The band talk punk, Nirvana and Madonna in our Q and A
PLEASE INTRODUCE YOURSELF FOR US WHO ARE NOT FAMILIAR WITH YOU AND YOUR MUSIC AND TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOURSELF.
Johnnie Walker, esq.: We are a collective of songwriters and musicians who have been working together on various projects for the better part of a decade. Our music is a mish-mash of different genres reflecting our various influences and interests. Simply, we are Stone Robot.
JAMessiah Rockwell: Stone Robot is like a musical Voltron, minus one limb. But being a trinity gives us a better base - like a bar stool. Nothing flimsy here.
B. Steels: All of us certainly have an eclectic taste in music and that reflects in the album. But despite how widespread our stylings are, I believe they still mesh together to formulate one unique sound belonging only to us.
TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR NEW ALBUM OR SINGLE?
JW: Planned Obsolescence started as a way for us to remotely collaborate (across three US states) on new music as a way to stay sane during a pandemic. What resulted was a thirteen-track debut album impossible to label.
Steels: Yes, which has made it somewhat difficult to market as well. That said, we do have over 5,000 streams across multiple platforms by now––so it seems like people have been getting into it.
JAM: Planned Obsolescence represents the best possible outcome of a natural process during the pandemic and across the physical distances we existed. It’s proof that we can collaborate at any time from any place, and have fun doing it.
WHAT INSPIRED THE ALBUM OR SINGLE?
JW: Ennui. Stir-craziness. Bourbon.
JAM: The idea stemmed from a pre-pandemic distance collaboration we wanted to call “Strangers on the Internet” (before discovering that other musicians were using that moniker). We essentially had a 3-song EP created in the summer of 2019. We worked on a few more songs, and by the time COVID really hit, we were deep in the works on the full album.
Steels: Inspiration is drawn from everywhere for us, whether it be a life event, or just a really good book, or maybe the way a plastic bag floats in the wind. Okay, that last bit was obviously an American Beauty reference, but you get the idea. Inspiration is all around us.
CAN YOU SUM UP THE ALBUM IN A FEW WORDS?
JW: Something for everyone. If you like electronic music, we got it. Metal? It’s there. Post-punk? Absolutely. Hip-hop? Fo Sho. Eurotrash electro? Bien sur.
JAM: Read the song titles and listen to the lyrics, and you’ll pick up the overarching theme of Planned Obsolescence. But as JW says, Stone Robot serves up a smorgasbord of musical tastes. Smaklig måltid!
Steels: Right, this album contains a somewhat controlled freneticism difficult to describe. You can get the lyrics up on our website www.stonerobotband.com if you are into that. I know I was, as a kid. Now I guess I have to follow suit here with a foreign language bit, so, Esto es para ti.
WHAT RECORD CHANGED YOUR LIFE AND WHY?
JW: Honestly, it was likely Nirvana’s Nevermind. I grew up listening to a lot of my older brother’s early 80s metal records, and as a beginner guitar player, that stuff seemed out of reach. When I first discovered Nirvana, I finally heard something that made me think, “I can do that.” From there, I was able to go back and explore all the punk music that influenced Nirvana and really open my eyes to what was possible.
JAM: Different songs at different points propelled my trajectory to this point. MJ’s “Human Nature, Kid ‘N Play’s “Toe-to-Toe,” Faith No More’s “Zombie Eaters,” The Roots “No Alibi”, HIM’s “Right Here in My Arms,” Queens of the Stone Age’s “I Never Came,” and Elvis Costello’s “(Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes” to name a few.
Steels: It’s hard to pinpoint one album that changed everything for me, but I can think of a definitive four that had the most impact on how I write. At a young age it was listening to my Dad’s Pink Floyd and Doors albums, specifically Floyd’s, Momentary Lapse of Reason and The Doors’, Waiting for the Sun. Then it was the gritty Enter the Wu Tang (36 chambers) by the Wu-Tang Clan in my adolescence, followed by Tool’s masterful, Aenema album. I know I cheated there, but it serves a purpose to show how attracted I became to the dark poetry of those artists spanning across multiple genres. And because of that influence, if I didn’t have JAM and JW to reign me in, I’d most likely be writing some very pretentious 6–8-minute songs. I still may. But it would probably have to be a solo venture.
DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE MUSIC VIDEO FILMED BY YOUR BAND OR ANOTHER ARTIST?
JW: I still think the music video for Jamiroquai’s “Virtual Insanity” is the coolest one I’ve ever seen.
