Face to face with Stillman


Classic rock with genuine old school vibe is a rarity nowadays. If you long for this truly incredible feel, Stillman’s music can give you the pleasure of experiencing it. It’s raw, real, with attitude and spirit. On 17 March Stillman is releasing his new EP ‘We Are The Trouble’ which is a real treasure for everyone who like their music of very high quality. Rock Britain talked to Stillman about the EP, evolution and the magic of music.

– First of all, how have you been recently and what have you been up to?

– I’ve been busy doing all that non-music stuff that comes along with a release. Not all of it’s a chore though, this interview for a start! Actually, after finishing an EP I tend to jump straight back into writing for the next one so I’ve constantly got something to work towards. I’ve got plenty of riffs straining to rip their way out still.

– You’ve got the new EP ‘We Are The Trouble’. How would you introduce this EP to Rock Britain’s readers?

– I describe it as classic rock with a dose of metallic blues. The drummer said it was ‘like Angus Young playing a Mountain song with Ritchie Blackmore and Judas Priest, but without the bullwhip’.

– How have you evolved as a musician since you released your first record as Stillman?

– The sound has certainly changed over the course of the more recent Stillman recordings. With each release it’s become more rock focussed and more direct I think, but there’s always been a core of rock in amidst the prog, folk or jazz flavourings. That doesn’t mean I’ve dumbed it down just that I’ve become re-addicted to that straight-up buzz of a cranked guitar! I still like to take my time with the lyrics and arrangements though, I always enjoy discovering more in a song the more times you listen.

– During your music career you’ve played in bands and solo. What are you most and least favourite things about playing in a band and going solo?

– With a band you can bounce things off someone else and amazing unplanned things can happen you would otherwise never have thought of. But if your bandmates don’t get it, well then it can be hard work…and when you add egos into the equation all hell can break loose, the history of rock is littered with examples. I now work almost solo, bringing a drummer in at the end when it’s all but complete. He’s actually a really talented engineer, producer and jazz pianist to boot, so if he has comments about the arrangements I usually take them on board. As for playing live, I used to play the acoustic circuit doing solo versions but now I gig as a duo with the drummer so I can kick the overdrive on and toast my guitar amp and the audience too!

– Your music has a great old school, true rock vibe, which is rare nowadays. Why did you choose to seek for inspirations in the past rather than in the present?

– Thanks, that’s certainly a vibe I was after, I wanted it to feel old school but sound fresh. There’s a quality to so many of those classic rock albums from the 70s and 80s that has been sadly lost. A lot of modern rock and metal is waaay too produced for me, everything is triple-tracked, quantized, auto-tuned. It’s too shiny, too polished, and that often leaves it feeling just plain dull, at least to my ears. On these recordings I wanted to capture for the listener how it feels to actually play it, and it feels great!

– In your bio you described an absolutely magnificent experience of playing instruments for the first time when you were a teenager. What music moments can similarly take your breath away now?

– After weeks of a closeted, hermit-like existence during mixing and mastering we finally got to have a full volume rehearsal back in the studio. We played through the new stuff and it was a great rush again even after hearing the songs literally a thousand times. Nothing beats the feel of your own riff shaking up your internal organs.

– Where does the main magic of music lie for you? What kind of inspiration does music give you in life?

– For me it lies in its ability to take you out of yourself and your surroundings. For the duration of the song you feel like you’re sometime or somewhere else. That can be in a kind of cerebral, contemplative way or a sweaty, punch-the-f&?king-air way – they’re both good!

– What do you want your listeners to take away from your music?

– Well, despite the political slant of some of the lyrics the music itself doesn’t have an agenda. If my songs can just rise above the background white-noise of people’s daily lives and give them something to think about or feel excited by then I feel I’ve achieved something and I’m happy.

– What makes a live show you attend truly great for you?

– I love it when the band you’re watching clearly loves it. They’re not there because the record company told them, they’re not there to try and recoup the cost of the album, they’re just there because they bloody love it. I saw Uli Jon Roth last year and it was amazing, he was the most easy-going humblest guy you can imagine despite being a bona fide guitar legend. There was no bullshit, no front, and he played all his old Scorpions material because he loves playing it. He absolutely rocked the place with a smile on his face the whole time.

– How do you usually approach your own live shows? How do you make them rocking and memorable?

– I keep it simple even though we’re gigging as a duo. One amp, couple of pedals, my SG and my Strat. I want it to sound like the EP but more raw, and yeah there are less layers than in the recording but the energy and the vibe gives the audience a different more in-your-face experience.

– What is your main philosophy in music?

– To create something original and worthwhile, something that moves me and the people listening, and to keep doing it for as long and as hard possible, with no filler! \m/

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