The Billy Stark Stone & Rico Blythe Interview

Billy Stark Stone w/ Rico Blythe is a new project featuring the aforementioned. Billy Stark Stone was the lead singer/founding member of NYC’s first and original seminal and notorious teen ‘punk’ band, The Blessed. Rico Blythe was the guitarist in a later incarnation of the same that resulted in the release of an EP titled ‘Taboo’ that sold out its initial run. Now Billy and Rico have teamed up to create this exciting new enterprise. Coming hot on the heels of their acclaimed single and video ‘Revolution Rerun’ they have just re-released a re-mastered version of ‘Potters Field’ from the Taboo EP w/ an accompanying Lyric Video. 2018 plans to be a very busy year for them w/ many projects in the works. The big question remains….will they ever play live? Are they even capable of doing so? STAY TUNED.  According to Billy “Everything I have done up to now was a dress rehearsal…now it’s SHOWTIME!”

  1. You just released the revamped version of the song “Potter’s Field”. Everyone song usually has a story or anecdote behind it. What’s the buzz on this one?

Billy Stark Stone & Rico Blythe Well, It’s not really revamped just remastered. But w/the video and the new images I guess you could say it’s somewhat revamped. We like to think it has finally come into fruition. I’m not sure what you mean by ‘Buzz’ but the story behind this song is as follows. Let me preface by saying we are not into embellishing facts nor shaving off years or whatever to accommodate someone else’s idea of what you should or should not say or fit into some asinine idea of ‘The Rules of Rock and Roll’ as if there was some big book of the do’s and don’ts (well, we know the DON’TS HA HA) I have never seen this book and don’t believe it exists and I don’t know why so many subscribe to it. What I’m leading up to is we are all about the unmitigated truth no matter how uncomfortable or salacious (or not) or brutally exposed it can be. We don’t lie about our ages and experience to fit into someone else’s idea of how it should be done or how to present ourselves according to the mythical Rock and Roll Rules. Having said that, this song was recorded and released about 32 years ago (and written a few before that) This period was really ‘Pre-Goth” and lot of bands were doing the whole sad, depressing ,melancholy everything is futile angle so we decided to write a song that was the penultimate of all those feelings and emotions and there you have ‘Potter’s Field’ Now I don’t consider ourselves a ‘Goth’ band in any way ( I think we are beyond goth) but that was the impetus behind it. Listening to it again (and it happens often with some of our songs) after listening to it again, other things popped out at me about what it could be if you look it another way that I never considered. So, overall the passage of time hasn’t dated it all in fact it seems more NOW than it did then. It needed to germinate for a few. Also it features our dear friend Charlie Sox (RIP) on drums and the great Reggie Rhoden on bass and I’m glad Charlie’s fantastic drumming is living on. I know there have been a lot of other songs w/the same title over the years but we were the first out of the gate in ’84

  1. Why did you specifically choose to revamp “Potter’s Field”, and in general what’s the idea of reworking some of your older songs, as I see you’re busy updating a few others too?

Billy Stark Stone & Rico Blythe: We always had planned to remaster ‘Potter’s Field” and the next one but planning to wait until we had our next two NEW singles released (they will be released simultaneously and there is a reason for that but we won’t divulge why now). But there was getting to be too much time since our last single. So, we decided to release them now and keep us in the loop. The reason for re-mastering this and the next one is simply because we think they are great songs that have not dated and sound as if we recorded them yesterday and they really didn’t get their due. In fact …truth be told…wink wink…..some of the NEW songs (emphasis on ‘some’) are in fact revamped songs Rico and I had and we re-arranged and wrote new titles and lyrics to. Not that we are short of material no siree bob, but the songs just resonate now more than ever. Ahead of their time? I dunno, but I do that NOW is just the right time

  1. In your opinion what specific embellishments do your older recordings need to sit on the current music shelves?

Billy Stark Stone & Rico Blythe: Other than the remastering I think what they really need is a hell of a lot more people to hear them. They are fine and are ready for the largest audience they can muster. A good song is a good song is a good song regardless of when it was recorded. Look @ the Rock and Roll from the 50’s.Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Jerry Lee Lewis. Buddy Holly, Elvis, etc. were recorded in a few takes and w/ a few mics…maybe even one and they still sound fantastic. I have said that everything that has happened had to have happened before we could come along

And everything HAS happened so I feel we are as ‘Current ’as can be. The older song’s needed to marinate for a bit. Or maybe the audiences had to marinate and of course many were just not born yet. In any case there was some respective marinating going on.

  1. And talking about ‘music shelves’, with all the music sharing websites and digital download platforms currently flooding the market, what’s your view on the value of music today and how the system works?

