It’s landing a fair few months later than planned, but Midlands-based soul collective Stone Foundation are finally set to release their latest studio album. And for these ears it’s possibly their best yet.
Is Love Enough? is now due out on Friday, October 2nd via 100 Percent Records, trailed by the singles ‘The Light in Us’ and ‘Changes’, and tracks like ‘Deeper Love’, with Paul Weller on lead vocals, one of five tracks The Jam and Style Council legend features on, the band recording at his Black Barn Studios base near Woking, Surrey for a third time.
Among the other guests are rising soul stars Durand Jones and Laville, Weller’s fellow Style Councillors Mick Talbot and Steve White, and actor Peter Capaldi, who provides a specially-recorded spoken-word coda outro with words by Vincent Van Gogh, for a band increasingly renowned for collaborative approaches.
Live-wise, after a series of online events this year – full streams of an Islington Assembly Hall show from 2018 and a Hamburg Mojo Club date from 2019, plus June’s Stone Foundation & Friends Festival – and an appearance at London’s Camden Unlocked, socially-distanced shows are going ahead close to the band’s home patch at Queen’s Hall, Nuneaton, this month then in December, with another Camden date, at the Jazz Cafe in October, just announced at time of going to press.
But with numbers limited, most fans will have to wait a little longer, delayed Dutch and German dates now pushed back to March 2021, followed by June’s Cambridge and Glasgow shows, a London festival in July, then a 21-date UK tour starting with LP launches at London’s legendary 100 Club next September, those two shows selling out in less than half an hour, the rest of the dates set for October.
Long before that though, you’ll finally get the chance to hear in full an album co-produced by founding members Neil Jones and Neil Sheasby, as was the case with 2018’s ‘Everybody Anyone’, continuing a fruitful collaboration with Paul Weller, who produced 2017’s Street Rituals. And as well as ‘Deeper Love’, Paul provides backing vocals on ‘Picture A Life’ and joins the band and plays guitar on ‘Af-Ri-Ka’, ‘Help Me’, and ‘Love’s Interlude (II)’.
Announcing the album, Neil Jones wrote, “This time around we wanted to sing songs about love, that beautiful emotion we see in every town or city we play in. Not the trite, ‘boy falls for girl’ kind, this was the building bridges and breaking down borders kind and right now it seemed to us like we needed more of that L O V E than ever.”
Meanwhile, Neil Sheasby added, “We felt it was the right moment to move the big subjects such as hope, compassion, empathy and indeed love to the forefront of our writing. We wanted to attempt something ambitious. It was a joy to create, one of the most productive periods for us, the ideas just flowed.”
‘Is Love Enough?’ sees a band building on their growing stature and 22 years together, pulled into the limelight a little further down the line when they supported The Specials on a 2011 arena tour. Along the way they’ve received national airplay from BBC 6 Music and Radio 2, and rave reviews from a huge range of publications. They’ve played Glastonbury and sold out headline shows at London’s Shepherd’s Bush Empire and Camden Electric Ballroom, and last year enjoyed successful supports opening for Paul Weller’s outdoor gigs and Mavis Staples’ summer tour, playing to 20,000 people.
That was followed by Autumn 2019’s 10-date headline UK tour, and I got to see them on form at Gorilla, Manchester on November 1st, the 22nd of my 29 live outings last year, nestled neatly between Richard Hawley in Liverpool and The Selecter in Guildford.
And how many shows have I seen in 2020, by comparison? Just three, with nothing since mid-March. So it was inevitable that we started with all that when I tracked Neil Jones down at home near Coventry on the last day of August, not long back from a holiday in Cornwall, ‘getting ready for these gigs we’re doing next month’. These shows have been a long time coming, I suggested.
“It’s unbelievable, innit?”
Not just delays of tour dates but also the new LP, Is Love Enough? And not just due to the pandemic and related issues like manufacturing dilemmas, but also – initially – so it didn’t clash with (the also-delayed) On Sunset, the latest winning Paul Weller record.
