Stages and Stereos

by:  Nicole Juliette Hetlyn

Some musicians make music for fame, fortune, and many of the wrong reasons.  However, there are still artists out there who are making music because it is their passion and because they truly care about music and the music community.  Stages and Stereos falls into that second category.  I’ve chatted with the guys a few times for interviews over the past 6 years, and I can 100% tell you that they are the most humble, genuine, authentic guys I have ever met.  They are busting their asses constantly writing new music and playing shows because they want to.  Their love for music is infectious and they are so driven.  They are also some of the most talented and hilarious guys I have ever met!  We caught up before their show in Nashville (at The End, on tour with Rookie of the Year) to talk about band member changes, new music, and… machetes?

Daniel Lancaster - vocals/bass
Randall Karriker - guitar
Stephen Elwell - guitar
Delorean Fullington - bass
Longineu W. Parsons - drums

After a three year break, you’re back.  Band changes, an evolving sound.  What happened in the three years and where are you at now?

DL:  With the last line-up, where we toured with Set It Off and Our Last NIght, we got money from the label to go record some demos.  We hit a weird direction with it, and the label ended up passing on it.  Things fizzled a bit after that.  It was hard to get everyone together, we all lived hours away.  I got sick of relying on other people to make music, so I learned how to do it myself.  I’m not tech savvy, I am more of the outdoors type.  It took two years just to figure out how to demo.  I wrote a bunch of R&B songs, or half songs.  It was more of a challenge than I expected.  I reached out to some of the old members from back in the day.  We started recording our own stuff and it got the attention of Randall, who has a studio in Orlando called Red Oak Collective.  He recorded us for free since he believed in the band.  
RK: I had been friends and fans of them, and I really believed in them.  I wanted to help them out, and everything seemed legitimate.  
DL:  Randall ended up joining the band, but we didn’t have a drummer yet.  It initially started with Randall just tracking what myself and Stephen had done.  We clicked instantly and kept on moving.

Your latest single, “We’re Fucked, Boys,” is the fourth track you’ve released since February and definitely has the most kick.  It also features LP (formerly of Yellowcard) on drums.  How did this collaboration come about?

DL:  Longineu plays drums on the two newest singles.
LP:  Yeah, I play on “Julia Gulia” and “We’re Fucked Boys.”  The tempo is a bit faster on them. People seemed to like the changes, it came naturally.
DL:  Everything came so organically.  We haven’t had to force anything, except for the logistics.  
LP:  As far as creatively, we have added new elements and it has been smooth.  I have learned with the last group that I was with that it can be musical chairs with members.  When a new member comes in, it changes the dynamics and everyone’s point of view.  The first three shows also had Daniel singing while playing the bass.
DL:  It was definitely a bigger challenge than I expected.  It’s not that I couldn’t do it, it’s just that I couldn’t focus as much on singing, which is why I am here.
LP:  What I’ve noticed from being new into it, from “the inside out” is that Daniel is a great frontman. He is theatrical and knows how to speak the words so that you get the emotion.  Now that we’ve relieved that part so that he can be himself on stage, it’s gone to another level.  Delorean and I have been playing together for 17 years; funk, fusion, jazz..  Him and I had been vibing together for years and were able to “put a little soul to it.”  Between my background with Yellowcard, pop, and jazz, and what Delorean had, we were able to contribute a bunch of different styles.  This is just the start of it, we have a long way to go!
NH:  If you listen to “Anchorless,” “1990,” “Julia Gulia,” I feel like you can still hear “Stages and Stereos” in every single song.  Your sound is definitely evolving, but you have always stayed true to yourselves.
DF:  I really appreciate you saying that, that was the goal.  
DL:  We are using the same chord progressions we always have, and I write a lot of the hooks and melodies.  I hope that it has gotten better, it’s still in the same pocket that I have always enjoyed.  Adding these new members has helped to evolve the band quite a bit, and I love how much faster it has gotten.  I like how much more technical we can get without sounding technical, it’s refreshing.  
LP:  It has been a refreshing change to be in a band where we all get along.  Randy approached me with the gig in Orlando where his studio is.  He asked me to check out the project, and it went from recording to where we are now.  This is just the beginning, and I can’t wait to see what we are able to do.  
DL:  The three of them are classically trained, plus the two of them (Delorean and Longineu) are trained in jazz, so they are very seasoned.  I feel like they challenge me as a musician.  They are on a different caliber, I love the challenge.  When I wasn’t able to get to LP, he came to me, and I gained a lot of respect for him.  He helped me assess my performance as a frontman.
LP:  I think it added 200%.
RK:  When you have a singer that is so natural with a crowd, you want to work with that.  Let them do what they are doing.  
DL:  I enjoy connecting with the band, the instrument was more of a prop.
LP:  As a drummer, I get to see everything from the back, from a different perspective.  The last singer I had that was theatrical was Adam Lambert, and he is a performer.  You can feel him connect with both the crowd and the band.  We all vibe off of that energy.

What are three must have items for tour?

DL:  Weed. Stages rolls.
LP:  It’s 2017, weed is a necessity.  Protection.  I don’t mean condoms. (laughter).
DL:  We all believe in the second amendment.
LP:  As far as smoking, it’s been sheltered for so long.  Yellowcard started by smoking weed.  Years before Ryan Key even joined the band, ‘93-’94, that group was formed on marijuana.  Randy was there, we all sat and smoked, and we were called Purgatory and Embellish, all sorts of names before we picked Yellowcard.  It brought us together.  Once the weed went away, you see what happens..
RK:  Everyone stops smoking, and then they all want to kill eachother.
DL:  We’re not reckless with it.
LP:  This is an issue throughout the world, and I feel like it needs to be more openly addressed.  It can cure cancer.  Showers would also be great.
DL:  Alright we need another item.. I would bring clothing. My toothbrush.
LP:  Music.  Guns.
DL:  Definitely weed.  Actually, I would bring a machete.
RK:  No one is going to come to any of our shows anymore!!
DL:  We explore some cool places, and maybe I would want or need a machete?!
(laughter from everyone, and a good detailed conversation on why we need weed and machetes at all times…)
Final answer:  Machete, weed, and guns.  What other band would bring this shit?!  #Trendsetter
DL:  People care so much of what others think.  If we can’t be ourselves, then why are we here?  Stop caring so much, be yourself and have some fun!
RK:  That has been one of the best things with this tour.  Everyone is legitimately cool.  
DL:  We don’t bring egos with us! If you have an ego, check it at the door.  One ego is enough to ruin a band, so we stay clear of that.  No one “one-ups” another, we challenge each other instead.  No one tells us what we should be doing, we are in control.

What can we expect for the rest of 2017?

DL:  We are releasing a full length record (you’re hearing this first, exclusively through Savvage Media)!  After being on and off for ten years, it’ll be our debut full length.  It’s crazy.  We waited long enough, a lot of people rush into something like that.  Stages almost caught that wave, the “Mayday Parade wave” the “All Time Low wave” but we didn’t.  That’s just the cycle of the music industry.  This style of music will never die, we just need to ride our own wave.  We aren’t really bringing machetes to our shows!  I met Delorean at practice with Longineu, and we had a great conversation.  Their jazz music with their dad is on a whole new level.  We also have a festival coming up in Tallahassee (more information to be announced).  Buckle down, make the record, play some shows.  The record is first, then become the biggest band in the world.
LP:  New record, protection, and satisfaction.  

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