Stone God: In the lap of the Gods
Richie Edwards, Toby Macfarlaine and Dan Hawkins (Stone Gods) interview with Louise Delahunty
Sitting backstage at Manchester’s Academy 3, watching Dan Hawkins shoot one of his road crew to the ground with a banana, then shoot himself in the head, I was pleased to see that rock tours the world over share the same underlying current of tomfoolery. Clearly very happy to be on tour together and putting on such glowing, crowd-pleasing shows, it would seem that Stone Gods have only a rosey future ahead of them. Already with an entourage of die-hard fans, both old and new, buzzing around them, there’s a real air of ‘something special happening’ when this band are on stage. I caught up with Richie Edwards, Toby Macfarlaine and Dan Hawkins to talk to them about touring, pub quizzes, dinner parties and punching monkeys! (The latter is not a euphemism.)
Lou: How has the tour been going?
Richie: It’s been really good.
Toby: Despite the initial…scary moment!
(The band’s first few dates had to be postponed due to drummer Ed falling ill. Robin Goodridge was drafted in at the last minute to save the day!)
Lou: How is Ed doing?
Richie: He’s doing alright, he’s on the mend! We got Robin in to help us out…
Toby: And he’s good!
Lou: Have you all worked well together as people?
Dan: Robin’s a total star.
Toby: He is a great guy.
Dan: He’s one of the funniest fuckers I’ve ever met.
Toby: There’s been lots of laughter and mucking around.
Dan: I think all of us have progressed. For the first time I don’t really get nervous before we go on stage. I just get excited. It’s confusing sometimes whether it’s nerves or excitement, but it’s definitely just excitement now.
Richie: Yeah, we’ve been having a lot of fun and playing some good shows…I think!
Lou: Yes, the Birmingham gig was good!
Richie: Cool, I had a lot of fun in Birmingham.
Lou: I could tell. I particularly enjoyed your high-fiving all along the front row of the crowd.
(Cue laughter and Dan’s uncanny impression of Richie’s multiple high-fiving)
Richie: If I’d have been stood at the front I’d have thought “Edwards, you wanker!”
Lou: Has there been anything that’s gone hideously wrong?
Richie: No, I don’t think so…
Dan: There’s was one thing… we’d travelled for hours to get to a venue and we arrived, tired… and the first thing we saw were the posters on the walls saying “Stone Gods”, and then in even bigger writing; “made up of ex members of The Darkness”. So basically we looked like a bunch of cocks. Not that I’m saying…
Toby: A bouquet of cocks.
(Cue laughter and some scary images conjured!)
Dan: Not that I’m saying anything against The Darkness, don’t get me wrong. But we’re going out of our way to start a new band and….not disassociate, but… well, we’ve had people coming up to us and saying they were half expecting us to play a load of Darkness songs, which we’re not. That’s not what we are.
Lou: And quite right too! Though I did love The Darkness.
Richie: So did I! Y’know, everyone who was involved with that band are hugely proud of what they achieved, it’s certainly not something we’re trying to keep quiet, but this is a new band. We want to draw a lie under it.
Toby: We want to E-volve rather than RE-volve.
Lou: Do you find that a lot of your fans are old Darkness fans who have followed your projects or fans who have discovered you newly?
Richie: It’s definitely a mix of both. There’s no reason why any Darkness fan would necessarily like this band. It’s not a natural progression. And we were aware of that. That’s why we did the limited edition Burn The Witch EP, to kinda set our stall out and say; look, if you’re expecting what you got before just be aware. But that’s not to say there aren’t elements in what we do that could be conceived of being Darknessy, but there’s nothing wrong with that.
Lou: Do you get asked about The Darkness a lot in interviews?
Richie: We do get asked and I think we have to expect that.
Dan: It’d be a bit naïve to think we wouldn’t. I don’t think we’ve done an interview when we haven’t been asked about it. I think if in five years time we’re still being asked about it that would piss us off.
Lou: So, describe Stone Gods in five words.
Richie: Fucking amazing loud rock band.
Dan: That’s funny because I was going to say; fucking awesome heavy rock band.
Toby: I was going to say those same words but maybe in French.
Lou: Do you ever read your forums?
Toby: I go on the official forum quite a lot.
Lou: How do you feel about some of the things that your fans say about you?
Toby: Sometimes I feel a bit violated. Sometimes ladies say things I don’t want to think about so then I have to stop reading that thread and go on to something else. But if they want to write that stuff, fine.
Dan: I’d like to go on the forums but I can’t really. I don’t necessarily take things personally, but I take things onboard a bit too much and there’s too many people wanting to know too many things. But I think forums are great for communities of fans. And our fans are geat.
