When Blue Water Music Festival announced that singer/songwriter, Allen Stone, and novelty rock group, Smash Mouth, would no longer be performing this weekend, fans were in a state of disarray. Ivan Spiers the festival's largest sponsor, and owner of Mozambique, pulled headlining acts when Blue Water hadn't gained a required permit with less than a week to spare. With pleasure we announce that both Smash Mouth and Allen Stone will perform, this weekend, instead, at Laguna Beach's Mozambique. Stone is set to perform tracks from his forthcoming album Radius, slated for release May 26th. This is our interview with Chewelah, Washington's soul singing, plastic fearing musician Allen Stone.
Did growing up in the church shape your sound?
AS: Growing up in the church definitely got me into music. I grew up in a small community church where it was a lot of hymns, acoustic guitar, and worship songs. I learned how to bring a congregation together to sing the same thing. There was soul to the music in church but not the traditional soul that people think of like in Sister Act 2. We sang songs like "I'll fly away, oh glory, I'll fly away" [he sings]. But it was nothing like Lauryn Hill's "The Sparrow." I kind of had to jump off the island of religion in order to find my own sound.
How has working with Magnus Tingsek been?
AS: I discovered Tingsek in 2008 and I was instantly inthralled. I was like "nobody sounds like this- it's original." I bought all his records and I was that punk kid at parties like fuck Bruno Mars, let's listen to something real! In 2012 I was going on a 95 show tour in Europe and the States. We were looking for our first of three artists and my manager at the time hit up Tingsek. He said we'll pay you 500 bucks a night and you can come live on the bus with Allen and the band, what do you think? He got back to us and said he'd be thrilled. Internally I freaked out like a little fan girl, it was a Jonas Brother moment [he laughs]. He lived on the bus and we become like brothers. When I started writing my record I was doing major label searches, e-mailing producers, and it didn't feel right until I began writing with Magnus. The first two songs we did are still my favorite off Radius, "Fake Future" and "Circle". Part of me felt like, I'm probably jumping off a cliff because I'm turning down producers like Rick Ruben but it just felt right. I'll potentially make one record and I'm going to try to make it as good as possible.
You intended to only make one record?
AS: No but you never know. It's America- people drink bottled water. To think that America is going to actually like my music and pay for me to continue to do art is pretty outlandish. The fact that I even make music for a living is outlandish. I'm very thankful and gracious.
You Tweeted "I've got to stop using plastic". Do you live a sustainable lifestyle?
AS: I'm attempting to cut out plastic and things that are extremely harmful to the universe and our environment- things we don't think about nowadays. We've added in the last 40 years, 3.5 billion people to the planet who use and take from this earth without giving very much back to it. I've realized how many things in my life that I use but I don't reuse. I just need to be the change that I want to see.
That ties in really well to the socially conscious messages in your music.
AS: That's what really inspires me. My favorite artists are those that stepped out on a limb, artists that use the microphone for good- Marvin Gaye. We live in a day and age where it's not about being clever anymore or coming up with something new. But seeing what my Dad did with the church, taking responsibility for that microphone, making sure the things he said were positive taught me a lot. People swarm to a train-wreck but I don't want to a train-wreck, I want to add a positive influence to someone's life, on whatever scale that is.
What can we expect from the new album?
AS: When I set out to make this record I really wanted to find my own individual spectrum of music. I think I've found it. It's this weird, white funk meets Northwest soul. I don't know, for a musician to explain his music it's like a cook explaining his taste buds. The last record was a soul review, it was an attempt to pay homage to that Doo-wop, Motown, that I grew up listening to. Maybe not so much Doo-wop but that old throwback soul. This album was more of an attempt to properly find my sound.