With their last two singles providing a cornerstone to their sound of both ethereal and coarse angst, STONE have burst onto the Liverpool music scene without warning and are set to take it by storm. I caught up with lead guitarist Elliot Gill to find out where these post-teen nihilists are going next.
Liverpool Noise: So, you’ve put your old band The Bohos behind you. Why did you feel this was best for your creative prospects?
Elliot Gill: We felt after nearly 3 years of gigging and recording and the constant development of our sound over this time that it just felt necessary to rebrand and start the band on a fresh slate. The Bohos, despite our sentimental attachment to it, and the very necessary formative experiences the band gave to us, just began to feel stale; we were growing frustrated, and it just did not feel like it was a representation of who we were, especially the direction we started going in. We’d had a good run as the fresh-faced kid band that had emerged on the Liverpool scene in 2017, but we’re entering our 20s now, and felt that we wanted to continue our journey with a brand new, more clear sense of identity that suited the sound we’ve been in the process of honing. Now with STONE, the name alluding to Fin’s mother’s maiden name and his Jewish heritage, we feel a new connection with this project, a clearer direction and a new-found sense of momentum.
LN: What’s the main message of your music?
EG: Our message and sound is a byproduct of the youth culture of 21st century Liverpool and a generation of 20 somethings who have grown into this disorientating, sensationalist age of social media. A simultaneous criticism and a wry celebration of our culture of hedonism and instant gratification of a world run by commodity. We as a band have channelled a lot of the angst and internalised frustrations we feel growing up and Fin’s often stream-of-consciousness brand of songwriting has been inspired by his 2 cents on the world around him, both the superficiality of idle phone-scrolling, and weekend piss-up culture and the more introspective journeys like love, mental health and self-worth, and the intersections between all of these. It’s such a weird, anxious time to grow up in, with social media bringing this constant, relentless, reactionary documentation of the world around us, we’re becoming more aware of injustice, inequality and corruption. In that sense we’re trying to channel our frustrations over the state of the world into our music too, becoming more politicised maybe. As long as we’re being 100% real, we hope our music will resonate with people.
LN: Is there a particular song or a moment in music that made you realise you wanted to be a musician?
EG: As a kid I grew up on a lot of the ‘classic’ rock bands, all the icons like Nirvana, Jimi Hendrix, Black Sabbath, Beatles and Aerosmith all lay the foundations of an interest in guitars and music. If you asked me what I wanted to be when I was 4, I’d have said ‘rockstar’ – 18 years on nearly and it hasn’t changed. Just as I’d turned 9 I started getting guitar lessons – bands like Muse, with their 2001 album Origins of Symmetry, and Rage Against The Machine’s debut really pushed the boundaries as to what the guitar could sound like, and I think the angst of Nirvana really drew me in. Age 13 onwards I began discovering lots of contemporary indie bands, discovering more psychedelic and post-punk inspired music listening to Yuck, Wavves, Tame Impala’s Innerspeaker and Lonerism particularly, and constantly discovering new sounds. Over time I just started going to gigs at 15 and kept playing and developing my own style, experimenting with pedals. The ethereal, reverb-drowned, modulated stylings of shoegaze and psych-rock really inspired me, and I like to channel that. Anything that makes a guitar sound and feel larger than life really resonates with me.
STONE Leave It Out (Official Music Video)
LN: What’s your creative process when it comes to writing your music?
EG: It’s usually a collaborative one. Fin will come up with inspiration for a song and try to write lyrics and chord progression and get a rough outline on his iPhone voice memos, which he’ll take to the next practice or otherwise sing it down my ear whenever I might see him next. We’ll then just work it out there and then in the practice room and keep playing and replaying sections while working out parts that fit and getting the song sounding tight. Sometimes if it’s not quite there we’ll take it home and think about it. We all have Logic on a computer at home so sometimes, more often these days with lockdown and everything, we can build demos from our bedrooms. I’ve been utilising Logic with an interface a lot more for getting quick demos to show the band. I like to come up with more instrumentals but have thrown Fin a line or two here and there – we both have our respective areas with which we entrust each other, with honest feedback at every step of the way. That sort of dynamic is something that just gets strengthened over the time we spend together as friends and as a band. Fin’s songwriting is usually very stream-of-consciousness, often projecting how he feels, like the songs he writes in a given time will show us an insight into what’s playing heavy on his mind too. We like to give him space to write lyrics so they can either be the first inspiration for a song or the final touch on an instrumental. Then we’ll work together on a Logic demo before we finally book a train and an AirBNB and take it to Gavin and Joe in the Magic Gardens studio in Wolverhampton. He is a phenomenal producer and a pleasure to work with. Always brings out the best in us.
LN: What’s the most exciting thing that’s happened for you guys so far?
EG: We’ve had a few big gigs but the most excited we’ve been in a while was probably when we finally got to release Leave It Out. It felt like all of the work regarding our rebrand was actually paying off. It always feels good to release music but a debut for a new project just gives you that “kick”. We’ve had a couple of plays and mentions on BBC Radio 1 as well so big up Jack Saunders for that.
LN: What’s the best gig you’ve played so far?
EG: Lost count of the number of gigs we played as the old Bohos outfit over the years, definitely a lot of great memories, had some really good support slots and played with some brilliant bands, but as STONE, playing the Invisible Wind Factory supporting RATS earlier in Feb this year was a highlight pre-lockdown. Such a good atmosphere. Also playing in this auditorium in Halifax before meeting Joe Talbot from IDLES with Alan McGee after his Q&A, we sat down for a couple hours and talked and he was full of insight. Supporting Cast at a sold-out Liverpool O2 Academy in December was fun. Each gig is enjoyable in different ways, from working with good sound guys and knowing you’re in good hands, to the energy you come onstage with. We’re looking forward to what’s in store for us in the next few years and absolutely itching to get back to it when safe to do so.
LN: You’ve said in the past that your dream gig would be to play at the O2 Academy in Brixton. In an ideal world, who else is on the bill with you guys?
EG: There’s a list of bands we would love to share Brixton with but for us at the moment it would have to be IDLES. Would probably be the perfect mix; us and them. Two loud, foot to the floor sets full of energy would do the trick. If we are allowed a couple more then we would probably go with Queens of The Stone Age, maybe a bit of a curveball but a set full of fuzzy guitars and smashing drums would probably do us well. Fontaines DC are also another band currently smashing it, paving the way for a resurgence in guitar music so naturally we would be made up to be on a bill with them.
LN: When this lockdown is over, what’s STONE’s game plan?
EG: Get back onstage, get back the studio, keep writing new tunes and hopefully get a full body of work out. Honestly we just wanna keep pushing ourselves and get out there. For now we have a few things on the way.
Feature Image Photo Credit: Lauren Cowdall