All Access Magazine Articles

November 16, 2006

Speaking to Stones :: On The Brink of Greatness

Interview with Tony Vinci and David Callari

By The Atomic Chaser and The Rocker

Incorporating influences as diverse as Progressive to RandB, Speaking To Stones musical style encompasses many different styles and genres. Bands such as Rush, Dream Theater and King’s X may be obvious at first listen but numerous plays of the CD also reveals touches of Marillion, Soundgarden and Peter Gabriel just to name a few. Though the CD has its fair share of chops-laden technicality, there is also strong attention given to making progressive music that grooves and has strong melodic sensibilities. One does not need to be a fan of only progressive music per se to enjoy the broad musical styles that ruminate throughout the CD.

Speaking To Stones the album was written between the Fall of 2004 and the Summer of 2006, the songs that comprise the CD were written and recorded sporadically. “Down,” Shallow,” and “Waiting For . . .” were written and recorded within a couple of months. The rest of the songs were written and demoed in the Spring of 2004. It took almost two years of faith and diligent effort to finally record the rest of the material and re-record parts of those original tracks to create the completed CD.

In the Fall of 2004, Tony Vinci, David Callari, and Steve Germano began an unnamed band that aimed to meld the intense musicality of progressive rock with a modern “popular” sensibility. A few songs were written, but the full chemistry needed for a band seemed to be absent, so Tony and David decided to finish writing and recording a CD together. Along with Rich Dellapietra on keys and Richard Fink IV on vocals, they created a three-song demo. At that point, due to schedules and life, Tony wrote the rest of the CD’s material on his own. Once everything was written, David came back in to write and record bass for the majority of the rest of the CD. Once David’s parts were finished, Richard Fink IV returned to record and finalise vocals and was responsible for the lion’s share of the vocal melody and harmony ideas.

AAM: How long were in the studio recording your CD? How many songs did you actually write for the CD?

TV:The music was written and recorded over a three-year period in many different situations. Some songs were written collaboratively; others I wrote on my own. There was only one song that was written that didn’t make it on the record.

AAM: Speaking To Stones' music has been described as an aggressive form of progressive rock music. Comparisons to, King's X, Dream Theater and Fates Warning. How would you describe your sound?

TV:I’m not so sure the songs themselves are all that progressive, though I definitely consider myself to be a musician of progressive music. I think the music captures the feeling, the aura of progressive rock and metal, but it’s performed with a raw, aggressive energy.

DC: Trying to put an actual label to this music is somewhat difficult. I think the term progressive leads one to thinking in the context of something that is changing or moving something in the direction of change over time. Though these songs do not fall into typical progressive construction (ie time changes, complex rhythmic or arrangement shifts), there is diversity amongst the songs themselves individually that leads it to a progression of moods rather than just musical complexity. Certainly the songs have within themselves technical complexity as far as the performances of the individual instrumentalists, particularly the guitar and keyboard work at different moments.

AAM: What separates Speaking To Stones from the other bands that out at the moment?

TV:Mainly, I think it’s the diversity of styles. While I hope the songs compliment each other, I could imagine each of them appearing on different cds each in different genres.

DC: Since there really is nothing original in and of it-self out there, a discriminating listener can identify the influences of prior works and prior recordings on the cd. I think what really separates bands are the messages in their music and the overall sound of the band in the culminating or joining of these disparate individuals and what they bring to the table from each one’s identity’s.

AAM: Were there any memorable moments in the studio while you were recording?

TV:Tons! My favorite is the day before I recorded solos for most of the cd, I burned the fingers on my left hand while cooking dinner. I don’t remember exactly what I did—I probably picked up something from the oven with bare fingers or something. Somehow, I had completely forgotten about this when I tried to warm up the next day. I couldn’t do anything! I couldn’t even bend a string. It hurt too much. I was scared as hell. I thought that the strength in my fingers had disappeared overnight. I usually play with .10’s, so I switched to .09’s and tried that; I still could barely play, but I had to get these solos recorded. So, after a couple hours of panic and frustration, I said, “Screw it!” and hit record. Every note hurt like hell, but it didn’t matter—I was going to finish these solos! Oddly enough, I think all that pain helped out. There’s an urgency in some of those solos that I think comes across. The pain forced me not to think too much about what I was playing and just play from the heart. So I improvised the solos in a few takes and moved on to the next song. The next day I picked up my guitar and could play easily. It wasn’t until weeks afterward when a friend asked me how my fingers were that I realized what the hell had happened.

AAM: Who are your musical influences? If you were to press play on your CD player right now, what would we hear?

TV: King’s X’s “Ogre Tones.” That album freakin’ rocks! I just love the way those guys sound—simultaneously tight and loose, ya know? Besides King’s X, the usual: Dream Theater, Satriani, Vai, Fates Warning. As a kid, I loved metal and Mozart, so I was always into Testament, Forbidden, King Diamond — bands that were heavy as hell but displayed virtuosic musicianship. But I also like a lot of more folk-oriented stuff like Loreena McKennitt. I guess I enjoy the balance between simplicity and complexity. I love how a band will have a simple groove or melody and then complicate tonally by adding a dissonant harmony or rhythmically by dropping or adding beats — that’s why I love Dream Theater so much.

DC: My influences are all over the place really. Although my dad was not a musician, he was a music aficionado and my childhood was replete with exposure to various genres including jazz, classical, R & B, progressive and hard rock. As I grew older Rush was huge, as was Yes and Genesis. Maiden and Metallica were in there, as well as DT.
King’s X eclipsed everything for me when I discovered them in 88’, and they have influenced me not only as a musician but also as a human being. If you were to press play on my cd player, Porcupine Tree’s Deadwing would be what you hear. Outstanding band...

AAM: Will their be Speaking To Stones Tour in the U.S. and overseas? Who would you like to tour with?

TV:We’re not sure yet. As of this moment, nothing is planned, though you never know. Selfishly, I’d love to tour with Satriani, just so I could hang out and learn.

AAM: Are their plans of making a DVD for the band? A behind the scenes or live footage?

TV: Not at the moment. There certainly isn’t enough history for a behind the scenes thing, and well, we’re not very good at being narcissists at this point...

AAM: Is there anything else you would like to add?

DC: We would like to thank Lion Music for giving us this great opportunity because there are so many good bands out there (just look at the stuff on MySpace alone), and also to Steve Bauer for his belief and support. I personally had my doubts about the whole thing as far as a deal was concerned, and Steve constantly reassured me that it was going to get done, one way or the other. Thanks Steve! for more info on SPEAKING TO STONES

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