Interview with Mark and Adam from STOKESWOOD; Playing AURA Music Fest in 10 days! @stokeswood @auramusicfest
I was introduced to Atlanta, Georgia based 5-piece band Stokeswood during SXSW 2012, where they came and played a showcase I was throwing. Stokeswood were a standout out act of standup guys who played one of the most unique sets of the week, and they’re definitely something to behold live in concert.
The group is slated to perform at this year’s AURA Music & Arts Festival, taking place in Live Oak, Florida from February 15-17, as well as ROCK BOAT Lucky XIII that will take them from Miami to Great Stirrup Cay. Attendees should expect a loud, bass filled party with unpredictable stage antics and a wholly energized sonic atmosphere!
I got in touch with guitarist Mark Godwin and singer Adam Patterson to discuss the group’s approach to writing their songs, the music scene in Atlanta, the upcoming AURA Music Festival and tour plans, and what they have in store for 2013.
G- Hi there and thank you very much for taking the time to speak with Live High Five! Introduce the members in the group… Who is everyone, what do they play, and where does everyone come from?
M- Aloha! Thanks for reaching out. My name is Mark Godwin and I play electric guitar and some synths (when they let me). Co-founder Adam Patterson is the lead singer and plays acoustic guitar and synths. Jon Joiner is the drummer. Justin Mullinix plays bass and handles the on-stage production via a Maschine, and our newest member, Michael Roman, holds down the keyboards. Though we’ve all moved around quite a bit, we all consider ourselves to be from Atlanta, with the exception of Jon who is undeniably from Athens.
G- Right on. Can you tell us a bit about your tunes? Where did you find the inspiration to write your new material?
M- Inspiration for our new musical direction is tough pin down. All of us listening to such a vast array of different music and wanting to squeeze those new snippets in has to be a big part of it. We are currently writing our 3rd album and, as with the previous two we are taking a different approach. Our 1st album Carassia was written well before we stepped into the studio, In the Field of the Vibrations was written completely in the studio, and this latest installment is being grinded out face to face in our rehearsal space in sort of a live setting format. The new tunes are quite fierce in my opinion! (One would hope I’d think so!)
G- Haha yea for sure! Gotta dig what you do, or why do it? What is your writing process like, and who in the band typically comes up new music? Do you have a primary songwriter, or do you write music more organically through jamming during rehearsals?
M- I feel like I may have jumped the gun on this question slightly, but, delving deeper, there is no one musical writer… We all bring ideas to the table. Adam, though, is the lyricist and usually writes the words after we have a solid musical foundation.
A- It starts with a beat and some soundscape and we try to paint imagery that the sound invokes. We also delve into the battle of life and death.
G- Cool. Now, how excited are you to be playing at AURA this year?! Will you be touring your way over to Florida before the performances?
M- We’re extremely excited to be playing AURA this year; it’s like a giant family of awesome musicians, artist and genuine lovers both. We’ve had the pleasure to play with/meet a lot of the family in our touring and we can’t wait to experience The Spirit of the Suwanee Music Park for the first time. February turned out to be pretty funny, actually, because we’ll be in Florida nearly the entire month! We’re trying to figure out ways to get out of the state and still route responsibly to shows. It will, however, be a much-welcomed beginning to the 2013 touring season for us!
G- No doubt! That’s awesome, Mark! Would you say you have a favorite song you have ever written? If you had to give 1 song to someone who’d never heard of Stokeswood before to try and make a new fan, what song would you give them, and why?
M- Great question, I’m never good at these, its falls into the “what kind of music do you play” or “deserted island album” genre of question in which I have to pin down favorite aspects of our music, or the music I love, and it is impossible! That being said, if I had to choose a released song to give to someone, it would probably be “Neon White”.
A- I’d put “Samurai” on the end of “Eyes Closed” and give that to ‘em as one big track.
G- Nice. Now, important business seeing as how you guys are playing AURA… Are you guys a party band, or generally pretty mellow? What kind of beers and booze do you want people bringing up to you onstage this time around?
M- We definitely like to partake in the festivities! We’re diehard fans of Jameson. If a venue doesn’t carry it, we usually just a have a couple beers and go home sad.
G- You hear that, AURA? Don’t let ‘em go home sad this year, and bring on the Jame-o!
And what should your fans and booze-providers, both old and new, expect of the performances when you guys hit the road? I’m not trying to spoil any surprises, but can we expect any new material or special appearances, and what should some of the first time listeners expect to see when you take the stage?
A- Yes but we’re not supposed to tell you that.
G- Come on!!! (ala Chunk from The Goonies)
M- We will definitely be playing the new arsenal on tour next year. (I’m) not giving away anything either, but look for some special guests on stage with us at AURA, and for the people who have yet to experience a Stokeswood party, I would say be prepared to lose your minds… We will be!
G- Are there any bands or artists that you hope to share a bill with in the future?
M- Ghostland Observatory, Alt – J, ummmm… RadioHead (another one of those questions.)
G- Yea I know… I’m good at those.
So, you played a Talking Heads set that must’ve been nuts, but what is the craziest or most memorable show that you have played to date? Where was it and what was it like?
M- I’d say our most memorable show was in Montreal, Quebec on New Year’s Eve 2010 and, while the show was as wild as you could imagine, it was the journey that etched it into our minds. This was before we were with Nimbleslick, the masters of our tour routes these days, and somehow the Montreal show was to be our first on the Northeast leg of our winter tour.
So, we drove from Atlanta to Detroit and entered Canada through Windsor, except at the border, we were questioned for a couple hours and ultimately deported! We apparently did not have the proper work permits and, since the gig was one that a Canadian band could have done, we were not allowed to do it. Yes, that’s what they told us! So, we hung our heads low and started heading for New York where our next shows were.
Somewhere in Pennsylvania, in the dead of night, Reed, our former keyboard player who just so happened to be Canadian, shakes me awake with an idea. As kids, he said he remembered walking across the border at Niagara Falls, so he calls and sure enough that was still an option. So, at 7am on New Year’s Eve, Reed dropped the 4 Americans off at Niagara Falls and we walked across the border. Explaining that we just wanted to gamble, since we couldn’t play our gig, the border patrol officer said that he would have probably let us play the show, but since we had already been flagged in the system, if we played it, we’d be in a “Grey Area.” I said ‘good enough for me!’
So, we went to the casino, I doubled up, and Reed drove a few miles to the next border crossing where they had to let him in as a Canadian citizen, (but) not before emptying the trailer. He picked us up, and we made it to Montreal right on time after 36 hours of travel!
G- Holy shit, dude… Awesome story and a successful adventure! Must’ve sucked at the time, though… Definitely a Jameson moment.
So, to finish up today, as a band on the build and currently garnering attention, what advice can you give some of the young, up and coming bands everywhere who want to make it in music, on the road, and as a professional musician?
M- When you think you’re ready for representation, you’re not! We jumped into a couple shady situations early on that ended up stunting our growth rather than helping it.
On the road, eat an apple, surviving on fast food is impossible.