Interview with 12 Stones
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New tour, new songs, new sound after Evanescense.
Since 2007, the trio of vocalist Paul McCoy, lead guitarist Eric Weaver, and rhythm guitarist Justin Rimer has been the core of 12 Stones. Mike McManus joined in 2010, with Brad Reynolds becoming the band's bassist recently, continuing the build the legacy that began in Mandeville, Louisiana over a decade ago in 2000. When asked about what each brings to the table when it comes to influences, singer McCoy reveals, "each and every member of this band has a personality that is unique. We all grew up in different areas and love different types of music. I grew up listening to nothing but country when I was young. I then fell in love with the 90's grunge phase. Eric grew up listening to blues and classic rock and was highly influenced by his father, who is an amazing guitar player as well. Justin grew up in the world of metal, and had success prior to joining 12 Stones as both a recording artist and writer. Mikey has a more eclectic taste in music citing , everything from Dream Theatre to Michael Jackson, while Brad has been in the more pop driven world, so together we bring a ton of different ideas to the table that end up as 12 Stones music."
Weaver and McCoy emerged from anonymity via the self-titled debut 12 Stones (2002), and had a significant rise through two years of steady touring alongside McCoy's appearance on the debut hit from Evanescence "Bring Me To Life." It did not take long for the public to take notice of the young band, as the debut went on to sell hundreds of thousands of copies. Potter's Field (2004), Anthem for the Underdog (2007), and an EP titled The Only Easy Day Was Yesterday (2010) followed, delivering a significant following that stretches across the U.S. and The World today. To date, cumulative sales of 12 Stones recorded music exceeds two million units. A new partnership with independent label the Executive Music Group (EMG, via Fontana / Universal), and a recording that is the realized vision of a decade of finding their voice in Only Human, has delivered a renewed passion for the future of the band. Singer McCoy stated, "we recently signed to EMG records. Thanks to them we have found a new love for this industry. I think that people forget how hard it is to succeed when you don't have the right people in place. We think that we are finally poised to break through the mold. I have never felt stronger about what we are doing and I think that this is only the beginning for this band." Guitarist Weaver added, "EMG, and their partners in Fontana / Universal, are all supporting the vision that we have for the band. We've always wanted to reach out to our fans that are all over the world, and finally we are getting to do that. Our first tour in support of Only Human will be in Japan, and the opportunity to tour globally, and get to our fans locally, is something we have been waiting years for."
Only Human defines many of the qualities that transparently represent who these individuals are mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Rimer offers, "We all have inner struggles as humans and temptations in life. While we don't always choose the right path the first time, we learn from our experiences and become stronger. We all make mistakes and fall short sometimes, but it is the art of learning from these experiences that makes all the difference." McCoy adds, "The album title comes from knowing that we all eventually fall short of our expectations regardless of financial, emotional, physical well being. But in the same breath, we all strive to find a way to better ourselves. That's human nature. There are always two sides to people. It's all about realizing that we all bleed the same. we are ALL human. "
Lyrically, the songs capture the essence of life's challenges. The track "I'm With You" documents the impact a friend's suicide had on the band members. It is a song of hope for those that are going through the trials we all face and the hardships that are a part of life. Weaver reflects, "'I'm With You' is a song of comfort that you are not alone and nothing is worth the ultimate capitulation of taking your own life." According to Rimer, "'Bulletproof' is a missive to stand up for whatever it is that you fight for and believe in. No matter how many times you may get knocked down you have to keep fighting and allow nothing to stop you from attaining your desires." The energy of "Worlds Collide" is a prime example of this theme as the lyrics explore the battle of good and evil, and the personal, inner battle to find your way in search of the better cause. As Rimer points out, "Whatever may drag or down or pull you under can be overcome. The choice is up to you." For McCoy, he shares, "I find the strongest emotional attachment to 'That Changes Everything'. It is a song about giving in and giving up on something that has been a part of your life in a big way. But right before we succumb to the pain, we realize that the person that has been hurting you has been hurting just as bad the whole time. That's what gives us a new chance to make everything better. The whole time, we feel like no one can understand OUR pain but we couldn't see that they were going through the same thing."
From the beginning of the band's career, 12 Stones has straddled the worlds of spiritual and secular music. All the while, they have retained their integrity to be true to who they are individually and collectively. There are no messages, and inevitably like all writers they look towards offering a lyrical experience where the listener experiences a personal connection. In many ways this album title truly defines who they are, and the reality that there is nothing evangelistic about them. Each band member does possess a level of personal faith, but they simply are only human.
The live show of 12 Stones has always been an engaging experience, rocking with intensity one moment, and tuning it down to a slow, emotional experience the next. With Only Human, the repertoire is as diverse an array of compositions as they have ever delivered on one album. It truly captures the full gamut of human emotions. Rimer offers, "You're not always energized and ready to throw down. Sometimes moments in life are more heartfelt than others and it shows in these songs. We write how we feel and out of that you get a very diverse record. There is something for everyone on Only Human. 'Bury Me' is special, and we all really hope a lot of people discover, hear and feel this song. Amongst the five tracks we brought in string players for, this one really stands out for me personally. I think it will touch an awful lot of people." Weaver adds, "I hope those that listen can find comfort, healing, and all the other emotions that move us and make music such a special vehicle. People should walk away feeling inspired when they hear this album. The connection to the human spirit is paramount to inspired songwriting, and there is no question we all aimed to capture something real and meaningful here." In summing it up, McCoy shares, "we hope that they get excited when listening to or being around us. We are very passionate about our music. We love hearing stories about how we have brought something good to someone's life with our music."
A decade plus in, the band has survived in a large part due to the strong connection they have with their fans. The track "Psycho" was written specifically about the experience they share together within the setting of a live event. The message is simply, forget all your troubles and allow for the music to take over. Let loose, forget your cares, alleviate your worries, and let it all go. When entranced in the setting, the goal is inevitably to simply get lost. Weaver shared, "Without our fans there would be no 12 Stones. We thrive every night off our fans, and as we give it to them, they give it back. McCoy adds simply, "want to thank everyone for keeping us alive after 10 years."
Many bands digress and the years go on, running out of inspiration, and falling victim to clich?s and formulas. For 12 Stones, the antithesis is the case as they continue to progress and mature. The stage show is stronger than it has ever been; their writing is finding its own unique voice. As Rimer shares, "I see really big things coming for the band. Our passion and determination are still here, and that really separates us from many of our contemporaries. We've been through some tough times, stuck it out, and now we are here to conquer bigger and better things." McCoy states in summation, "The most important part of this career to all of us is that we are still here wanting to be in this band. It is not because we have to, but it is because we truly love what we do. After more than a decade of touring, you either love what you do or hate it. Each of us remains passionate about this music, our live shows, and I believe our fans feel it. You can tell if someone's heart is not in their craft. Our fans, families and friends are the ones that give us strength to step out and do what we love every day. We strive to make our fans understand how much they mean to us, and without all of them we are nothing but a bunch of tattooed loudmouths."
Aaron Stipkovich, Publisher: With an education in information, technology, business and related disciplines, Aaron entered business on radio. Beginning as a disc jockey in Southern California, a nationally syndicated talk show host position soon followed. During the transition from regional to national, he launched a national print magazine in several countries, and was distributed by Time Inc. Having a handful of humble business media entities, a decade or so later he has divested himself from most of his companies... (more...)