Interview with Carlos Bates Cruz from Stonebreed
Stonebreed have been playing all over the Los Angeles area and making quite a name for themselves the past few years. They just released their debut self-titled CD. They have a ton of great shows under their belt, and a lot more in the works. I sat down with lead vocalist Carlos Bates Cruz to talk about the band, their debut CD, and what the future holds.
Metal Babe: Let’s start off by talking about your recently released debut CD. Some bands put out a CD, and then get out there and play. You chose the opposite route and made a name for yourself first, and then released the CD. What made you chose this route?
Carlos: Well, you know a lot of bands do it that way, and we decided to do it differently because we didn’t have time to sit around and wait to go out and play. We wanted to start playing immediately. We knew it was gonna take us three to six months, if not a year, to record an album. And there’s no way we were gonna sit around and wait that long. It’s in our blood. We have to get out and play. So that’s what we did.
All Access Magazine (AAM) -Metal Babe: What would you say is the overall feel of the CD? What are most of the songs about?
Carlos: A lot of the songs are about true things in my life, or things that are personal to me, or that mean stuff to me. It’s not all about drinkin’ whiskey, and partying and girls, and stuff like that. Your cliché rock n’ roll stuff. I think it’s just really about life in general.
AAM: Great. I’ve seen you guys a ton of times. I’ve heard pretty much all the songs and have my personal favorites. If you had to pick just three songs on the CD that stand out, which three would they be and why?
Carlos: I think ‘Miss Me’ would be one because I have a personal attachment to it since it’s one of the older songs that I wrote. And I really think that it’s a great… I wouldn’t say Top 40, but a song that’s ‘easy on the ears.’ Anybody can listen to it. It’s really memorable. It’s got a good beat. It’s easy to dance to. If I was on Dick Clark, that’s how I would describe it. (Laughs.) Another one would be “Accept Me,” because it has more of a laid back, almost southern country feel to it. It shows our diversity of how we don’t have to always be rock n’ roll in your face. We can mellow out and drop it down a little bit as well. “Back Home” would be a third song that stands out to me on a personal level, for the mere fact that I wrote that coming back from Florida to Texas after being away from there for a while.
AAM: Another song that I’d like to mention is ‘Break.’ Every time I see you play live, “Break” is one of the more powerful, harder rock songs. Everyone is raising their fists in the air and screaming along. Tell me more about that song.
Carlos: It’s really just about breaking free of anything that’s negative, or anything that breaks you down. If you have any negativity in your life, or anything that’s holding you back, you break from it. You break free. You just stand up and break.
AAM: You’ve opened for a lot of major headliners, including Cinderella, Lita Ford, Bang Tango, Gilby Clarke, UFO, Warrant, Molly Hatchet, Michael Schenker… Which of those shows stand out to you the most as just a ‘wow’ moment, like you can hardly believe it was real?
Carlos: A couple of them really… There was a really huge rock crowd at the Canyon Club when we played for Cinderella. It’s always fun playing a big venue with a good band, a good crowd, and all that. On a personal level, I grew up listening to Molly Hatchet. So being able to listen to Molly Hatchet, and hear songs that I grew up listening to, jammin’ to, skippin’ school to, and getting’ in trouble to, as a kid was really cool. I know for a fact that my guitar players both sat at the side of the stage when we opened for Michael Schenker with their jaws just wide open… Studying, staring, watching, and basically in awe. As a matter of fact, Michael Schenker’s wah-wah pedal broke in the middle of the song so my guitar player went up and replaced it, and then Michael Schenker signed it afterwards. I think my guitar player still sleeps with it every night. (Laughs.)
AAM: That’s awesome. You recently had Ira Black (W.A.S./Former Lizzy Borden/Metal Church) play a song with you at the Lita Ford show. How did that come about, and what song did he do?
