Stone Turner Interview

I’ve been following Jack Dickinson’s musical progress for years now so when a CD arrived on my doorstep of his latest incarnation Stone Turner that blew me away I figured it was time for a chat with one of the nicest and hardest working guys in rock. I fired a few questions over and to say his answers are enthusiastic and in depth is an understatement so get yourself a cup of tea and read on…then buy the CD!!!

So, what happened with Stubb just as you guys seemed to be making a name for yourselves? How did Stone Turner come about?

Stubb was originally put together by Aaron (drummer) and I. We knew each other from living in Cornwall and were both moving to London around the same time so it seemed a good idea to put a band together. The idea was to make a good heavy psych rock band without routing ourselves too far into stoner rock territory, taking more influence from late 60’s and early 70’s power trios. We jammed a few times as a two piece and then with some searching of the internet for bass players we found Isabella. She came along to a practice and it clicked straight away, she’s great at locking into and holding down a groove and she got the idea of the band straight away.

We got into writing pretty fast and recorded a demo at Dropout Studios with Tim Cedar of Part Chimp. We played some cool gigs along the way with the likes of Ramesses and Invasion.

The reason for Stubb ending was due to Aaron moving on to a new band, Ten Ton Tabby, he had been playing with them during the time we had been in Stubb and just felt that it suited him better. No hard feelings though, I still share house with the dude after all. So myself and Isa eventually decided that the band wasn’t going to be the same without the original 3 members so we called it a day.

Given that Stone Turner features two thirds of Stubb and follows a similar riff heavy lead driven path, what would you say distinguishes this new band from the old?

I’d say that the difference is songs. With Stubb we had definite songs to put into a set list where as in Stone Turner we have ideas that we take and it can go in any direction depending on how we’re playing. I also use more guitar effects in Stone Turner to expand the sound a bit. We’re going into new ideas and sounds all the time, sometimes we’ve played one long song for the whole set other times we break it into shorter jams. This band is also very relaxed, we go to a practice and just see what comes out.

What can you tell us about the other two members of Stone Turner, the lovely Isa and the frankly insane Rich?

Haha well, Isabella as mentioned was a member of my previous band Stubb which is how we met and since then we’ve become really good friends, she’s great to go out drinking with and great to play music with. She’s small, Austrian and crazy in an entirely good way.

I met Rich while both of us had a short stint in Tim Holehouse’s band, he was playing bass. We did a Tim Holehouse/Stubb tour and I soon discovered that Rich enjoys rocking with his foot on a beer crate while wearing sleeveless tops, he’s also quite possible the most cultured person I’ve ever met in a band context. Originally Rich was going to play bass in Stone Turner with my friend Jude on drums but that shifted round to the format we have now.

All three of you guys play in other bands, what else are you guys up to and where does Stone Turner fit into this…is it the main concern or an occasional project for shits and giggles?

We don’t really gig all that often but we’ve never really had a problem fitting the time in, our general thing is that we have a practice as close as possible to the time of the gig then go out and play what we’ve come up with. Rich plays guitar for Koresh but so far no gigs have clashed. Isa was playing briefly in a thrash band but that’s over now and she’s currently in Austria saving up to come back over. I’ve just started jamming in a band with Sam the drummer from Dusteroid, early stages so far but it’ going to be a really trippy, heavy deal. Rich and I also have a band called Black Saxx which will one day emerge and get the girls dancing.

I’d say Stone Turner is a proper band rather than a side project, but it’s all organized in a very casual way that suits all of us nicely.

Stone Turner

I know you love a lot of obscure old school music, what are your main influences in Stone Turner?

I soak up influences all the time, I’m completely addicted to music. I’m probably influenced by different things to Isa and Rich but that’s what makes jamming more interesting as all those influences come together. A lot of influence for me is taken from heavy 60’s/70’s bands such as Buffalo, Free, Jimi Hendrix, Captain Beyond, Groundhogs etc as well as the more out there stuff like Mahavishnu Orchestra, Flower Travelling band etc I think that was a great time for music, really creative but I do think there’s plenty going on today that is also exciting, bands like White Hills, The Heads, Tia Carrera and Earthless are really pushing things. I listen to a lot of acoustic music as well like CSN, Neil Young, Jack Rose and Jackson Browne. There’s some Stone Turner acoustic songs about as well which represent that side of things.

Your original vision for Stone Turner was to be more of a collective based thing with a revolving door of guest musicians and a multi layered sound. How did you go from this to the power trio format and do you have plans to try and build it up to the original idea?

The collective idea would have been brilliant to do and I’d still love to do it, but practically it’s quite hard to pull off. I love recording everything live rather than tracking one thing at a time so that the music always has very free feeling to it. Getting others involved would mean more people in the studio and more time.

I think when we record more in the future it’s something that would be great to do, or even as a live outing. The trio at the moment is just an easier thing to organize and means we can play with minimal fuss and a small amount of equipment. I already have one massive guitar amp so getting more guitars etc involved means moving more gear.

The idea of Stone Turner is basically to jam. How did you manage to translate the songs from live jams to work as a recorded entity?

Essentially what is on the CD is just us jamming as we always do. Ian Lee who recorded it, just miked the instruments up and we played. Some of the riffs we’re ones we had played before but others like Druids Finger came from the recording process. Once you get a group of people together who understand each others playing its not too hard to just play around with an idea, we keep it fairly simple really and usually pull it back in just as its about to crash and burn. I’ve always enjoyed jamming music and just seeing what happens rather than just sticking to the same formula over and over. Not saying it works for everyone but for us it works.

