The Violet Stones Interview/Album Review by Isaac Eustice

Updated: Mar 24

Isaac: So how did you meet the other members- what’s the story behind the band?

Sarah: So, we met at school. I went to school with Jarrod and Mate’- we’re in the same year. Our music teacher put us together to play songs for assembly, so we were thrust together, sort of. When school ended, we weren’t really a band anymore, then I contacted them a year and a bit later and I asked them if they wanted to start a band again. Later we added Neil, from a mutual friend.

Isaac: How old is everyone?

Sarah: The youngest is Neil. He just turned 21. Jarrod’s 22- he’s turning 23 this year. I’m 21, turning 22 next month.

Isaac: So you do vocals and guitar right? What do the others play…

Sarah: Yeah, Neil plays bass and does backing vocals and Jarrod is lead guitar and we don’t actually have a permanent drummer anymore ‘cause Mate’ left last year. We’re currently playing with a temp drummer...we’re in the middle of recording our second record... Mate’ did record some drum parts for that.

Isaac: How long have you been playing music?

Sarah: Since-I don’t know-since I can remember. My dad got me piano lessons. I don’t remember when I started, but I was young, then I transitioned over to guitar, and then singing, so it’s been a while.

Isaac: I found your music somewhat nostalgic...I hear a lot of ‘90s influences in there...the punk and grunge sounds. Do you find past eras more inspirational than a lot of today’s music?

Sarah: I don’t think I’m one of those people who’s like “bring back the ‘90s” ‘cause there are actually a lot of bands today that are still great. You just have to look in the right places I guess, but there’s a lot of good bands from that era- obviously Nirvana, and Hole and Soundgarden’s stuff.

Isaac: What current bands do you like?

Sarah: There’s a band called Hands Off Gretel. There’s Gouge Away. Skating Polly. I’m probably forgetting a lot. I’ll have to look through my music.

Isaac: What’s the music scene like in Sydney?

Sarah: It’s not the best. We did a lot of our gigging in 2017. I haven’t been to many other cities, and like, explored their music scenes, but a lot of people say it’s not as good as Melbourne. So I don’t think it’s great...I know the scene’s good in Wollongong, an hour-and-a-half down south… you just have to go out a lot. I don’t go out a lot myself...I’m more of a homebody...we’ve done two house shows. There’s a house show that goes on every month in Doonside that’s really cool- it’s just around the corner from us. It’s a really good scene there- really nice vibe. We played another house show in Wollongong. Metro Theater is a really good venue. A lot of international acts play there, like Seether played there, Dillinger Escape Plan played there.

Isaac: Are there any other local bands in your area people should check out?

Sarah: There’s a newish band called Lucid Hoops. They opened for us at our album launch. They’re really good. I don’t think they’ve released anything yet but they’re pretty good.

Isaac: Where would you guys want to tour if you could go anywhere and money wasn’t an issue?

Sarah: I don’t know- anywhere out of Sydney! I’ve always wanted to go to the U.S., probably Seattle to see all of the Nirvana Tribute stuff. I was a big fangirl so I’d have to see that at some point. If I was in America, I’d be travelling everywhere...it’s so restrictive in Australia ‘cause we only have so many cities. There’s like 2-3 good cities we can go to, and the rest are like okay. The cities are on the coasts mostly.

Isaac: I heard you guys had some pretty bad fires going on…

Sarah: Yeah, it’s pretty bad, but it rained the last couple days. It stormed yesterday. The rain was quite heavy, which was good. We’re okay right now...the really big fire is like an hour’s drive from where we are.

Isaac: How long did it take you guys to write and record Exordium?

Sarah: I wrote all the songs by myself when I was like 15-16. It wasn’t until I found them and brought the songs to them...it took us like 2 years to actually record it...I didn’t have a job then. I was still at uni so I didn’t have a way to pay for it. Then I got a job… so, it took us not long to write it, and 2 years to record it!