“I think it’s been moved about two or three times now because of everything that’s gone on. It’s a strange one because we’re already starting on the next batch of things, and it feels like it’s been going on a while. But now we’ve got a sort of goal, for the release and the coming gigs, and we’re back in the studio playing new stuff again. It’s quite a nice feeling, it feels like we’re back in that groove again.”
The band’s studio is in Atherstone, with Neil not so far away, telling me, ‘I’m north of Coventry now, in a little cottage that overlooks the canal, sort of in a more rural part’. But he spent much of the COVID-19 lockdown in St Ives, where he’s just returned from again.
“My mum and dad moved down there about five or six years ago. They’ve a lovely little place down there. It’s a nice free holiday!”
Live Enough: Neil Jones, left, and Neil Sheasby with Stone Foundation, with live shows coming (Photo: David Hunter)
The usual discussion followed about face masks, covidiots, tourists, spikes and R-rates, but we’ll spare you all that. Has lockdown been a good time creatively?
“It was great, mate. I put a lot of my time and focus on the online gigs we put on throughout the lockdown, from Mum and Dad’s place. That was the hub! I was speaking with Andy Codling (who runs the studio the band use in Atherstone, and directs their videos). He was helping me put all these things together. We had an online Stone Foundation and Friends Festival, which was amazing. I got to speak to lots of our old collaborators, getting acoustic tracks from Lynval Golding, Graham Parker, Paul Weller, Hamish Stewart …”
You’re living the dream, aren’t you?
“It was brilliant, mate, just great catching up with all these people, them putting something positive down for us, so we could get it online for people.”
What really shines through with the band is that you’ve grafted so hard and finally you’re getting the success you deserve. There are little moments that stand out, and one for me was when you give Graham Parker a high-five (or perhaps a low-five) in Paul Weller’s studio after duetting on your cover of ‘I’m Gonna Turn Your Playhouse Down’.
“Through the glass, yeah! That was social distancing before it came in, mate, with that screen between us! Oh, it’s great, getting to work with the people that inspired you … your heroes.”
Talking of Weller, many will already be familiar with ‘Deeper Love’, featuring the man himself. And there are several other PW contributions.
“Yeah, it becomes more and more difficult to try and keep Paul off our records than put him on them! He’s such an infectious character, and he’s been so good for us. I can’t speak more highly of Paul. His support and the inspiration he offers up is second to none. And just the fact that when he’s in the studio and hearing our stuff … on the last record in particular, there was no plan to have Paul involved. We’d tell him when our sessions were booked in or ask if we could book sessions in his studio. And as is his usual way he’d make sure he’d be down there for a day or two…
Seven Up: Stone Foundation, on their way back to a town near you, all being well, on the back of Is Love Enough?
“Then, before you know it, he’s kind of on your shoulder going, ‘I can hear a bit of piano on this’ or ‘Can I do a bit of guitar on this?’ And it’s ‘Yeah man, just crack on’. I think the clever touch with this record was getting Paul to sing something he wouldn’t normally be associated with. The amount of people who’ve heard that track and gone, ‘Is that Weller?’ It’s a very different thing for him. That’s really what appealed to me. He’s been fantastic, and all the little touches he adds … he’s got a really good musical ear.”
No doubting that. Do you still find yourself star-struck now and again?
“Yeah – ha! The maddest thing for me was the very first record we did with him, Street Rituals. It’s funny now because when I see him, he’s just Paul. I don’t look at him in the same kind of star-struck way. But I remember singing ‘Back in the Game’, where we did that vocal tape together – a similar set-up to how you see the video of me and Graham Parker. At that point I was thinking, ‘This is fucking mental!’.
”The thing with him, he’s very similar to us with his sense of humour, the things he likes and dislikes. It almost feels – although he’s a lot older than myself – like I grew up with him at school or something, it’s a really relaxed sort of environment.”
Talking of age, Neil Sheasby’s just a few days older than me, but you’re a little younger, right?
