Interview Sandstone

Sandstone is gevormd in 2003 door gitarist Stevie McLaughlin en zanger Sean McBay.

Het was dus tijd om met deze twee heren een babbeltje te slaan. Ze brachten onlangs hun nieuwste CD 'Cutural Dissonance' uit. Deze CD is het derde album van Sandstone. De recensie kan u hier nalezen.

First, I want to congratulate you with this terrific new album of Sandstone. What does ‘Cultural Dissonance’ stand for?

[Stevie] Thanks! We didn’t have a working title for the album when we were writing the songs, we just kept calling it our 3rd album. By the time the album was nearing completion I listened to the whole thing through one day and realized all the songs seemed to dwell in the darker side of our emotions. It was like the lyrics were coming from someone who was on the outside of life looking in. When I suggested “Cultural Dissonance” to the band everyone agreed immediately that it suited this collection of songs perfectly.
[Sean] The album seems to me to be about someone who can’t understand how everyone around him can be happy and get on with their lives, while his life appears defined by mental anguish, loss and regret. You know that feeling of being alone in a crowded room; that’s how I feel when I listen to this album.

What has inspired you to get such an artwork as the cover?

[Stevie] The artwork is all about masks. We were thinking about the lyrics when we fleshed out a concept for the artwork and it’s about how people create facades to get through the trials of life and sometimes we have so many versions of ourselves it’s hard to remember who we really are anymore.
[Sean] Artwork is always the last thing we do when making an album. The credit should go to Stevie for what we finished up with. Needless to say the rest of us were very happy with what he designed for the sleeve.

Did you expect the success that you are having?

[Stevie] I define success as achieving what you set out to do. In those term I feel we were successful since we set out to make and album that I would enjoy listening to. Making music for me is just about making music: I love it. So when I write a song or music I do it because that’s what “I“ want to hear. It’s great if other people like it, but I’ve never written music for anyone other than myself…and I probably couldn’t.
[Sean] Yeah I agree with that. I think both myself and Stevie have a strong sense of what a Sandstone song should sound like so first and foremost is to please ourselves. Anything above that is a bonus and we always appreciate any positive feedback we receive.

Is there anything you do before you come on stage? Like a ritual, a song, a prayer, … or something like that?

[Stevie] We do have one ritual that I think is important and that’s to start and end every gig as friends. It can be stressful to go on tour and gig with a band, people get tired or bored or cranky and sometimes atmospheres can spill over onto the stage and color a show. To avoid this we always shake hands or hug before and after every show. It is very important for me to make sure the other guys in the band know how much I appreciate and need them in my life and that it is an honor to share the stage with them.
[Sean] My ritual is making sure I’m warmed up and have plenty of water with me, it’s all me, me, me at that point!

Your vocals are so powerful and full of emotions. I hear your feelings in your voice like if you are singing your whole life on this album and on the songs. What was for you the most difficult song to make on this album? Is it that there were emotions involved with that song, that you have never felt before? And this question is recommended for the whole band, ‘cause every member of the band made some passionate music on this album.

[Stevie] Thank you so much, I really love that you highlighted the vocals and lyrics as this is what makes Sandstone’s music tick. They are the catalyst to all our songs and what gives them meaning and purpose.
[Sean] I try not to let emotions get the better of me when recording a song. I try to stay very concentrated on my voice and technique, in my honest opinion there is a technique to sounding emotional and I consider it a skill when it is done right. The emotions can run as high as they want when writing a song but by the time you are ready to record it concentration and focus is key.

How would you describe ‘Sandstone’ for you and your band?

[Stevie] Sandstone is a band who try to write passionate, emotional music. We love metal, hard rock and prog music and try to balance all three styles. Mainly we try to be the band that I want to listen to.
[Sean] Sandstone is a very important part of my life. I am doing what I always wanted to do which is write and record songs and play them to people who care.

What band inspires you the most and does it have any influence on your music?

[Stevie] Good song writing is what inspires me. For example: I love Dream Theater’s music but not for the instrumental virtuosity and technical excess, I love it because there are times when their music is so beautiful and simple that it gives me Goosebumps. Some of their ballads are just awesome.
[Sean] There are too many bands to mention that inspire me and from a range of genres. I do really appreciate a heavy band that can deliver catchy, melodic melodies. That would definitely be my taste.

What do you think is the best song that you’ve ever made so far, and why is that?

[Stevie] The song I’m working on right now LOL. Every time I write a song that’s the way I feel, If I didn’t feel like that then I’d forget about it and start an new song. So my latest song is always the one I love the most and the best yet.
[Sean] I think I would share that sentiment. As I’m sure a lot of musicians know that when making albums you listen to your own material over and over again so being able to finally move on to new compositions is always refreshing. I honestly don't think I could choose a favorite Sandstone song.. sorry!!!

From where comes the inspiration for the song ‘Sleep’? It’s my favorite song on the album.

[Stevie] I’ll leave this to Sean but I remember the first time I heard “Sleep”: Sean played it on an acoustic guitar and about 12 seconds into it I stopped him and we hit record and within about 2 hours it was sounding close to what you hear on the album. It’s magical when that happens and it’s the buzz I live for.
[Sean] 'Sleep' actually wasn't intended to be a Sandstone song when I wrote it. As you can probably tell from the lyric it is a very personal song and I don't even know why I played it to Stevie but he really liked it and made me record it. The lyric is as honest as I think I have ever been in a song and is basically about my struggle with finding peace with myself in a very dark period of my life. The song 'Y' from our second album ''Purging The Past'' very much sees me dealing with these issues again but I actually find it quite cathartic to pour my feelings into songs like I have here. I am very proud of both.

Who invented the band name?

[Stevie] That was me: I liked the way it is Sand and Stone, solid and granular, hard and soft. I think it fits well.

Will you come to Belgium in 2012 of do you have any other plans for 2012 with Sandstone?

[Stevie] Things are up in the air at the moment, but we are working on it. Rest assured if it is possible for us to get over there to play we’ll be there.
[Sean] That would be amazing. Seeing and playing in other countries is a high goal for this band.

What are the weirdest things that ever happened in the backstage?

[Stevie] I really can’t tell you that LOL but it involves weapons, great amounts of Guinness and Tequila and the enviable results.  We’re Irish so drinking heavily is part of our national identity LOL
[Sean] Nothing but fruit and water backstage at a Sandstone show. We are very well behaved people......
[Stevie]He lies!! Ha ha.

Can you describe Sandstone in 3 words?

[Stevie] Passion, Emotion, Sincerity

Thank you for this interview. I wish you the best of luck with Sandstone and I hope to see you once again in the future.

[Sean] Our pleasure. Thank you very much.