Stone Broken formed in 2013 in Walsall, West Midlands, England.
In 2014 they released their self-financed, self-released EP, The Crow Flies, a calling card largely intended to secure local gigs. But it was the release, in January 2016, of debut album ‘All In Time’ which truly amplified the word-of-mouth buzz around the band from a whisper to a scream. With Kerrang! Radio and Planet Rock picking up on storming opening track ‘Not Your Enemy’, the anthemic ‘Let Me Go’ and ‘Stay All Night’, plus the bruised and beautiful ‘Wait For You’, an ever-expanding audience was alerted to the fact that Stone Broken was an emerging British outfit with the riffs, the choruses and good songwriting ability to make its mark on the global stage.
Having signed to the Frontiers Records label later that year, the contract was subsequently dissolved and Stone Broken signed to the Spinefarm Records label in 2017. In 2018, the band released their second album, ‘Ain’t Always Easy’. In late 2019, the debut album was re-issued on Spinefarm, and included a re-recording of their best known song, “Wait For You”.
In December 2019, the band started recording its third album with producer Dan Weller, with a release originally scheduled for 2020. Planned festival appearances for 2020 were disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic. In July 2020, the band live-streamed a performance for Planet Rock from The Asylum venue in Birmingham and announced a UK headline tour for April 2021 in support of their forthcoming album. With the global pandemic continuing to disrupt the music industry, in January 2021 it was announced that the ‘Revelation Tour’ was to be postponed until January/February 2022.
Having photographed Stone Broken twice in Leeds, it was an opportunity to speak to the guys for ‘Behind The Lens’.
Rich Moss – Guitar / Vocals
Robyn Haycock – Drums
Chris Davis – Guitar
Kieron Conroy – Bass
For anyone perhaps being introduced for the first time, how would you describe Stone Broken?
We’re a four piece, modern hard rock band hailing from the West Midlands. We’ve been described as having a big American sound, I mean we’ve had a vast amount of comments from people saying that they thought we were an American band until they heard us speak. The American curtain is well and truly lifted when you’re heard saying “Ow am ya’?”.
Chris, who or what inspired you to create music?
It’s strange, none of my family was musically inclined so I think it was a shock when I asked for a guitar one Christmas. I’d had a conversation with a couple of friends at high school, we joked we should start a band (even though non of us played an instrument!). I must have been the only one who took that conversation seriously as my family pulled through and bought me a guitar that Christmas. I remember picking it up for the first time trying to just get a note to sound and it seemed like an impossible task. Since then I’ve been hooked! Guitar to this day has always been my greatest challenge and I think that’s what keeps me picking it up to play and create music. I love a challenge, and I constantly try to learn and evolve as a guitarist.
In 2020, you were finalising your third record, (congratulations) what can you tell us about the new album?
I think as a band you always want to evolve, offer something different to previous releases, and we wanted this album to reflect that. Although we’re super proud of our previous two albums we felt they were very similar sonically. So we wanted to change things up for this one but keep our core Stone Broken sound. Don’t worry we’re not doing experimental Jazz or anything, we just wanted to shake things up and bring a new modern rock edge to our music.
How did 2020 affect the creative/recording process?
I’m not going to lie it was very hard for us. Obviously, we couldn’t all be in the studio together as we normally would have so this threw up a lot of challenges. Personally, I had to record a lot of ideas at home, where previously we would have done this in the studio together. So we had to work around a lot of things with lockdown happening.
Robyn, apart from Animal (The Muppets) who are amongst your influential drummers?
I have quite a lot on the list, when I was getting into drumming and me being a young metal head I loved watching Joey Jordison (Slipknot), Neil Peart (Rush), John Bonham (Led Zeppelin), Brann Dailer (Mastodon), I would sit for hours watching how they played and would try to add my own spin on what they did when I sat behind the kit, more recently I take inspiration and influence from John Fred Young (Black Stone Cherry), Scott Phillips (Alter bridge), Barry Kerch (Shinedown), Mat Nichols (Bring Me The Horizon), Gabe Helguera (I Prevail). At the moment I’m listening to all genres of music so I take little bits of inspiration from everything I listen to and try to add my own flavour to it.
You mentioned that you’ve been described as having a big American sound. In 2018 you toured the USA for the first time, supporting Fozzy. A huge opportunity for any breaking UK band. How was that whole experience?
Of course, that was a huge honour for us. We had a great response from the fans over there. It was a fantastic experience for us as a band and we got to see a lot of the States which was cool. The bands we toured with were great and the guys from Fozzy and their crew were very accommodating. We can’t wait to get back over there!
Were there any noticeable comparisons between performing to an American crowd, to playing at home in the UK?
