Stone Horses - Remembering the Good Ol' Days
By Dave Schwartz 

STONE HORSES is an Alternative Rock band from Washington D.C. comprised of vocalist John Allen, guitarist Teddy Merrill, Rick Reynolds on bass and drummer Jason Heiser.  Their blues-based approach to their latest EP, “Good Ol’ Days” (released on July, 31st via Broken World / The Orchard /Sony), maintains a refreshingly new sound for a timeless genre.  Produced by Allen and mixed by Erik Ron (Godsmack, Bush) first single and title track, “Good Ol’ Days,” was released on June 19th and is still active in the charts. 

John Allen called into DaBelly to talk about the latest record. 

DB:  So, let’s get going on the interview.  Congrats on the new EP, “Good Ol’ Days.”  Let’s talk about putting the EP together and finally releasing it.

JA:  Well, we were working on the new music and in particular the single – the title track “Good Ol’ Days” – just as the beginnings of Covid hit.  I was like, wow!  And as I was finishing up the lyrics and making some tweaks, the lockdowns were beginning.  I was thinking about the times that we were able to get together and congregate and party and have concerts.  All of that was shutting down.  All the tours were getting canceled and so the lyrics kind of harken back to simpler times when we used to go to concerts and festivals.  It’s about your younger years when you didn’t have a care in the world.  It seems that right now, things have gotten so angry and dark that I wanted to write something nostalgic and something that had a bit of escapism to it.  Let’s find a way to have a good time.  (Mimicking Bill and Ted –) “Let’s party dude!” (laughs).

DB:  It’s funny the way you used the word nostalgic.  When we speak of nostalgia, we most often are speaking of a time more than 10 or 20 years in the past.  In our case, nostalgia for a simpler time refers to a time that was just months ago.

JA:  True.  And it didn’t help that I was reading a book about Van Halen’s early years and I was thinking with regard to that, what a party band they were.  With David Lee Roth, it must have been such a good time and a good vibe to see them.  Musically too, I was in a dark place for the last couple of things that I wrote.  I just had to break out of that funk and so we thought about better times and the opportunity to have a good time, to get out and rock n roll.

DB:  I think you accomplished that on this record.  The first single, “Good Ol’ Days,” has a major groove to it and it’s a lot of fun to listen too.  I bet it’s going to be great fun to actually get out and play live.

JA:  Cool, thank you.  That riff, our bass player (Rick Reynolds) said he had that riff hanging around for a while.  He played it one night at practice, I guess back in January.  I was like, wow!  That riff is awesome.  So, I recorded it really quick and built the song around it.  It came together real fast.

DB:  I read that, when it comes to writing, you and your guitar player (Teddy Merrill) write most of the songs.  Talk a little about the writing process and how the songs come together.

JA:  You know, each song has a different approach.  That’s not on purpose, it’s just how things happen.  Sometimes, like on “Cheat Lie Steal,” I had a guitar riff floating around.  You know, that opening – the bombastic part.  So, he and I worked on it.  We assembled some music.  On “Good Ol’ Days,” the bass player originally came up with that riff.  So we put that song together.  “Heat of the Night” was a strange one.  That song, I had a dream and when I woke up, I grabbed my phone and put as much of the dream song into the recording voice memo as I possibly could remember.  That’s the thing, I’ve been doing that a lot lately, having those dreams.  And the songs sound so good in the dreams. (laughs) I wish I could plug a jack right into my brain. Then Teddy kind of helps me realize the song with his killer guitar tones and riffs.  Just that warm sweet, kind of almost a Cream kind of guitar tone he gets out of that PRS guitar.  Teddy just comes up with these killer riffs and he inspires me as a writer and I just really dig where he comes from musically.  Same thing with “Rattlesnake.”  I had an idea for an uptempo song and I had the lyric and I had the vibe of it, like I wanted it to go this fast.  I sent Teddy this idea with me doing this mouse kind of riff and he came back with that snaky kind of, almost like a snake handler kind of guitar riff.  It was a serpentine kind of riff with a killer tone.  It was cool and we developed the song off of that.

