Stonebrother INTERVIEW

LOMM: Can you give a little biographical and historical info; who is involved in the band, and how did you guys meet up? 
The band is myself on lead vocals/guitar, my brother Ethan Smith on drums/vocals, and Leo Cox on bass. Ethan and I have been playing music together since we were little kids and grew up doing that. Leo was introduced to us by his music teacher in junior high, who happens to be a family friend of ours.

LOMM: Pandemic has taken an emotional toll on everyone yet the arts have been hit especially hard. The musicians are vulnerable to financial upheaval. How have you guys have been holding up?

Ethan: Admittedly the pandemic hasn’t been easy, but we’ve been finding ways to keep busy while we can’t go out and play shows. At the beginning we did a weekly acoustic show on our Facebook and Instagram, (@stonebrotherofficial and @stonebrother_official respectively), we’ve been doing a lot of writing, and getting ready for our return to the stage, which we hope to get to sooner than later, restrictions permitting.

LOMM: On the other hand you seem to have had a productive time. Is that right?
We definitely have had a productive time though the pandemic. Obviously not doing as many shows as we’d like or even getting together for rehearsals as often, but I’d say the individual writing process stayed pretty fresh. Eventually, our area dropped to nearly zero cases, and we were able to have rehearsals again. Eventually going to a local studio to record our second EP Every Second Counts.

LOMM: Tell us about your genre, what does it means to you, why did you choose this genre?

Zach: Our genre is hard rock, but we definitely take from lots of places like heavy metal, grunge, pop, etc. Of all the genres though, our sound is best described by hard rock. We love other bands that fit there as well, for me that would include GnR, Mr. Big and Van Halen to name a few.

LOMM: How did the initial musical and thematic elements evolve?
 When the band first started it was just myself and Zach, and we weren’t really sure what we wanted to write about. We were both listening to a lot of metal and rock stuff, and so that very much influenced the stuff we played, but our writing never really took shape until Leo joined. At that point we’d lived enough life and had enough experiences to be influenced by some people and events that led to the songs we’re writing now, which we’re incredibly proud of.

LOMM: Are you happy with your product? What aspects of it do you think you guys nailed, and what parts do you think you could improve upon?
 The part of the most recent EP I think we nailed  down the best was the live off the floor feel. We recorded all the base tracks together as a band and then overdubbed some parts afterward. Those first takes however I think provided us with a strong musical base to pile ideas on top of. One thing I think we could’ve improved upon was having more solid ideas for what the final product would’ve looked like. Then again, if we’d done that, some of the magic might’ve been lost.

LOMM: How has the overall reception been?
 For the most part it’s been great. There’s always going to be people that don’t like what we do, but we’re flexible enough to adapt to the situation we find ourselves in so we can make the most people happy. That’s really what live shows are about at the end of the day.

LOMM: Have you ever been on a tour? Given live performances? Is it tough for you not to be able to do so now?
 Before COVID hit, we were in the process of planning a tour. We’ve done plenty of live shows before, bars, talent shows, the Trunk 7 Music Festival namely, but we’ve never done a proper “tour”. However, if we can work something out after people are vaccinated and we can go out again, we’d love to take our show on the road.

LOMM: What is the next step for you? How is the future looking?
 The next step for us is to combine our last EP and re-record our first release. Then combine those with two new singles and release a full length album. If the pandemic lets up, hopefully getting out to do some shows as well.

LOMM: Could you tell us about the lyrics / themes /concepts you focus on or plan to focus on? How did the ideas come about, and how do they influence the writing process? Who is writing the lyrics?
The lyrics that I write are usually first-hand experiences, or kind of an “imaginary continuation” of situations I witness. For example, ‘Runnin’ Free’ is about getting my driver’s licence, and ‘Loudmouth’ is about a party crasher who couldn’t tell she was crashing. Any time I think of a lyric fragment, which is usually during or just after these experiences, I write it down. 