Because we were a new British band, the crowds seemed to really engage with us and take an interest. They were obviously fascinated by our accents and a lot of them wanted to come meet us afterwards to check we actually were British as they couldn’t believe it from our American sounding music.
You’ve played some huge gigs, and toured with some even bigger names. What’s been your most memorable show/tour so far?
The first time we played Download was a really big thing for us. I remember walking out onto that stage and being blown away by the reaction we got. When everyone sang along to ‘Wait for You’ it was such a mind blowing moment. As for Tours, it would have to be the Fozzy tour as it was awesome to finally get Stateside.
Do you feel photographs are an important part of your show?
Of course! We always try and accommodate gig photographers as we think it’s important for those who maybe couldn’t make it, to still feel like they’re seeing parts of the show. A lot of the photographers are kind enough to let us use some of the shots for promotional purposes as well, so that’s always handy. But overall yes, they’re an important part of live music.
What are your thoughts on the ‘First three and out” policy for photographers?
I personally don’t mind photographers so it wouldn’t bother me if they stayed there the whole show. As long as they’re not obstructing the view of the fans then I don’t see why they’d have to leave after 3 songs. In my opinion, it would be better if they do stay the whole show as the band inevitably relax more as the show goes on, so there’s potential to get even better shots.
During ‘the first three’, are you conscious of the photographers in the pit and does this enhance or intimidate your performance?
I don’t really consciously think about it, to be honest. I’ve always had very respectful photographers at our gigs so have never had cameras shoved in my face or anything. It just becomes a part of the live gig experience. I don’t really get intimidated by photos as at least in those you can’t hear any bum notes!
When publishing or sharing shots, what do you look for in a photograph?
I guess something that stands out, whether it’s a certain pose or it’s something new where the photographer has really thought about the shot. Something like that really grabs my attention.
Robyn, do you think drummers get enough attention during a live show in terms of photography?
I know how hard it is to try and get at least one good shot of the drummer, unless the photographer is on stage with the band and can get behind or at the side of the drummer it can be quite tough to get an awesome shot, personally I’ve had quite a few good shots come back of me, I’d like to see more but I guess being stuck at the back makes it harder for the photographers to get good shots, along with lighting and dodging the other band members on stage it can be quite the challenge.
Would you rather see one ‘amazing’ shot of your show or a few ‘good’ shots?
One amazing shot I think. I mean let’s face it, gig photography is hard! The lighting is ever changing, the band constantly move around, so if you can get one amazing shot with all of that going on, then that’s pretty impressive.
What’s your thoughts on the smartphone generation during a gig?
It depends on what they’re doing with the smartphone. If it looks like they’re enjoying the show and are getting the phone out to take photos and video clips then that’s fine. But in the past, we have had experiences of people stood right in front of us, unanimated, with their phone out for the whole set. That can be kind of off putting. But as a whole, I think they’re a good thing because when people take photos, they get shared around and word of mouth is a great way for new fans to discover us. But if you do bring your phones, make sure you still enjoy and engage with the show! We’d rather see your smiling faces singing along with us.
During a tour or whilst on an AAA pass, do you prefer your photographers to get involved in the action or keep their distance whilst behind the scenes etc?
I think if they keep their distance, it’s easier to get more candid shots than if they were up close and forced. If you can get a band to let their guard down and forget you’re there, then you could get some really good shots.
What would you consider makes or breaks the relationship between a band and a photographer?
Well if a photographer makes me look fat in any photos then it’s an instant dismissal! Just kidding! I mean as long as there’s an element of professionalism, that’s all we can ask for from a photographer. The more relaxed we can be around them, the better.
As a band, you’re very hands-on and you put out some great content, especially via your youtube channel. How important is it for you to stay grounded?
We’re very aware that the fans MAKE the band, so you need to engage with them and it’s nice to hear their thoughts on things sometimes. We have such incredible fans and the least we can do is try and give back to them in any way we can.
Rich, you rock a cap better than anyone. I have to ask, how many caps do you have in your collection?
Well, if I’m totally honest, I don’t have a crazy amount, I have 4 caps that I wear, I think only 3 of them have ever been on stage with me…although if I were to include not just caps, but all kinds of hats such as beanies, then I would say around 12-15
If you could open a show for any artist/band, past or present, who would it be and why?
For me, Alter bridge. I’m such a huge fan of their music and they are incredible musicians. I also think we would go down well with their fans. Maybe I could get some free guitar lessons from Myles or Mark!
Finally, What’s next for Stone Broken?
Right now we’re putting the final touches to our third studio album. As we speak it’s in the final stages of mastering, and once that’s finished, we’ll work with our label to put together a release strategy. We’re very excited to get this album out, as it has been quite a while since we have released any new material, so we’re just looking forward to being able to share it with our fans. Hopefully, by then we’ll be back to a state of normality so we can hit the road and play some shows.