“I’m about eight or nine years younger – I’m a babbie really, mate! But it just kind of happened that me and Neil bumped into each other through our other bands, ended up playing of a couple of similar bills. He was coming to the end of something with his band and I was kind of in limbo a little. I was in a band with friends I grew up with. I think we both needed a change at that point, and it came along at the right time.”
I was slightly confused when Sheas (it’s easier to write that than Neil Sheasby every time) mentioned in his splendid Boys Dreaming Soul memoir another Neil Jones from roughly the same manor. I assumed he meant you, but couldn’t work out why he didn’t make anything of it …
“Oh no, there’s another three in Tamworth, mate!”
Well, checking you out on the Discogs site, I see you’re actually Neil Jones (14) on there.
“Yeah, probably. I can imagine. It’s a very common name, mate!”
Band Substance: Stone Foundation last November at Gorilla, Manchester, a night to remember (Photo: David Hunter)
Speaking of that website, the first thing on their list by Stone Foundation is 2001 EP, Inventing Ways to Fly. But the AllMusic site suggests a self-titled LP in 1994.
“I think the reason that comes up at the top is because that was the first output we actually registered through a label. Was that through What Records?”
Erm … Fairmount Gas Recording.
“Ah, but I think What Records helped put that out. I think the first recordings we did never got released – we did two nights at a theatre in Tamworth, Two Nights of Ideas. And to give you an idea of where we started, we had a string quartet and a two-piece horn section. We had these very grandiose ideas but as songwriters weren’t in the right place to execute them the way we do now.”
So the concept of Stone Foundation was there from the start.
“Yeah, absolutely. There’s elements of the band that feels like we’ve gone full circle, back to the place we love the most. We tried a bit of everything, but we’re definitely going more into a soul route now. At those early gigs I remember the band leaving the stage, and I’d do an acoustic version of ‘40,000 Headmen’ by Traffic with the quartet. It was a very ‘out there’ kind of concert!”
However many records down the line, I see the latest as perhaps the third in a trilogy that started with Street Rituals and carried on with Everybody, Anyone.
“Erm, yeah, I guess … but to me, on the two records prior to Street Rituals it felt like we were starting to find some kind of solid ground as regards to where we wanted to be – on To Find the Spirit then A Life Unlimited. We were on that path then found a studio, and in someone like (Paul Weller’s engineer) Charles Rees there was someone we could work with really easily and we could get incredible results out of.
“You’ve got to remember we’re using the same studio Paul’s had No.1 records with. It’s a fantastic facility. If you ever came to our studio, with Andy Codling, who we do our demos with and who we recorded the records with prior to these, if people actually saw what we worked with, they’d be absolutely flabbergasted.
“I remember one time when an old guitarist wanted a bit of roach for a smoke and found a bit of cardboard by the mixing desk, pulled it out from one of the faders and the whole fucking desk went off! The card was there for a reason, to keep the contact in the fader. That was the kind of shit we had to work with on a day-to-day basis.
“So going from that, where I’d be recording vocals where I could only hear out of one headphone because they were cutting out, to recording at Paul’ place, it almost felt like this veil had been lifted from our eyes. And you weren’t trying to have a fight with one arm behind your back!”
I guess what I was leading up to saying there was that two listens in, I really think this might be your best album yet.
“Ah, thanks mate. I appreciate that. I mean, you said you think of this as a trilogy, but I don’t see it that way, I just see it as the next stepping-stone … to hopefully go one step better. Already we’re writing demos for the next thing and can already hear that has the potential to go on again. That’s the most important thing, that you just keep searching, aiming for the next height, the next peak.”
In places, I feel this record might have been made anytime between the late ‘60s and now. There’s no retro feel though. It’s contemporary, but – for example – a track like ‘Picture a Life’ would sit nicely on Al Green’s Let’s Stay Together. Then elsewhere, there’s a Style Council feel (admittedly, the fact that Paul Weller, Mick Talbot and Steve White all feature might be a factor there), but also perhaps a little Was (Not Was) for these ears. Hell, there’s even an introductory Stevie Wonder-type drum pattern on the title track.
