As Jason Krutsky (drummer) and Matt Tanner (lead guitar/vocalist) of Stone Rider share an unlabeled bottle while standing by the bed of a gold pickup late on a February night, I get the feeling that they’re not the type to put on a show for anyone — writer present or not. That same unassuming confidence is also deeply ingrained in the Atlanta band’s new LP, Fountains Left to Wake, which dropped yesterday. In an age consumed by micro-genres, it takes a certain fearlessness to create a straight-ahead, ’70s-inspired, classic rock album, which is the best way to describe the follow-up to their 2008 debut, Three Legs of Trouble. Though third member Neil Warren (bassist), was busy printing tees during the interview, Krutsky and Tanner were eager to talk about the tenacity it takes to chase dreams into adulthood, getting lifted with Jimi Hendrix, and finding spirituality in death and drugs.
The song "When I Was Young" begins "Well now when I was young couldn't listen to nobody else/take the world on by myself." How does that resonant with you all?
Jason Krutzky: It's a fearlessness that you're kind of always chasing as you get older. It's a fearlessness that I can do anything that I put my mind to. Any wildest dream that I have, it's obtainable. It's this idea of maintaining that mentality now, as an adult. As a bill paying, working class, adult-type of person with so much other shit to deal with and worry about.
Have you guys ever felt discouraged as musicians?
JK: Sure [laughs]. Moment to moment. You can feel completely discouraged and then five minutes later feel on top of the world.
Matt Tanner: During a show, during a practice, during a conversation, while you're making breakfast, spill your eggs on the ground [you] feel pretty shitty.
JK: Cause that's all your eggs.
MT: The goal is to sustain yourself in what you love. When people say "I don't give a fuck about whether people like this," well, you do in a sense because you want people to hear it if you're releasing it.
This album ends with one man saying "that's good", the next voice saying "works for me", and the last voice saying "good job, man".
JK and MT: [Laughs]
JK: That song, we had to turn the record in the next day. We got to the end and said "It's not over". And so, we hopped in the porch [and recorded The Sleeper], and you can hear it— a plane flying over.
MT: You're right, it is funny that this big trancy thing ends, and then it's like, "good job, buddy" after that whole span of record, it just sounds epic. It's just kind of like "whoa, that was on a porch". It's just this space that's created. I mean, it sounds like a lot more to me [than vocals, drums and two guitars].
Oh, it does. This whole record sounds like it's way more than three people to me.
You have a Jimi Hendrix tattoo. What does that mean to you?
MT: It's like church music or something. It's something I heard as a little kid and it was instantly captivating and it's never ever the same sort of fascination and intrigue. Whatever tones and vibrations were captured at that time, it never gets old.
JK: The thing about Hendrix is that you can really listen to him and you can hear something new every single time. And that's extremely rare not for an artist to be able to do that, but for a listener to be able to do that. I think the artist puts way more shit into their music than the listener gives any credit for, but the ability for an artist to be so captivating that the listener just keeps coming back, keeps on going "Oh my God, what is that thing?! Where did that come from?! How have I listened to this a hundred times and not heard that tambourine right there?!"
What tattoos do you have?
JK: I have a Georgia tattoo right here [gestures to right arm]. I've got a woman's head right there [gestures to left upper arm]. And she never leaves my side, that's the thing. And I've got Woody Guthrie on my heart.
You once wrote "anything is possible and you can be exactly who you want to be." Four years after your debut, do you still believe that?
JK: Yeah, absolutely. As long as you can maintain that mentality then fuck yeah, ’cause if you believe you can do something then you can tell somebody else that you can do it. And if you truly believe it, they'll truly believe you. It's just as simple as that. Now how often I'm able to sell that or how often I'm able to know that inside varies day to day. But in my heart of hearts, in my gut, yeah, I believe that. You're capable of the world, and so much more. It's just how hard you're willing to work for it, and a matter of being a really really kick-ass person and always trying to help everybody else too. If you can kind of do that, and keep a good solid head, yeah.
There seems to be an ingrained sense of spirituality on Fountains Left to Wake that's also reflected in Krutzky's solo project, Vision Vine. Can you all talk about that?
JK: I think what you just said is exactly it. We're not making any certain statement. We've had religious experiences in our lives, and because of those experiences we'll write about those things.
MT: It's not necessarily religious in the sense of sitting around in a place of worship.
JK: It can happen at any point at any time, it's just a matter of seeing it and allowing it to be seen.
MT: It all varies from experiencing the death of a family member to a drug experience to looking at a newborn baby. If you're open to seeing beauty, it's all around.
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