It’s three parts feverish guitar, melted against a curtain of ever-changing rhythm, & one part all the tiny extras you seldom get to hear – including KAZOO. “Bullet With A Name” is a demanding album, catching you off-guard with an interesting chemistry…one that you can’t really appreciate on the first go-around. Rising outta’ Guelph, Ontario – THREE QUARTER STONE aren’t strategic planners when it comes to their music, & their sophomore album (Bullet With A Name) has even shot them full of surprise! Wilful exhibition easily grabs your attention – especially with lyrics like, “I need to know if you feel this good, & if you spread your legs.” However…the model on the back cover generates an even LARGER IMPACT. The blonde “Topless Gunslinger” aims A WHOLE LOT MORE than just her revolver, illustrating the carnal appetite that’s always been present in the strength of classic rock. The image also reflects the shamelessness of Three Quarter Stone’s abilities, when combining styles that aren’t often seen anymore. Mixing trippy late-sixties blends with relevant sonic leaps, & a smidgen of alternative-grunge, Three Quarter Stone’s candid servings are cleverly juxtaposed for the “ULTIMATE HEIST” from their predecessors. “We’ve been criticized in some reviews,” guitarist & founder Chris Drone admits, “people think it’s just too much all over the place. I don’t think so, myself…we’ve also had a lot of praise for that – it’s nice to hear. It wasn’t by design…we, basically, just went into the studio & made up songs.”
Scattered opinions will not diffuse my revelry, that this project breathes mirthful creativity into a dying “Montage of Rock”. The stubborn energies, that capture much of the band’s hardcore skill, present full-throttle AC/DC-like moments…raised on the rebellion of “BIKER ATTITUDE”. Then, taking the tongue outta’ the cheek, the quintet moves forward into expressive ballads & choral raisings that are pleasantly sublime…& quite shocking. During September/October, Three Quarter Stone took their first-ever journey across the country on the “READY-AIM-FIRE!” TOUR – blasting anthems from two albums & radio-play for current single, “Bullet With A Name”, which dropped to various commercial stations on August 29th. The novice easterners (who have opened for a number of well-highlighted Canadian & American acts: Lynch Mob, Lizzy Borden, Toronto, & Molly Hatchet) aren’t entirely accustomed to all the “hazards” of road-life…but soak up the exhaustion, insomnia, & technical difficulties that come with getting your name out there. After misplacing percussionist, Ev Locke, somewhere between Thunder Bay & Sault Ste. Marie (a hitch-hiking stint run amuck) – Three Quarter Stone reclaimed their drummer, along with high-spirited do-applause, for their naughty ride into blue-collar “GARAGE ROCK”.
“The Distrikt” (Regina, SK), where I happened to catch up with the band – the crowd may have been minimal (no drunken onlookers spilling drinks into the pedals here)…but it finally gave TQS the opportunity to deservingly “regroup” from all the rowdy nights experienced in Calgary, Edmonton, Nanaimo, & Vancouver earlier before. “There’s a great camaraderie within the music world.” Chris Drone states, speaking of the “VICE” that keeps most struggling bands moving forward in the business today. This camaraderie began at the age of five between Drone & lead vocalist, Danny Wray, who grew up playing soccer & hockey together in Guelph. After graduating high school, & the “local bar mischief” that still makes them laugh & inspires their songs, they metamorphosized their amateur status & included: bassist Scott Clarke, guitarist Nathan LeBlanc, & power-drummer Ev Locke. “We would’ve never been able to tour across the country with some of the guys we had in the past,” Drone laughs, “there’s no way we coulda’ made it across the country.”
