"The Seahawks won a Super Bowl. I got a dog. I'm able to feed myself. I'm able to pay rent...that's been a huge improvement in my life."
It's been six years since Allen Stone's debut album, Last to Speak, was released, and the Washington native has been experiencing a meteoric rise in the years since with his funky, contemporary spin on classic soul and R&B.
"It was a movement of progress; it was a movement of protest. It was a history of music that actually said something. It talked about progressive issues. Not that there's no other music throughout history that's done that, but I really feel like 60s and 70's pop music, soul music, funk music, rock and roll music...it was cool back then to talk about real issues. If you weren't actually talking about the war in Vietnam, or the Civil Rights movement, or Nixon, or hot topics of the time, people didn't like you.
I was talking to an interviewer a couple days ago about John Denver. He was like, 'it's funny you say John Denver, because my generation,' like the flower power generation, 'hated John Denver. Because if you weren't talking about the overthrow of the imperialist adult demographic, if you weren't talking about the Civil Rights movement, or the war in Vietnam, we didn't like you.' I was like, 'shit man. How cool would that be if that was the music industry nowadays?' Nowadays, if you're not talking about sizzurp and Kim Kardashian and Snapchat, you're not cool. It's such a flip flop from what the music was like 50 years ago. That's the type of music that made me want to write songs, really, was the music that...progressed culture. Music that allowed culture to talk about topics that were maybe faux pas, or hard to talk about. I've always been someone who thinks that if you have a microphone you'd better use it wisely."
Last year, Stone released Radius, his first album of new tunes since his self-titled, 2011 sophomore release. And, last month, Stone released a deluxe reissue of Radius that included new tunes that didn't make the cut of the original record. Five years is a bit of a hiatus for an artist as young as Stone, but he made it clear that the delay wasn't by his design.
"It wasn't so much my doing. A lot of it had to do with chance, and I guess you could call it bad luck... I was fine with Capitol and finished the record pretty much by the beginning of 2014. But right when I finished it, the president and vice president who signed me to the label both left. That was about a week after we finished the record. So a whole new team took over the project, and...kind of the classic case scenario, they told me I didn't have a radio hit. So I then went back into the studio and tirelessly worked on it again for about another year actually, in order to get the radio hits done..."Freedom" was the catalyst for them to finally say, "okay, this record is finally ready to come out." So it was done a lot sooner than it was released; that's for sure."
"Freedom" is the big party jam off of Radius, but fans who fell in love with Stone's music because they tackled serious issues weren't disappointed with Radius which still kept Stone's political fire intact and he had plenty to say about the political landscape we operate in today.
"It's 2016 and we're still in the past. We're still as far along in this country as we were 300 years ago. Dealing with the same issues, dealing with the same prejudice, the same ignorance, the same irrationalities...I think that's why I've always hated politics...until Bernie, honestly. I wasn't super politically aware eight years ago when Obama was running for office. Prior to that I could care less. I think this is the first election that I've even cared about a little bit. I was glad to see Obama elected but I wasn't really super active in knowing what was happening or what was going on with the campaign.
I think, unfortunately, that politics in our country is not about what we've needed to deal with for so long. If you look at how the media stirs up this controversy, it's not even about any issues. The things that Donald Trump touches on...he's like that little kid at school, whose comeback is "I know you are but what am I." It's so annoying to try and belittle that child because their comeback is so vain and so stupid and so ridiculous that you can't even talk reality at them. I'm shocked that I live in a country where somebody like that can have any supporters."
Stone is in the midst of a major world tour at the moment, and his warm vibes and old school energy are perfect for the spring/summer tour set, and Stone was very passionate about sharing the tunes off of last year's record (and this year's reissue) with a new audience.
"At the end of the day, it's a privilege to play music. It's an honor and a privilege, and any time you get to stand onstage and have people pay attention to what you're saying and singing, I find joy in that. But there's definitely songs I really love. I love to play 'Fake Future;' I love to play 'American Privilege.' 'Love' is one of my favorite songs to play.
I just hope people receive the music and I hope it blesses them. I hope that I've said something, that I've written something that people can find solace in and makes them think, challenges them, makes them happy or sad, just feel something. I just really hope that this record can cultivate emotions in people, whatever the emotion is, whether it's anger, whether it's joy, sorrow, elatedness. I really just want it to make people feel something. I hope it does."
Radius (Deluxe Edition) is out now on ATO Records and watch our classic session with Stone below.