Ain’t Always Easy is an appropriate title for the second album from British hard rockers Stone Broken. After taking a hiatus from music, frontman Rich Moss formed the band, who released their debut in 2016. They have now signed with Spinefarm. Moss fills us in on the album, his musical background, the effect of stepping away from music and other subjects.
Chad Bowar: What was different about the songwriting process for Ain’t Always Easy compared to All In Time?
Rich Moss: One of the main differences was the time frame that we had to write it in. With the first record we could take our time and almost analyze our work, but for this record we only had six weeks to get the whole thing done! So a lot of the decisions had to be made really quickly. We laid down demo tracks as we were writing them so we could easily make changes if we needed to, but also add in different bits of production on the fly, which was great and it really seemed to work for us. We had a rough picture of how the record would turn out before we hit the studio.
What led you to work with producer Romesh Dodangoda again on this album?
Because we worked with Romesh on the first album, we went back in to a really familiar way of recording. We could literally turn up at the studio and we already knew his process and that made it incredibly easy to record. Also, we knew that Romesh would deliver the album that we wanted to make. He is very in-tune with what we are about and understands our music and our personalities and can really pull that through the music.
What will be your strongest memory of the recording of the record?
There are a couple of things that really stand out, one of which is the way that we recorded it. We spent a solid three weeks in the studio, whereas for the debut we did it in two separate sessions. It was great being able to immerse yourself in the project and really focus. On one hand it seemed like we had been working on it for a very long time, but on the other hand time seemed to fly by. It was a really strange feeling. Also, we had the offer of accommodation from a couple of our fans who put us all up for the three weeks and really made us feel like we were staying in a home away from home. I will never forget that!
What inspired the album title?
The title is actually taken from the lyrics in our song “Home.” They really stood out as we were listening back to the final mixes. There were times when we were writing the album that we thought that we would never finish it. There have been times when whole tours have fallen through and you just have to pick yourself up and carry on, so we thought that it was very apt to put that message across. It will almost be a reminder for us that sometimes it doesn’t always work out, but we can soldier through and come out stronger.
What lyrical topics do you cover?
On this album we wanted to let the lyrics tell stories and really mean something, whether they mean something to us or to the listener. A lot of the songs on the album have messages. Sometimes it’s hope, encouragement, about doing the right thing, reminiscing; and in others it’s a little grittier. “Worth Fighting For” is about making a stand and fighting for something you believe in. We also highlight issues like domestic violence. All of these things need to be spoken about!
What has been the response to the “Heartbeat Away” video, which is about domestic violence?
The response has been pretty incredible. We knew we were tackling a sensitive subject. You know, there seems to be a whole sense of taboo hanging over the issue. But we have had fans messaging us and opening up about their own experiences, which is exactly what the song is for. Let’s start talking about it, don’t keep it to yourself. It’s rare that you write a song and it creates the exact response you were looking for.
How did you come to sign with Spinefarm Records?
We had sent a few rough mixes to the guys at Spinefarm just to see if there was any interest and they came back very positively. They seemed to like what we were doing. But it wasn’t until our set at Download Festival here in the UK a couple of months after that, unknown to us, Jonas from Spinefarm US was watching our set from the side of the stage. We came off stage and he came and spoke to us for a while. A few months later we were signing on the dotted line!
How does that affect your goals and expectations for the album?
This is the first record that we have put out on a label, so we are still learning how it all works. It’s great watching it all come together. Our goals I guess have now changed from trying to conquer the UK to wanting to reach other parts of the world. We have done everything up until this point, so realistically we had to set our goals in one area and really trying a nail that, but now we have teams all over the world, it really opens everything up for us. The first goal is to be introduced to new parts of the world (for us anyway) and then the hope is to be able to build on that and really establish ourselves. We know that means a lot of hard work is coming our way, but we are ready for it!
Your U.S. tour is in limbo. Can you give us an update?
Yes, unfortunately it’s still in limbo. We are hoping to get the visas in our hands soon so we can jump on the tour part-way through, it’s just taken a little longer than we all anticipated, but as soon as we have them, we will be jumping on a plane to play some rock shows over there. Ain’t always easy, right? (laughs)
What has been your most memorable Stone Broken live show?
