STUDIO SPACE: TEDO STONE
(Interviewer: Scott Sumner, SS Editor for SPACES)
Tedo Stone’s music never ceases to fuse throw-back sounds (primarily of the 1960’s) with a keen sense of contemporary resonance. In fact, his seemingly effortless eclecticism perhaps stands out most, as he places psychedelic rock, soul, blues, country, and even sometimes electronic music all under one roof. His songs often strike an intriguing balance between emotional turmoil and a celebration for the everyday, between making us want to cry and dance at the very same time. The haunting vocals—reminiscent of singers ranging from Devandra Banhart, MGMT, Brandon Flowers, to Jim Morrison—accompanied by his poignant guitar riffs, cut into the listener’s head with inescapable precedence. His lyrics are simple yet surprising, accessible yet original, and his outstanding knack for melodies serves as the impetus for the organic motion of his songs. In a music world becoming increasingly fleeting and trendy, Tedo Stone gives us a fresh breath of something that will last much longer than the next buzz-word.” – Matthew Sherling
After recording his debut EP, Happy, with legendary producer John Keane (R.E.M., Uncle Tupelo, Widespread Panic), Tedo Stone teamed with platinum-selling, Grammy-nominated producer Matt Goldman for his first LP, Good Go Bad, out July 9 on This Is American Music.
Talking Music and Writing and Time on Earth: Tedo Stone
For me, recording has a lot to do with documenting my time here on Earth. I don’t keep a diary or anything like that. But building a catalog and being able to look back and see where I’ve been in life and as a songwriter, that’s important to me.~Tedo Stone
Scott: How old were you when you first took a serious interest in music? Who are your musical heroes?
Tedo: My older brother gave me one of his bass guitars for my thirteenth birthday and I put together a band with some friends from my hometown. We would lock up in our drummer’s basement and write songs together and record them on an old karaoke machine. It was fantastic. That was when I really got into writing music. Neil Young and Otis Redding are on the top of my hero list, but there are plenty of other names on there.
Scott: You studied at Ole Miss in Oxford, Mississippi and also spent a very brief time living in Hawaii. You’re now based out of Atlanta and I read that to support yourself and pay for studio time you took a day job working at a medical equipment company. Talk about how life’s experiences have crept into your music.
Tedo: I typically write more songs during a time of change in my life. Change often generates lots of emotions–positive or negative–like fear or excitement. You want your music to have feeling and emotion within it, so it makes sense that change is such a good motivation for writing.
Scott: The art of songwriting will always be a great enigma for artists and fans alike and there are so many answers to the question of what sparks the muse. Do you find more of your songs beginning lyrically and conceptually, or melodically? You have an excellent band behind you. Do you write as a band? What do you do when you feel the well of inspiration running dry?
Tedo: Melodies almost always come first for me. Most ideas begin with just a vocal melody of gibberish, then I put music behind it, and lyrics come last. The songs are never really done and always evolve for the live show—I like to keep things fresh and genuine so people have a reason to come out and see our band any given night. None of the changes are ever drastic structurally, but you’ll certainly notice some sonic differences between the sound on record vs. on the stage.
Scott: Tell us about your label, This Is American Music. How did they find out about you and how have they helped bring your music to a broader audience?
Tedo: I met Corey Flegel of This Is American Music at a show we had at the EARL in Atlanta. We chatted after the show and stayed in touch and they ended up re-releasing our EP, Happy, which we had put out ourselves a few months before. They continue to add great acts to the roster, which in turn brings more attention to us. It’s a label with a lot of camaraderie… all of the artists and partners feel like a big family. I know it sounds cliché, but it’s true. There’s really no other way to describe it. I feel that soon after people get into a TIAM band, they start diving into the catalogue of theirs and it’s good for everyone.
Scott: I’ve had the pleasure of previewing your upcoming LP, Good Go Bad. It’s going to resonate with listeners in a big-time way — fantastic. Not to spoil things for anyone, but I feel it’s safe to say that you’ve definitely expanded your sound. You’ve broken out the synthesizer and gotten a bit more experimental on guitar. Talk about the evolution of your music over the past year and a half since the release of your EP, Happy.
Tedo: The HappyEP was recorded over a few days with a band I had formed a few months prior, whereas the new album has been recorded over the past year here and there and most everything was tracked out by Matt Goldman, Billy Lyons, and myself. We had friends sit in on the album, but the majority of the album was the three of us.
Scott: You’ve worked with some big time engineers/producers already in your young career. How has it been working with John Keane and Matt Goldman? How do their approaches inside the studio compare and contrast and how have they helped guide you and shape your sound?
Tedo: For most of the songs we did with Goldman we would sit down and listen to the demos, talk about the demos, and create some sort of plan before recording anything. With Keane there was not as much preproduction and we gave ourselves a deadline of only a few days to finish the EP. I can’t say that I like one method over the other, but the end result was two totally different sounding albums. Keane and Goldman both played on the records – Keane on pedal steel and Goldman on drums. Both are extraordinary players and their playing guided the sound of each album.
Scott: With the release of your first full-length record coming up on July 9th, what can we expect from a touring standpoint? What goals have you set for yourself as your move forward from here?
Tedo: Right now, we have a Daytrotter session booked, which we’re really excited about. We’re setting up a tour around that in late June/early July and plan to tour as much as we can in the fall… new opportunities are coming through the pipeline every day, bit by bit. I’d like to be more or less living in a van by 2014.
Scott: What is an album you wouldn’t want to live without? Tell us about a time when music particularly moved you.
Tedo: Neil Young- On The Beach.
Scott: What advice would you give someone just starting out?
Tedo: Keep busting your ass and stay low… drive your feet.
Scott: Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know?
Tedo: Good Go Bad out July 9th. We are also doing a Daytrotter session in early July. Be on the look out for that—I assume they’ll release it sometime early this fall.
Praise for Good Go Bad
“You can hear this carpe-diem passion in Good Go Bad—in everything from the anthemic rockers to the little whispered ukulele ballad Tedo recorded on his cellphone. It ripples through the pensive, psych-tinged bedroom pop numbers, awash in shimmering modern synths, tied in a bow with precise little mathematical guitar & keyboard hooks. Most of all, it is in Stone’s expressive, instantly recognizable voice. Not many indie rockers can pull off his soul-inspired approach, repeating lines over and over, varying the melody and phrasing slightly each time, so as to juice every last ounce of meaning from them before moving on.”
More from Tedo Stone
May 17th at The Green Room – Athens, GA (9 PM)
May 18th at Eddie’s Attic – Decatur, GA
June 21st at The Green Room – Athens, GA (10 PM)
To set up an interview with Tedo Stone, or get your hands on advance music, hi-res photos, album art or music videos, contact Steve LaBate at Baby Robot Industries: firstname.lastname@example.org