“I think what’s happened from To Find the Spirit onwards, me and Neil kind of evolved into this idea that, if we wanted a certain sound and style of playing, we wouldn’t just keep it to the lads in the band. And the track you mention has Steve White on drums. Whitey’s playing on three or four tracks on this record, so that gives it a different flavour.
“Also, as a songwriter I’ve never been precious about, ‘Oh, I’ve got to sing that’. In my mind I hear a vocal as another instrument. If I’m thinking, ‘I can hear a girl singing this’, like when we got Bettye LaVette to sing ‘Seasons of Change’. You hear things in a different way and think, ‘Right, okay’. I guess that takes us to our love of Steely Dan and bands like that. We’ve always had that concept that we’ll get players in to suit the songs, to get the best.”
I hadn’t thought of Steely Dan, but they’re in there too.
“I don’t think we intentionally did it, we just ended up doing it. It’s quite funny nowadays, a lot of people seem to be doing it. But we were doing it years and years ago with To Find the Spirit – people like Carleen Anderson. It’s just something we gravitated towards, to get the best out of the songs.”
Yet while you’re evolving, nothing’s too smooth or over-polished.
“Absolutely. That’s kind of important. We’re sort of driven by the things we love in the past but also by things we hear nowadays. I don’t know whether you’d call our music a genre. We kind of do the soul thing, but because we’re British it’s not an American soul thing but a tip of the hat, a bit of a mix of stuff. But there’s so many great new jazz, funk and soul bands out there at the moment, that you hear these sounds and that sounds really fresh. And for this album we were thinking of aiming for something that sounds even fresher than the records we’d done before.”
From what I can gather, great an LP as On Sunset is, Paul Weller may already be working on his next record. And I get the feeling that drive he has is rubbing off on your band too.
“Absolutely, yeah, and by now we would have done a European tour, whereas we’re not gonna be touring this record here until next September. So it feels like someone’s put the reins on it all for a minute, but we’re always writing anyway.
“That’s the beauty of what me and Neil have, which other bands probably don’t – there’s two of us writing the songs. That sort of drives it forward. You hear that sort of thing about bands where there’s always gonna be someone at the helm of it all. But it doesn’t work like that with us – there’s always been the two of us to lean on each other. If the other one thinks something’s a bit shit, it usually is, so we leave it alone, move onto the next thing.”
I won’t go too deep into the chemistry of your songwriting relationship with Sheas, but is there that element of Lennon and McCartney sat opposite each other, testing out songs?
“Ha! Funnily enough, it started out that way. When I first went round Neil’s house he had an old-style dictaphone and we had a couple of notepads and sat across each other like Smith and Jones, staring at each other, trying to work on ideas. But it’s a new age now, isn’t it. And I think it’s helped us no end that we send each other little things on phones, like, ‘What about this?’
“Or when we’re up at our studio I present something more in a … not a standard way but, I can sit down with a guitar and go, ‘What about this?’ whereas Neil would do it a different way – he’d sing over something he’s heard or a beat, then I’d try and work out a chord structure, like with ‘Carry the News’. Then, because Neil’s a great bass player, he’d sit down with something like ‘Standing on the Top’, say, ‘I’ve got this’, and it develops from there.”
You realise I can’t now put the idea of Sheas and you as Smith and Jones out of my head? I can see Mel Smith in a Sheas-like titfer too.
“That’s it! Ha!”
Looking Up: Stone Foundation, keen to get the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic behind them and return to the live circuit
Then you have something like ‘This is Our Time’, with a rap involved. And it fits perfectly, not coming over as contrived.
