Stone Sour: “We really wanted an old school rock n’ roll vibe, it was just us in a room jamming”

Stone Sour 1948 smr Photocredit Travis Shinn (2)

Stone Sour made a straight-up rock n’ roll comeback with their latest album Hydrograd. But are they breaking any new ground with it? We caught up with Josh Rand from Stone Sour to find out why Hydrograd is the band’s most diverse album so far and why they think it encompasses some of band’s greatest qualities.

Hydrograd is your sixth album. Does it get easier or harder with time to write an album?
That’s a great question. I don’t think it’s a progression from one album to the next album, you know from the first album to the sixth album, I think each time is different. With House of Gold & BonesPart 1 and 2, for example it was quite a project. With Hydrograd, it was the complete opposite. We had a lot of fun recording it, it was recorded live and it went really quick. It was actually the fastest record that we’ve ever recorded. It was a lot of fun, everything went smooth so it was pretty painless and had a lot of fun doing it. I wouldn’t say it wasn’t hard, every album we record is hard.
To me the hardest out of the whole catalogue was Audio Secrecy.

How come?
There was a lot of stuff going on for every member personally and that bled into recording that record and we had a lot of people who were supposed to work with us or for us but they were working against us when we were making it.

Were there any positives to come out of the long gap between albums?
I am not sure. I mean we just wanted to put out the best record that we possibly could and make sure that everybody is satisfied and had a voice in the creative process.

You mentioned before that you pretty much wrote the whole album in a handful of sessions. Do you think that’s what made it flow so well?
I don’t know. The thing is that we usually write individually and then we bring it in, make it a Stone Sour song. Each member comes from a different background and I think that’s what makes Stone Sour diverse and all that is put together and you end up with this diverse record. I think us recording live, it gave it that energy of an old school record. We had all these songs and listened to all this music and we had this energy which is what we wanted to capture with this record.

Were there any moments in the recording process that you decided to change on the fly?
Not really. We had sat with our producer and everyone has a great relationship with him, we had several meetings about how we would approach recording this record. The only thing that really stands out to me that was different what we had demoed for ‘St. Marie‘ as we ended up going with pedal steel guitar which gives that song now a country vibe which initially wasn’t there. Other than that I can’t think of anything else. As I said, we really wanted an old school rock n’ roll vibe, it was just us in a room jamming.

As you said, Hydrograd is a pure rock n roll album without a distinct theme running through it. Would you ever go back to doing a concept album?
I see no reason to… There are many reasons for saying that. One is that it was quite the process recording House of Gold & Bones – Part 1 and 2 and also it would be compared to House of Gold & Bones. I am the kind of person who likes looking forward, I hate looking back. To me those are in the rearview mirror and I would be shocked if the band ever did another concept record. There’s no point in doing it. It would be different if we were a band based on making concept records but we’re not. At the end of the day we’re just a rock band. At the time it was a challenge trying to do one because it was like ‘why can’t a regular rock band write a concept record? Or why can’t you have radio singles in one?’ And that’s what we set out to do for it. This time round with Hydrograd and moving forward, I think the next record would be like recording Hydrograd. It will be the best material we have and then just jam and record it.

Stone Sour 2017 press shot credit Travis Shinn (1)“It would be different if we were a band based on making concept records but we’re not. At the end of the day we’re just a rock band.”

Talking about rock n’ roll, some critics have said that the new album follows a pretty standard formula without breaking any new ground. What do you think about that?
That’s their opinion. I think, for me, we made a pretty diverse record. We pushed boundaries with songs like ‘St. Marie’ and ‘When the Fever Broke’, so if that’s the way they feel maybe they should review some other records. Whatever!

Let’s say there’s someone who’s never heard of Stone Sour and your music before. Should they buy this album ahead of other albums?
I definitely think they should buy this record. Like I said, I think it’s a diverse record, I think there’s something for everyone. It’s like a playlist. It would be the first album that I would recommend to someone that hadn’t of the band, definitely this would be the album I would introduce to them.

What aspects of Hydrograd excite you the most personally?
I will go back to the songs we talked about because it’s a new direction, ‘When The New Fever Broke’ and ‘St. Marie’, I think it opens a new door for us from a song writing point and sonically.

Have any current affairs sank into the lyrics of the album?
Corey handles all the lyrics, everyone is contributing offering advice on whether there’s a better way of saying what he’s trying to say but 95% of the time it’s him. For example he’s yet to tell anybody why he named ‘Song #3’ that even though it’s track number five. With Stone Sour, another thing he started to do is that it’s not necessarily a personal view on things, it’s a little bit more general and all people can relate to the songs.

You have a bunch of gigs coming up, are you nervous at all about playing the new material live?
No. We’ve been doing this long enough and the thing is that we recorded this stuff live and we knew this will translate really well live. They will be great live and as I said we have been doing this for almost two decades, it will be fine.

Have you thought about how you will balance the new material with the old for your setlists?
We definitely want to play the newer stuff and then some of the old stuff. When you get out there and we’re headlining there will be songs that will be rotating depending on the set but the new stuff is our main priority. We’re out touring to promote the new record. We know that people want to hear older songs such as ‘Absolute Zero’ but there’s other stuff that we have added over the last month that we haven’t played at all or not in a very long time. We’re just getting started so we’re hoping that we will rotate all the stuff around, by the end of we will have played everything off Hydrograd. We will be customising the setlists. When we play London, we are scheduled for two nights, we want to do two different setlists because we know people are coming on both nights. That’s one of the things we really want to work on. We know that there are shows all over the world with differences from one show to the next one. We want to be able to have stuff that surprises them so they’ve seen one show this night and it’s not the exact shame show the next night. Plus it keeps us on our toes and keeps it exciting for us.

Going back to the album, what do you hope the listeners dig the most?
We go back to the diversity of the record. I think that’s what the listeners will love because it’s not the same song over and over again. Even though it’s not a concept record, it’s just as much of a journey as House of Gold & Bones was.

Words: Anastasia Psarra // Photos: Travis Shinn – Hydrograd is out now via Roadrunner Records.
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