“As songwriters, you change and develop over time. When you have the influence of other people in the band and their backgrounds, it affects and enhances the chemistry.”
“If you stop searching, that’s the biggest risk you take in life. You’re stuck in that one moment forever. Everyone is always searching for something new; hunting for that new thrill. That need/desire is even deeper if you’re a songwriter, so the moment you settle for something, you stagnate. We’re not about to let that happen to us.”
Stone Parade vocalist Greg Byrne is wise beyond his years. While he may look fresh-faced and inexperienced, as the front for a collection of strapping young rhythmic rockers from Sydney, Australia discusses the modus behind both band and latest venture—independent sophomore full-length Stratosphere—he confirms one simple fact: this isn’t a group of vacuous rookies. Stone Parade’s innate drive is just as pummeling, impassioned and fertile as it is consciously adventurous and complex. While the legacy that is Stone Parade resonates back to youthful connections forged during scholastics, Byrne reveals that this fervent five-piece was not fully consolidated until well after final exams had been written and forgotten.
Working away at his own musical career, the statuesque singer inadvertently reconnected with former colleague Alex Qasabian whilst looking to expand beyond solo performances. Searching for their creative muse together, the duo found it in the most unlikely of places.
“Back in the day, I had a restaurant gig and was looking for a guitarist,” Byrne smiles. “It just so happened that I found Alex, a guy I’d played with years before but hadn’t considered. We went to a country festival and had the worst time you could possibly imagine. Alex said, ‘We’re starting a rock band,’ and it took off from there.”
Charged with enthusiasm, the pair immediately sought out musicians cut from the same cloth yet looking to carve a new rock ‘n’ roll pattern. Teaming up with the Fouche brothers circa 2003 and worked through a number of potential skinsman until finding a tailor-made fit in Billy Handley some eight years ago. Stone Parade’s stability, vivacity, commanding presence and unforgettable aural onslaught was then solidified by what could be described as the band’s “Spinal Tap” adventure.
The quintet flew across the world for what their then manager told them would be 3 months of extensive touring. When they arrived they found out the tour had never been booked. They fired their manager, rolled up their sleeves, and took fate into their own hands. They met Go Go’s drummer Gina Shock and proceeded to record demos at Los Angeles’ Interscope Records. They spent two months packed into a studio apartment before being evicted and surfing couches and/or floors for another four weeks while alternately tracking at a world-renowned studio and performing a sold-out show at the prestigious Viper Room.
“We made do with what we had,” Qasabian reminisces. “Each day, we would deflate our department store blow-up beds to be able to walk in the tight space and at times, had up to eight people sleeping in the room. We were evicted by the end of the second month due to our landlord illegally subletting to us. When we came back to Australia, we wrote our first album, Chase the Setting Sun, which was highly influenced by that trip/experience.”
Chase the Setting Sun was released in Australia in 2008 and spawned a radio hit with their first single “My Generation”, which went Top 20 on the national ARIA charts and #1 on Australian Independent Radio (AIR) charts. Their track “Somebody Will Miss You” won the prestigious International Songwriting Competition for Best Rock song and received several synch’s on Australia’s commercial TV stations.
While proud of that album’s impact however, Stone Parade quickly found themselves longing; hungry for the heartiness of ingenuity. Hunkering down, they crafted the 12 anthemic tracks comprising their Stratosphere CD. A refined improvement and ambitious successor to their debut, Stratosphere is bolstered not only by experience but also the band’s heartfelt drive, raucous, rhythmic undulations and steely vision.
“As songwriters, you change and develop over time. When you have the influence of other people in the band and their backgrounds, it affects and enhances the chemistry,” Byrne declares about Stratosphere’s composition. “You interact with each other differently. With this second album, we cut a lot of crap and put it together a lot quicker. We know our strengths and maximize them, helping us achieve what we set out for.”
Stratosphere didn’t necessitate Stone Parade crossing the world to benefit from strangers’ hospitality yet it found them crammed into confined spaces once again. Tracked/ produced in their tin-roofed factory on the Northern beaches of Sydney, it was then placed in the care of the highly respected Mark Needham (The Killers, My Chemical Romance) for mixing. Discussing the album’s drive, Byrne notes that primal-yet-diverse influences including The Who, Massive Attack, Pink Floyd and Muse have helped shape Stratosphere into an intensely diverse and occasionally dichotomous work with compelling songs, inspired delivery and a more grinding pace-driven assault. Stratosphere’s sonic brilliance and poignant creativity doesn’t blossom so much as explode.
“We certainly thought outside of the stock boundaries. You never know where the bits are going to come from. It could be someone humming a tune or jamming on a riff that inspires a masterpiece,” he winks. “Seriously though, our writing has grown. This album is more experimental and alternative than the last one. That album was more emotionally-driven, where this one has us jamming out more and coming up with meatier, more excessive tunes.”
Similarly, Byrne asserts that in keeping with the innovative forays Stratosphere endeavors to attain musically, his vocals and overall subject matter are more empirical and unconventional. In effect, the band is striving to extend beyond the personal realm previously broached on Chase The Setting Sun. Either way, with accomplishments such as lead single “Paranoia” receiving airplay on 70+ radio stations across Australia, and an impressive synch with Australian free-to-air sporting channel ONE HD/CHANNEL 10, the Stone Parade formula may be unusual but it is generating rave results.
Driven by the desire to channel their congenital prolificness into virulent artistic tendencies, Byrne maintains that Stone Parade’s essence is to incite, arouse, progress and grow, not languish in complacency. It’s an accomplishment readily validated by this album’s title, as Stone Parade are hitting the stratosphere with everything they’ve got.
“Every band should have an energetic component. They should sell themselves convincingly and make you want to hear their music again; feel impressed and slightly awed,” he concludes. “We want people to get emotions and sentiments out of Stratosphere, not just fleeting enjoyment from your average rock tunes. The moment you stop caring, it all falls apart; deteriorates but if these tunes become soundtrack songs for people, encapsulating moments of their lives, they’ll exist forever.”
Stone Parade have toured extensively over the past 8 years including performances with Maroon 5, Hoobastank, 3 Doors Down, INXS and Canadian band The Trews. 2009 saw the band take part in the popular annual Rock the Schools tour, which provided an education in rock band roll and a concert to over 20,000 high school students along Australia’s eastern seaboard.
In 2011, the band toured internationally, performing in New York and at the prestigious Canadian Music Festival along with international artists such as Melissa Etheridge, Sammy Hagar, Papa Roach, Buckcherry and Good Charlotte as well as Australian acts Birds of Tokyo, Blue King Brown, Dan Sultan, Hungry Kids of Hungary, Philadelphia Grand Jury, The Jezabels and The Vasco Era.
Stone Parade have gone on to play gigs and festivals across Australia. Highlights included, Queensland’s Caloundra Music Festival and Stone Music Festival where they shared the stage with Aerosmith, Billy Joel and Van Halen, cementing them one of Australia’s premier live acts.
September 2015 will see a much anticipated return of the band after a two year self imposed hiatus. New single ‘Be Someone’ is set for release 25th September, which will be followed by an EP early 2016. The band are excited to be back doing what they do best, writing songs that contain driving melodies and emotionally honest lyrics.
“Since the day it was written, our new single ‘Be Someone’ has been somewhat of a personal anthem for each of us in Stone Parade. It has helped us navigate through some of the toughest times and darkest moments we’ve been through individually and collectively. To be honest in many ways I feel in debt to the song itself.” Mark Fouche
“It’s a song that is constantly surprising with little moments of sheer thrill mixed with moments where I find myself realizing this is without doubt the most powerful song we’ve written.” Greg Byrne