Horses - Remembering the Good Ol' Days
STONE HORSES is an Alternative Rock band
from Washington D.C. comprised of vocalist John Allen, guitarist
Teddy Merrill, Rick Reynolds on bass and drummer Jason Heiser.
Their blues-based approach to their latest EP, “Good Ol’ Days”
(released on July, 31st via Broken World / The Orchard /Sony),
maintains a refreshingly new sound for a timeless genre.
Produced by Allen and mixed by Erik Ron (Godsmack, Bush) first
single and title track, “Good Ol’ Days,” was released on June
19th and is still active in the charts.
John Allen called into DaBelly to talk about
the latest record.
DB: So, let’s get going on the
interview. Congrats on the new EP, “Good Ol’ Days.”
Let’s talk about putting the EP together and finally releasing it.
JA: Well, we were working on the new
music and in particular the single – the title track “Good Ol’
Days” – just as the beginnings of Covid hit. I was like, wow!
And as I was finishing up the lyrics and making some tweaks, the
lockdowns were beginning. I was thinking about the times that
we were able to get together and congregate and party and have
concerts. All of that was shutting down. All the tours
were getting canceled and so the lyrics kind of harken back to
simpler times when we used to go to concerts and festivals.
It’s about your younger years when you didn’t have a care in the
world. It seems that right now, things have gotten so angry
and dark that I wanted to write something nostalgic and something
that had a bit of escapism to it. Let’s find a way to have a
good time. (Mimicking Bill and Ted –) “Let’s party dude!”
DB: It’s funny the way you used the
word nostalgic. When we speak of nostalgia, we most often are
speaking of a time more than 10 or 20 years in the past. In
our case, nostalgia for a simpler time refers to a time that was
just months ago.
JA: True. And it didn’t help
that I was reading a book about Van Halen’s early years and I was
thinking with regard to that, what a party band they were.
With David Lee Roth, it must have been such a good time and a good
vibe to see them. Musically too, I was in a dark place for the
last couple of things that I wrote. I just had to break out of
that funk and so we thought about better times and the opportunity
to have a good time, to get out and rock n roll.
DB: I think you accomplished that on
this record. The first single, “Good Ol’ Days,” has a major
groove to it and it’s a lot of fun to listen too. I bet it’s
going to be great fun to actually get out and play live.
JA: Cool, thank you. That riff,
our bass player (Rick Reynolds) said he had that riff hanging around
for a while. He played it one night at practice, I guess back
in January. I was like, wow! That riff is awesome.
So, I recorded it really quick and built the song around it.
It came together real fast.
DB: I read that, when it comes to
writing, you and your guitar player (Teddy Merrill) write most of
the songs. Talk a little about the writing process and how the
songs come together.
JA: You know, each song has a
different approach. That’s not on purpose, it’s just how
things happen. Sometimes, like on “Cheat Lie Steal,” I had a
guitar riff floating around. You know, that opening – the
bombastic part. So, he and I worked on it. We assembled
some music. On “Good Ol’ Days,” the bass player originally
came up with that riff. So we put that song together.
“Heat of the Night” was a strange one. That song, I had a
dream and when I woke up, I grabbed my phone and put as much of the
dream song into the recording voice memo as I possibly could
remember. That’s the thing, I’ve been doing that a lot lately,
having those dreams. And the songs sound so good in the
dreams. (laughs) I wish I could plug a jack right into my brain.
