ITN Magazine: Let's talk a little about the history of your band. When did you originally form and is this the original line-up?
It started in 2009 as Hester Prynne with Steve Burnside. Steve passed away not long after we got started. I loved his music and didn't want it to die along with him. I got permission from his family and added my own music and Madstone was born. We still play 6 or 7 of his best tunes. It started with Tommy Souza on drums, Al Young on bass and we added Shannon Shrogin on guitar. The first 2 CDs were done with these 4. Later Shannon had to leave with family issues and we brought Mark Doolin in to replace him and finished our 3rd CD. Mark helped me write 4 of the tunes on Heavy Thunder. In Oct 2017, Madstone really needed to be somewhere where music was appreciated and I decided to move us to Texas near Austin. Tommy Souza came with me. He later on decided a woman was more important. It happens and went back to California. I then met Andy Ramos on bass and James York on drums and we've been a 3 piece ever since. I miss all those guys and the contributions they have made to Madstone but it sounds better than ever.
ITN Magazine: How would you categorize the style of the band?
70s rock and roll with a southern flair. New country without the twang. Texas rock n roll.
ITN Magazine: What image do you want your music to convey to your fans?
Each song is different. There is a wide variety of music we play and create. It’s hard to say one thing or another.
ITN Magazine: Who are your influences and how have they shaped your band’s sound?
Every person who I have ever played with has shaped this band. There are many parts played by the musicians involved I could have never thought of. That’s what makes the music so interesting. I’ve never told any band member what exactly to play on a particular tune. We argue, go back and forth and let the music shape itself into something we all like. Yes, I had a vision and something in mind when I brought the raw song to the band for the first time, but they morph and change and get better and better as we play them and let them take shape. Then when you go into the studio, they morph again, sometimes dramatically and they become well defined. The leads take a lot of time to come up with that signature lead sound that memorable. The backup vocals help change the overall sound as well. You can’t take it personally when someone adds a bass line that maybe you didn’t think was quite right at first. Listen to it, make suggestions, let it grow on you. The end result is a much better tune than you ever had in mind.
ITN Magazine: Let's talk a little about your latest album what are the listeners in store for with this release?
The last CD Heavy Thunder again has a wide variety of sound. The title track Heavy Thunder rocks, lots of changes, different tuning. Mr Bones Wild Ride is very popular and is definitely the most hard rock we’ve done. You got to see the video on this one. Drink My Wine is a very pretty 12-string song, actually written many years ago that’s stood the test of time. Angel’s Blade seems to be a metal favorite, awesome lead harmonies. Freedom Isn’t Free is a tribute to my step-son who server 4 tours in Iraq and a statement on Freedom in general and how easy it is to lose it. Great video on it, it’s been viewed all over the net, 1000s of views. I Missed It has a rockabilly sound using a lot of 7ths. Very different, but very cool. This is our 3rd shot at recording and definitely the best effort.
ITN Magazine: Where did record your latest release at?
12the Street Studios in Paso Robles. Tyler Tadeschi is a genius and a producer. He puts his best into it and it shows.
ITN Magazine: Producers are a very important factor in recording a good record. Who did you use to produce your record?
Again, Tyler Tadeschi works full time at Vina Robles, a large outdoor venue in Paso Robles, California where all the best have played. In his spare time, he records other bands. We were very lucky to get enough of his time.
ITN Magazine: Does the entire band contribute to the writing process?
Like I said before. Yes, very much so. I usually bring the raw tune to begin with but sometimes, some lick, or progression is the start of the process. 4 of the songs on Heavy Thunder started this way with progressions from Mark Doolin. I take that, come up with the rest of the song, Then we sit and craft the rest of the song. After that, we bring it to the band, let them put their parts to it. Gain, I’ve never said do it this way or do it that way. These guys are masters at their chosen instrument, I’m the guitar player. They always come up with something better than I can think of. About the only thing I make sure they adhere to is the overall feeling that the song is supposed to portray. The music has got to match the lyrics and the feelings that the lyrics are trying to get across.
ITN Magazine: How do you feel the band has evolved musically and personally over the last year?
I’ve been here in Texas now since Oct 2017, it’s been a big transition. James York and Andy Ramos have become very close friends and we really enjoy playing together, getting tighter, and really honing the show to what it is now. I can’t wait to see what we will come up with next.
ITN Magazine: Where do you draw the inspiration for the songs you write?
That’s a big subject. From all over. I draw a lot of inspiration from my wife Diane, my best friend. When I’ve written a love song, she’s what’s inspired me. I missed it came from experiences playing and that one girl in the crowd that was trying to get your attention and you were completely oblivious. Angel’s Blade is about that crazy woman that you just can’t get enough of, but every time you see here, your money is all gone, and you wake up somewhere crazy with no idea how you got there. You should be running. Freedom Isn’t Free was inspired by the loss of our step son to PTSD. She Said No was inspired by a woman that was very special to me, I asked her to marry me, she said no. Can’t Stand It is about my ex-wife and how you feel when things are not going right. There’s a lot of inspirations and I try to make real life events into music so they mean something. They mean something to me and it allows me to feel those feeling while you perform them. I try to talk to the audience and tell them something, not just have the music be about something, talk to them directly.
ITN Magazine: How important do you rate the lyrical side of your albums?
Critical, the music has to say something. It has to mean something. Lyrics are what get you there.
ITN Magazine: What are your current tour plans, if any?
At the moment, to continue booking shows and playing those. We have a pretty full schedule.
ITN Magazine: Describe your live performance for those who have never seen you live?
We have fun! We are a party band. I run completely remote and I don’t spend much time on the stage. I like to be out in the crowd. I’ll dance with whoever is out there with me. It’s gets people up out of their chairs, involved in what we’re doing. We really have a lot of fun.
ITN Magazine: What do you think of the music industry right now?
What a mess. Nobody has any idea what to do, what’s the right thing to do, how to make a living. There’s too much music, most of it is so-so, but everybody and their uncle thinks they have the best thing going and we’re all competing for top. My suggestion, keep on performing as often as you can. Get your music out into as many places as you can. Do interviews, get airplay, just keep plugging.
ITN Magazine: Did you find it hard to break into the business and what was the biggest obstacle you had to overcome?
Not really. I’ve been playing my whole life. I’ve not been too concerned with the online side of everything although Madstone has a huge online presence. If you are good at what you do, if you perform well, just keep performing, defining your show, keep making it better. The bottom line is if you can’t sing, find someone who can. If your lead guitarist is not that great, find one who is. If it’s you that needs to work on yourself, do it, a LOT. The best players won’t play with you if you aren’t the best. Madstone is a damn good band. We don’t have trouble finding work.
ITN Magazine: Tell us about your thoughts on your local music scene?
Every local music scene is different. We are part of the Central Texas music scene. We’re still finding new places to play and repeating at others. I came from California where there just wasn’t a lot of places. I love it here.
ITN Magazine: How has Social Networking (Facebook,Twitter, etc.) impacted your band?
You have to do Facebook, you should be doing Reverbnation, tie it all together. But you have to WORK it. Post often, Keep folks engaged. It doesn’t really have much impact at first but be ready when the time comes. For example, we have been #1 on the charts for Temple Texas since I moved here. Occasionally, we make #1 in the regional charts going from Bryan Texas all the way to Waco. It’s take a long time. I don’t have to advertise to hold those slots anymore. It may not mean much, but when a venue looks online trying to decide to hire you, it does matter.
ITN Magazine: Where can our readers find you on the web?
© 2019 ITN Magazine. All Rights Reserved. All images are the property of ITN Magazine and may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. without written permission.