Stone HorsesDB:  The style of music that you do, blues-based rock, thick with feel and emotion – even when it’s done by a weekend cover band just having a little fun and some drinks with their friends – sounds great on stage.  But when this music is done well, it makes for an amazing night.  Stone Horses takes the fans to that level.  You have done a great job with this EP and I’m looking forward to eventually seeing the venues reopen, bands back on the road and you guys playing a show local to me.

JA:  When I write, when I think of ideas, most of the time it’s with that live energetic show in mind.  Maybe that’s good in one way and bad in another.  I’m not thinking about radio or hits.  I’m usually thinking about how cool it’s going to be to play the song live.  I can’t wait to get out and interact music fans.  It’s an addictive thing.  I’ve been doing this for a while now and that instant gratification becomes very addictive.

DB:  As a former musician, I completely understand.  You’ve been hitting all around one of the questions that I was going to ask – inspiration.  Do you write about the things going on around you or is it more of a composite of many thoughts assembled into one song?  Or are the lyrics just fantasy?

JA:  You know, I don’t analyze that very much.  I think that it really depends upon the situation.  In the old days I was trying to paint little vignettes of things I did in my youth that I got away with.  But kids probably can’t get away with them today because there are surveillance camera’s everywhere. So those were autobiographical.  A song like “Rattlesnake,” I don’t really know where that came from.  Maybe it’s a stream of consciousness thing.  “Cheat Lie Steal” is a commentary of the evils of money or the disparity of wealth.  I try not to be preachy or political but sometimes that kind of stuff pokes out here and there.  With “Cheat Lie Steal” I look at the lyric and go, we’re one of the richest countries in the world and there are still kids that are hungry and still poverty.  The title of the song came from a fellow musician who was offering advice years ago.  Keep your eyes on the money, he said.  Be sure you see where the money goes.  And I was like, man, I didn’t get into this to be a businessman, I just want to play music and not worry about that stuff.  But, you know, if I want to feed my kids that is part of the gig.  Analytically, I would like to write songs that tell stories about people’s lives, the things that I have experienced or seen.  So, I guess I’m working on it.

DB:  Let’s talk singles.  The first single you have out is “Good Ol’ Days.”  By the way, great video for that song.  What is the next single?

JA:  Well, we have a lyric video for “Cheat Lie Steal.”  That’s already in the can so, we’ll see what happens, what song we decide to go with.  But right now, “Good Ol’ Days” is still climbing the charts so we’re going to work this one for the next couple months.  And then we’ll see where we are.  If the label wants to come in and partner up with us, that would be cool.  I would imagine that “Cheat Lie Steal” will be the next single but we’re not sure yet.  We’ll know in a couple months.

DB:  A popular thing that’s happening right now is that many bands, who can’t tour, are streaming shows.  Have you put any thought into that?

JA:  We’ve done two.  We’re actually planning a third one which will happen mid-October or maybe the third week in October.  I actually went up and looked at a facility yesterday.  We want to change things up.  We did the first two at the same place.  This third one is a little bit further away from us but they have some things that I’m really interested in pursuing.  The sound quality is really great and they have the ability to give bands a light show and multiple cameras for the shoot.

DB:  Looking into the great beyond, touring, hopefully next year.  What do you have in mind as far as touring?

JA:  Right now, we’ve just signed with a new agency.  We’re looking at all opportunities.  In the past we’ve toured with Slash.  We’ve done shows with Greta Van Fleet, Rival Sons, Glorious Sons and 10 Years.  So, we hope that we can jump on the road with one of those bands next year.  A lot of things are still up in the air.  The major concert promoters at Live Nation and others are still nervous about putting things on the books that might end up being canceled or postponed.  We are hopeful and anxious to get back out. 

Thanks to John Allen for sharing a moment with DaBelly.  Make sure you check out all of Stone Horses socials to keep up with all the latest news.

No. Title Length
1. "Cheat Lie Steal" 3:10
2. "Good Ol' Days" 3:13
3. "Queen Bee" 3:55
4. "Heat of the Night" 4:20
5. "Rattlesnake" 4:12

  • Release:  July 31st, 2020
    Broken World / The Orchard /Sony
Stone Horses - Good Ol' Days 

Stone Horses is:

John Allen - Vocals
Teddy Merrill - Guitars
Rick Reynolds - Bass
Jason Heiser - Drums


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