We obviously deal with a lot of established stars and classic rock or metal bands but we are happy to say we have found another NEW band that’s actually worth checking out. The Stone Chiefs write guitar based rock and roll the old fashioned way. They plug in and play their live and loud gigs the old fashioned way. Having said that, they really don’t have ONE obvious influence and actually have their own FRESH sound. These are the kind of southern gentlemen that will drop your jaw with some inspired guitar licks and throaty vocals and hang out at the bar afterward with you talking your ear off. We talked with lead singer Dallas Perry about the album, their scene and more. Read on…
Q: You have released your debut album, DRIVE ON, but you’ve been together as a band for a while. You can hear the give and take between you all when you listen to it. How long have you guys actually been playing?
A: I’ve been playing with these guys for about 5 years but the rest of the guys have known each other since college which has been years and years longer. We’ve officially been a band for a good five years. We’ve played hundreds of gigs together and gotten really comfortable with each other’s playing and writing songs together. We’re all pretty laid back guys too so we get along well which helps a LOT with the songwriting.
Q: I would kind of describe you guys as a rock band with a classic sound rather than the “southern rock” or “roots rock” tag some might apply. I say CLASSIC sound because the album is pretty straightforward, not a lot of effects or processing, sort of an organic, plug in the guitars to the marshalls kind of sound. There’s a lot of different moods on the album and I’m glad I listened all the way through because the last song, STRAIGHT PIPES is actually my favorite. Do a lot of people tell you completely different “favorites”?
A: Yeah. That song “Straight Pipes” is a real hard rocker….I love that song. That song was born out of a riff that our guitar player David had been messing around with for a long time, at the beginning it was just that, just that one drop d riff. We just kept messing with it and playing it and the creative juices started to flow and I sat down Indian style and worked on some lyrics while the band was jamming on it. Next thing you know we had just written the hardest or heaviest song we’d ever written (laughs). I think it turned out that way because it grew out of that initial riff. A lot of our stuff is based on guitar riffs because we really have three good guitar players. We don’t officially have a BASS player (laughs). We have three guitar players and they all take turns playing the bass because they all really wanna play guitar at the live gigs!! (laughs). They don’t wanna be pegged as “the bass player” and I sort of understand because these guys are some of the best guitarists I have ever seen. I thought at the beginning that not having an official bass player was going to be detrimental, I really doubted that it was going to work because that’s just unheard of. Bands just don’t do that, but these guys are all capable of holding their own on bass so it works out. Part of it is also that the entire BAND has been together for so many years that it’s not a big stretch for them. Songs like “STRAIGHT PIPES” or “MOXIE” are those guys going full tilt hard rock, we definitely have that element as well as others.
Q: It also sounds like you guys have one of those band structures like the Black Crowes where some of the material gets fatter or heavier when it’s played in a typical live setting. Does the material take on another vibe with the drinks flowing, the smoke in the air and the energy of the crowd?
A: Hell yeah. I think we’re a live rock and roll band. The album was recorded with that in mind but there’s definitely something to getting up there and that setting you describe, things tend to take on a little more grit and oomph. That’s just because we start getting rowdy and having such a good time during our live shows. There is also an unofficial member of the band that we call ALCOHOL too! (laughs). Like you said, the drinks start flowing and the stage where we’re most comfortable gets a little more fun. I think that’s why we’re all in bands to begin with. To get up there on Friday night or whatever and play the rock and roll live, I think that’s why we exist. I don’t want to SOUND arrogant but I think so much of that rock and roll attitude or live attitude is about bravado or arrogance (laughs). You have to have a certain amount of “look at me” in order to succeed when you get up there. That’s why people join bands….at least that’s what I think but I also think we just really have a great time at our gigs and we’ve gotten pretty good too.
Q: One of the issues with writing about new bands is that everybody has to rush to come up with comparisons in order to describe you. I’ve barely started the interview and have already mentioned the Black Crowes. Its just sort of the nature of the beast. What are some of the styles or artists that have influenced you that people might not be as quick to pick up on?
A: Yeah….I can only speak for myself but I came of age in the 90s and a lot of that Brit pop rock that was coming out then, songs from bands like Oasis, that stuff really influenced me personally. I’m sure much of that music style never actually made it to the album really (laughs) but I think that a lot of that finds its way into the lyrics and the way I write. Other than that we all grew up on heavy guitar based rock and roll.
Q: Oasis did have some good songs and were another band that was heavier live. They certainly had that rock star swagger when they hit the stage as well. They were one of the last few bands that weren’t afraid of being “rock stars”. Did that button pushing, swagger element of it appeal to you?
