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INTERVIEW: Richmond, Va. Singer-Songwriter Graham Stone

Hi Graham, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

Hey, thanks so much for getting up with me! It’s been a busy year so far but I’m grateful and feeling good.

Can you talk to us more about your song “Nobody”?

Sure, what do you want to know?

Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?

Well first of all, my wife Aubrey actually wrote the chorus to this song, that’s what started the whole thing. She wrote the chorus about our cat actually (Hunter Bartholomew Erasumus Augustus Beans) I think after one day where he had been acting particularly pompous. And that’s essentially what this song is about. At the core, “Nobody” is a satire about a very particular kind of pompous arrogance. This song uses hyperbole to talk about being unkind or living selfishly in a way that is damaging to others and ultimately to oneself.

Any plans to release a video?

We do have a video or two in the works, but not for Nobody! Though actually, I’ll let you in on a company secret here, there is still a live video of this song at the very bottom of the homepage of my website. It’s a DIY video some friends helped us put together from when we played ‘Nobody’ on a rooftop in downtown Richmond a few years back. Check it out at your own risk. The single comes off your new album Bad News – what’s the story behind the title? The story behind the title Bad News is this idea of holding fast to hope in a sea of despair. “It’s like whole world’s got the blues”  — it can really feel like everywhere we look, things are all bad. In some ways I feel like that is our national narrative right now — “fare the well, the world’s going to hell in a basket full of bad news” — and for good reason! But Bad News is meant to be a reminder that in spite of all the brokenness we see around us, in the face of it, actually, a reminder that love really does win and that it’s important for us to remember that. And to focus on that. And to meditate on that. And to let it change the way we live.

How was the recording and writing process?

Well this is only the second full length record I’ve done, so I feel like I really don’t have a ton of experience to compare it to, but I can talk about some of the differences between Bad News and my first record, Until the Day. The recording process was way more streamlined this go-round and closer to what I think a live album might be like. I still tracked acoustic guitar and vocals first, but then we brought the band in and we all played to those tracks live together in the studio, which led to a really cool energy and I think a more cohesive sound. The writing process was also just more condensed this time too. Until the Day contains songs written over a ten year span and I think the oldest song on Bad News is ‘Richmond Town’ which I wrote in 2013. So Bad News also just spans a shorter period of my life as well, which I think is pretty cool.

Do you tend to take a different approach when you are collaborating with someone else rather than on your own?

That’s a good question. To be honest, I’m not totally sure. But I think I do. I feel like taking a different approach when collaborating is really just about respecting the person you are collaborating with. I always try and approach a song in the moment, so it feels different if I’m playing something solo versus with a band or if I’m playing a full band song as a duo with my pal on the mandolin then that feels different, too. Not bad, just different and I think to do it right you have to respect that in everything from instrumentation to harmonies but most of all with who it is you are collaborating with. Everybody’s different.

What role does Virginia (feel free to name specific towns) play in your music?

I can’t say enough about it. I was born and raised here my whole life other than a few childhood years in Maryland and North Carolina. Maryland I was too young to remember and North Carolina I loved very much. But Virginia has always been my home under the sun and to me it truly does have a richness and an ancient beauty like nowhere else on earth. But Virginia also has such a tragic history and a real heaviness to it. I grew up in Manassas not far from the battlefield that marked the first major battle of the civil war. I lived in Charlottesville for a couple years before a white supremacy rally there took an innocent life. Now we live in Richmond where Monument Avenue still glorifies the confederacy like they do in our public schoolbooks meanwhile the Devils Half Acre is still just a patch of grass next to a parking lot beneath the interstate. From as far back as our written records go, you have the colonizers treatment of the natives here. So it’s real. And it is wrong. And it’s important to talk about and to make changes to make it right. That’s what I want to do and that’s what the song Celebrate on this album is all about.

What aspect of your life did you get to explore on this record?

There are so many different aspects of life that shine through on this record: from traveling, to falling in love to making terrible choices, to making good choices and then standing behind them–it’s really all there!

Where else did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?

When you have life experiences as a human being, what more inspiration could you possibly need?

Any plans to hit the road?

Yes! I’ll be heading up the coast right after the album release. Right now it looks like we’ve got shows lined up in RVA, DC, Baltimore, Philly, NYC, RI, Boston and Burlington, VT.

What else is happening next in Graham Stone’s world?

Right now I’m pretty focused on working up to the record release show and then the support tour afterwards. But I also have a lot more songs cooking that I really can’t wait to record! So hopefully after the dust settles a bit I can spend some time working on those.

Listen here

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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