Carlos: We were over at Bobby Blotzer’s house for ‘Football Sunday’ recently and Ira was there. We just started talking. It was really casual and I said he should come up and jam with us sometime. He immediately asked us when our next show was. I told his it was this Saturday (11/15/12) with Lita Ford. Most guys would have asked what cover song they should learn. But Ira offered to learn one of our original songs right away. He learned one of our tracks called “Whiskey Well” and he came up onstage and jammed with us. We had a good time. It was fun. Ira’s a great player. He’s played in Lizzy Borden and Metal Church. We’ll probably get him to jam with us at some more shows.
AAM: I hope so. I’d like to see that. Speaking of, I think you guys have something in the works for the Rockers Against Cancer Benefit Show January 5th at the Key Club.
Carlos: Yes. We do. I don’t know much about it yet, but Ira has put together something called Ira Black and the Hollywood Hustlers. I’m thinking about singing an Aerosmith song. Bobby is gonna play drums on a couple songs. Chuck Wright from Quiet Riot might be playing bass. I heard Paul Shortino (Rough Cutt/Quiet Riot) might come in. I’m not sure who all Ira is getting to come in, but we’re looking forward to doing the 2nd Annual Rockers Against Cancer Benefit Show for Rob Sheriff Productions. Mandy Lion and Leatherwolf are playing. It’s gonna be a fun time.
AAM: Nice. You also have a couple NAMM shows in the works too, right?
Carlos: Yes. We are playing January 19th at the Rock-n-Roll Gangstar Pre-NAMM Jam. Daryll Boyd, who owns Rock-n-Roll Gangstar does it every year. It’s at Delzano’s By The Sea in Redondo Beach, which is really nice, and right on the ocean. Every year they have a lot of bands and an All-Star Jam. We are definitely looking forward to that one.
AAM: That sounds great. I love our rock n’ roll community. In addition to working with Rob Sheriff Productions, and Rock-n-Roll Gangstar, you’ve also teamed up with my clothing company, Metal Babe Mayhem in an effort to sell and promote Stonebreed Merchandise. What can you tell our readers about this new partnership?
Carlos: That’s exactly what we’re doing. Now you can buy any of our stuff on Metal Babe’s website. You can get our CD’s there, tickets to upcoming concerts, t-shirts, bracelets… Whatever we’ve got. We’re getting ready to do some beanie caps for the winter-time, and all that good stuff. So get your gear at www.metalbabemayhem.com
AAM: Awesome. Thanks Carlos. I’m really glad to be teamed up with Stonebreed and look forward to helping the band any way I can. You’re also playing Malone’s in Santa Ana with Uli Jon Roth on NAMM Saturday, January 26th, 2013. What can you tell us about this show?
Carlos: Yes! This is gonna be a great show because it’s the weekend of the big NAMM Convention, it’s Uli Jon Roth from the Scorpions, and he usually has an All-Star band with him. Last year we played with him NAMM weekend and he had Warren DiMartini from Ratt playing in his band, which is ironic because we had Ratt’s drummer Bobby Blotzer get up and do a few tunes with us that night. So since Uli is such a guitar God-like persona, and all the big reps from all the major companies are in town that weekend, this is a show we are really excited about!
AAM: That’s totally awesome! Is there anything I’ve missed, that you’d like to add, or say your fans?
Carlos: Just check us out. It’s hard for musicians these days. If you went through the 80’s or the 90’s, you know that big record companies just don’t come and take bands and make them a success overnight anymore. Bands actually need to get out there and work hard. It’s important for fans to spend the .99 cents to download one song. So if you like rock n’ roll, and you want to see it stay alive and you don’t want all the money to go to those conglomerate record companies and you want to help the little guys, then buy independent music, support local rock n’ roll and check bands out live. Check us out at www.stonebreed.com, FaceBook, Reverbnation.
AAM: Thank you Carlos. I’d just like to add, that I’m here today with Stonebreed because they were hand-picked to be the Cover Story for the first issue of KAM Magazine because they are hands down one of the best local bands in Los Angeles. So check them out at the links below, head out to a show, and get a copy of their debut CD!