Pittsburgh Artist of the Week: Stone Throwers
Stone Throwers combine a retro-modern synth-pop aesthetic with their funk-soul roots on the new song “Bottoms Up” from their forthcoming EP Sounds Like Music. Simon Howard and dr.d from Stone Throwers recently spoke with WYEP’s Joey Spehar.
Stone Throwers are:
David Didio (dr.d): Guitar, Vocals
Simon Howard: Bass, Vocals
Elyse Louise: Saxophone
Daniel Sawyer: Keyboards, Vocals
Casey Snyder: Drums
John O’Halloran (Chalk Dinosaur): Production, Mixing, Mastering
Tate Hanlon: Baritone Saxophone
This conversation may be lightly edited for content, clarity, or length.
What’s your musical history up to this point?
Simon: I have played bass for 8 or 9 years, with some guitar sprinkled in, and have been writing music for the last 6. Stone Throwers has been a band for 5 years.
dr.d: I’ve been playing guitar since I was a youths, but only started playing out and properly writing for the last 6 or 7.
The two of us started jamming together a year or two before Stone Throwers became an official band — coincidentally (or not-so-coincidentally) we both started writing more and getting heaps better at the craft after we found each other musically!
How do you describe your sound?
dr.d: We’ve found the best way to describe our sound in three minutes or less is to just put on a Stone Throwers tune and say “it’s like this”. But using regular people words, electropop-funk-soul seems to hit all the sonic demographics we’re trying to go for these days !
Tell us more about the song “Bottoms Up.” What inspired you to write it?
Simon: "Bottoms Up" was written early in the pandemic. I wasn’t handling the lockdown so well at first and was coping with that in unhealthy ways and just kind of dissociating from things going on around me. More generally, it is about that time of the night that often comes where you have to decide whether to pack it in or have that “one more” which can turn into two, three…. And there’s a lot of self-judgment that can come in the aftermath of those decisions and those nights but they don’t define us. They happen. Whether it is because you are out having fun with good people and just want to keep the night going or because you are (understandably) trying to escape from the reality of a life-altering global pandemic, you end up past the limit. And sometimes it is just easier to escape into altered states than face reality head on. It is a song about understanding that that is often a feature of life and to try not to judge yourself for it.
What was the first album that really changed your life?
Simon: My freshman year of college was a very transformational period in my life, especially in developing my musical tastes and interests. A good friend of mine was very into Phish and we would spend many nights on Flagstaff Hill and around Oakland, maybe in a bit of an altered state, listening to and discovering music. The one album that was in constant rotation was "The Story of the Ghost" by Phish and over 12 years, and 41 shows, later they are still my favorite band. Their music, and their musical influences, have helped me to explore so many genres and artists and to establish my own musical identity.
dr.d: "The Soil and the Seed" by Buffalo Rose. There’s something about watching someone who you’re close to create an amazing work of musical art. For me at least, it was a moment where I went, “huh, this isn’t some unattainable medium to create in. If you just practice, work hard at it, and most importantly, have something to say, you can make music too.”
Which Pittsburgh artist(s) do you wish more people knew about?
dr.d: Chalk Dinosaur. We’re both huge fans of his work (which is why we asked him to help produce this song and forthcoming EP) — I think everyone should listen to him all the time.
Also Buffalo Rose! Shane McLaughlin has been a huge musical influence (and dear friend to both of us) and Stone Throwers wouldn’t be a band without that original guiding hand.
Any other super interesting things we should know about you?
Simon: Grooviness is directly related to not wearing shoes. Even better if it’s barefoot on some soft grass in the summer! I would encourage others to test this.
dr.d: The white noise sweep/swell in the bridge of this tune is a recording I took of a waterfall this past summer. We started out using synths sweeps/swells to highlight aspects of songs in production when I realized we could use natural sounds to achieve the same effects (and maybe capture some of the magic of Mother Nature in there as well!)
Learn more about Stone Throwers:
Check out previous Pittsburgh Artists of the Week here.