LOMM: Who is composing the songs?
 We all write lyrics, every song contains a little bit of all of our flair, and I think that kind of broadens the meaning of any given song, because it’s as many as three separate points of view on any given subject. Predominantly, Zach writes a lot of the lyrics about the stuff he goes through, the people he knows, that kind of thing. But we all work together to make sure we all like the songs.

LOMM: What bands do you draw your inspiration from?
 We draw our inspiration from many many different bands, I think our earliest influences were the classic ones for a rock band. Led Zeppelin, Guns n’ roses, Rush, Pearl Jam, The Beatles, and Van Halen just to name a few. Past that, all of us are very open to different and new musical ideas and styles. For example, our guitarist Zach is studying jazz music and definitely drawing (I imagine) some influence from there.

LOMM: Which is more exciting? Being on the road or studio?
For me it’s the live shows. The studio is also really cool, like being in a factory assembling your album, but to me nothing is as fun and exciting as playing live.

LOMM: What first got you into music?
 Music has just always been a huge part of life for all of us. Myself and Zach specifically, our dad plays guitar a lot and introduced us to bands like Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, and our mother who isn’t a musician anymore but listens to music just as much got us into The Beatles, Rush, Pink Floyd, stuff like that. From there, we just started picking up our respective instruments, and found it to be great fun, and the rest is history.

LOMM: What do you like the best about being a musician? And what is it that you do not like much?

Leo: The thing I like best about being a musician is the feeling you get when you create something (musical) and see someone (like a crowd) react to it. The thing I probably don’t like, or is more a double edged sword, is the uncertainty of being a musician and making money doing so. It can be hard to know what people will want while still staying vigilant to your own ideas.

LOMM: If you weren’t musicians, what would you be doing?

Zach:  I imagine Leo would be focusing on football, and Ethan might be more into acting, but for me I have no idea. Maybe studying English literature, or possibly learning a trade. Music has been my main focus for so long that I have no idea what life would look like without it.

LOMM: If you could change one thing about the music industry, what would it be?

Ethan: Maybe this isn’t a change within the industry itself, but it’d be nice if streaming platforms like Spotify paid artists a little more, especially now. For some people music is their primary source of income, and if they’re only making a fraction of a cent per stream, even a really successful artist could struggle to make rent if they can’t go out and sell other stuff like physical CDs or concert tickets.

LOMM: What’s more important to you? Catering to the audience or music for its own sake?
 I think we are concerned about both expression and reception when we create our music. Creating honest material has always been important. But depending on the situation, we’ll definitely be willing to cater to an audience. I don’t think any one is more important to us, and it’s completely dependent on the situation for which one stands out more

LOMM: What is the most memorable gig that you have played to date?

Zach:  Probably the last Trunk 7 Music Festival, which was 2019. We did a set that was mostly our own songs, the crowd knew us, the other bands liked us, it was like all the boxes got ticked. It was kind of the first time we really showed people we were a real band and not just some kids.

Also, we got to play in the Trailer Park Boys’ (Nova Scotian tv show, it’s on Netflix, go watch it) studio in January, and that was really cool.

LOMM: When you look back your music career, what do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment?
 If I were to pick a “greatest accomplishment” I would say getting our song Mary Jane on the radio. Hearing music that you recorded on the radio for the first time, especially a station that you pretty much grew up listening to, is an ethereal experience. It’s just so awesome. Brings a smile to my face every time I think about it.

LOMM: Who would you like to collaborate with?
 I would like to collaborate with anyone who creates a wildly different genre of music, mixing of musical genres is always super interesting to me.

LOMM: Who would you like to go on a tour with?

Zach: There are a few I can think of. We’d love to go out with The Royal Volts or Andre Pettipas and the Giants, who are both amazing Nova Scotian bands, but personally it would be a dream to open for Slash ft. Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators. I’ve been a huge fan basically since they started.

LOMM: If you could play any festival in the world, which one would you choose? Tell us why.

Ethan:  It would be awesome to play some of the really big ones like Lollapalooza or Coahchella of course, but if I could pick any festival I’d say Warped Tour. I’m a fan of a good chunk of the bands that played that festival before it shut down.