We opened up the main stage at a festival in the UK called Ramblin’ Man Fair last summer, and everyone knows that it’s always a rough ride opening up any stage at midday. But as we were walking to the stage we caught a glimpse of just how many people had turned up to see us, it was incredible! To top it all off, we played a song from our debut record called “Wait For You.” Usually at our own headline shows I would let the audience sing a particular part of the song, but this was like 5,000 people. I was thinking, what happens if they don’t all know the words and that whole part of the song just falls flat? Let me tell you, it was a tough call to make, but I went for it and 5,000 people standing in a field sang our song to us! It was incredible!
What’s the most unusual venue you’ve played?
I don’t know if it’s an unusual venue, or just an unusual setup for us, but we were on tour with Glenn Hughes last year and we played a venue in Piestany in Slovakia and it was the first time that we had played a show to a seated audience. It was so strange, we had never experienced anything like it. It almost made you feel vulnerable up on that stage. By the end of our set everyone was up on their feet having a great time, so I guess that one as a test and we passed!
How did you get started in music?
It was a strange one really. I had always had an interest in music for as long as I can remember, but I never really gave it a shot until I was in high school when I started taking drum lessons. I then moved on to guitar when I was around the age of 14-15 (I can’t quite remember) because my parents weren’t too keen on me having a drum kit. I haven’t put the guitar down since, apart from a brief break around 7 years ago.
Who were your early influences and inspirations?
When I would get home from school I would watch videos of Eddie Van Halen doing his thing and that really motivated me to get better. I think it was when I first heard “Eruption” that I was like, “What the hell was that?!” I had to check it out. From there I got in to a lot of different rock guitarists, like Zakk Wylde, Dimebag Darrell and Paul Gilbert. It wasn’t until years and years later that I started to listen to songs and how they were constructed, rather than just what the guitar was doing. So I would listen to a lot of stuff by Alter Bridge and Shinedown, songs with strong melodies. That’s how I get my kicks now.
What’s the first concert you attended as a fan?
The first concert that I went to (that I actually wanted to) was only around 10 years ago. I didn’t really have the spare money to go to many concerts when I was younger, so the first one I went to was in 2008 and it was Alter Bridge playing the Civic Hall in the city where I grew up. It was the first time that I got to hear them play and I just remember thinking, “Wow! This sounds powerful.” It was one of those moments when you think, man, I want to be up there doing that!
You stepped away from music for a few years. Now that you’ve been back in it for a while again, how did that break impact what you’re doing now?
I often think about this. I always think, “What if I’d have started the band years ago?” But then I really don’t think that I would have approached it in the right way. When you are younger, you think you just have to write some songs and go out and play shows, but during the time I had away from music I refocused and researched everything you needed to know before you go out there and start a band. I approached it completely different to how I had done with every other band I had been in before. We took our time, invested a whole load of money in to it and concentrated on writing good solid songs, and then built on that. I came back in to music way more mature than I was when I left it, and I think has really helped to build this band in to what I always wanted with the help of the other guys.
Describe the first time you heard one of your songs on the radio.
I remember it like it was yesterday! We had one of our tracks playlisted on a national radio station here in the UK. I had messages from loads of people saying they had heard us on the radio and I kept missing it! But then one morning I was getting ready in my bedroom with the radio on and I hear the intro playing. I still couldn’t quite believe it. I turned it up and just sat on my bed and listened to the whole thing. I had never been so proud of anything in my life as how I did that morning. It’s surreal even now when I catch one of our songs on the radio. I don’t think that feeling will ever go away!
Seen any good movies/DVDs lately?
I love anything that James Wan has directed. The whole Insidious franchise is just stunning. For me they are some of the best new horrors out there, from the story line to the way they have been shot. When you are traveling in a van for hour and hours, Netflix becomes your friend, so I have been watching all sorts lately, but standout films have been John Wick, The Autopsy of Jane Doe and Shutter.
What’s currently in your heavy musical rotation?
This is similar to the last answer, but this time Spotify is your friend on the road. I have been listening to a lot of Five Finger Death Punch, Skillet, Art Of Dying and the classics by Pantera.
Anything else you’d like to mention or promote?
I would just like to say thank you to anyone who goes out and buys a record whether a download or a CD, a gig ticket or a piece of merch. This really is what keeps bands going on the road and every band will appreciate it more than you could imagine. Go and check out a new band, they may just be a future classic!
Also, keep checking our website for new tours being announced, because like I said earlier, as soon as we have those visas in our hands we will be making our way to the states to make some noise!
(interview published April 13, 2018)