“Definitely, and I shared this weekend a Spotify playlist on Facebook, full of all the stuff I was listening to as a kid. All hip-hop artists, essentially. Me and Neil have spoken about it in countless interviews where we sort of bonded over our love of hip-hop. His journey into music took a different route, working in record shops and stuff, while I had a real close friend growing up who got me into playing guitar. His dad had these incredible old soul and blues records, while my Dad was heavily into music and got me into Zeppelin, Steely Dan …
“But my best mate was also into the hip-hop thing with me, so we’d go into Birmingham, into Oasis, buy Public Enemy jackets, and big baseball boots. I even had a flattop at one point. I was massively into it, so to bring that kind of influence into a song was fantastic.”
That doesn’t necessarily work that often. Like I say, it’s not contrived.
“Absolutely. The guy we used, his stage name’s Mr Memory, and we’ve know Guy for years, he lives in Atherstone, he’s from Cornwall originally. He was in a group, the Dookie Squad, which consisted of two or three MCs and a DJ. He’s a brilliant rapper. The amount of times he’s come up the room and we’ve just played a bit of ‘The Message’ or ‘Rappers’ Delight’ or something like that for him.”
Were they his lyrics on the album?
“That was totally all his work. We just told him what the record was about, he’d heard some of the songs. That was recorded at (Galliano bass player) Ernie McKone’s studio in London. We had to find other places to finish the record because Paul was finishing On Sunset, having done the bulk at the Barn.”
How did you get (Andre) Laville and Durand Jones involved?
“Myself and Neil love some of the new music out there at the moment, so it was very important to us that we’d get people this time round that were a little more contemporary. In the past we’ve used some of the legends, some of our heroes, but … I just love Laville’s voice. I think it’s one of the best soul instruments out there. It really is.
“We recorded Laville at Ernie’s place. We did all the backing tracks, Mick Talbot had been up in the morning to put keys on, and we got Laville in. Now Ernie’s played bass for everybody, and when Lavelle started singing he turned and went, ‘Where the fuck did you get him from?’ I was like, ‘I know, he’s good in’t he!’. He just kinda took it somewhere even better!
Hands Up: Neil Jones leads the way with Stone Foundation, on another evening engagement (Photo: David Hunter)
“In my mind when I wrote the bulk of that song before Neil added his little touches, I had Luther Vandross in my head, that sort of Change stuff. I thought it needs to be like that. I could sing it but thought it needed extra special sauce on it! That’s why we got Andre on it.
“With Durand it was exactly the same. ‘Hold on to Love’ feel-wise came from us playing at the studio from a seed Neil had. We worked up the song without vocals and I took it back home. In my mind I was trying to sing a melody and lyric that made me think of Charles Bradley. I thought I could sing it but wanted what I could hear it in my head. That’s why we asked Durand. We’ve been friends for years on Facebook, had mutual friends in New York, so just got in touch and asked, and he said yeah!”
So he’s not part of your Jones family then?
“Ha! No, but we always call each other brother!”
You’ve featured in a similar way with double WriteWyattUK interviewee Dr Robert of Blow Monkeys fame with his Monks Road Social collaborative project. Like yourselves, he’s always moved with the times. Robert Howard is not one just to be labelled ‘80s, is he.
“Not at all, and I’ve felt really privileged to have been involved with so much of that. To be asked by Robert in the first place … I mean … I’ve been on the last three records, which has been fantastic. I love working with Robert. I go along and haven’t got the pressure. They seem to do things very similar to us in the sense they’ll try and get the bulk of the tracks done in X-amount of days then Robert will take it away and produce it, a bit like me and Neil do with the band. I guess the difference is that you know with us, it is a band – you know when you come to see us live, we do our thing …”
It seems a while now since I saw you at Gorilla in Manchester late last year, stealing a few words with Sheas while the rest of you loaded the van for the next show.
“Oh, he always finds an excuse! I remember on that tour, when Steve Pilgrim … who’d come with us every night … I do all the organising for the tours, almost taking on the part of tour manager, and Stevey would say each night as I’m in the back of the van trying to make sure everything goes away, ‘Where the fuck do you get your energy from?’ and I’d be like, ‘I don’t know, man – you’ve just got to get it done, in’t you’. It’s all part of the job!”
