Artist Spotlight - Still Bones
(Photo Credit - Cara Gamble, Cara Liane Photography)
We had the opportunity to interview up-and-coming alt act Still Bones! They just released their self-titled LP on July 9, 2021! Check out what they had to say in our Artist Spotlight interview.
1. How did you come to pursue music and how long have you been at it?
"My dad plays guitar so I pretty much always wanted to play. I took piano lessons for years as a kid and played saxophone in the school band; I was never particularly good at either. I got my first guitar for my 12th birthday and just started playing it all the time, mostly Blink 182 and Sum 41 songs."
2. Could you walk us through your process of writing music?
"Overall, I have a fairly loose methodology. I almost always start with the guitar—sometimes I’ll get a melody in my head and then put chords underneath it, but usually I start with a guitar riff or chord progression. I often like to loop something and then riff on top until I play something that stands out. Once I have some guitar sections down I usually move onto the vocals. Sometimes I write the vocal melodies on the guitar, and other times I’ll start singing and let random words come to me. Sometimes those words get scrapped and sometimes they end up driving the rest of the lyrics. Then I’ll add in virtual drums (for demo purposes) along with bass and then begin layering other instruments, slowly creating the song structure along the way. So yeah, pretty loose process."
"Dopeful is my first real attempt at full-fledged song writing. Prior to Still Bones I mostly just contributed lead guitar parts to songs that were fairly fleshed out. The interesting part is that I worked on most of the songs from Dopeful over several years so there were a lot of iterations and versions."
3. What artists have inspired you in your career?
"I’m always drawn to bands with interesting guitar work. Built to Spill, Modest Mouse, and Brand New are some of my longtime favorites (I obviously don’t condone Jesse Lacey’s actions that surfaced a few years ago, but I can’t deny that Brand New has had a huge impact on my musical style). When I think about music that inspires me, here are some other bands that come to mind: the Pixies, Weatherbox, Bright Eyes/Conor Oberst, Manchester Orchestra, Wavves, Free Throw, Title Fight, Real Estate, and Pile just to name a few."
4. Do you have any favorite music gear (guitars, amps, effects pedals, keyboards, etc.) that you love to use? If so, what’s the story on them?
"Like a lot of guitarists, I’m obsessed with gear. I feel like I’m always buying guitars, amps, and pedals—especially pedals. My favorite guitar at the moment is probably my Fender Classic Series ‘60s Jaguar. I was in Portland, OR a few years ago and stopped in at a guitar shop for fun; I love going to guitar shops when I’m visiting a city. I played a bunch of cool guitars there and when I was leaving an employee asked me which one I liked the most. Without hesitating I said the Jaguar and ended up buying the same model shortly after. I used it a lot while recording Dopeful. I also really love my Fender American Vintage Reissue ‘72 Telecaster Custom and my Fender Jazzmaster, which is a partscaster."
"I have a lot of pedals that I love but the foundation of my tone for a long time has been built on the Analogman Prince of Tone and the Walrus Audio Voyager. I especially like to stack them together for a big overdrive sound. They were some of the first overdrives that I bought when I started getting into pedals and they’ve yet to be knocked off my board."
5. Can you describe the vibe at your live shows? Also, what do you enjoy most about a venue when you do a show?
"Unfortunately we haven’t had any live shows yet. Still Bones started as a solo project but the full band lineup is actively rehearsing and we’ll be playing shows soon!"
6. What is one thing that you want the public to know about your music?
"I guess I want people to know that my music isn’t all doom and gloom and depressing, or at least that’s not my intention. A friend of mine described Dopeful as having dark positivity and I think that’s a good way to put it. Just like there’s no light without dark, sometimes you have to explore the bad feelings in life in order to appreciate the good."
7. Tell us about the writing, recording, and promotion process for Dopeful.
"I wrote most of the songs for Dopeful over the course of several years—some of them go back as far as 2017, even if it was just a riff or some idea. They weren’t all conceived over several years though, for example I wrote “Tying Knots” while stuck at home during the covid-19 pandemic. The pandemic was kind of the impetus that got me to focus on my own songwriting. I used my extra free time provided by the pandemic as an opportunity to start organizing old demos, riffs, and bits of lyrics. Throughout the summer of 2020 I rewrote old parts and solidified my demos to take to the studio."
"I worked with Sean Mercer at Magpie Cage in Baltimore, MD, which is a very cool studio with a great-sounding live room. Sean has a great ear and, since I wrote this record on my own, it was great to be able to bounce ideas off of him. He also connected me with the talented John Burkhardt, who played drums on the record. My favorite part of recording is getting guitar tones. I think I brought 8 guitars to the studio and used all of them. It was also really cool to explore all the different amps at Magpie Cage. And of course we did a lot of pedal tweaking. I’m very happy with the sounds we got."
"It was hard to do a lot of promotion because of the pandemic, but I did the typical social media stuff and was amazed at the love I received from friends and fellow musicians."
8. What’s next for you?
"We’re working on our live set and I’m looking to start booking shows as soon as possible to help support Dopeful."