Firmly established as one of the most exciting new bands on the planet STONE are back with a brand new track, proving they more than match up to the task.
Words: Steven Loftin.
Photos: Lydia Clear.
If you ask us, every band should have at least one dance routine in their repertoire. Thankfully, Liverpudlians STONE are on the same page. Their strutting new single ‘Left Right Forward’ is another slice of wide-eyed punk, but this time there’s a cheeky side at play. “It’s the punk Cha Cha slide!” chortles frontman Finlay Power. Indeed, you may just find yourself head-bopping along, diligently following the chorus instructional call of “left, right, forward, and bring it back.” “I do it live!” he blurts, offering up a preview.
It’s a swaggering dose of Fin’s subconsciousness. A patchwork quilt of things he’s overheard and witnessed, along with the most random of thoughts. Chatting to him, it’s quite easy to see why this bunch of everyday scenarios strung together so easily. Fin chats at a dizzying speed, while drummer Alex Smith, who created the music to the track, often expands with his own take in the eventual spaces. Which is all to say, this makes for a glorious banger-laden formula, mostly because it just… happens.
That is very much unlike STONE. They’ve been on a mission from the moment the idea popped into Finlay and guitarist Elliot Gill’s head. After the dissolution of their first group, they finally managed to get the band together, though not before a few more failure-to-start iterations. The plan soon pelted full-throttle after the release of the soaring ‘Leave It Out’ back in 2020. Soon, they were rapidly building a fanbase with rabid live shows and a caustic, don’t-give-a-fuck post-punk attitude. Before long, they were out on the road, spreading their brilliantly good word, including support slots with YUNGBLUD and Sam Fender.
Since then, they’ve been going from strength to strength. “Two years ago now, I remember sitting on a flower bed in the park. It was lockdown, and I was like, my career – it’s just not gonna happen,” Fin recalls. But contrary to that, he – along with Alex, Elliot, and bassist Sarah Surrage – have indeed made it happen.
“We’re quite a hot up-and-coming band; it’s surreal”Finlay Power
“Bang on a year from then, we got signed to a major label,” Fin remembers, smiling. “And a year after that, we’re quite a hot up-and-coming band. When I’m looking at it that way, it’s surreal generally, but I think the band always just had our eyes on the prize and tried not to take our foot off the pedal – in a healthy way!”
It’s certainly hard to argue against this. Through a handful of singles and one rip-roaring EP – 2022’s ‘Punkadonk’ – STONE are swiftly establishing themselves. But most importantly, they’re rooted in the greatest concept of all – having a bit of fun with your mates. This is where ‘Left Right Forward’ comes into play.
It’s nonsensical in the best way possible. Fin is currently recalling how he was on his way to band practice when Alex sent him through the empty track. “I think it’s alright, this sounds alright,” he replicates tossing the idea of the sounds around his noggin’. “I just started walking, and it came into my head while I was on my way to meet the band.” Before he knew it, Fin had scribbled down the lyrics, and he’d not yet even set settled into his seat on the bus to rehearsal. Thus a banger was born. “By the time I got there, 15 minutes later, I was like, ‘come on, we’ve got the song’. It was all written, and we didn’t change it.”
Where ‘Left Right Forward’ differs from the searing punk tracks that they’ve delivered so far – those that chuck a spotlight on the financial injustices of the world (‘Money’) as much as they do going out on the lash (‘I Let Go’) – is in its head-bopping similarity to Blur’s bounding guitar line on ‘Park Life’. It feels more akin to a quaint snapshot of the everyday – even down to its chattering bridges (including a claim from an older chap to be match fit, ready to show his team how it’s done). This is STONE discovering a mildly less vicious but just as scathing sound. “I think the chorus with this one is that catchy; you can’t really ignore it,” threatens Alex.