Billy Stark Stone & Rico Blythe: Does music have any value? Well, the creator/listener experience, that is INVALUABLE but in the sense you are asking it depends on what delivery system we are talking about and are we talking monetarily? Digital downloads/streaming have very little value as of right now monetarily well, for the artists).I’m sure it will sort itself out in some form or other. But musicians will always record their music in some format or other. That is just not going to go away. It’s nothing new…I have said before every industry in entertainment or what have you have regularly gone thru upheavals. If you told someone in the 50’s and 60’s that someday people would pay to watch TV or buy water in bottles they would have thought you insane. I know a generation or more of kids have grown up accustomed to NOT having to pay for music….so there’s that. It’ll sort itself out somehow. Additionally there is playing live, merch, licensing and who knows what else lies on the horizon. I personally think it’s a very exciting time. Are the models from the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s 80’s and so on viable today? NO Were the movies from the 20’s viable in the 30’s and the movies from the 30’s viable in the 60’s? NO and by viable I mean made in the same way and fashion? Enjoyable yes but society moves on. Discover and discard. So use your imagination and come up w/ a better and more profitable mouse trap. But let me add that one should not IGNORE the past. It’s very important to know the roots of where everything came from so you can learn from it, add yours to it and hopefully pass it on. As we said in our last single ‘Revolution Rerun’ ‘THERE IS NOTHING NEW BENEATH THE SUN, EVERYTHING HAS BEEN SAID AND DONE’ and the kicker is…even THAT is nothing new!

  1. If you had the opportunity to change one thing about the music business, what would that be?

Billy Stark Stone & Rico Blythe:  Just one thing? Ha Ha! Is there a music business anymore? Ok ….that the mundane and mediocre is no longer celebrated and applauded and that these music/judge TV shows will be accepted as they are. Merely entertainment for TV and nothing else. But the cool people know that already right? Hmm that’s two things isn’t it?

  1. How does it feel to be still be a rock and roller after all these years, and what keeps you inspired to continue?

Blly Stark Stone & Rico Blythe: HA! Feels great. Honestly I haven’t felt physically and mentally this strong in I don’t know …ever! I decided to be a Rock and Roll singer (actually Rock and Roll chose me…there are those who have no choice.) when I was 10 or 11 years old and feel like I’m really getting the hang of it Ha Ha! I’m enjoying it more than ever. Plus, I have a few years of experience, including just living life period to draw on so it’s all very very good. What inspires me is what inspired me when I was that little 10 year old and I think one needs to always go back to that frame of mind. When I was that 10 year old I wanted to look and sound and act a certain way and now I look and sound and act exactly like that now so here we are. Let’s go It’s Showtime!!

  1. How important it to you that you perform live music events/gigs?

Billy Stark Stone & Rico Blythe: EXTREMELY IMPORTANT! I think in order to be somewhat relevant or rather to be able to hold your own and deliver the goods as if you mean it, one should be able to bring it live. ESPEC.THESE DAYS. There was time a few back when some bands or performers could get away w/ just recording and doing videos and not playing live either because they didn’t want to or couldn’t for whatever reason but those days for gone for now. Plus I love a live show, that’s really where the whole thing comes together. I passionately love playing live. Now you might ask, WHEN are we going to play live? Are WE capable of it? Go to our website and sign up for our e-mail Website  or subscribe to our YOUTUBE  channel  YT Channel and we will addressing this very subject

  1. I notice that you have released a lyric video for “Potter’s Field”, as well as some other official music clips. How important do you consider visuals are to your music? Or is it more a question of the marketing power YouTube has?

Billy Stark Stone & Rico Blythe:  Visuals are EXTREMELY important. Not only to our music but any group or performer that I was ever interested in. Now visuals could be either the image or whatever creative methodology you use. To me THE WHOLE PACKAGE was the ones were the most worthwhile. Image, visuals, music, and now vids and the whole spectrum of the internet .We are only limited by our imaginations. If anyone is a follower of us on FB or Instagram etc. etc. you will notice that every week or so we have new ‘Artwork’ posted. These are things that are generally done by other groups for flyers or announce a show or what have you .But, with the endless plethora of pages and pages one can avail oneself of…………..why not have a new poster and visual EVERY WEEK OR SO??!!   Let’s get creative here boys and girls and use this technology, utilize and explore it like it was intended Rico and I are vets at going out w/ the bucket and wheatpaste in all kinds of weather. This is much better HA HA! As far as music is concerned You Tube is just the new MTV with a bigger audience. We love recording, we love making videos we love the whole spectrum. We seem to be in a time where the mundane and mediocre is not only celebrated but applauded. We hope to rectify that.

  1. How are your songs developed? Do you handle all the creative processes yourself, from writing the lyrics and the music, as well as the recording, producing and mastering etc.?