A: Oh yeah. They were one of my favorite bands. They really embraced the whole rock star trip and were really good at that angle too. They were REALLY good at being cocky English rock stars. But, they had the musical chops to get away with it. I think I was influenced by ALL of it, not just that Beatlesque way they wrote their songs but the way they handled themselves onstage. If you’re going to be in a rock and roll band you have to have SOME of that moxie to be onstage.
Q: What’s it like as far as the music scene there in North Carolina? People everywhere seem to be complaining about the lack of a live music scene but you guys have an added benefit of a nicer weather climate.
A: There are some really good venues around the Raleigh area to play and also a lot of really good bands in that Raleigh area. The state in general is not too bad, you’ve got Chapel Hill for sure. Charlotte also has a great rock scene, you‘re right it is not a bad area for a scene to develop and we‘ve got some pretty good ones brewing and some great venues. There’s a lot of really good live bands all over the country but it’s just a little harder to find them than it was in years past I think. I’m not at all suggesting that rock and roll is leaving us but it has gone a little underground and is a little less mainstream these days.
Q: It’s not an easy time for any band no matter what style of music, even the classic bands we talk to all the time have a tough time due to the industry just being screwed. You guys DID manage to make a great album. Is it even harder trying to get a new band off the ground and finance things on your own terms?
A: It is. I think for us the biggest challenge we’ve faced has been raising the money that we needed to make this album the way we wanted to. That meant we had to play gigs upon gigs, hundreds, sometimes in ratty places or circumstances we didn’t like. That’s what it took in order to be able to finance this album without dipping into our own personal budgets. On the other hand, even with the crappy gigs it could be a LOT worse. We go in, we play the gigs, we make the money and try to kick as much ass and have as much fun as we can while we’re doing it. Our goal was to play as much as we had to play to get this album finished and we did it. We’ve done that now, so now we have the album and we can manage to get some better gigs and have even MORE fun playing, that was the plan all along. We can garner some advance attention and airplay and afford to be able to be more selective about venues and gigs and it’s working out great for us so far.
Q: It’s been said that playing in cover bands slowly just eats your soul and drive. You guys are familiar with that racket to some extent and you’ve been there. How good does it feel to step onstage and just say okay we’re here, we have a bunch of our own ideas and here’s OUR stuff?
A: (laughs). Yeah, you hit the nail on the head. I’d been in cover bands since I was 19 years old and it’s just kind of what you HAVE to do in the beginning. You basically have to play what people wanna hear and unfortunately people wanna hear what they’ve already heard a thousand times already. As an artist that gets old quick and it feels really, really good when you write songs as a band and people really start getting off on YOUR songs. That’s what Stone Chiefs are in it for, we wanna make people happy with kick ass live shows and albums of our own music. I think any band wants to have people respond to their stuff like the familiar music they already love.
Q: That’s why having a great record in hand is so important. Are you getting a pretty good response from people hearing you on radio or you tube BEFORE they come and see you live?
A: Yeah, we are. It’s nice having people come out to see you because they’ve heard of you already. It’s so much better to have a built in audience through radio or word of mouth or whatever versus having people come out just because you’re at a certain bar or hang out with their buddies or because they’re just out somewhere anyway to get drunk. When you start turning people into fans of your band it’s a whole different ballgame. That’s why we were so serious about making a good album and having the songs be such a focal point. That’s really key.
Q: We talked to another really interesting new band Butcher Babies who is also a “Jagermeister” band. How has that been getting involved with them as a company and being able to bring some of that more professional end to your club gigs and festival shows?
A: It’s been really good for us. They hook us up with all kinds of cool promo material and free merch, t-shirts, posters, all kinds of stuff as giveaways and it’s really a great deal for the bands and the fans. It is nice having the backing of a company that I love. I love them and we’ve been together for about a year. I hope it continues man, it is a great thing they are doing for bands. It’s really cool that they contacted us, they look for bands that play what they consider quality gigs so to be on their radar is a really good thing. To be able to play better gigs and have that kind of support is huge to a young band. The festival thing is just the natural progression, to be able to play to more ears that are exclusively looking to HEAR MUSIC. Supporting other bands that play those kind of big gigs is awesome, that‘s definitely what you want to be doing. To have music fans that haven’t heard YOU yet but are there to listen to music…that’s what it’s all about.
Stone Chiefs performing STRAIGHT PIPES, from the CD!