Exclusive Interview: Below The Stones talk “Solar”!

When you hear a band who deliver something that blows your mind, going back and checking out their previous offerings can be a mixed blessing. However in the curious case of West Midlands Progressive Metal act Below The Stones, after hearing and reviewing sophomore EP “Solar“, subsequently checking out debut “Lunar” actually earned the first one a review on these very pages. Now if that sentence doesn’t speak volumes about the band and their qualities, well, frankly nothing will. So having done that we had a conversation with them about their World and it went something like this…

How have you found the reaction to new EP “Solar” so far? How does the title tie into your debut EP “Lunar“? Is there some underlying method to the madness? “We’ve yet to see the complete response, we usually wait a month to get a full grasp, give it time to get on playlists and for the algorithm to find it etc. at the moment it’s doing as well as Lunar did after its debut. Euan has been studying how the Spotify algorithm works so we’ve been trying to get as much ‘metadata’ surrounding us out there as possible to try and boost numbers. The contents of Lunar were originally written alongside previous members, and despite the overhaul in revising the tracks, Lunar and Solar represent juxtaposition and contrast to the drastic changes to our lives, as well as the changes within the lineup”

The first bite is with the eye and the cover artwork has a similar colour palette to the debut EP which works incredibly well. Who created it and what was the brief? “The art for both EPs were generated by an AI. The prompts were several phrases and words we deemed necessary to express in our album art. We went through a few generations, though we ultimately decided to go with two somewhat mirrored designs as we wanted to portray a reflection as to who we were then and now, respective to the EPs already established titles. At the time, the breakout of creative AI was very new and there are now mixed feelings about the impact AI can have on the creative industry. We had previous designs sent to us by artists, but found AI to allow us the creative freedom to sift through several designs until we were all equally blown away”

When it comes to the live arena, how big are your ambitions? Do you see yourselves playing shows across Europe and taking on the likes of Tech-Fest and Bloodstock in the not too distant future? “We’re participating in the competition “Godiva Calling” this year, in which the winner will gain a slot on stage at the Coventry-born Godiva Festival. We’re hoping this may lead us onto to more opportunities for people to hear what we have to offer. Our live shows are about displaying the extreme energy and performance that the streaming platforms can’t give you, and we’re intending on using mixer’s to produce thicker sounds for live shows, which would allow us to really experiment within the production and backing of the tracks. We could get that relentless rib cage rattling sub-bass, utilizing soundscapes and foley within the tracks. One of our biggest aspirations would be to perform at the acclaimed Bloodstock and Download festivals respectively; that would be huge for us, having attended in previous years gone by”

If we are made up of our genes and our influences, what is in your jeans and who would you consider your influences? “There are an amalgamation of inspirations genre-wise within the band, which has allowed us to create a sound we feel to be unique to ourselves. Tom is particularly into ‘technical death’ and ‘extreme metal’, as well as Jack who grew up listening to ‘alternative/nu metal’ though now enjoys the extreme and old school side of the umbrella genre that is ‘metal’; our lead guitarist, Harry, is a traditional ‘progressive fan’ with sensational shredders in his inspirations, such as Steve Vai and Paul Gilbert, our drummer, Max, is particularly a fan of ‘metalcore’ but also an eclectic listener, with rockabilly influences growing up, and finally our rhythm guitarist, Euan, who is a fan of ‘metalcore, progressive metal and djent’.”

We’ve reviewed a number of records from bands in the Midlands, including Old Wharf, Vanitas, Recall The Remains and Suffer. How has the local scene helped inspire you? Are there any hidden gems of bands we should be checking out? “Our scene is one of the most accepting we’ve interacted with so far in our journey. Bands like ‘Kharma’ and ‘Chaplain’ have become close friends thanks to the support we’ve received from ‘The Arches Venue’ in Coventry, Ruaraidh and Julia who are their promoters are brilliant and have taken us under their wing in the last year. We’re very close with ‘groove metal’ gang ‘Born Zero’ who have been close friends with our members since college, with our respective vocalists even sharing accommodation in recent years. Some fantastic favourites of ours are fellow local bands and punkheads ‘Appocaholics’ and ‘chef metal’ ‘Thrashatouille’, both are absolutely brilliant and offer innovative and unique shows that are not one to miss. If you see any of the names mentioned in a local lineup, please go see them, you won’t regret it!”

What’s next for Below The Stones? “With what we have planned, there’s plenty to stick around for. Amongst ‘Godiva Calling’, we’ll also be touring with hardcore punk-pioneers ‘Broken Jaw’ this summer. We’re intending on working and developing new material to further expand our catalogue, furthermore, generally enhancing our performance and progressing on how we go about performing and presenting ourselves”

Solar” by Below The Stones is out now and available everywhere you’d expect it to be (and some you wouldn’t)

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