Billy Stark Stone & Rico Blythe:  There is a number of way our songs are developed. Rico and I use quite a few methods we have honed over the years. We usually have our antennas up and catch something…’You know, ‘INCOMING’ catching lightning in a bottle You know nobody really ‘WRITES’  anything. It’s all there just waiting for someone to harness it and channel it and smooth it out or rough it up. Rico sometimes records’ a lot of stuff on his own (home studio set up) and /or for everything else (vocals, additional bells and whistles and mixing) we use a studio. We have engineers that do all the technical grunt work but we are always there directing it all. We mix, produce ourselves and then we have a mastering engineer we send the stuff to for that and voila! A new single oh and yes Rico and I handle all the music and lyrics

  1. Once you have created and finished a piece of music, how do you go about distributing and promoting it? Do you use the Internet to facilitate this and what is your relationship with the new technology at hand?

Billy Stark Stone & Rico Blythe: We have an aggregator we use that gets the songs on all the online and streaming platforms worldwide. We use all the usual social media sites and YT and we just got a Vevo channel and we have things coming up that …again….follow us  and like us and friend us wherever applicable and subscribe to our e-mail list for  our latest news and comings and goings. Like everyone else we are navigating the minefield of the detritus that is the music ‘Industry’ and trying to make things as exciting as we can. Ask us again at the end of the year and we’ll see where we are

  1. You have a vast catalog, and apart from the songs you are currently reworking, is there one particular song you have recorded during your career that you’re most proud of, and why?

Billy Stark Stone & Rico Blythe: Actually we don’t have a vast catalog. You mean of things that have been recorded and released? In that vein no, my output in terms of being prolific is rather pathetic. Yes, we (or myself from previous bands) have a lot of material over the years and a vast catalog if you will of songs written and performed live but as I said as far as released…ridiculously lower than what I should have put out. I have studio recorded stuff over the years, different bands and people I have worked with that will hopefully one day see the light of the day. Rico and I have a bunch of older songs obviously throughout the years of our working together but we’re not really re-working all that many…only a handful or so. Rico and I have several dozen songs in various stages, we have the next batch of singles all queued up and waiting for their turn. We have so many ideas and songs and just want to get busy getting them out there. The old ‘What is your favorite song of mine’? Or which one am I most proud of? Well the old THE NEXT ONE answer. Honestly truth be told (remember I’m a stickler for that ) The last single ‘Revolution Rerun’ I’m very proud of ’Potter’s Field’ and the next remastered release coming up I’m very proud of and the new stuff we have planned to release later this year I think are some of the best stuff I have been involved with and am super excited and proud of them

  1. If someone has never heard your music, which keywords would you personally use to describe your overall sound and style now?

Billy Stark Stone & Rico Blythe: Rock and Roll in the year 2018 and beyond. Tell them we are the exclamation point after 60 or so years of Rock and Roll (though I believe Rock and Roll is the world’s first and oldest form of music). The musical mustache on the Mona Lisa of Rock and Roll.  Throw in every genre that has gone before…shake it real well, put it in a blender and pour out a collage that seems to be a summation of it all while simultaneously it’s like you’re seeing/hearing it for the first time. Imagine every artist that has preceded us as the opening act and proceed from there.

  1. How would you describe your musical image? And how important do you think image is to musicians in general and to yourself personally?

Billy Stark Stone & Rico Blythe: I don’t describe our musical image. Look at our pics ,watch our vids and listen to our music and decide for yourself. I personally think image is VERY important. A band can be great musically but if the image sucks then it falls short. On the other hand a band can have a great image but not the music to back it up so another yawn fest. It really is a 50/50 proposition for me at least. I think there are (were) maybe a handful.. if that… of musicians that were so amazing that they could get away w/o having some kind of image. But in our scenario ….this is Rock and Roll (two dirty four letter words these days) When one is going attend a group performance one usually says “I’m going to SEE a concert tonite” “OH, who are you going to SEE? ’or “I SAW a great concert last nite”…”Oh who did you SEE?” no one says” I’m going to hear a concert tonite”…”Oh, who are you going to hear”? Otherwise why is the crowd facing you and you are performing on an elevated platform? They could just sit w/their backs to you and you could just listen. Image and music and presentation and the whole shebang is really what it’s about. You go to SEE a show.  We are a Rock and Roll band in the year 2018 and very aware of what has preceded us and planting our flag here and now and pointing over there. Or is it over there?? And saying ‘Hey, what is down THAT road?? Let’s find out togethe

  1. How would you define ‘success’ regarding your craft? Do you feel you have already reached it? If not what do you feel you would still have to achieve to consider yourself successful?