Isaac: So it was all self-produced?

Sarah: Yeah, we recorded the drums at my family’s church and the guitars at a friend of ours’ house- he has some good gear- and then we recorded bass and vocals at my house. It was like, D.I.Y. We got it mixed by a guy called Adam Barns. It was back and forth...saying what we wanted to change on the mixes, so it took a while, but he’s good. He’s into the whole ‘90s thing so he understood what we wanted. My dad’s an engineer and a drummer as well so we’re using all his gear.

Isaac: What artists would you most like to play/tour with?

Sarah: Probably Tired Lion. That’s a band I forgot to mention- they’re a current Australian band. The Dead Love, as well. They’re an Australian band. I’ve seen them so many times. They’re ‘90s influenced as well. They’re great, really good live shows, the energy’s always great.

Isaac: So what’s the song “Machine” about, those lyrics were really interesting, kind of mysterious…

Sarah: My songs aren’t ever about one thing. I pull different lyrics for different parts of what’s happening, different themes...and some songs are about nothing! You can probably tell it’s about Kurt, Nirvana...and some feminist themes.

Isaac: What have you been listening to lately?

Sarah: I’ve been listening to a lot of Fugazi...all their albums...and Cave In, their two albums Perfect Pitch Black and Antennae. They were a metal band that went more alternative. I’ve also been listening to Fantastic Planet, Failure, and like, every Radiohead album haha.

Isaac: What do you think about the current state of the music industry?

Sarah: The music industry right now...I don’t like how it’s really about who you know...like Triple J...is a big website and a way a lot of bands get noticed...one of the only ways you get big in Australia...if you make it on Triple J that’s all about sounding like the Triple J sound and knowing the right people. It’s just really hard to get into...it’s completely missing the whole point of music...putting focus on marketing over the actual music.

Isaac: What are some social issues you’re concerned about that you address in your music or would like to see change?

Sarah: Feminism, being a girl in the music industry. We played a show last week. There were five bands...like 20 people and I was the only girl. Why is it like that? For our album launch, I made sure there was at least one girl in every band that opened. I think it’s really important to have that diversity. It’s harder for younger girls- you need someone to look up to. I’ve written some songs about animal rights- that’s really important to me. Especially with the fires...it’s frustrating how people have so much empathy for the animals dying in the fires but then they don’t give a second thought to the animals that they’re eating.

Isaac: Do people mosh at your shows?

Sarah: Sometimes! If we get enough people. We played a show at the Chippo Hotel and there was a mosh there, you just need the right audience. Sometimes they wanna just sit there and just watch and nod their heads, they wouldn’t mosh. But you can mosh to our songs, it’s very possible!

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Exordium

Noun - the beginning or introductory part, especially of a discourse or treatise.

(Oxford Dictionary)

Finally, Sydney rockers The Violet Stones’ debut effort Exordium has provided a powerful defense for the beauty, simplicity, and ferocious aural power of good ol’ fashioned rock n’ roll. If Exordium is the introductory argument of a discourse, this looks to be the prologue to a manifesto. It’s been a long time since I’ve been thoroughly riveted by a new rock band; in fact, I don’t think I’ve heard anything since discovering Wavves five years ago, which has so captivated my attention and reminded me of why I fell in love with rock music in the first place. While there’s plenty of nostalgia present within the 44 minute, 12 track album combining the best elements of the ‘90s alternative universe of grunge, punk, and metal; their strong songwriting; polished production; and skilled instrumentals are evidence of a band that, rather than merely recreating the past (as you might expect from any run-of-the-mill garage outfit), they are moving the genre forward with their own unique interpretation of a timeless form. But I digress…

The first shimmering chords to “Angel Eyes” provide a gentle push over the edge of a rollercoaster of big, mean, textured guitars; rumbling, pocketed bassistry; precisely thundering drums; and earnest, belted vocals with plenty of hooky melodies and male/female harmonies harkening back to the Pixies, that is, if the Pixies could sing well and Kim Deal ran the show. The 44 minutes flies by seamlessly at a fast pace which mixes in plenty of vibey variations to keep it dynamically interesting. A four piece, the Violet Stones show how much a few good musicians can do with three chords and the truth, bringing the best elements of power-pop and grungy hard rock together in a refreshing, accessible way.

