Games, Brrraaains & A Head-Banging Life are pleased to bring you an interview with solo Americana/Blues/Rock artist, String Bone.
1. How did you get started as a band?
I had a spell of not playing music for over 10 years. I had become disillusioned with the scene after I left my last band way back when and I joined the chorus of the walking dead in a 9-5 career in management, most of which was in the music biz. Something happened to me in 2005 when I had a long chat with my brother about life, goals, dreams, passions and just what the hell we are doing here. He dropped this seed in me to get back to my passion as it was leaving a big dark hole in my being, ya know? I just never felt complete or satisfied.
I always had this pain in my gut, an anxiousness, my adrenal glands seemed to be always pumping, yet not being fulfilled. Not getting that “awwwww….” moment, that feeling like you’ve created something or had this emotional release, which for me was always singing at the top of my lungs or even just a emotional ballad of some sort. To make a long story short, I started writing songs again. I hadn’t written a song in 20 years and the flood gates opened. I poured my heart and soul out with about 50 new songs in 2006 which became my debut record ‘nadir’ in 2009 and some of the songs written during that period showed up on my last record as well, ‘Love & Highways’. So, it was a very creative and emotionally explosive time letting out all of these stories in my head. Every song is part of my life’s experience to some degree. There are still some of those songs from that period I plan to record.
2. How would you describe your sound?
You know, it’s interesting. I have played a lot of music over the years. I started out playing in a Grand Funk Railroad cover band in high school. Then I got into Folk, Bluegrass and Country music by the likes of Gram Parsons, then a few years later Punk and Alternative Rock, then in the 2000s, I swung back to Folk & Country & Blues, but it’s now called Americana. So that is where I sit now in my Americana rocking chair. It’s a mishmash of a few things including rock and pop elements, but quite clearly that Folk, Country, Blues approach. A real classic singer-songwriter approach, like a couple of my idols like Willie P Bennett, who was a wonderful Canadian songwriter and performer and others like Kris Kristofferson, Townes Van Zant, Steve Earle, Jesse Winchester, Bob Dylan, Lucinda Williams, Mike Scott from The Waterboys, these are the people I listened to a lot. So I’m sure their influences are heard in my songs and music.
3. What bands/artists would you say have influenced your style of music?
See above! Lol
4. Has the rise of YouTube & music streaming helped or hindered you as a band?
I could give a rats as about age ya know, but what I notice is that many of my peers are vying to boycott the likes of YouTube and Spotify due to the low rates they pay. Rather than complain, this past year I’ve started to learn about it and embrace it – putting out about 10 videos and focussing on Instagram and Facebook even. And just trying to make people aware my music through Spotify. I mean if they don’t know you exist, they can never listen, right? It’s changed my life.
I think you have to change with the times and dominate in whatever space is happening. When punk exploded, I cut my hair off, much to the surprise of all of my then long haired friends. I wore black t-shirts, chains, leather jackets, whatever, to get be a part of that scene that was happening at the time. It’s the same now. But it’s more about connecting one on one with people who are into music, who are into YOUR music. The beauty of technology for musicians today is that you have a direct link to people, not just in your own backyard, but globally. You aren’t being censored by a record label, a manager-type, a booking agent, a radio station….I mean the big corporate stations only play a rotation of about 40 songs.
It gets put together centrally based on what other vertical companies are creating and gets sent out to all of their affiliates. It’s terribly dystopian. It’s just not how music should be consumed or embraced or shared. People who are musically adventurous now have a choice to listen to anything they want. It’s like being a kid in a candy shop. More people are avid explorers when it comes to discovering new music today that at any time in the history of music. It’s an absolute wild-west in that regard. There are no gatekeepers really. Consequently, I talk to people all around the world everyday who like and listen to my music. I had one person contact me from Germany saying they liked my music.
I always respond to everyone. After a few days of chatting, she told me her Aunt and her Dad both knew and loved my music and that they were a family of String Bone fans. I mean that would never have happened to me a year ago. I was quite localized in my exposure then and since I’ve embraced technology and the power of connection on the web and streaming sites my fanbase has grown exponentially around the world. So, I absolutely love it!
5. What do you enjoy doing when you’re not making music?
Well, those who follow me will see me posting pictures and video about my veggie garden. I worked at a food distribution centre about 8 years ago supplying all of the foodbanks in the county with fresh produce I would pick up from the areas farms. Food that was going to be turned back into the field or thrown out. It was all good fresh food. And I just learned a lot at that time about the correlation diet and health.
Those who are poor and cannot afford fresh vegetables tend to have the most health issues and problems because they lack the vitamins and nutrients which are so prevalent in fresh healthy food. They buy their food in what we call food deserts. Like from variety stores with nutrient vacant manufactured processed garbage masquerading as real food, which it isn’t. It may as well be cardboard, ya know. The organization had a green house and would grow their own food as well and I was like, well, if I’m going to champion this idea to the local citizens, I better give it a go.
So I built some raised beds in my backyard and started growing all sort of vegetables. My best crop though, I have to say, is green beans. I’m known around these parts to have the best green beans, (haha). They are known as Barry’s Best Beans! So, ya, doing my garden gives me time to think. I’ve written many lyrics and songs in my head while weeding. Haha!
6. What are your future plans musically? Tours?
Unfortunately, live gigs are scarce right now since lock-down. I’ve played two outdoor gigs this year. I have dabbled with streaming and I am planning to do some online shows real soon. Ya know and people can sign up to the mailing list if they wanna check it out. Aside from the song ‘Where Do You Go’ off my Love & Highways record, which is getting great response around the world for its universal message, ya know for governments to stop being assholes, I have a bunch of new songs coming up with release dates starting in October 2020 and beyond. Be on the lookout for those. Also a couple of new videos of old and new songs.
Since lockdown, I have been collaborating with a young producer here in town. We’ve known each other for a number of years, but never felt we were working in the same genre to get together, but earlier this year, I just thought it might be something to try, ya know, who knows what can come of it. Well, the first session we wrote a song within about 90 minutes and it was a real uptempo positive song about my first true love when I was 19. It’s a real change for me. Very Pop oriented in approach, but still Folky at the same time. He’s a drum & bass producer, so you can expect a completely new sound, but I think it still sounds like me, and what people are used to listening to when they listen to String Bone, but it’s just different. More high energy. I’m pretty excited by this collab. I just would have never guessed that it would have worked. You just never know and that’s why it’s so important to get outside of your box and try new approaches. Play with different people. Just go for it, ya know. No fear, no holds barred. My punk ethos!