Richie: Yeah, we’re very lucky really with our fans, we’ve got a really good bunch. And they run a really good unofficial website and spread the word like no-one’s business!
Lou: Apart from the obvious musical talents, what do each of you bring to the band?
Richie: Toby brought a knackered old Volvo.
Dan: It’s about to be scrapped!
Richie: Yeah, if anyone wants a Volvo 440, available for spares or repairs…
Dan: If it’s still there when we get back off tour it’s gonna be given away to the 500th person who turns up at the in-store gig.
Richie: And they have to take it that day!
Dan: Yeah, the Volvo will be parked in the car park outside and the keys will be given to the 500th person to attend. Actually, no, we should make it more like 50th, yeah?
Richie: Yeah, just in case.
Dan: Just in case!
Lou: Do you think 500 is a bit optimistic?
Dan: Just a bit!
Richie: Well, it’s a very small record shop, you’re not even gonna get that many people in.
Lou: Should be cool though…
Richie: Yeah, we’re doing it unplugged. Stone Gods unplugged.
Lou: So have you got your set list all ready for it?
Richie: Nah, we’ll do it on the night.
Dan: Wing it. Take requests and whatever.
Lou: Richie, I’ve heard that you’re only drinking honey and lemon and no booze? Why is that?
Richie: I haven’t had a boozey drink on this tour. I’m fighting off a cold at the moment and the last thing I need is to be going on stage with a hangover. Now more than ever is a really critical time for this band and if I come off stage feeling like I haven’t given 100% because I was out ‘til 6am the night before partying then I’ve not only let myself down I’ve let my three best mates down as well, and everyone who bought a ticket for the gig. Doing a good show, getting an early night and being ready for the next night is more important to me. At this stage. As soon as the carnival starts then it’ll be like; fucking hell watch out!
Toby: He’ll be off his NUT!
Lou: Should you really be encouraging children to “bring a match and start the flame”?
Richie: Absolutely! Nah, I don’t think it’s encouraging, particularly. I like the reasoning behind the way they used to deal with ‘witches’… They’d burn them and if they died they weren’t a witch. Or they’d drown them and if they died they weren’t a witch.
Lou: So what would they do if they were a witch and survived?
Toby: If they flew up out of the water they’d have to be caught and killed another way.
Lou: So there were men with big butterfly nets standing at the other end of the pond?
Toby: Amazingly, very rare did that happen! It went widely unreported!
Lou: What would you do if you were omnipotent for a day?
Toby: If I was impotent for a day… I don’t know really.
Richie: I wouldn’t leave my house.
Toby: Yeah, have a really nice day at home.
Richie: I’d stay in bed. I’d be too scared because I wouldn’t know what the fuck the world might do! I’d be sitting in going; what the fucking hell…
Toby: What am I?! Nah, I don’t know… I think I’d try and make everyone smile.
Lou: When you’re on tour and things get boring on the bus, do you play any games to pass the time?
Dan: It’s quite hard to play games in the tour bus we’re currently in because it’s quite hard to move! And we’re not facing each other. But one of my favourites is the on-the-road pub quiz, where I become quiz master, download a load of questions off the internet from various pub quiz websites and off we go! Everyone puts in a fiver and the winner walks away with a lump of money.
Richie: You used to do it by phone to the crew bus as well, didn’t you?
Dan: Yeah, when we were in convoy we’d play it via walkie talkie through the two buses.
Richie: There was a lot of money to be won! I love a good quiz. Ask me what my favourite tele program is!
Lou: What’s your favourite tele program, Richie?
Richie: QI! All about facts. I love it. Stephen Fry is one of my dinner guests. Y’know for your ultimate dinner party? I wouldn’t let him leave. Not in a funny way though!
Lou: Who else would be at your dinner party then?
Richie: Stephen Fry, Jonathan Ross, Ricky Gervais… And the missus! And the lads, obviously.
Toby: Yeah, we’d pop over, We’d bring the pudding.
Lou: And finally, would you rather punch a panda or a baby horse?
Dan: Monkey, please! Gimme a monkey, I’ll punch it straight in the face!
Toby: He hates monkeys.
Lou: Because they’re ugly?
Dan: That depends… Some monkeys… I tell you what, one of those big baboons with the red arses and the really big, horrible teeth… If that comes screaming at me that’s gonna get punched right in the face.
Richie: He would definitely punch a monkey in the face.
Lou: Is this a deep set hatred that you’ve always harboured?
Dan: I dunno. I studied monkeys when I was at school. I know what’s going on back there behind those eyes. And I once saw a Gorilla eat its own shit.
Stone Gods Official MySpace / Stone Gods Official Website
Words and images by Louise Delahunty.