Stoneface took some time out to share their views on recent band developments, the introduction of Al McMenemy as new powerhouse drummer, writing new material, reflections on recent gigs and plans for 2017 and beyond. Here is what they had to say in their own words.
We were all delighted, and a little surprised if we are totally honest, that Al was agreeable to staying on with us after our gig in December 2016 as he is such a busy guy with work and the other band he plays with (Those Made Broken) He is such a great drummer that we thought he would only be with us for a short spell so to have him on board full time is a major coup for us. He is also a lovely guy and a great laugh so it has been a win win situation for us. We have all known Al on the rock scene from waaayyyy back in the day so he has been able to slot seamlessly into the band and has helped to inject a real sense of fun and humour into writing and rehearsal sessions. We wanted to take a little time out at the start of 2017 to fully integrate Al into the band and to allow his contribution to the writing process for the new material . We currently have a lot of songs in contention to make it onto the second album. Al has already had a significant impact on the shaping of the new material and in live performances where he is really driving us to new levels in terms of our energy. As a bass player I find he is a great drummer to play with as his flamboyant style helps distract audiences from my many mistakes!
In terms of the new material we are writing, its fair to say we are going in a heavier, more intense riff driven direction. Grant has been at his most prolific of late and we have a shedload of demo material to choose from. The difficult part will be refining the list down to 10-14 songs for an album as we have so many new tunes that we are excited about so we are living with the material for a while, trialling some of it at some live gigs as well as enlisting the support of a select band of trusted and experienced friends in the local music scene to give us feedback on some of the demos.
All of this has meant we haven't gigged as much in 2017 as we have in previous years but we feel its more important to get a great selection of tunes properly recorded to represent what Stoneface will be about moving forward.
I was asked by a Rick & Stewart a couple of old friends from years back if I'd "fill in" on drums for a gig in Dec of 2016. I was subsequently hit with learning a set I'd never heard of old songs and new ones. After the gig the guys were keen for me to stay on and I was glad to. The newer, harder edge to the new material suits my old school solid 4/4 style of playing and I have the freedom to play what I feel fits with the song and also take ideas from the guys as to what might fit better.
I've always been a bit of a heavy groove player and these amazing new songs seem to be bringing out the best in me. I can't wait to finalise the songs for the album, get it recorded and then to play them live, I love playing music and whilst I continue to be involved with a variety of musical projects and bands, I am really enjoying being in this band and it's only going to get better!
It's safe to say that Al has brought a new dimension to the group which has had an impact on everyone in a positive sense. AL's intensity and chops are not in any doubt and he brings a real aggressive edge to the band which the rest of us feed off of. This is also influencing the direction of new material, allowing us to explore a heavier, more dynamic but still melodic direction. Certainly from a live perspective, I think the heavier edge we have developed and Al's input transmits really well and it has been great to 'road test' a few of the new songs recently in the real world. The feedback has been really positive.
In regard to the writing process for album 2, things continue to progress really well, with approx 30 songs being finalised to demo standard. Creatively, new ideas continue to flow thick and fast, so the challenge will be choosing the point to stop writing and then funnel what we have down to a final list of 10-14 songs to pursue for album 2. However, we are all keen to get the best possible material together for a really strong second album, reflecting on our experiences from making the first album and what we have learned since then. We are focused on getting an album that we are all really proud of, without compromise and certainly from my standpoint, this is being borne out in the standard of songs we are now producing. From my perspective, I think you can expect to see/hear the real Stoneface captured in album 2 and, for me, that is really exciting.
We were always aware that our sound as good as it was, was lacking a certain something special.
We found that missing piece of the jigsaw and then some when Al brought the thunder to our songs.
Rehearsing and gigging is a hell of a ride these days.
As for the forthcoming album recordings, it's a different but natural direction for us and the drums are going to be the power behind all the meaty chunks of rock that will be thrown at you sonically. A rocknroll thunderstorm. We think you'll like it!