British soul/jazz/funk band, Stone Foundation, head to the Georgian Theatre, Stockton this month so Lee Allcock caught up with frontman, Neil Jones, to speak about their relationship with Paul Weller, their latest album, and what to expect at a Stone Foundation gig.
Your 4th album, ‘Street Rituals’, was released earlier this year and has received critical acclaim, but what do you make of it?
I think it’s our strongest record to date both lyrically and musically. We’re living in very divisive and divided times and we wanted to make an album that hopefully shines some light on the troubling situations that we seem to be facing right now.
Do you feel you need to speak out about what is happening around you, considering the backlash some artists get for it, like Lily Allen?
We never really wanted to write songs about “he loves her, she loves him etc…” there are too many serious things going on in the world now to take a back seat and not stand up for what you believe in. I believe music is a great vehicle to make people think and hopefully, in a very small way, affect and challenge people’s thought process. There’s way too much hate in the world right now; we really need to start coming together as people and say enough is enough.
How did your relationship with Paul Weller come about? And how does it feel to have him as a fan?
He called me to say how much he loved our last two records and asked if we’d be interested in writing a song with him. As you can imagine we jumped at the chance as we’re all huge fans of his music. Those first few writing sessions produced ‘The Limit of a Man’ and ‘The Colour of’ and we just bonded from there. He’s become a really good friend and he’s a wonderful sounding board for ideas.
You recorded the album at his own studio. How long did it take? And are there any stories you can let us know about the time spent there?
It took around 2 weeks all told. The core of the record went down live and was a really natural and organic process. We were able to make small changes along the way and most of the tunes went down in 2 or 3 takes. Paul is a great guy to be around: his mind is constantly buzzing – it’s almost like watching an indoor firework going off in the studio – and it’s a really inspiring thing to see. We spent many a wonderful late night in the barn working on some songs until 3am. It was, for me, easily the most enjoyable record we’ve made so far – it never for one moment felt like work.
You’re heading out on tour this month, so what can people expect from a Stone Foundation live show?
Passion, intensity, soul and 100%.
Any special guests planning to join you on the road you can tell us about?
We’re very fortunate to have Graham Parker supporting us in London so who knows, he may join us on stage. We’re never short of a few surprises here and there – last time in London we had Paul Weller and Dr Robert from The Blow Monkeys join us on stage.
What’s next for the band?
We’re looking at a special release in the next month or so, so stay tuned for that, and we’ve already started the next songwriting process off for the follow up to ‘Street Rituals’. We’ve got really big plans for the next record.
Stone Foundation head to the Georgian Theatre, Stockton on Saturday 21st October. Tickets, priced at £15.00 in advance, are available from teesmusicalliance.org.uk.