Interview with Pete Devine of Pete’s Rock News and Views (http://petesrocknewsandviews.com)
PD: What type of artist are you?
Mr. Johnny Walker, esquire: That depends on when you catch us. Years ago we described listening to our music like dealing with New England weather…if you don’t like it, wait five minutes.
Steels: I’ve always loved that analogy. Sounds like hyperbole, but listen to the album and find out for yourselves.
PD: Tell us the brief history of yourself.
Steels: We essentially formed out of necessity. Being away from music too long was paying its toll and when the pandemic gave the three of us some unexpected time at home, well, we felt like we needed to capitalise on it. Having played together in previous bands from the Western Massachusetts scene, we’ve always had a great feel for how each of us wrote and decided to embark on this journey together minus the traditional constructs of songwriting. We created a shared google drive labeled, Stone Robot, and from each of our home studios, we wrote, recorded, and uploaded anything that inspired us. In the end, being spread out across four state lines would not or could not stop our creative flow once we got the ball in motion and the culmination was this 13-track album, we decided to call, “Planned Obsolescence.”
PD: Who are your musical and non-musical influences?
Steels: That’s a long list. We all have eclectic tastes ranging from alt rock, hip-hop, metal, industrial, punk and some classic rock/pop music. Of course, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit the impact MJK from Tool had on my lyrical stylings, listening to The Doors with my Dad shaped the way I heard music flow, or how pounding The Wu-Tang Clan in my headphones through a major part of my adolescence drastically affected my future artistry. Non-musical influences are simply my family. Without their constant support and encouragement, I wouldn’t be doing any of this.
Dr. JAMessiah: If there’s a type of music I’ve heard, I have probably been influenced by it – whether I like it or not! Some of my biggest musical influences have been my co-collaborators who have become my close personal friends, including Steels and JW. Others include Josh Noone and Dan Evans from The Federal Crime, Shanta Paloma (singer/songwriter), and Allen Arbour from Phallic Medallion & The Undertone. These folks definitely serve as non-musical influences for me as well, members of my musical family.
PD: What are your dreams and goals?
Steels: The goal is just to continue writing and let fortunes fall where they may. I feel like the world is just too grey when I’m not creating something new.
JAM: I’m with Steels on helping him stay sane. But I think we’ve got something unique and diverse, yet accessible enough to share with our generation and the younger generation looking for something to with substance and bite to groove to. My goal is to keep innovating and growing along with my fellow bot-bros.
PD: Who writes your songs, what are they about?
Steels: We all write these songs. No one here is given creative authority over the other. A song like “Subliminal,” for instance, JAM and I both wrote a 1st verse and chorus and after a little deliberation, decided collectively that his lyrics/melody sounded better for the song. From there I intrusively climbed into JAMs headspace to write a second verse. JW jumped in a little later to help formulate some of the bridge lyrics and boom…new song. As far as what they are about, well, that’s ultimately for the listener to decide. I’d say there is a fair amount of social commentary on the album mixed with personal experiences, but as far as we’re concerned-regardless of what goes on in our minds when we write-we want whoever’s listening to feel like we’re writing for them and for them alone.
JAM: No doubt, the writing process is an open-forum. It’s like we’re one big Frankenstein while composing songs… crossed wires and all. I didn’t even realize, until the songs were mastered, that the lyrics Steels and JW contributed to my initial verse/chorus for Subliminal essentially vocalize feelings I had yet to express! Kind of creepy actually.
PD: How do you promote your band and shows?
Steels: Well, there are no shows yet. We’ll need a drummer to do that. As far as promoting the album, I’ve been spending WAY too much time on social media trying to get the songs heard. From there, it’s taking advantage of every promotional tool available on Tunecore and Spotify, Apple Music, etc. Submit hub was helpful in getting one of our songs some publicity. It damn hard work promoting an independent album release, but we gotten some pop, surpassing 6,000 streams in the first month of the album’s release. Considering we were completely unknown prior to that, it’s encouraging.
PD: What do you think about downloading music online?
JW: That’s just the reality of the modern world, and I’ve come to embrace it. I think the digital domain opens up a lot more ways for folks to hear music they wouldn’t otherwise be exposed to if they were limited to physical media. I used to love going to the underground music stores and flipping through stacks of obscure music, but now I can do it online, in my underwear, which is a win for everyone.