In its most inane moments, Fin muses on concepts such as drinking Pepsi out of a Coca-Cola glass, which is, er, a fair point to make. “That’s just a YouTube video that I’d seen years ago,” he chuckles. “It’s an Australian guy who gets a Pepsi bottle and a Coca-Cola glass and goes, ‘I don’t give a damn’.” Even the little nuggets of dodgy philosophy were dug out from the deepest recesses of his mind. “That part where I say, ‘you don’t lie to them, you just don’t tell them all truth’ – someone that I knew worked with someone in sales, and they said someone taught them that.”
It would seem there’s a part of STONE that just can’t get enough of writing anthemic songs. It’s always about finding a way to bring everybody on board. “We touched on that with ‘Money’, of course – that’s huge,” Alex says. “It’s funny; I think the ‘Left Right Forward’ chorus is just as big, but I definitely feel in a different way.” Though Fin does admit, “we have probably enough alternative concept crazy songs to sink a ship, but we’ve really been focused on these big choruses.”
When it comes to building up their arsenal of tracks, Fin mentions that their plan of attack stems from a time-tested idea. “A lot of the greatest punk bands, like the Sex Pistols – I look back at them, and the songs sound so simple. Old-school punk was kind of meant to be a bit crap. ‘Left Right Forward’ was an obvious song, but then it just sounded great to me. All the sections are great. And how it was just two chords… that’s why I think I wrote quite weird lyrics to it. It just needed that, d’ya know what I mean?”
“We’ve been focused on big choruses”Finlay Power
Fin reckons ‘Left Right Forward’ was a “strike of gold”, a feeling that is getting more common, but still one that when it crops up, he certainly knows about it. “There have been a couple songs in my life. There’s one…obviously, that’s gonna be coming out eventually,” he says, catching himself before letting anything slip. “It’s probably going to be on our album, but it’s definitely not recorded yet.” Now that he mentions it, there is also the matter of that debut album… any word, at all? “When things are ready to come, you’ll know about it,” Finlay cackles again.
Learning to relish in their success, STONE are embracing how far they’ve come. Not only that, but how far they want to go. Though this concept didn’t come as easily through their stream of consciousness. “I don’t really stop and actually smell the flowers,” considers Fin. The flower bed that comforted him a couple of years ago cries in the background softly. “I’m so focused on the next thing. Sometimes probably overly success-driven… I sometimes forget to smell the roses, but I’ve recently started really trying to appreciate where we’re at.”
“The ambitions have been the same since day one with this band,” he continues. “And I’ve always said, I’m going to be a professional musician. I don’t want fame, I want success, and I’m going to make it. When I met Smithy, he was on the same page. He was like, let’s do it. You know, like, this is our job – even without earning money. Anyone who joined the band, it was like, ‘No, we won’t be in two bands, we’re in one band, and we make this the best thing’.”
With their place as a guitar-toting, banger-laden punk band well established, especially with ‘Left Right Forward”s release, STONE are setting off on another tour later this year too. Almost totally sold out; it includes their first hometown show in over a year. It’s in this space the four-piece relish. “I can’t wait for carnage!” Fin says, a smirk swiftly curling up with the very thought. “I can’t wait to absolutely dive off the stage and crowd surf, and I can’t wait to have the emotions of people singing it back. And be with my best mates.”
“I’m always really hyped up as we go on,” Alex says. “And then it’s funny because when I’m actually playing, it’s like, I’m just in totally in the moment. So my brain isn’t actually thinking too much. I’m just mostly doing it. Then I come offstage, and the high is incomparable.”
It would seem STONE have everything under control. The journey is well underway, yet there’s no time to lose. It’s all about forward, forward, forward. But not before one last acknowledgement of their power and path so far. “If you’d have told me a few years ago that we’d be doing the things we’ve been doing, like that European tour that we’ve just come off, I wouldn’t believe you,” Alex marvels. “I’d say shut up and go away!” Fin nods enthusiastically in agreement, beaming, “Yeah!” ■
STONE’s new single ‘Left Right Forward’ is out now. Follow Dork Playlist on Spotify here.