JAM: We have a video for After All, on YouTube. And we’ve got ideas for a few more from Planned Obsolescence. As far as my favorites from other bands, way too many. Anything I’ve ever seen Method Man and Redman in, Faith No More’s Epic and Easy, and Twenty-One Pilots’ catalog. I think I still have a twisted form of PTSD from seeing early Madonna videos at ‘too young’ of an age.
Steels: Yeah, I’m really proud of our DIY music video. I have a degree in video editing so putting it together was pretty easy, getting decent footage amidst the pandemic was the hard part. As far as other MVs go, Pearl Jam’s, “Jeremy,” video has always stuck in my head over the years because the visuals were so powerful in conveying the message of the song.
WHAT WOULD WE FIND YOU DOING WHEN YOU'RE NOT MAKING MUSIC?
JW: If I wasn’t making music, why would you need to find me?
JAM: Boring, everyday human responsibilities just like everyone else, sprinkled with the gems of family life and other hobbies. Stone Robot allows us to don our superhero/villain masks for a while. RIP MF Doom.
Steels: You can find me playing dinosaur with my kids, working on my novel, playing around with video and/or graphic design, or because I’m a bearded, white male of a certain age, also brewing my own beer.
DO YOU GET NERVOUS PERFORMING LIVE, IF SO, HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH THAT?
JW: I was a very shy kid who couldn’t stand public speaking but playing music in front of people never bothered me. I attribute that to my belief that I’m not playing music for anyone other than me, so if you want to be there to listen to it, that’s fine by me.
JAM: Steels and I, as different as we might express it, are kindred spirits in our lust to expose our talents. Any opportunity, any time, any place - the exhilaration is just too much. I love turning to the band to say “two more” after the sound guy tells us to play “one more.”
Steels: JAM got me in trouble a few times with some club managers/promoters pulling that stunt, but I loved it. I absolutely thrive off the energy of a packed show but even if there are like 3-4 people at the bar, I make sure they feel every word I am singing, whether they want to or not.
HOW DID YOU FORM THE BAND?
JW: A group text message.
JAM: From the embers of Independent Idiot.
Steels: Like a phoenix rising from the screen of our respective screens. JAM had to finally trade in his flip phone due to the carnage.
HOW DO YOU WRITE? - DO YOU HAVE A KEY SONGWRITER, OR DO YOU ALL WORK TOGETHER?
JW: We all contribute what we can, and each song starts out a little differently. Sometimes it’s a guitar riff. Sometimes it’s a bass line. Occasionally it is a vocal melody or a drum break.
JAM: Yup. Stone Robot is the closest to a pure, creative democracy I’ve ever experienced.
Steels: We are totally in each other’s heads for this project, which is a bit terrifying at times. After all, some things you just can’t unsee.
WHAT INSPIRES YOU?
JW: The fact that people are still creating makes me want to contribute. For all the formulaic garbage dominating mainstream music, there is a subset of folks constantly doing new, creative things. I dig that.
JAM: I completely agree with Mr. JW. For me this also includes the eclectic non-musical creators and athletes who push the envelope to seek their thrills and passions. I love seeing new, colorful and wild expressions of self-play out in movement, sound, or physical medium. I’ll cap this with a middle finger
for contests like American Idol, and a big up to the underground blogs and zines that promote art over judgment.
Steels: I love the answers these guys gave and totally agree with everything. For me, I’d refer back to my previous answer about what inspired the album. Minus the bad movie reference joke. I like to pretend I’m funny.
WHAT IS NEXT?
JW: More is always next. I also love this question because it’s the one that I would always ask the other guys after we would finish writing a new track.
JAM: That question always looms. I’ll decide to share a weird thought on a whim, and within a day JW and Steels will flesh out a full-fledged structure. Inspiration spawns from our observations. And nowadays, the circus never leaves town. Unlimited song fodder.
Steels: JW asked us that question so many times when we were in Independent Idiot, we used it to name our first 3 song demo. But to build off what JAM said, I love the challenge of writing words and structuring an entire song based on one brilliant, bare bones idea, inane observation, or arbitrary title one of these guys labeled the track they just uploaded to our shared google drive. In the end, we will always be creating something new. Without creative expression, the world just feels grey, with a lot of strangers yelling at each other.
PLEASE TELL US ANY SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS SO WE CAN SHARE.
You can get everything at our official website www.stonerobotband.com including a physical copy of the album which I’m sure everyone is clamoring for.
Besides that, we are on Facebook: www.facebook.com/stonerobotband
and even TikTok: www.tiktok/com/@stonerobotband
Stream us on Apple music: http://itunes.apple.com/album/id/1559502844
or any other streaming service like Deezer, iheartradio, etc.
You can also buy the album on iTunes: http://itunes.apple.com/album/id1559502844?ls=1&app=itune