First things first: that impecunious-sounding name is intentional – hard times did indeed inspire up-and-coming West Midlanders Stone Broken.
“When we started we budgeted how much it would cost us to get this off the ground,” frontman Rich Moss recalls. “We wrote down all the costs for studio time, pressing CDs and making a video, and Robyn [Haycock, drums] looked all forlorn and said: ‘We’re going to be stone broke.’” The phrase stuck. “Fortunately we haven’t got to that point – though there’s still time.”
He needn’t worry. Things are moving fast for the four-piece, who mix chunky riffs with spring-loaded, Foos-style hooks and Moss’s alarmingly Chad Kroeger-like vocals. (“A lot of people have said that, but I don’t mind. There are worse people to be compared to than Nickelback.”) Their self-financed, self-released debut album, All In Time, came out at the beginning of the year. The record received positive reviews, and by August they’d signed to Frontiers Music, the Italian label whose current roster includes Whitesnake, FM and Graham Bonnet.
Most of those reviews mentioned the band’s penchant for big, singalong choruses. “It’s just the way that I write,” Moss says. “I know a lot of bands shy away from that, but we want people to walk out of a concert and for the music to be stuck in their head. And if it’s their first time they’ve seen us, they’ll probably come to another show.”
That positive attitude has also seeped into the band’s lyrics. Songs such as Better and This Life are chest-puffing anthems that typify Moss’s glass-half-full approach to life. “I try to be as optimistic as possible and look at the brighter side of things,” he explains. “Back in the early days of Stone Broken I wasn’t feeling too great about myself. I was ready to give up music. So at the time, songs like those were almost like a bit of a note-to-self. What’s really gratifying is that people can relate to the words. I’ve had feedback where people have said that those songs have helped them in their own situations, which is very humbling. It’s pretty special.”
But don’t get the idea that Stone Broken are all unctuous sincerity – this is a band with a distinct sense of mischief. Why else would they include the Backstreet Boys hit Larger Than Life in their current live set?
“We thought we needed something to put in the set where people would go: ‘Woah! I can’t believe that they played that!’” Moss explains. “So we started jamming it out, adding our own riffs and harmonies, and turned it into a Stone Broken song. People seem to love it. At our shows you’ll always see a few burly blokes singing along to every word. A lot of people have commented: ‘Oh, I like that new song of yours.’ And we’re like [all innocent] ‘Oh, that one. Let me tell you about it…’”
FOR FANS OF: Black Stone Cherry
“Every song on Between The Devil & The Deep Blue Sea is a great tune, and it was probably the album that got me into Black Stone Cherry,” Moss explains. “For me it’s their most poignant album. Their story is just great. They were this little band that started in a rehearsal house, and now they’re filling out arenas. It’s really inspiring.”