The opening lyrics: 'All that’s left it to fade away/All that’s done has no more to say/His name it burns/Grave overturns/Gravity fail us now/Found a weakness by your side/Happiness in the ones who died/Anaemic cancer eyes/Left alone and despised’

evoke tragic memories of Kurt Cobain, revealing frontwoman Sarah Jane’s lyrical talent, marked by her vivid descriptions of brooding, complex emotional states with a brevity and punch even Hemmingway couldn’t shoot at. With powerful vocals combining Kurt Cobain’s angst with Haley Williams swagger, Sarah’s voice is distinct in its clarity, sincerity, and simultaneously mystical and ferocious energy.

Despite the raw, confessional nature of songs like “Loathing” (whose introverted lyrics are well-complimented by a shimmering, tasty gypsy-esque lead and a jazzy rhythm section), Sarah’s lyrics and melodies always somehow break the surface of gloom’s deep waters in the triumph of self-expression. Rather than being morbid, her darkness is a cathartic journey through an emotional underworld whose ultimate destination is best expressed by the track “Say What You Want”, a thrashy banger whose alternatingly palm muted and blasting guitars would see the shyest of us moshing.

Sarah Jane and her bandmates have set themselves above many of their alt-rock/pop-punk peers with their pop sensibilities and judicious use of musical dynamics. They know how to explode, but they know how to bring it back down, and all the intricacies in between. The tight, funky rhythm section of Neil (bass) and Mate’ (drums) keep the songs grooving with plenty of unexpected syncopations and subtlety, without overplaying and drowning the ultimately simple punk ethos. Jarrod’s tasty lead adds flourishes of colorful melody to Sarah’s crunchy power chords, but he will occasionally break through his musical reserve with shreddy solos reminiscent of Axel Rose and Dave Mustaine.

While the whole album is a great ride from start to finish, one of the standout tracks would have to be “Awkward”, breaking up the normally rapid tempo with a slower, sludgier, doomier groove whose melodic bassline, minor-key harmonies, and squealing guitar licks forms the heavy, metal-ish wall of thunder for what seems to be an otherwise heartfelt, dare-I-say sweet song about romantic longing.

“Intensify” is a fun, pop-punk rocker lamenting the steady, inner decline of a loved one who has become a ghost of their former self. The heavy subject matter is contrasted by an upbeat, hooky delivery. This one was definitely intended to get stuck in your head, and to be belted out your rolled down windows on a sunny drive.

Closing things out in epic fashion, “Machine” muses on Kurt Cobain’s fate, misogyny, and the tragedy of being misunderstood, with guitars erupting from a delicately melancholy intro to a bluesy, sassy, four-on-the-floor, lead-heavy stomp which accelerates to a final, climactic gallop at a breakneck thrash-metal pace.

All in all, this album was a blast. The Violet Stones have a knack for writing catchy, exhilarating music and I can’t wait to hear what they do next. Do yourself and the Violet Stones a solid and buy a copy of Exordium here https://thevioletstones.bigcartel.com/ to support these up-and-coming Aussie grunge heros who are fighting to bring the heart, soul, and angst back to music. Be sure to check them out on Spotify, YouTube, Instagram and their website.


The Violet Stones are currently writing and recording their second album.

Stream or purchase their debut album, Exordium here:

https://www.thevioletstones.com/

open.spotify.com/artist/6JO9r1KeYtIBEGBga2ld2x

Follow them on Instagram and YouTube:

https://www.instagram.com/thevioletstones/

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCuqnOwMRiv8m84juttTZ5IA