The SoulBounce Q&A: Allen Stone Shares The Thrill Of Playing Live, Giving Fans An Experience & Life On And Off The Road

Photo Credit: Keith Estep
Photo Credit: Keith Estep

SoulBounce: Congratulations on your newest album, Radius, that’s been out a few months. How has the reception been from the public, who have been following you since, Allen Stone, your self-titled album was released or even the album that came out before that one? How does it feel to have fans that have been with you since day one?

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Allen Stone: The record, people are enjoying it. The feedback I get from it is that it’s a far enough departure from my old stuff that it’s keeping them interested. Yeah, I don’t think I’m big enough or famous enough yet to get negative feedback at this point. The only time it seems like you get negative feedback is when you get too big. I have a lot of Australian friends, and they call it the “tall poppy syndrome.” So, if somebody gets famous in Australia, everybody loves them in Australia, until they get famous overseas, like in America or Europe. Then the Australian’s turn on them. I think that I’m relatively not well-known enough that I’ve got that really combative, strong core group of fans that support me through and through, and they’ve been extremely loving; I guess trusting is the right word. A lot of times you’ll put out something and they’ll be like, “what was he doing with this?” They’ve been really trusting and supportive of me. Lyrically and emotionally, it’s not too much of a departure from my last record, but sonically it’s a lot different.

SB: Definitely.

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AS: I’ve gotten some good feedback from it. I’ve been blessed for sure.

SB: I can hear growth in your sound from the Allen Stone album to Radius. So, how would you describe the evolution of Allen Stone between the two albums?

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AS: I would always break it down to repetition. As a musician it’s kind of cool because you get to go out and play live shows, like every night and they’re not recorded. People see them and it’s recorded in their minds. But if you’re me, you’re not playing for 20,000 people, more like a 1,000 or 500. So, as an artist you get to grow, without a tangible immortal item like a record. With a record you record it, put it out and it never changes. It’s the same until the end of time. So, I would equate it to the live show. I play a lot of shows a year, close to 200 is what I think we ring in at typically each year. That allows me to grow and adapt, not only as a musician, but as a performer and also as a human being.

SB: Right.

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AS: I put out the self-titled Allen Stone record in 2011, but I recorded it in the summer of 2010 I think. So it’s been a while since I’ve put stuff down on wax and given it to the world. And, I’ve done a lot of growing, not only as a man, personally, but in my craft as well -- my music, my singing, my musicianship. You grow and you change as an artist. I didn’t intentionally set out, like this is how I want the kick to sound, because I got super good at PlayStation 4 because I live on a tour bus. It wasn’t intentional, just a natural progression when you go out and play as much music as I do.

SB: Going to back to your live show experience, which is so exciting, do you think that you will put out a live album? Do you think that you'll ever try to capture that lighting in a bottle?

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AS: Yeah, we’ve recorded a lot of shows, but I’m such a perfectionist. That’s what I like about the live show is that it’s for right then. If you sing a wrong note, people are like, “oh,” but then they forget about it.

SB: [laughter] True.

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AS: If you sing a wrong note and put it on an album, it’s right there. You’re like, aw shit man. Yeah, I’m a perfectionist, and I think that has sort of deterred me from putting down a live show on wax; but I definitely see that coming in the future, a live record with my band. That’s where my heart is, is playing live. In the studio, you paint one way, and when you’re onstage performing live you paint, exert your art a different way.

SB: So we could maybe see a live album some time in the future, once you can get over your perfectionism, or if you just record a perfect show, hey that could happen, too.

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AS: I hope so. We’re getting to the point where we’re starting to have all the right equipment on the road nowadays with technology where you can record every show pretty well. Maybe we’ll land one, and I’ll get over myself.

SB: You’ve just gotta let it go, Allen, let it go! [laughter]

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AS: Yeah, “let it go” (sung to the tune of “Let It Go” from the movie Frozen).

SB: I know that you’re the son of a preacher, and you have some inspirational themes in some of your songs. Do you think that you will ever do a straight up gospel song or maybe even a gospel album?

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AS: I’m not opposed to it, other than I don’t believe in that anymore.

SB: Oh wow, okay.

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AS: That would be tough for me to sing. They’re old spiritual songs, and I understand where they come from, but it’s really hard for me to sing about things that I don’t necessarily believe in anymore. But, in the tradition of old spirituals, there’s a song on this record, on Radius, called “Love Where You’re At.” When I wrote that song, I was like, this is exactly like (starts singing) “People Get Ready.” I listened back to the recording and was like that’s a total cop of that song. It’s kind of that old spiritual, old gospel feel that I grew up with. Yeah, I’m not opposed to doing. It would definitely be specific songs. Songs that are a little bit more universal.

SB: Right, that fit you.

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AS: Yeah, there are gospel songs that are universal and are not so specific.

SB: More inspirational than a straight up church song.

AS: Yeah, more inspirational. One of my favorite hymns is “It Is Well.”

SB: Yes! That’s a good one.

AS: It's a gospel song that’s not, for lack of a better term, preachy, but it exposes a beautiful emotion, especially the story behind it. It’s just a really beautiful story. I wouldn’t necessarily equate that song to religion or Christianity or anything; it’s rather just a good message and a positive outlook.

SB: Right. And it’s a beautiful song.

AS: Totally.

SB: I can totally hear you killing that. So, a live album, “It Is Well" -- I’m keeping tally now of all this, of all the things you’re promising me. [laughter]

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