Interview: Toby MacFarlaine [Stone Gods] (2009)

Posted on November 17, 2010

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This is an interview I did in March 2009 with Toby MacFarlaine from Stone Gods for my course. It was actually pretty fun, and Toby mentioned it in the tour diary for the gig. Anyway, he’s given me permission to stick it on here, and it gives you all something else to read, so it’s a win-win really. Here you go…

After the rise and fall of The Darkness, Justin Hawkins moved into rehab and left the future of the band unknown. Guitarist Dan Hawkins moved into the light, alongside former bassist (now front-man and guitarist) Richie Edwards, Ed Graham and Toby MacFarlaine to form Stone Gods.

Just finishing their first headline tour in support of last year’s debut album Silver Spoons & Broken Bones, Stone Gods are in high spirits and optimistic for the future. Only an hour before they took to the stage at Manchester Academy 3, Toby MacFarlaine (former bassist for Blur’s Graham Coxon) discussed the past, present and future of the band, including life on the road.

The band released their debut album last summer, but their first E.P. hit the shelves earlier in the summer and even sold out the day it was released. Toby admitted that it was only limited edition, but was definitely proud when it was mentioned: “It felt great, yeah, really neat.”

As with The Darkness, the journey with Stone Gods hasn’t been easy. Last year, drummer Ed Graham left the band due to medical issues, and was replaced by former Bush drummer Robin Goodridge.

Toby rocking out in Manchester

The introduction of the new drummer seemed to be a lease of new life for the band: “Getting Robin in sort of instantly made us…it kind of made us a better band. Not slagging Ed off or anything like that, but it was a different thing altogether. The other thing was it was one degree further away from being ‘from The Darkness’.”

They are still moving away, Toby was ready for the new band when he got the call: “It was great, I just got the call on the last show I was doing with Graham, one of the last shows on the end of that tour. It was from Dan, “I wanna talk to you about something”, which from my experience always means ‘do you want to be in a band?’”

This idea soon became a reality; the band is coming to the end of its fifth UK tour. Support dates have also been a success, with the album selling out its 60 copies on one occasion, a great feat for a support band.

This tour has been extremely successful and comes a few months after the lads supported Airbourne on their most recent tour. The band felt it was a fantastic experience, and it was the most fun they’ve had on the road: “We really complimented each other (musically)…they kinda treated it very much like a “double headline” by the end of it”.

The band also toured with Black Stone Cherry, and both tours helped get more people into their music: “it was just trying to play in front of as many people as you can…You know, those people that saw us maybe wouldn’t have, are now coming to see us.”

Dan Hawkins live in Manchester

Dan Hawkins at the show

This has been reflected in ticket sales, many of the dates selling out well in advance. Another good sign for the band on this tour is a sponsorship deal with Jagermeister. Toby mentioned that the band were approached for the deal, and happily accepted: “Things like that help out budgets, because obviously everything these days is done on a bit of a shoe-string. And if it means having to have a free bottle of Jagermeister every night, then so be it!”

Everyone in the band has been to the top of the rock world, playing the big venues and being in the public eye, which Toby says has definitely made them more appreciative of the dedicated fan-base they have. He describes the band, very fittingly, as “just the sound of four blokes in a room.”

 The album is extremely diverse, with varying influences. “There’s a good mix of different stuff,” Toby noted. He brings an obsession of Nirvana, which combines well with Richie’s love of metal. This influence is obvious live, with Edwards looking like a much younger and more energetic James Hetfield.

 This diversity and talent, has earned Stone Gods a lot of attention, including overseas. When mentioning touring abroad (mainly in Australia and America), it’s clear it is definitely on the agenda: “That’s all things we want to do. It’s such a costly exercise, but also the thing is the album’s actually only out in England and Ireland, strictly speaking.”

 The future of the band looks bright, with plans for a few festivals in the summer (including a confirmed set at Download) before they move ahead to their sophomore effort. They hope to release it next year, and for it to continue the success of Silver Spoons & Broken Bones.

 After being at the top, the boys are working their way back up to superstardom one day at a time, and it can’t be long before they achieve the success they deserve.

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