COVENTRY Music Museum Curator Pete Chambers BEM writes for the Observer.
Tomorrow, Stone Foundation will play a gig at Birmingham’s O2 Academy, the band have been growing and evolving over the years, but the truth is they have never put a foot wrong and musically their body of work is comparable to any band of any stature.
Earlier on in the month, their new album ‘Outside Looking In’ charted at number 27 on the weeks Official UK Album Chart.
Proof if it were needed that this band are for real and the praise heaped upon their blue-eyed soul music is more than justifiable.
Song after song, album after album their song-writing pedigree is much in evidence, little wonder that the Modfather Paul Weller is a huge fan and collaborator. I put some questions to vocalist and co-founder Neil Jones.
Q. Your current national success has definitely not been over night, has it been a struggle getting to this point, and how important is it to the band to have the support of Paul Weller?
A. It’s been a long and enjoyable journey so far with many ups and down’s, Paul’s friendship and support has been a constant over the last four records, in fact we’ve recorded every Stone Foundation record from Street Rituals onwards at his studio and he’s appeared on every album in some shape or form. He once famously said if he had to be in a band again, he’d be in ours.
It’s a wonderful complement and a real affirmation that the music we’re producing is good when you have people like Paul, William Bell, Bettye LaVette and Melba Moore queuing up to be on your records. We’re heading towards our 25th year as Stone Foundation which is an incredible milestone in itself and to have that kind of validation from your musical peers is a truly wonderful thing.”
Q. Would you agree that your 2017 album ‘Street Rituals’ was the defining album for the band, where you morphed from a ‘local band’ into a chart band?.
A. I think we’d been building quite a big underground following with To Find The Spirit and A Life Unlimited the albums prior to Street Rituals but yes that record really opened things up for us and put us on the map not only nationally but also internationally.
I remember spending a lot of time in cafes on Ball Hill around the time that record was written, making notes & watching the characters out in the street. Coventry and its multicultural community really inspired a lot of the music on that record.
It’s a city that’s always had a special place in mine and Neil Sheasby’s hearts and we’re looking forward to coming back to The Empire later this year to play again, we’re scheduled in for the 8th October and tickets should be on sale at stonefoundation.co.uk
Q. ‘Outside Looking In’ is another blockbuster album with more superb material. How hard is it to pick a set list from your impressive body of work?
A. We were actually meant to record the songs that appeared on Outside Looking in (our 10th studio album amazingly) in Memphis at Royal Studios where Al Green records his music, but Covid put pay to that and we recorded them back at Paul’s Black Barn Studios and I’m glad we did really.
It’s the culmination of learning the equipment in the studio and pushing boundaries, that’s important in our music.
If anything, having such a big back catalogue to choose from helps keep the sets even more vibrant and fresh.
Our Stone Foundation gigs are always a celebratory affair, like minded souls all under one roof, band and audience moving and grooving as one. We love playing live for people.”
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