Today, we sat down with Stone Robot to talk inspiration, heroes, advice and more in music today! Be sure to check out their music below after the interview!
Here is the interview:
What is your inspiration to write your music? Is it your surroundings?
JAMessiah Rockwell: If it were just my surroundings, I think my contributions might sound more like the Grateful Dead than Stone Robot. Thankfully, inspiration strikes from almost any curious spot of warm and cold atmospheric convergence, like when I’m watching a documentary, playing with my kids, or spontaneously noodling on an instrument. I like to blast a variety of music, old to new. That’s really it; just getting into good music and letting my mind wander.
Steels: Sure, surroundings have a little influence in my writing. The oppressive consternation between our people is a hard topic to ignore, though I try not to get too political in my writing if I can help it. Most of my inspiration comes from either within (dealing with my own mental health) or from other artists. For example, I get a large portion of my lyrical ideas from reading. Mostly fiction novels, but sometimes it’s a biography, a band’s tour journal, or a newspaper article that will spark something creatively in my mind. There will be other times when I have to pull my truck over whilst listening to music and jot down some other song idea that cropped up in my brain.
JW: I suppose it might be my surroundings as that is where all of my instruments are. In truth, and I know I’m cribbing from MGM, but I kind of dig art for art’s sake.
What type of music did you listen to growing up?
JAM: First, the 80’s pop and house music thumping out of my sister’s room, followed closely by the hair-metal spraying out of MTV. Next, the conscious 90’s hip hop and alternative rock that my school mates and their older siblings were trending on. Then the penetrating permutations of “classic rock” that seemed to come in clearly when every other station was static. And most recently, the fringe delicacies of post-punk, hardcore, underground hip-hop, and avantgarde.
Steels: My first two albums that I remember loving were Michael Jackson’s, Thriller, and The Beach Boys greatest hits, the latter I accidentally acquired by curiously opening my parents Columbia music package and refusing to let them return it. They eventually took me to a Beach Boys concert, where they were opening for the Moody Blues. All the older people in the audience were looking at me cross eyed because this small child knew all the words to The Beach Boys songs and was singing them at the top of his lungs. From there my listening was nearly a mirror image of JAM’s progression through musical stages, minus the hair metal, I never got into that personally. My Dad’s favorite bands, The Doors and Pink Floyd were probably there instead and are still heavy in my musical rotation.
JW: I have two older brothers who were very much into late 70s / early 80s rock and metal, so that is where I got my start. The first record I owned was Judas Priest’s “Hellbent for Leather,” and my first CD was Iron Maiden’s “Number of the Beast.” I grew up into metal and punk, but as I got older, I discovered that I was into any music that had a theme or a vibe that seemed real.
Is there someone you looked up as a hero?
JAM: Not just vocally, but experimentally, I’ve always appreciated Mike Patton’s work. So many artists contribute at least one gold nugget that the list should go on for pages. But I’ll spare readers and say Nas, CKY, The Roots, MJ, Elvis Costello, The Flaming Lips, Ween, Twenty-One Pilots… and most importantly, the up-and-coming punk youth who are next to shock the world.
Steels: Hero is a strong word. That said, there was a point in my young life where nobody was better than Maynard James Keenan of Tool, Perfect circle, and later, Puscifer. Then Mike Patton of Faith No More, Tomahawk, etc. followed by Frank Black from the Pixies came shortly after to challenge for that throne.
JW: Not really…most of the ”famous” people I admired coming up were incredibly flawed human beings, so I’ve been making a very conscious decision to try to separate the artist from the art.
If you weren’t a musician, what would you be doing today?
JAM: Exactly what I’m doing today: parenting, working, and tinkering with sound-art. And making sure that bloggers interject their own personal voice to their interviews. So, why did you decide to start a music blog?
Steels: A family man working in water treatment, writing a novel or short stories in my spare time. But to echo JAM, I’ve been curious as well. We never get to hear from you guys who interview us. Is there one band that started it all for you?
JW: These guys nailed it.
What advice do you have for our fans out there that want to create music?
JAM: Let any derivation be subconscious, meaning don’t try to find a formula. Don’t fight outside inspiration; let it happen naturally and let your own spice flavor the recipe. Make friends with your music by sharing theirs. And keep your voice memo app ready to record any off-key, lyrically jumbled, beat-boxed riff that you dream up.
Steels: I don’t think I could say that any better than JAM just did. I’ll just add to never be afraid to fail. We learn from our missteps and if you don’t think you’re good enough, keep practicing. Nothing worth doing is ever easy.
JW: Don’t bother trying to start by creating “music.” Create emotional outlets and let them grow from there. If you find that your outlets lead you towards “music,” cool. If they go elsewhere, follow them as far as they can safely lead you.