LOMM: Name some of your all-time favorite albums? Include controversial ones.

Leo: Some of my all time favourite albums are Dark Side of the Moon (Pink Floyd), We Like It Here (Snarky Puppy), Counterparts (Rush),there’s definitely a lot of people who don’t like Counterparts. But to me it’s fantastic, I always get enjoyment out of listening and re-listening to it.

LOMM: What does your collection look like? Mostly Vinyl, Cassettes, CDs, Digital? A bit of everything? A total mess?

Zach: I have a bit of everything, but most of my collection is on CDs. I grew up at the end of the “physical era”, and I remember when cassettes were still common, then CDs were the only option for a minute, then digital was the big one. Personally I like having a physical copy of music, with album art all over it and cool stuff in the liner notes. You don’t get that with digital.

LOMM: What Country/Region are you from and what is the Metal/Rock scene like there?
We’re from the eastern shore of Nova Scotia, Canada, and there basically is no rock/metal scene out here. There are some bands, but Nova Scotia on the whole doesn’t have much of a rock scene.

LOMM: You can invite 5 people to a dinner party, from the future, the past, rock stars, movie characters, you name it. Who are you having dinner with?

Leo: Me personally, I am inviting Geddy Lee, Jack Black, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Gordon Ramsay, and Victor Wooten.

LOMM: What is your weirdest memory in your music career?

Zach: I’m sure there’s a few, but the one that comes to mind was summer 2020. We were trying to make some money to pay for studio time but there were no gigs, so we went busking like once a week in Halifax. This particular night Ethan and I were out, and we were playing as usual, making half-decent money, when a lady who I will refer to as Karen got up in my face and informed me we were disturbing her “quiet night out.” For those who have never visited the Halifax Waterfront on a Friday night, it is by no stretch of the imagination a quiet place. We were not even the loudest buskers out there, she just wanted to pick on us because we were young and had (a very small amount of) PA gear with us, just so the vocals could get over Ethan’s box drum without yelling. I got Karen to leave after a few minutes, after I told her we’d find somewhere else to be. I figured she just went home because we didn’t see her for like three hours, but sure enough, Karen returned, and she was not happy that we were still there “disturbing her quiet night out”, (Seriously, besides all the buskers, restaurants, people and boats, there are literal cannons that go off every once in a while). This time, Karen marched over to me, swore at me, slammed my guitar case shut and informed us that we were done. She was threatening to call the cops and everything. For the record, we weren’t breaking any rules, and nobody before or since has ever had a problem with our busking. Other than that one instance it was usually a lot of fun, and we met some neat people.

LOMM: What is the weirdest gift you have ever received from a fan?

Ethan: Maybe not “weird” but certainly not conventional, and incredibly sweet; we were playing an acoustic set at an inn once, and after the show we were packing up, and this woman came up to us, and told us that she loved the show. So we were like, “thank you, that’s very sweet” but then she gave us the first twenty dollar bill that she ever made while working in Canada. That was such a cool gift. We knew we could never spend it, because clearly it means a lot to her that she still carried it with her, so we brought it home and framed it.

LOMM: If you had one message to your fans, what would it be?

Leo: If I had one message to my fans, it would be to say thank you for supporting our act and (hopefully) supporting other smaller bands’ music!

LOMM: Anything else you think your fans should know?

Zach: Check out the social media pages, listen to the EP on all your major streaming platforms, wear your mask, eat your vegetables, keep on rockin’ in the free world.

LOMM: Thank you for taking the time!

Thanks for having us!

Zach and Ethan Smith join Leo Cox to form a hard-hitting, hard rocking group from the East Coast of Nova Scotia, Canada. Combining the raw energy of 70s punk rock with the shredding solos and thundering bass of Van Halen and Metallica with influences ranging from heavy metal, to grunge to pop, this trio is the adrenaline-fuelled head-banging shot to the serotonin boosters you’ve been looking for.




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