This is a continuation of interviews with Allen Stone and Myles Kennedy two successful musicians originally from the Spokane area who play back-to-back Knitting Factory shows beginning tonight. Read the story from this week’s issue here.
When I finally get a hold of Stone late Monday night, he's getting over a sickness, trying to preserve his voice. Still, rolling somewhere through the middle of Nebraska on his tour bus, he answers my questions.
INLANDER: How are you feeling?
ALLEN STONE: I still have that snotty, boogery shit but I’m getting better. I think it was the change of the temperature that caused this.
When isRadius coming out?! The album has been slated for the end of 2014, how much longer must we wait?
It’s looking like it’s going to be February or March. That’s all depending on if I can write better songs, because I’m anal about my art and I’m trying to make it perfect. Capitol Records has been amazing thus far. They’ve steered me in certain directions for this record, but I told them I wanted to do it my way and they were OK with that. They were trusting.
And you’ve been working with Swedish soul singer/multi-instrumentalist Magnus Tingsek?
He’s like the master, he’s the Great Oz of white soul music, the one and only undiscovered of the world. I did most of the record with him in Sweden, and about 15 percent in Chewelah in my home studio.
Getting into your music, how did you find this old man-sounding singing voice? Why R&B/soul?
I think technology has taken a grip of our culture; it’s taken away the humanity. I don’t like that. I fall back to that earlier music in the ’60s and ’70s, the music that isn’t computer-based. As far as the soul side of things, I grew up in the church singing with my parents. Hearing Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder, I knew that was me.
Growing up in Chewelah (about 45 minutes north of Spokane), how much time did you actually spend in Spokane?
Anytime I was going to buy basketball shoes or snowboarding gear I’d go there. In high school, you’d go to a movie there and we went to Red Robin, because you can’t beat those steak fries. I lived with my aunt and uncle for about a year after graduation in Spokane and then got a job in Seattle in 2007. I moved over and lived on my buddy’s couch for a couple years or so. It was either do what everyone else does, or try something extraordinary.
What can Spokane expect? Is there a special connection playing here?
It’s a true soul show. It’s all live instruments, no fucking tracks or laptops on stage this is all happening in real time. I love Spokane, it’s where my heart is. I consider this my home.
Having so much buzz about you, especially with this new record coming out, do you feel a lot of pressure? Or are you just taking the ride?
There’s pressure, but it’s from me. Our culture is docile; we don’t do anything. I don’t care about what’s popular, I really want to make music that stimulates change and thought, and so there’s that.
A couple of weeks ago, Kennedy is on break from touring with his musical projects Alter Bridge and Slash. He calls from his South Hill home...
INLANDER: Where are you right now? MYLES KENNEDY: I’m home about six or eight weeks a year. When I’m home like this week, I kind of savor every minute of it.
Did you start out with instruments? How did you find your voice? I was in this band called Citizen Swing. I couldn’t find a vocalist so I had to do it myself. It took a long time to find my own voice, about 10 years. I can listen in to old Mayfield Four, and can tell when I was listening to a lot of Jeff Buckley because I can hear his influences.
How did you first meet the Creed guys? Were you surprised when they wanted you to front their new band Alter Bridge? I was really surprised because we didn’t spend a lot of time together when the Mayfield Four opened for them on tour in the late-’90s. When they called five years later I didn’t think that I would be on their radar. There was a never an “I’m in the band” discussion, but now fast-forward 10 years and we’re putting out a box set.
And Slash? Well, he called in 2009 and asked if I would be interested in working on his solo record. He sent me some music, I liked it and we met in L.A. and recorded the track. That was the genesis, I had no idea it was going to evolve into a band — that we would be touring together. It was kind of … it just felt good when we made music together. It was a very natural fit.
How do you balance touring/recording albums with both groups? It’s kind of a challenge sometimes; it’s harder than you think because they’re very different. There’s a certain shift each time I have to get on the stage.
What’s it like performing at home? It’s exciting because we haven’t been here since 2011, which kind of bums me out. I’m proud to be from here. I was very touched at the Gorge [where he performed with Slash in August]. You could just feel the support, I could see people from high school, it was a beautiful night.
You’ve been on the roller coaster that is the music business, how do you stay levelheaded? Because I didn’t have a quick ascent it took a really long time to cultivate levelheadedness and I’m really grateful for that. I think I would have become a rock ‘n’ roll casualty if it happened too fast. Through a lot of time, heartbreak and chances, I learned to be extremely grateful. I don’t take a minute of it for granted.
Did you ever expect that this would be how it would end up? There were high hopes for me with Mayfield Four and as time went on and I discovered the realities of the music business I became very aware of how rare that it is to make it. And I also learned I like having songwriting partners. A lot of it fell on me with Mayfield but with Slash and Alter Bridge it’s awesome to work with them. That’s taken a lot of weight off my shoulders. But in the beginning I never thought I would like collaborating with others.