Introducing: Stonebrother

Stonebrother is a hard rock band from Nova Scotia that mixes punk, metal, and good old rock n’ roll. The band consists of Zach Smith on guitar and lead vocals, Ethan Smith on drums and vocals, and Leo Cox on bass. Zach, Ethan, and Leo joined us to talk us through the background of the band, as well as their own musical memories.

What are the origins of the band, how long have you been playing together?

(Zach) Ethan and I have been playing together since we were little kids, as soon as we were able. Over the years we went through a bunch of band names and a few different bandmates until eventually, a mutual friend introduced us to Leo. He came out and we jammed Van Halen’s ‘Hot For Teacher’. He had no trouble keeping up, and we knew we found our guy.

How did you feel performing your first gig? And how was it?!

(Ethan) Playing your first show is a completely unique feeling. It’s excitement mixed with nervousness, but in a way that you’ve never felt before. Pre-show time is always exciting because you’re starting to get hyped, but the first show is really the “ok, let’s see how we do” moment, like you’re testing the water before really getting out there and developing in later gigs. I don’t think we’ve ever played a bad show. Sure, some are better than others, but all things considered, I think our first gig was a success. We showed that despite being new on the scene we were a force of nature and we were giving our all, and that’s the energy we’ve tried to bring to every show we’ve done since.

What should people expect when they check the band out? How would you describe yourself?

(Leo) I would tell people to expect both high-energy “classic” rock music mixed in with lighter more acoustic numbers. I would describe us as pretty in-your-face with a tad bit of deep ballad-like writing.

The new music scene is bursting at the seams with fresh talent, in what ways do you feel that a band has to stand out from the others trying to build a name?

(Zach) A big one to me is the onstage presentation. I see a lot of young bands who just stand on the stage when they’re playing, looking at their instruments, not talking to the audience, etc. You have to give the crowd a reason to remember you. It’s called a show for a reason. In terms of building a following, a band just has to be very active on social media, and gig as much as possible.

What are you working on at the minute that people can check out?

(Ethan) We’re hoping to get a proper music video for our song Problem Child this summer, and if all goes really well and we can get some funding we’re actually looking at hitting the studio again in the coming months in the hopes of making a full debut album. It seems like the next logical step.

What band out there at the minute do you feel that you would be best suited to open for?

(Leo) As far as bigger more famous bands go, I would say Monster Truck. They’re Canadian riff rock and I’d say we’re pretty close to that vein.

Who do you feel is the next band to break out?

(Zach) There’s two Nova Scotian bands I can think of, The Royal Volts and Andre Pettipas and the Giants. They’re both really cool and put on great shows. I would also say Mammoth WVH, which is a solo project of Wolfgang Van Halen. He’s released a few tracks from the upcoming album, and they’re really cool. I really appreciate that he’s not trying to be his dad, he’s doing his own thing and it works for him.

What are your first musical memories? And what was the light bulb moment that made you go “I want to do that”?

(Ethan) For myself and Zach, we were raised in music; whether it was listening to Led Zeppelin on road trips, driving to piano lessons at like 4 years old, having our first jam session in 2008 after we got instruments for Christmas, or as former incarnations of the band with different bassists and different band names. We were raised on music, and it’ll always be a huge part of our lives. There’s a reason Zach is going for a bachelor of music at St FX.

Every musician has their own “I want to do this” moment so I can only really speak for myself here, but for me, it was probably my first concert; Billy Talent. The energy in the room, the way that everyone was all packed together in a small room screaming to songs while basked in sweat. It’s an amazing feeling, to the point where the aching body for the next few days is completely worth it. The concert experience is one of my favorite things in the world, and I want to help people feel what I felt there. Everyone deserves to at least once.

What was the last gig that you attended as a fan?

(Leo) The last gig I attended as a fan was a local big band Cuban jazz show, really energetic good time.

The album that you have in your album collection/Spotify playlist that would surprise most people?

(Zach) Well, I’m studying jazz in university so you’d find some of that. Coltrane, Dexter Gordon, Weather Report, and Miles Davis are what I have currently, but it varies. Other than that it’s pretty much what you’d expect, Van Halen, Guns n Roses, Metallica, and so on. The most unexpected thing is probably a Rod Stewart album. He’s a pretty great singer.

Although 2020 was a year to forget for many reasons, there was some incredible music released; what would be your album of 2020?

(Ethan) It’s kind of hard to pick just one release as “the 2020 album” because, despite everything, a lot of really good music was released. Ozzy made his comeback with “Ordinary Man”, his first album in years, one of my personal favorites Anthony Amorim redid some of his old songs in his new style on “Sad Forever”, The Royal Volts (a local band from Nova Scotia like us) released their Hard Landings EP which was absolutely amazing. I think that being stuck inside for months really brought out the best in the musicians of the world, and we got some amazing albums to make our time in quarantine just a little bit more tolerable.

How active are you on social media and where can people connect with you?

(Leo) We generally try to be active on social media and keep up to date with what we’re doing. If anyone wants to connect with us, Instagram or Facebook would be the way to do it.

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