Midlands-based soul band Stone Foundation recently stopped off in Nottingham as part of their UK tour. Impact were lucky enough to sit down and have a chat with the two founding members, Neil Jones (guitarist, lead singer) and Neil Sheasby (bassist).
How did Stone Foundation start?
Jones: “You’ve got the right two people to ask that question to! It started with us two basically, 21 years ago.”
Sheasby: “We were just coming off the back of bands we’d previously been in and it seemed like a natural progression. We were both looking to do different things and met each other through the other bands. We just got together with a shared interest and shared music collection. It began by trading ideas and writing tunes, and then looking for a line up.”
Who are you biggest musical influences?
Jones: “We’ve got so many similarities when it comes to the music that we listen to. Personally, I was listening to my dad’s music collection, bands like The Beatles and Led Zeppelin. The thing that we bonded over was that we both loved hip-hop funnily enough. It was old school hip-hop that we really had a connection with. That’s what made me dive into funk and soul.”
Sheasby: “The common denominator between us was mainly soul music, and that incorporated hip-hop because they sampled a lot of old soul records. We hope that we have our own take on it because we didn’t want to just sound like James Brown or whoever.”
Where’s the best place that you’ve performed at as a band?
Jones: “My personal favourite of all the gigs we’ve done is Fuji Rock Festival in Japan. It was in front of a crowd of about 10,000 people on a marquee stage which was just nuts. We play a lot at Mojo club in Hamburg, which is a really cool venue. We’re really blessed.”
Sheasby: “Mine are London and Scotland. London feels like home to us really, even though we’re based in the Midlands. We’ve been supported there for years. Scotland is also a great place, especially in Glasgow and Edinburgh. We’re looking forward to going back.”
Your latest album Everybody, Anyone came out in August, what was the process of making that record like?
Sheasby: “We recorded this album at Black Barn, Paul’s [Weller] studio again. We were conscious not to make the same record at Street Rituals, because a lot of people got into that record. We’re really pleased with it, it’s come out the way it was intended. It came together quite quickly, me and Neil swapped ideas again and we pretty much went straight back into the studio.”
Jones: “We learnt the importance of putting the homework in with the last two records. So, we do the pre-production side of it and then we reap the rewards when we go into the studio because we’re prepared. Me and Neil put a lot of work in prior to any record being released.”
Sheasby: “It was a really enjoyable experience making the album. Me and Neil produced, it was just really straight-forward and simple, the way a record should be.”
What’s it like working with Paul [Weller]?
Sheasby: “It’s great. It could be pretty intimidating if you let it, but he’s just like us, he’s into his music. He’s a very good musician.”
Jones: “It spurs you on to rewrite stuff or maybe look at something again. It gives you a little bit more confidence. I think the first time we worked with Paul I realised that he’d instilled me with the ability to try something out and see if it works, it doesn’t matter if you make a mistake. Seeing him do that, someone we’ve looked up to since we were kids, you think I’m just gonna try it.”
What’s your favourite thing about touring?
Jones: “Playing. When you play it’s amazing because you get the adrenaline.”
“When you’re a musician you can never 100% switch off, there’s always something in your head”
Sheasby: “It’s that release of playing for a couple of hours every night. There’s a lot of hanging around and travelling, which is shit but it comes with the territory. It’s nice because we’re quite active on social media and all the people that comment on Facebook you get to meet them as you go around.”
What do you do to chill out?
Jones: “Listen to music, read books, I do a lot of running. When you’re a musician you can never 100% switch off, there’s always something in your head, even if you’re having a coffee in a café and you can hear the radio, it’ll spark an idea.”
Sheasby: “We watch a lot of football, we’re big football fans. Fishing… I’m joking I’ve never been fishing in my life. I couldn’t touch the fish.”
What are your plans for 2019?
Sheasby: “We’re continuing to tour, going to Europe and maybe back to Japan. Then we get into festival season and playing a few more dates in the UK. At the back end of next year we’ll probably get back into the studio. Keeping the wheels in motion.”
With that in mind, I can’t wait to see how the band keep the wheels in motion in the future.
Featured image courtesy of Sophie Hunt.
Image use licence here.