11 May 2009

Richie relishes Download ‘promotion’

+ posted by FlamingWhopper

When the Express & Star spoke to Lichfield rocker Richie Edwards a year ago his band, Stone Gods, were about to release their debut album and play one of the smaller stages at Download Festival. Next month they will step out on the main stage at Donington. Ian Harvey catches up with their singer.

When he was bassist with The Darkness, Richie Edwards was whisked from his Lichfield home to tour some of the world’s biggest arenas, a life of limousines and flashing bulbs.

But when that band imploded he barely had time to catch his breath before a new, harder-edged band, Stone Gods, was formed from its ashes.

A year since he gave his first interview with the Express & Star, Richie and the rest of the Stone Gods - Dan Hawkins, Toby MacFarlaine and Robin Goodridge - have steadily built their reputation, touring seemingly non-stop either as headliners or support act at back-to-basics venues across Britain, tearing it up with their high-energy shows.

Indeed they almost seem to have become the house band at Birmingham’s o2 Academy, they’ve played there so often.

So does Richie miss the high life?

“Well,” he laughs, “the luxuries aren’t quite so extravagant, let’s put it that way!

“Obviously the shows from half way to the tail end of The Darkness were massive, playing arenas pretty much across the world really and it’s great to do that but it’s also great to play little club shows like we’ve been doing with Stone Gods.

“People are about a foot away from you and you can see the whites of their eyes. It’s great and it’s been really good to get back to that and feed off the energy of the crowd.

“And although we’re actually operating at a much lower level than The Darkness were, I actually think that we’re having a lot more fun. There’s so many laughs going on and I think second time around you appreciate it a lot more.”

The secret, he says, is to give the fans what they want.

“It’s all about the fans. To all intents and purposes they’re your employers and you’ve got to deliver, you’ve got to give back what they give you and we’ll never lose sight of that. Our fans are without doubt the most important part of this band.”

In a year which saw the release of the critically acclaimed first Stone Gods album, Silver Spoons and Broken Bones, Richie cites the undoubted highlight as their appearance at last years Download Festival at Donington. And he’s relishing returning to Download this year as the band open proceedings on the main stage on the closing Sunday night.

But Donington last year wasn’t without its nerves, Richie explains.

“We’d got a really good foundation, done some good shows but when we got there it was a real moment for me. We had three days rehearsal with Robin, our new drummer, and the pressure was really on.

“We got to the side of the stage about 15 minutes before we were due on and there was just a handful of people out there and we were going ‘Oh my God’, but by the time we took to the stage it was absolutely chockablock. It was full. It felt just so incredible. It was real turning point for this band.

“We walked on and the first three bars of Burn The Witch I just sort of looked around and looked at Dan’s face, looked at Toby’s face, looked at Robin’s face and thought, ‘You know what, this feels amazing. It might just work’.

“The other highlight for me was the tour that we did with Airbourne, which was just fantastic. I’ve been touring in various guises as a member of crew and a member of bands for about 15 years now and this was the best tour I’ve ever done”

Looking ahead to Download next month, and their ‘promotion’ to the main stage he says: “We’re opening the main stage on the Sunday which is fantastic. To be going back and doing it again is brilliant.

“To be opening the main stage on the ‘classic rock’ day is fantastic. Sharing the stage with Def Leppard, Whitesnake and ZZ Top, it’s an honour and we can’t wait to do that show.”

As we speak, Richie is in a Norfolk recording studio owned by Dan Hawkins, the brother of former Darkness frontman Justin Hawkins, where the band members are starting to sift through potential songs for the next Stone Gods album.

“A few weeks ago we all started playing each other our ideas,” he says.

“Now we’ve just started to come together to flesh out the ideas and pick what’s working and what’s not. And it’s sounding really good. We’ve got a lot of stuff there which is on course for being really something quite special. It’s really exciting at the moment. We’re giving birth to some new kids.”

And plenty of then by the sound of it.

“If you take the leftovers from the last album and the amount we’ve got now I think we’re probably all right for about 10 years!” laughs Richie.

He thinks the album will take “a slightly heavier direction, maybe a little bit darker” than Silver Spoons . . . and that it will benefit from the scores of gigs the band now has under their collective belts.

“Most people when they get a new band together, they’ll be out and they’ll be gigging, whereas we just got together, wrote a load of songs and made an album. I think having been on the road for the last year we’ve got a much better idea of what each of us is doing and what each of us is bringing to the table and where it should go.”

Being in the studio means a temporary end to the non-stop gigging that has marked the last year, an enforced break that might take some getting used to, admits Richie.

“We’d have been more than happy if all of last year we hadn’t had a day at home,” he laughs.

“It’s totally, in the words of David Attenborough, our natural habitat. Where we feel at home is on tour and on stage.

“Rock bands are made and broken on the road and on stage. It’s where you justify the fact that you are a real rock and roll band. It’s all about the live show.

“We’d be happy if we were never off the road. If we could build a recording studio in the back of the bus and record the album on the road then we would do that. We just love it.”

* Download 2009 is being headlined by Faith No More, Slipknot and Def Leppard and runs from Friday, June 12, to Sunday, June 14, 2009.

This year’s lineup also includes Whitesnake, Mötley Crüe, Korn, The Answer, Pendulum, The Prodigy, Devildriver, DragonForce, Anvil, Marilyn Manson, ZZ Top, Billy Talent, Dream Theater, The Blackout, Buckcherry, Chris Cornell, Down, Papa Roach, Skin, Journey, Tesla, Hostile, Lacuna Coil, Black Stone Cherry, Clutch, Architect, Karma To Burn and Parkway Drive.

Tickets for the Download Festival 2009 are on sale at www.downloadfestival.co.uk.

A range of special “RIP” packages will once again be available for those seeking a truly unique festival experience - visit www.livenation.co.uk for more information.

Ticket Information:

- Weekend Tickets - £135
- Car Park – £10 advance or £20 on day
- Camping – £25
- Campervans - £40
- Lockers – £11

Credit: www.expressandstar.com

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