Audience Participation: Neil Jones, leading right from front and centre with Stone Foundation (Photo: David Hunter)
I love the interlude tracking on the new album, not least the foreign language pieces.
“Yeah, essentially that was an idea I thought would nicely tie the record together. Myself and Neil had written all these songs that weirdly had ‘love’ in the title and we’d never usually use that word very heavily. But they were all obviously centred around a certain connotation of love, more of a spiritual meaning of love really.
“And when all these songs started to kind of collate, we started playing about with little ideas. Ian (Arnold) played that wonderful piano intro piece, and we thought we could have these throughout the record. Get everyone from some of the countries we play. We’d have loved to have more, but just thought, let’s get them to talk about love in their language. I love the artistic sound of that.”
It’s almost … whisper it, a concept album in that respect … albeit more like Weller’s 22 Dreams.
“Yeah, I love that record!”
And the final link sees Peter Capaldi reading Vincent van Gogh. Fantastic!
“That was really lovely and came about through the Monks Road link, when I turned up to do a session at a studio just outside Granada in Spain. I walked in and Peter’s sat their talking with Robert (Howard). I was like, ‘How do you know him?’ Turns out that Robert, in the valley he lives in, his next-door neighbours are Peter Capaldi and Alexei Sayle. Quite a combination!”
Maybe you could have Alexei on the next Stone Foundation record.
“Yeah! Peter loves playing guitar, he’s a really lovely guy and we just got talking about music. I sat next to him at dinner, and before you know it, we’re out on this veranda twiddling away on acoustic. He came out, made a few comments and I went, ‘Grab a guitar’, We just sat there playing. I was showing him how to play ‘What’s Going On’ by Marvin Gaye. I showed him this special chord in my version and was like, ‘This’ll change your life, mate!’, just having a laugh. We had a really good bond. So when we got back, we got the Spanish, Japanese and German pieces, and I said to Sheas, ‘I’m just gonna ring Pete – if we’re gonna finish the record with a British voice, I can’t think of anyone better!’ And he said yes.”
Show Time: Stone Foundation, filling stages again sometime in the not so distant future (Photo: David Hunter)
Were they your choice of words?
“No, every single one of the words you hear on the record on the interludes, I asked those people to come up with what they wanted. You can’t put someone else’s concept of love into someone’s mouth, you’ve gotta let them express what they think. And Peter came up with a few. As an actor, he’s well versed in a lot of poetry and that. I can’t remember what the other ideas were, but the Vincent Van Gogh one stood out!”
I particularly like the last line, ‘What is done in love is well done’.
“It’s brilliant, isn’t it!”
While it’s all been delayed, in a sense your timing with this LP is perfect. Let’s face it, what the world needs now is love, sweet love.
“Absolutely, mate. I mean, let’s be honest, it feels at times like the world’s up in flames at the moment. I’ve had this conversation with Neil a few times and if it wasn’t so essential to the band I’d have probably come off social media a long time ago. It seems it’s becoming a poisonous place. We’ve been speaking about coronavirus and if I see another post of people being like, ‘Look at them! Look what they’re doing’, finger-pointing constantly … what is the point! You know what I mean? It doesn’t get you anywhere.
“Then you turn your attention to the Black Lives Matter movement and there’s people saying ‘All lives matter’ … seriously? Can you not get into your head what people are talking about? That’s why I posted my playlist of hip-hop tracks. You’ve got songs on there like ‘Fight the Power’ then you go further back to the ‘60s with The Temptations talking about ‘Ball of Confusion’ and even further back to the jazz era where you’ve got ‘Strange Fruit’, things like that. And you’re thinking ‘Come on man, just fucking look at what these people have been singing throughout the period!’”
You mentioned What’s Going On, and when I first heard that in the mid-‘80s I could see we were already heading where America was back then. And it seems nothing much changes, both sides of the Atlantic.