Billy Stark Stone & Rico Blythe: WelI I wanted to be Rock and Roll singer and perform and record and I have done that so in that sense I guess I was successful but no, I don’t feel I have even scratched the surface……………….so many people who haven’t heard our songs and if we ever play live we want to do clubs, theatres, arenas, stadiums back and forth the whole gamut. We are not household names and have no compunction in stating we would like to be the biggest band in the world whatever that means anymore. But I can hear SOME eyes rolling about us being ambitious. We want as many people as possible to hear our music and if we ever play live we want to play to as many people as we can. As far as any ethos or selling out or any of the other manifesto “ism’s’ that one is supposed to subscribe to….we’re not interested. Alternatively, having a solid audience that is interested in what we do and being to support myself and a wife and family would be OK too. But forget I said the latter and go w/the former

  1. Looking back, has there been one particular moment in your musical career that you’re most proud of?

Billy Stark Stone & Rico Blythe: NO. I don’t look back…only forward. I don’t mind visiting the past, I just don’t want to live there. Being the lead singer/founding member of NYC’S first and original teen punk band (The Blessed) is a nice cred to have in my portfolio. But in retrospect those days Max’s Kansas City, CBGB’S, Mudd Club et al were my high school and college. Now, it’s showtime!

  1. Still looking back, has there been one particular moment in your musical career where you made the wrong decision, which if you could, you would go back and change right now?

Billy Stark Stone & Rico Blythe: YEAH, EVERYTHING, HA HA ! Lots of wrong decisions (and a few right ones) but that is part and parcel of it all. I don’t think anyone who has ever walked on this earth up to and including Moses can look back and didn’t say “Yeah, in hindsight I would have def. done things differently” .That’s life and what experience teaches you .I Don’t know if Moses ever said “Yeah” though.. But in all I wouldn’t change a thing (even going back to my childhood) I believe everything happens for a reason and I had to go thru everything to get where I am today. I’m not nearly finished climbing this mountain All that experience ( band wise and life wise) and I’m still learning  and everything has led up to this…….and it’s showtime!

  1. You been going a long time now, why do you think some older bands willingly put themselves in a corner? Can talent just fade away?

Billy Stark Stone & Rico Blythe: Put yourself in a corner?  Like a time-out if you’re naughty? You mean older bands who are well established and whether they are still being creative or not and continually playing their hits or best well songs? Hmm, well is that such a bad thing to have a bunch of songs that people want to continually hear and want to see you perform live? So, some yes, some no, some maybe, every band is different. I don’t think talent fades but one can certainly not use it and nourish or indulge it and it becomes dormant. Of all the people would you believe I had a conversation with an Opera singer once about this and she told me ‘It never goes away, no matter how much you ignore it, it  will come back and bite you even harder’ I think about that often and I have been bitten REAL HARD

  1. You’ve never been exactly mainstream. Did you ever feel like an outsider in the various music scenes you’ve been through during these years? And if yes, do you consider that to be a positive thing?

Billy Stark Stone & Rico Blythe:  If you mean by mainstream, no we are not pop music or do we pander to the lowest common denominator. But I also don’t see us as some weird niche noise underground only thing.  I can fully see us as being on the charts and being a phenom or whatever. When some subversive Rock and Roll blows up big every cycle or so it’s always quite refreshing, and there’s a lot that needs to be refreshed. I never felt like an outsider. I viewed everyone else as one though.

  1. Latching onto my previous question, music seems to be divided into the tiniest of boxes these days with genres, sub-genres and even post-sub-genres. How important, if at all do you think music genres really are?

Billy Stark Stone & Rico Blythe: Yeah, the genres and sub-genres and sub sub genres and sub sub sub sub what’s up bub genres are getting ridiculous. I understand the genre thing though to an extent. If I’m in a supermarket and want a jar of peanut butter it doesn’t help me to be wandering around the household supplies aisle .So, in some cases designations can be helpful but they shouldn’t define. We need people to be more open minded and discover other things and assist w/that rather than make all these little boxes and trying to sort everyone out by categories and labels

  1. We’ve just kicked off the New Year. What does 2018 hold in store for Billy Stark Stone & Rico Blythe? Besides the reworking of older tunes, will there be new material on the way?

Billy Stark Stone & Rico Blythe: Absolutely there will be new tunes. And there’s sev billion people on this planet who haven’t heard the older ones. It’ll be all new to them. But it’s only a couple of older songs we have remastered, we’re all about the here and now and the future. Here’s a bunch of links for us, so don’t forget to sign up to our e-mail list at our website and all the usual suspects FACEBOOK PAGE   You Tube Channel   Instagram   Twitter Thank you. It’s SHOWTIME!

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