JAM: I would love nothing more than to directly hand physical copies of our album to consumers… especially tapes and vinyl. But whatever route our songs take to thump into listeners’ ears is cool with me. And the Internet offers virtually unlimited reach. Who knows, maybe some extraterrestrials will download some Stone Robot, even if by accident.
PD: What song do you wish you’d written and why?
Steels: I’ll take any Beatles song, please. I think the movie, “Yesterday,” proved that in a world absent the Fab Four, anyone who decided to write those songs would become instantly rich and famous.
JW: I wish I had written “Saturday Savior” by Failure. Like almost everything on “Fantastic Planet,” it’s got depth / layers of sound that is nearly perfect. And for a guy who writes music and not lyrics, I really wish I had the ability to be as clever as Greg Edward and Ken Andrews.
JAM: Another Part of Me by Michael Jackson, because Captain EO is the future! But seriously, the song is well-written, flawlessly produced, catchy as hell, and cool enough for its own Epcot Center attraction… all while transcending the prevalent pop-themes of its time period. Pretty much all I could hope for, for at least one of our Stone Robot tunes.
PD: What are some of your pet peeves?
Steels: I’d have to say it’s peoples’ unyielding inability to compromise and find middle ground. This goes for life, politics, and any type of artistic collaboration. People need to learn to check their egos at the door and understand that nothing is black and white. The three of us work so well together because we realise that nothing gets accomplished if we insist on taking a hard line on an opinion. All that does is box you in.
JAM: I can relate with Steels. But my biggest pet peeve is that mainstream music production/distribution/consumption has become pretty tainted and diluted by corporate greed, to the point where radio is more homogeneous sounding and trite than ever. I mean who doesn’t enjoy some form of music?.. especially a little mood spice? It’s 2021, and we’ve got all of these online platforms – maybe we can find a more effective way to support artists and get music to the appropriate/appreciative audiences.
PD: What is your proudest moment in music?
JW: We’ve played some cool shows in past projects, and I had the opportunity to play a few shows years ago with a Western MA hardcore band before they split up to go win Grammys, but I really think that completing this album is my proudest moment. Recording original music without ever being in the same recording studio as your co-collaborators was a challenge. But the result was legit.
JAM: Word. I’m proud to have put bits of my heart and soul into the process and creation of the Planned Obsolescence album. Everytime a catchy riff and clever lyric can miraculously grow into a full song it gives me good vibes. But to have been fortunate to collaborate with Steels and JW, and the other artists I have played shows and recorded with… those are my proudest moments.
Steels: Yeah, man. That show we played in that fully packed hole-in-the-wall club in Connecticut with Independent Idiot was one of my favorite gigs. The crowd kept chanting for more songs and the club let us play until nearly 2am. JW was so wrecked by the end of the night he could barely stand. Oh, and opening for a few national acts like Local H and Psychostick was pretty awesome as well!
PD: So what are you working on at the moment?
JW: I’ve got four new tracks ready for the next Stone Robot album – assuming Steels and JAM like them. I’m also finally getting around to doing the doom metal project some of my friends and I have talked about for years.
JAM: I’m working on a couple of solo-esque projects at the moment, with the intention of hitting the Stone Robot full throttle this fall to begin writing new music. I’ve got a couple of ideas already that I’d liken to mutant tentacles for our pet monster, compared to what we created for Planned Obsolescence. Gotta keep it funky fresh, right?
Steels: I’m working on making more music videos for the album. We have a DIY one for “After All,” up on Youtube right now recorded and edited during the pandemic. People should check that out. https://youtu.be/I7d8Sh-5AGM
PD: What music have you available online and where can we buy it from?
Steels: You can purchase the album on iTunes: http://itunes.apple.com/album/id1559502844?ls=1&app=itunes
Or on our official website: www.stonerobotband.com
You can also stream us on all media platforms which is obviously more likely than people buying an album.
Apple Music: http://itunes.apple.com/album/id/1559502844
We’re also on Amazon Unlimited, deezer, iheartradio, etc.
Look us up on Instagram : www.instagram.com/stonerobotband
And TikTok: www.tiktok.com/@stonerobotband