Stone Turner

What can we expect from Stone Turner live and how will the CD tracks differ?

Live performances depend on lots of things, what mood we’re all in, how much beer has been consumed and what we decided about 5 mins before we go on stage haha. It’s unlikely that the tracks on the CD would be the same as what we play live as we like to constantly change rather than stick to playing the same ideas. There may be some of the riffs appearing again but where that leads could be anywhere. Rich and I also take turns with vocals so that makes a difference to what comes out. He’s also a complete maniac on the drums so trying to follow what he’s doing seems to steer us into all sorts of directions which makes for quite an unpredictable ride. Also expect it to be loud, we’re big fans of volume!

The CD is going to be accompanied by a DVD. What can we expect to see on the DVD? Isn’t releasing a double package as a debut release a risky and costly exercise?

The DVD is made up of footage shot on cameras while we were recording, so it’s basically a multicam live shoot. I’ve added some suitably psychedelic lightshow visuals throughout. I may also shoot a few bits as extras such as acoustic performances. Making it isn’t really too much of an expense as I’m lucky to work in post production and I want to put something out that’s a little different so expect some interesting packaging. Sessions 1 is the beginning of a bigger series of releases.

You guys were due to play the inaugural Magnificent Flying Head Machine gig in Leicester with Baby Woodrose but it’s now been cancelled. You guys must be gutted, what happened there?

We’re definitely gutted, we’ve missed out on playing with Colour Haze, Baby Woodrose and a load of others! Seems that the Charlotte became a victim of the credit crunch so there’s no venue for the gig to take place. Hopefully Matt who was putting the gig on will carry on the idea for another time, the UK needs more events along those lines.

You’re also the mastermind behind the Mindzap empire that works on films and promotion. How’s that going and what projects are you working on with that?

Well one of the main projects I had for this year was to film the MFHM for a dvd release but obviously that’s a no go now which is a real shame but I do have a Cherry Choke video to shoot in the summer which should be awesome. That’s the band that made has formed since leaving Josiah, they have an album coming on on Electrohasch in the near future. I’m booked in for making another Grifter video too which is always a pleasure! I’ve got some edited footage of Colour Haze from Roadburn 2007 that they are planning to put on a dvd, quite chuffed with how that’s looking. I’ll hopefully be doing plenty more lightshows soon, I love mixing old oil projections with video running from a laptop, it allows me to mix the footage real time with a bands music giving something along the lines of what was around in the 60’s but with the benefit of technology.

I’m going to try and put an all dayer on in the summer with a load of great uk bands and a lightshow etc I should have a new website up and running fairly soon too.

Stone Turner

You moved to London from Cornwall, how do you think the music scene differs between the two?

Cornwall should have an amazing music scene but unfortunately doesn’t, people are too interested in only watching their mates bands and a load of the time bands wont venture out of Cornwall to play elsewhere. There have been times where things have picked up in certain venues but it’s never been sustained, having said that some of the gigs that did work in Cornwall were brilliant. There are bands there who do put in the time and the scene as whole will benefit at some point. I’d really love to have a beach gig one day, it’s on the list of things to achieve. London has quite a close knit scene within the stoner, doom type circles so that’s really good for getting gigs together and obviously the choice of venues is higher.

It seems the stoner/psych/doom/sludge scene in Britain is booming at the moment with more and more bands cropping up all the time. Who would you recommend people check out?

Recently I was impressed by Trippy Wicked who I saw at an all dayer in Camden, Krampusz who we played with in Old Street play a really good racket and feature a member of Chrome Hoof, another great band. Invasion are a really interesting band fusing thrash, stoner and soul together which works a treat. Check out Koresh if you want to see some quality sludge. Diagonal are one of the best to emerge recently on Rise Above, crazy prog, jazz rock and for straight up honest heavy groove, long term friends and partners in rock, Grifter!

Desert Island Discs time…5 albums you can’t do without?

Only 5, hmmm ok here goes

Colour Haze – Self Titled
I would say easily the best psychedelic power trio around. The playing is superb, the recording lovely and warm and the 20 minute plus Peace Brother and Sisters is heaven.

Jimi Hendrix – Electric Ladyland
This album has been a gateway to so much other music for me, it’s so brilliantly recorded executed and I always have time for it. I think my favourite full stop.

Grand Funk Railroad
Live album. It’s just a stomping listen all the way through, if I needed to feel better on my desert island I’d slap this on and get down. Really soulful rock music

Free – Best of
I’m going with the best of as I can’t decide which album haha, I love Free, such an amazing groove from the rhythm section, Paul Kossof had this amazing way of playing perfect guitar parts and topped off with Paul Rogers on vocals, all in all a perfect combination.

Last one is going to be the hardest, I could opt for a number of them really, Black Sabbath, Rory Gallagher, Buffalo, Kyuss but to make this all balance out I’m going to choose-

Jackson Browne – Running On Empty
This is a little different but he’s an amazing song writer, voice is perfect and one of the only people who makes me want to learn to play the piano. This album is made up of various live recordings, some from hotel rooms etc if anyone ever needs tips on how to write songs and especially how to use lyrics Jackson Browne is essential listening.

What does the future hold for Stone Turner?

More gigs, maybe some collaborations for live performances and expect more recordings too. I’d ideally like to continue like we have done with Sessions 1 to make more live recordings that we can release ourselves and hopefully record something in the studio at some point.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Big thanks to Ollie for the interview and The Sleeping Shaman, check out Mindzap as we have cool things in the pipeline and thanks to the bands we’ve played with.

More info on Stone Turner at:

Interviewed by: Ollie Stygall