In this exclusive interview with Ultimate-Guitar, Stone Sour
guitarist Josh Rand
discusses the new concept album, "House Of Gold & Bones Parts 1
" & "2
". "Part One
" of the album was released in October of 2012; "Part Two
" is scheduled for release in April, 2013. Josh
talks about the reasons behind the unusually fast recording process, working with legendary producer David Bottrill
, and bringing new styles of guitar playing into the Stone Sour
UG: Take us through the writing and recording process for "House Of Gold & Bones Parts One" and "Two."
: All of us write individually and then when it's time to do a new Stone Sour
record we bring in what we've all written and then it becomes a Stone Sour
song. Everybody puts their little spin on things. Corey
writes the lyrics after the music has been laid out. Recording-wise this time around, we all just spent like two weeks in Des Moines, the four of us, just doing pre-production and then went to a cow farm in Jamaica, Iowa and spent three months to record both records.
That's a pretty short amount of time to record two full albums worth of material.
Oh yeah, I mean "Audio Secrecy
" took us six months to record by comparison.
What was the reason behind the time crunch this time around?
Well I think it was several things. We had a hard schedule because Jim
took off to do the Slipknot
tour. Aside from that, we knew what we wanted to do. We really hammered out what we wanted the album to be in the demo and pre-production stages. So our time in the studio was just the recording.
You worked with David Bottrill this time around, how did he shape the sound of the album?
"We are a radio band, make no mistake, we get radio play but it was important for us that we weren't going to be shaped and molded into the flavor of the week."
I think sonically, he was a big part of it. He's like a band producer and what I mean by that is he's a guy who wants to push the band and doesn't care what the label thinks. Those kinds of guys hardly exist anymore. When we decided on him, we looked at his track record and it's Tool
, King Crimson
, Peter Gabriel
, and these are people who see music as truly being an art and not just pop radio. That was huge for us with the idea that this was going to be a concept record. We needed a guy who wouldn't try to please the label. We are a radio band, make no mistake, we get radio play but it was important for us that we weren't going to be shaped and molded into the flavor of the week. I think we are a unique band in that we can do so many different things. We can be a band that gets played on pop radio and we get played on metal radio too. I'm a fan of music. A lot of hard rock and metal musicians think that just because it's not fast and heavy all the time, it's crap. I disagree with that. We all disagree with that and I think that our diversity musically stems from that mindset. We all draw from different influences but when we get together to write a song, we all have one common goal and that is to make that song as best as it can possibly be.
"House Of Gold & Bones" seems like a huge progression for you guys. Is that something that you guys actively think about?
Sure, we don't want to make the same record over and over again. I think with this record, we opened up even more doors because we got experimental with different instrumentation and things like that. We'll always sound like Stone Sour
but each record we'll try to push things in a little different direction.
Long ago, you were quoted saying that you "bring all the heavy stuff to Stone Sour." Was that the case on "House Of Gold & Bones"?
"We all draw from different influences but when we get together to write a song, we all have one common goal and that is to make that song as best as it can possibly be."
Yeah, I try to bring a metal aspect to the band, I'm not saying that the other guys don't, but I cut my teeth in thrash metal and it's still my favorite style of music so I try to bring those elements to our music. We all contribute a lot of heaviness to the music these days but in the beginning it was an outlet for Corey
and to some extent, Jim
to not do that type of stuff because they were doing it in Slipknot
. My writing style, even with the heavy stuff, is so much different than Slipknot
's. But I do end up bringing some of the more aggressive tracks.
How has it been working with Jim Root?
I think we complement each other very well. I've learned tons from Jim
. He's so good at doing the ear candy and the layering of guitars and I'm all about the riffs. We've been doing the split solo stuff too and it just works. We get along great.
Do you take formal lessons or online classes?
I have in the past; I actually have my certificate from Berkley. I just got it last year. Right now I only have the Rock Guitar Certificate which is like six courses but I'd like to get my Master Guitar which is eight. The day you think you know it all, you don't evolve anymore. You can learn new things every day and never master the instrument. I've come to open up to a lot more styles of music where I used to be one of those guys who thought if it's not metal, it sucks. Listening to new kinds of music has opened up new worlds for example there is a song on ["House Of Gold & Bones
"] "Part 2
" called "Sadist
" and the pre chorus to that is very jazzy guitar-wise. It uses ninths and sevenths and jazz style chords and that is directly because I took those classes and I've begun to incorporate those different styles into what we do.
What's your live rig look like?
"Tool, King Crimson, Peter Gabriel - these are people who see music as truly being an art and not just pop radio."
