Catch me up on what you guys have been up to.
We’ve been staying busy. We did a bit of run with Saliva, a run with Adema and we just finished up with Papa Roach and Hinder. We went home for the holidays and now we’ll be back out full strength.
I caught Hinder and Papa Roach a couple of months ago. I’m sure you had a good time with them. Did everybody get along pretty well?
Yeah, we’re all pretty good friends. I’ve always looked up to the guys in Papa Roach. I think they have a phenomenal live performance. The guys in Hinder are really cool. It was a cool tour and we all meshed really well.
Let’s talk about the new record, Anthem For The Underdog. There was a bit of a time lapse between it and your previous album. What was going on during the down time?
A couple of us became dads. It was cool and we got to spend some time at home. I’ve got a little girl who’s amazing. We got to take some time off. We got signed when we were so young. We started touring when I was 19 years old. We took some time to grow up a little bit. It was much needed. We got back to it with this record and we’re really excited about where we’ve taken our love for music.
I’m sure starting a family is inspirational in your life but I bet it inspires you as far as your music is concerned, too.
Oh, absolutely. You can’t describe it until you actually have a kid – what it does to you and what it feels like. The level of importance you take on in that person’s life is huge. It’s definitely a lot of motivation and it definitely makes you work a lot harder. Being away from home makes you want to play as good as you can and do as good as you can so you’re not out here for no reason.
I know you guys are from the region – tell me how hurricane Katrina affected the band.
We were still taking some time off but had started the writing process. It was very tough. We were very fortunate that nobody lost their home or any loved ones. The entire area took such a hit. All the businesses were closed. Homes were wiped out. We live about 35 minutes above New Orleans, above sea level. We’re in a pretty decent area. Eveybody that got hit in New Orleans moved up to where we lived. Our city’s population tripled within two months. There were no jobs. No place to work. It was very depressing. It was good to see everybody coming back together.
Did that disaster impact the direction of the new CD?
I think so, indirectly. We never said we were doing a certain song about Katrina or a tribute song. Everything you go through in your life as an artist shows up in your craft. Singers tend to write about what goes on in their life.
How long did you spend writing the new CD?
We don’t ever schedule a sit down. We always write by our feelings and emotion. A large part of it was meeting up with Justin Rimer, who was in the band Breaking Point. He’s a great songwriter. To sit with him and our producer was amazing and I think it really shows on this record.
I heard you had to go through a few producers before you decided on who was best for the band.
Yeah, we were all over the place. We had some really good material from the other sessions but it has to be about the writer and the producer feeling comfortable with one another. The label has to feel like you’re going to produce a lot. Justin was in a band on Wind Up Records before he got into producing and writing. We’re the same age and we got along. We’re like buddies. We worked really well together. From the day we met until the last day of recording it was about eight and a half months.
Are all the songs on the record new or have some been kinda lingering around for a while?
It’s a combination. A lot of the ideas are new. I had a lot of ideas on the backburner for a couple of years and when I met these guys they took them and made them great. Some of the old ideas got completely redone and became completely new ideas. It’s kinda cool when you’re willing to let someone take your art and see what they could do to make it pop out. They took a hold of it and went with it.
Were you uncomfortable at all turning over your material like that?
It was really positive. We’re really lucky to still be doing this. I got started so young that it’s nice for me…it didn’t feel like I was handing anything over. It felt like I was opening up and letting someone help me create something I may not have seen before. In this business there are so many talented people that if you feel like, “This is mine,” over everything you write that you limit yourself in having some really great things happen. I always write music first and then go with the lyrics. They were bringing in lyrics and then we’d write the music. It was a nice little refresher.
I’ve got a question that you may not want to hear. You might be tired of hearing about it or you may not want it brought up in every interview, but I haven’t found a definite answer from the band so I’m going to ask. You guys are strong in your faith. Has that made it tougher to achieve major success, has your faith worked against your career and does it even matter?
What people don’t get is that we’re a band first and foremost. I grew up in the church and I have a lot of respect for religion. Some of the other guys in the band don’t. They’ve never been into religion. It’s really hard for us as a group of creative people to come together. Because of my lyrics and my early questions about religion, everybody says we’re a Christian band. That stereotype hits and other people decide they don’t want to listen to it because they don’t want to hear Christian music. We write songs about everyday life and things people go through. If you’re a Christian and you like 12 Stones, that’s awesome. If you listen to this band and it helps you have a better relationship in your faith and your religion, then that’s awesome. If you’re not a Christian or a religious person and you love it and something happens and you get the music and it means something to you, that’s also awesome for us. We enjoy having fans and people that love our music.
Just looking at your message board I found fans that defend 12 Stones as a Christian band and others that say you’re not a Christian band. Others say it doesn’t even matter.
That’s what’s wonderful about it. Somebody asked Eddie Vedder what one of his songs was about. He said, “What do you think it’s about? That’s what it’s about.” If I come out and say a song is about a specific moment in time then it cheapens the moment for someone else. Some people may see a song about a boyfriend and girlfriend and somebody else may hear that song and see it as their relationship with God. It’s completely open to the interpreter and that’s what we want people to understand.
On your website there’s a quote that says you see 12 Stones as “underdogs.” Is that a motivation to keep you guys pushing forward or is it an observation of how the music business has treated you so far?
I think it’s a little bit of both. We’ve done so many phenomenal tours and we’ve always been the first band. We’ve been doing it for seven years. It’s tough always to be the guys…everybody seems to enjoy having us out on tour. We really put a lot of ourselves into our live show. Without having a huge hit on the radio it seems like we’re always the opening act. We try to be the best 12 Stones we can be every day. People see us as that band that hasn’t quite done it yet. That’s what drives us. It’s good for us to build slowly instead of having one big overnight success and be done with it. We have a really loyal fan base. People are still coming to shows and singing the words. It’s all just a good motivational tool.
When people come up to you and tell you “Your music got me through a lot of rough times. I thought about killing myself and I heard ‘The Way I Feel’ and it made me stop and think,” it makes you feel like you saved their life.
You’ve had a pretty cool career so far. What would you say is the highlight up to this point?
Knowing I was at home yesterday and today I’m at an arena getting ready to do a show! This is what I love to do. When I say “I” I mean 12 Stones as a band. This is what we all wake up to do every day. The highlight for me is every new day still waking up and being here. With this job we have a chance to reach a lot of people and make a lot of really great friends. Every day is a new highlight reel for me!
I know you said you’ll be hitting the road again. What’s up for the new year?
We’re trying to get out hopefully with Finger Eleven and maybe the 3 Doors Down guys. Nothing is definite yet. We know we’re definitely hitting the road regionally and doing some holiday shows and then we’ll take Christmas off and hit the road in early January and stay out until they drag us off the road!
Man, thanks again for making time for this today. What would you like to say to your fans?
Keep your head up. Everbody goes through tough times. Make the best of it. Keep your head up and keep pushing on and come see 12 Stones!