Shared musical intuit would also spawn a special friendship with musician/producer (& author) Greg Godovitz, who recorded eleven professional albums with Canadian pioneers “GODDO” & led a successfully wild journey through the height of late 70’s/early 80’s classic rock. Producing Three Quarter Stone’s first album, “It Starts Right Here” (2006) – Godovitz is credited for helping shape the band’s songwriting standards, adding eccentricities (where there were none), & taking the collaboration to maximum capacity – the “Cherries on Top”, a phrase Chris coins from working with the producer. Godovitz’s influence also made TQS more spatially aware in the development of their songs, prompting the use of vintage layers & effects (like kazoo in blue-grassy “Wasted Time”)…taking the recordings from mundane to differential.
With an admiration for Billy Talent, & respect for The Rolling Stones, Drone & his crew try to pair a rich & playful energy through a pulsating antiquity of styles…at times, using 4-5 point harmony to get a cutting edge. The diversity landed the rockers as ImageFM’s 2010 “BAND OF THE YEAR”, which helped broaden the group’s LIVE SCOPE before taking it out to the Canadian coasts. “It’s a little intimidating knowing that you’re on camera…it’s another skill to learn.” Chris claims, while laughing about OVER-DRAMATIZING his performance – the first time at the station. “I remember, I was just jumpin’ all over the place & I was missin’ notes…I was worrying about lookin’ good on camera, & I wasn’t PLAYING THE GUITAR. You’re not playin’ to an audience – it makes such a difference to even have three or four people out there…getting into it with you. It just changes the perception of your experience – HUGE!”
Tucking “Bullet With A Name” brashly in their holster, Three Quarter Stone now possess a sizable catalogue for their current stage showdown – this album clocking into the 60 minute mark with fourteen catchy tracks. It’s adaptable & adventurous, lying somewhere between derailed blues-groove & meticulously-layered acoustic spinoffs, a likeness the band compares to aging “river bed stone” – rugged, but polished…from all the exterior elements. The non-abrasive relationship, between the members themselves, presents as a “close-knit gang of outlaws” – succumbed with an honest zest for entertaining. Drone elaborates, “The 45-60 minutes you’re on stage for your set…it’s undescribable. There’s something about being a part of a team that…when it’s all clickin’, & everybody’s doin’ their part, & it’s goin’ well…it’s the most fun!” Leaving the antics for OFF THE STAGE – Three Quarter Stone deliver a breed of uninhibited clamouring…laying the ground for people to simply enjoy “renegade music” once again.
Locke smashes the kit with hardened vitality, jovially glancing up to remind you that he is a “BIG PART” of this sonic madness…while Drone & LeBlanc bleed out sinful solos to the tip of Clarke’s southern-pounding bass & black straw hat. Danny Wray’s vocal style is reminiscent of the charismatic Scott Weiland, & although he doesn’t carry himself quite as mysteriously across stage, there’s still an “intrigue factor” that makes you wonder what his character is really all about. Topped off with an STP-like distorted chunkiness, & oozing psychedelic tendencies, THREE QUARTER STONE show just how much they thrive on the “obscurities” of music & not formulating the task. With their month-long tour ending on October 20th, & tonnes of new inspiration collected for a third album in early 2012, Drone touches on what they’ve learned so far…”Get your sound together, get out & play as many times as you can, get really tight, & develop your songs.”
If the challenge comes from having a song idea & not being able to completely “articulate it” – THREE QUARTER STONE are definitely facing that challenge. They’ve come a LONG WAY from the dusty gravel roads where their name originated from, but have not lost their tawdry sense of humor in the ongoing expedition of trying to create a serious career. Something to get your “JOLLY ROCKS” off to, & maybe even down a few beer – there’s pouncing pleasure in the tearing swagger of Bullet with a Name, It Don’t Matter, You Are the One, & Ride It Hard. But don’t let that fool you…with the artistic nuances nestled between Wasted Time, I Don’t Need, Broken, & Dressed to Kill…stark musicianship lies just around the corner, waiting to be taken to the next level, & it’s a lot more PROFESSIONAL than many even realize.
*** Hear the “3-Part Interview” on our Reverbnation page.
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