Then Teddy kind of helps me realize the song with his killer guitar
tones and riffs. Just that warm sweet, kind of almost a Cream
kind of guitar tone he gets out of that PRS guitar. Teddy just
comes up with these killer riffs and he inspires me as a writer and
I just really dig where he comes from musically. Same thing
with “Rattlesnake.” I had an idea for an uptempo song and I
had the lyric and I had the vibe of it, like I wanted it to go this
fast. I sent Teddy this idea with me doing this mouse kind of
riff and he came back with that snaky kind of, almost like a snake
handler kind of guitar riff. It was a serpentine kind of riff
with a killer tone. It was cool and we developed the song off
DB: The style of music that you do,
blues-based rock, thick with feel and emotion – even when it’s done
by a weekend cover band just having a little fun and some drinks
with their friends – sounds great on stage. But when this
music is done well, it makes for an amazing night. Stone
Horses takes the fans to that level. You have done a great job
with this EP and I’m looking forward to eventually seeing the venues
reopen, bands back on the road and you guys playing a show local to
JA: When I write, when I think of
ideas, most of the time it’s with that live energetic show in mind.
Maybe that’s good in one way and bad in another. I’m not
thinking about radio or hits. I’m usually thinking about how
cool it’s going to be to play the song live. I can’t wait to
get out and interact music fans. It’s an addictive thing.
I’ve been doing this for a while now and that instant gratification
becomes very addictive.
DB: As a former musician, I completely
understand. You’ve been hitting all around one of the
questions that I was going to ask – inspiration. Do you write
about the things going on around you or is it more of a composite of
many thoughts assembled into one song? Or are the lyrics just
JA: You know, I don’t analyze that
very much. I think that it really depends upon the situation.
In the old days I was trying to paint little vignettes of things I
did in my youth that I got away with. But kids probably can’t
get away with them today because there are surveillance camera’s
everywhere. So those were autobiographical. A song like
“Rattlesnake,” I don’t really know where that came from. Maybe
it’s a stream of consciousness thing. “Cheat Lie Steal” is a
commentary of the evils of money or the disparity of wealth. I
try not to be preachy or political but sometimes that kind of stuff
pokes out here and there. With “Cheat Lie Steal” I look at the
lyric and go, we’re one of the richest countries in the world and
there are still kids that are hungry and still poverty. The
title of the song came from a fellow musician who was offering
advice years ago. Keep your eyes on the money, he said.
Be sure you see where the money goes. And I was like, man, I
didn’t get into this to be a businessman, I just want to play music
and not worry about that stuff. But, you know, if I want to
feed my kids that is part of the gig. Analytically, I would
like to write songs that tell stories about people’s lives, the
things that I have experienced or seen. So, I guess I’m
working on it.
DB: Let’s talk singles. The
first single you have out is “Good Ol’ Days.” By the way,
great video for that song. What is the next single?
JA: Well, we have a lyric video
for “Cheat Lie Steal.” That’s already in the can so, we’ll see
what happens, what song we decide to go with. But right now,
“Good Ol’ Days” is still climbing the charts so we’re going to work
this one for the next couple months. And then we’ll see where
we are. If the label wants to come in and partner up with us,
that would be cool. I would imagine that “Cheat Lie Steal”
will be the next single but we’re not sure yet. We’ll know in
a couple months.
DB: A popular thing that’s happening
right now is that many bands, who can’t tour, are streaming shows.
Have you put any thought into that?
JA: We’ve done two. We’re
actually planning a third one which will happen mid-October or maybe
the third week in October. I actually went up and looked at a
facility yesterday. We want to change things up. We did
the first two at the same place. This third one is a little
bit further away from us but they have some things that I’m really
interested in pursuing. The sound quality is really great and
they have the ability to give bands a light show and multiple
cameras for the shoot.
DB: Looking into the great beyond,
touring, hopefully next year. What do you have in mind as far
JA: Right now, we’ve just signed with
a new agency. We’re looking at all opportunities. In the
past we’ve toured with Slash. We’ve done shows with Greta Van
Fleet, Rival Sons, Glorious Sons and 10 Years. So, we hope
that we can jump on the road with one of those bands next year.
A lot of things are still up in the air. The major concert
promoters at Live Nation and others are still nervous about putting
things on the books that might end up being canceled or postponed.
We are hopeful and anxious to get back out.
Thanks to John Allen for sharing a moment
with DaBelly. Make sure you check out all of Stone Horses
socials to keep up with all the latest news.