before I could afford my own house and it cleared me out at the time, others aren’t quite as fortunate to have a big lump sum saved and end up paying out tens of thousands just to live in someone else’s property. Everyone should have the right to their own personal space that they can make their own, house prices have increased at a rate that bares no correlation to people’s wages and for young kids like me these days, it’s a nightmare even thinking about the money spent on property.

 

What would your ideal day consist of?

I’m an early starter, even on Saturdays I like to get up around 6.30/7am and head to the gym, even if it’s just for 45 minutes… So my ideal day would always start with the gym, head somewhere for breakfast with my missus, back in time for the footy, relax for a bit before heading to our gig and rocking out with my best pals.

 

If you could say one thing to your fans what would it be and why?

Don’t ever stop going out to watch live music, Stone Meadow and every other local band rely on you coming out and enjoying the live music with us, keep giving us your support and we will repay you 10 fold by putting on the best possible live performances.

 

How would you answer the question Who are Stone Meadow and what are the differences between you as a music artist and you away from music ?

We are a function/party covers band of 4 passionate rock and rollers who throw the kitchen sink into every song, gig and show that we play. We’re all metal, rock and punk fanatics so naturally we put our own heavy/unique spin on everything we do, which we like to think makes us different from all the other cover bands in the area. 

 

Outside of music we all have day jobs, I’m an engineer, Jake and Tanner are teachers and Luke is a HGV driver, so you could say that all of us are dedicated and meticulous by nature, and it reflects in how thoroughly we prepare for gigs. Everything is planned well in advance and we’re constantly tweaking/perfecting things in between gigs, sometimes we probably over-prepare, but it means we can go out and have as much fun as possible knowing that everything else is taken care of.

 

What was the first record or song you purchased and why?

I don’t think I ever dare go back in time to the first songs I ever purchased… Pop music was the rage when I was at school, albeit when I compare some of the modern-day pop to what was on the radio at the time, Michael Jackson, Madonna, George Michael etc, it makes me glad that I had that kind of entry into music… On a more relevant note, the first rock and roll record I purchased was Tres Hombres by ZZ Top, when I was about 13. I’d heard ‘Gimme All Your Lovin’ on the radio and had wandered into HMV in an attempt to buy the whole album, only to walk back out virtually in tears, without the album I actually wanted, but with a shiny green alternative… Needless to say it kick-started my love of rock music, I still get goosebumps when I listen to ‘Waitin’ for the Bus’ and at the time, I don’t think I could quite believe what I was hearing, neither could I comprehend that it was literally just 3 dudes making that sound.

 

What would say to someone thinking about becoming a musician and getting into the music industry?

Don’t be afraid of hard graft, no band walks into a room for the first time and has a marketable product after the first practise. Any bands that think they do, I can assure you, won’t last long… I would always advise starting a band with people who are committed, enthusiastic, easy going and mostly importantly, can accept criticism. Kinks in people’s technique/abilities can be ironed out through regular practise and will improve over time, bad attitudes and big egos never change, and there is zero longevity in a band that can’t take the rough with the smooth. 

 

If you could collaborate with any other band/singer or musician who would you choose and why?

If money was no object, I’d pay Wes Borland from Limp Bizkit to write a song for us… that guy knows his way around a heavy riff, I’d also get Reefs lead singer Gary Stringer to put some vocals down, in my opinion, the best britpop singer of all time. Not sure it’s what the question intended but let’s finish that supergroup off with Brian Downey of Thin Lizzy on drums, and Duff McKagan on bass, awesome tone.

 

If you could have written one song from history which would it have been and why?

As a guitarist, I’ve got to say Freebird haven’t I? It’s the greatest guitar solo of all time, by my favourite guitarist of all time, Allen Collins. With a solo that’s basically 4 minutes long, you’d pretty much assume that’s a guy emptying his guitar playing repertoire in an improv stye fashion and using the best of a dozen takes… Well, I can assure you that it’s not. Rock history lesson no. 1, Allen had that solo penned note for note before he stepped foot into the recording studio, proceeded to record it note for note in his first take, and then double tracked it note for note with his second take. You watch any video of him doing it live, and he plays it the same way every time, it embodies everything I love about being ultra-prepared and well-rehearsed. What a band, may they all rest in peace. 

 

What has the rest of the year got in store for you?

We’ve got a bunch of weddings and events coming up this year which we’re super excited about, the first is Dino Tattoo Show in Worksop on the 2nd/3rd March that looks like it’s going to be an awesome weekend. Amongst that we’ll be playing regularly at some of our favourite venues across the West Midlands and Warwickshire, in the coming weeks namely, 24th Feb at Ronnie’s Bar in Warwick, and 9th March at The Keys in Stratford-Upon-Avon. If anyone is local, feel free to come down and say hi, it would be great to meet you!

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