“Absolutely! The only difference with some of the other countries is that it’s a lot more subtle. Because they haven’t got means to just turn around and shoot somebody, as we haven’t got arms in this country – thank fuck! Can you imagine what a mess the world would be in if everyone was fucking armed?
Arms Folded: Neil Sheasby and Neil Jones all set with their Stone Foundation bandmates (Photo: John Coles)
“But it’s a worrying time. A lady interviewed me a few days ago for Blues & Soul magazine and I said it almost feels like now, without sounding pretentious, we have to keep our heads down writing songs that will hopefully inspire some love in people. It almost feels like that’s become our duty now. In the way artists inspired me like Curtis Mayfield and Marvin would try to impart positivity and love into people. Rather that than the fucking hatred and bile spat out every single day.”
My final question was going to be, ‘Is Love Enough?’, but I guess you’ve already tackled that.
“Well, I think yeah, it is, of course it is. I’ve just read this incredible book by Rutger Bregman, Human Kind: A Hopeful History, a sociologist basically talking about the fact that as a human race the reason we evolved is because we were kind to one another. People say, ‘Oh well, it’s human nature, isn’t it – that’s what we do to each other’. Well, I disagree with that, I think we’re all capable of love.”
And we haven’t even got on to Brexit …
“That’s another thing – we haven’t even thought about that. Ha!”
It’s truly opened a scar for us all.
“Absolutely. Speaking to Scottish friends, I say, ‘Unfortunately, we all know it’s gonna happen eventually – Scotland will break away from us. But it’s not the people doing this, it’s those leading the people that are creating all these divisions, and they’re basically dragging us backward. It’s just horrible to watch.”
Problem there, is that if we lose Scotland I feel we’re possibly stuck with Tory rule forever.
“Yeah, but you know as well as I do that it always swings one way to the other. But this time right now is really quite unsettling and I think more than ever us good people – and we’re all good people really – just need to show a bit more love to one another, and hopefully that will perpetuate that sort of feeling throughout the world. But fucking hell. If Trump wins …”
Unfortunately, I get the idea he won’t go quietly even if he is (hopefully) voted out.
“Of course he won’t! He’s had a taste of it now, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he did win that he’d find some way of changing the legislation so he could carry on being in charge forever.”
Stage Lights: Neil Jones and Neil Sheasby get down to it in live action with Stone Foundation (Photo: John Coles)
That was my fault. We were set to finish on a more positive note until I brought that up. Let’s try again. So, back to that title track – is that you singing in the lower register early on? It really suits you.
“It is, yeah. Thanks mate. I was more blown away on that track by Sulene’s vocal gymnastics at the end. We were absolutely crying with laughter at that. I mean that in a very positive way – whenever anything incredible like that happens our natural reaction is to laugh and ask, ‘What the fuck was that?’ I remember those Bette Davis kind of ad-libs she does. Just mental!
“All the female vocals on this record are Sulene Fleming, she’s on everything! She went out on tour with Mother Earth and Matt Deighton. That’s how I know her, and again the Monks Road Social thing. I believe she was doing stuff with Brand New Heavies and The Fantastics too.
“She’s fantastic. Her husband (Francis Hylton) plays bass with Bluey (Jean-Paul Maunick) out of Incognito. It’s all connections, isn’t it, and it’s nice that as the band progresses we’re working with different people all the time.”
That’s a more positive note to leave it on, so I’ll end it there. But we must continue this soon. Maybe we could chat while Sheas loads the gear outside a venue next time.
“Fucking hell, chance would be a fine thing!”
Foundation Meeting: The band on hand to see the reaction to their much-delayed new album, Is Love Enough?
For WriteWyattUK’s past feature/interviews with Stone Foundation’s Neil Sheasby, head here for the October 2019 feature, including more details about Sheas’ Boys Dreaming Soul memoir, and here for the April 2017 feature.
To pre-order Stone Foundation’s Is Love Enough? and for details of forthcoming shows, head to the band’s website or seek out their social media links, via Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.