It's a barrage of Ibanez Guitars, my mains are SA Custom Shops. I'm in the process of switching to the S model. I have some RGs out that have been customized [custom kill/mute switch and a bypassed tone pot]. I've been using Hughes & Kettner Triamp MKIIs since 2005. My pedals change with every tour based on the songs we're doing but I've got an EVH Flanger and Phaser, an MXR Tremolo, MXR Chorus, and a switchless Kirk Hammett Wah that Dunlop customized for me - they only made three of them and I have two. I use Audio Technica for my wireless. It's a pretty simple setup.
I'm told you disconnect your tone pots.
Yeah, everything is there but it's just not hooked up. I found myself never using it so I just bypass the tone pots on everything. The only one that I kept hooked up is an SA with the David Gilmour EMG single coil setup in it and we did mess with the tone a bit in that and that was one of my main clean tones for the "House Of Gold & Bones
" records. I never use the tone knob when the sound is dirty so I figured it's one more thing to hit on accident, so what's the point? I've also been told that you can get a bit more gain out of the guitar if you don't have the tone hooked up because of the voltage drawn by the tone pot.
Have you always used EMG Pickups?
"I think we are a unique band in that we can do so many different things. We can be a band that gets played on pop radio and we get played on metal radio too."
I used DiMarzio for a while. I still use them in the studio on my Paul Gilbert PGM 301 which in my main solo guitar. I just like the warmth from a passive pickup for the solos.
Is your studio rig pretty similar to your live rig?
It's pretty much exactly what my live rig is with the exception of the Paul Gilbert
guitar. I have another one that I used a lot on "Come What(ever) May
" called a LTD Truckster. It's funny; I bought that guitar to be something to beat on back at the townhouse when we were recording because I didn't have too many guitars at that point. I ended up bringing it into the studio and it sounds amazing. I hate playing it though, honestly because the body is oddly shaped and it's very uncomfortable and when I do track with it, I have to stand up because I can't sit down and be comfortable. For "House Of Gold & Bones
" I used a Soldano SLO100 mixed with the Triamp that was the basic rhythm sound. Then for the clean stuff, I had Bad Cat make me a special Trem Cat which I mixed with the TriAmp for the clean sound.
What was the first guitar you ever got?
The first guitar I ever got was a knockoff Fender Stratocaster, I got it when I was nine for Christmas. It was cool for that day and then it got put in a closet and eventually it got given away, I believe. Then when I started playing again, I played bass. I got a Squier Bass. Then when I started playing guitar again, the first guitar I got was an RG 560 that was black. I was quite a bit older that that time.
When did you start getting serious playing the guitar?
"With ["House Of Gold & Bones"] we opened up even more doors because we got experimental with different instrumentation and things like that."
I was like 17. I got really serious on bass and I was really influenced by Billy Sheehan
and I spent a whole summer trying to learn everything he had played on which at that time, was the Mr. Big
albums and Talas
and David Lee Roth
. I was blown away by the stuff he was able to do. At the time I didn't realize it but what I had done is strengthened my hands so much from playing bass that one day I picked up a friend's guitar and I could play all this shreddy stuff. Between that and playing Racer X
, I decided that I wanted to play guitar again.
Most people have these little finger exercises to strengthen their fingers for guitar; I guess I've never heard anyone suggest just playing bass for a while.
Yeah, it was strange but I became a better guitar player than most of the guitar players I had been playing with. Everyone was shocked including me. I played all the Billy Sheehan
style stuff on bass with a pick and then when I picked up a guitar it was like, this is nothing. It just clicked for me and that's how this all came about.
Was there ever that stint of cover bands that most people seem to go through before Stone Sour?
"All of us write individually and then when it's time to do a new record we bring in what we've all written and then it becomes a Stone Sour song."
I know nothing more than Stone Sour
, myself, and the original bass player Shawn
all knew each other before any of us could play anything. The '90s Stone Sour
which I wasn't a part of because I wanted to play metal at that time and that was a time when metal was pretty much dead. There was this whole alternative thing going on that I wasn't into. The only band I really liked at the time was Alice In Chains
who are a metal band in my mind it's riffy and heavy and dark. So what happened was, me and Corey
got together in 2000 and started jamming and recording stuff for fun and it turned into Stone Sour
Have you got any advice for the Ultimate-Guitar readers?
The best advice I can give to the Ultimate Guitar readers would be to try to absorb as much music as possible. I kick myself now for being so closed-minded. If you're a metal head, listen to some jazz, some of those guys are ridiculously good. Listen to Stevie Ray Vaughn
who arguably I think is the greatest guitar player ever. Don't be closed-minded to one particular style of music because I regret it now and I wish I would have listened to that stuff back in the day.
What have you been listening to lately?
It's going to shock everybody but I've been listening to the new Norah Jones
album, "Broken Little Hearts
." I had always heard the name but I'm just now just discovering her and she's amazing.
Interview by Justin R. Beckner