Once again I have to give props to my good friend Shauna over at New Ocean Media for getting on me about STONE SOUL FOUNDATION. If not for her, I would have surely missed out on a great record in Electric Valley, and if I hadn’t heard said record, I never would have gotten to interview guitarist Jeff Wiggins to talk about latest single “Taking Back the U.S.” and find out just what makes SSF tick. So here it is, my interview with Jeff:
Amps: First thing I noticed about the record were “Christian” and “Song About You”. They’re a little bit angry so tell me about that.
Jeff: (Laughing) “Christian” is all about some of the hypocrites in organized religion. You know the ones who don’t practice what they preach. I didn’t personally write the lyrics, Sean (Muldoon, vocals) did. I think the bottom line is really to practice what you preach. And “Song About You” is actually kind of tongue-in-cheek. It’s so ridiculously angry that it’s funny. Musically, it actually started out a lot quirkier than it ended up. But we started working on it some more and changed the approach, and that’s what came about. We hope that people got the comical side of it despite it being angry. Plus, it depends on your mood when you listen to it.
Amps: “Taking Back the U.S.” is a real rockin’ tune! Will that be on the next record and if so, when do we anticipate a new release?
Jeff: Right now that song is just a stand-alone single but we will be including that on our next full-length release. We’re pretty heavy into the writing process right now, putting together songs and ideas. We were hoping to be able to release the album before the end of 2014.
Amps: How does the writing work in Stone Soul Foundation? What’s the split?
Jeff: We take a few different approaches. Typically Sean writes most of the lyrical content and he may either come to us and say, “Hey I got these really killer lyrics and here’s the vibe I was thinking of” and then we’ll have him sing it to us and I try to write around what he’s singing, or another approach is I collect riffs and record a bunch of stuff at home. I’ll play some of ‘em for the guys and if there’s a spark there Sean will grab his notepad and start banging away and we start creating. In the end everybody has had a chance to offer something to the music.
Amps: What songs in your setlist really get you amped up to play them?
Jeff: Usually the newer stuff because you’re excited to play it and it’s fresh. Some of the older tunes that really get our crowds going, too, like this one off our first album (Into the Flames) called “Heavy Hand”. “Christian” gets me fired up for sure. The fan favorites really do it for me. We do it for ourselves, but it’s about feeding off that energy.
Amps: “I Master” is one of my favorites on the record, especially that solo.
Jeff: I’m one of those players; I’m all about the song, so there’s not a lot of them where there are any three minute solos or anything. I like to keep ‘em short and sweet, which is kind of what we had going on there. Just let ‘er rip, man.
Amps: Yeah, your soloing is real fluid. It kind of reminds me of one of my favorite players, Ross Childress (ex-COLLECTIVE SOUL).
Jeff: Oh, sweet man! I never get that comparison but I appreciate it. My thing is to just play a note, man, and play it really freakin’ good. I like to shred, too, but I like to have that sultry harmony to it as well, where you’re playing based off of emotion and not overplaying or jackin’ off on the fretboard going, “Look what I can do!”
Amps: Have there been any Spinal Tap moments in the band’s career thus far?
Jeff: (Laughing) yeah, mostly gigs that no one showed up to!! You pull up to a festival and there’s a broken down trailer, one Port-a-John and maybe five people there, that kind of stuff! Or the band onstage winds up outnumbering the people in the crowd. Hell, that STILL happens once in a while!
Amps: Do you guys ever get down this way to Dallas?
Jeff: Yeah, we’ve played down there a couple of times, Austin too. Man, I tell you what, it’s nice down there.
Amps: Yeah, well damn Austin, you never mind Austin. Focus on Dallas where I need to see SSF! Are you planning an interstate run in 2014?
Jeff: (Laughing) I hear you, I hear you. We’re definitely wanting to do that and for sure, this isn’t gonna make you happy, but we want to do an east coast run since we haven’t done one in a while. But who knows where we’ll end up and when?
Amps: Do you have any particular cities or venues that stand out to you?
Jeff: Obviously, down South in Texas, That’s always fun. We played the Whiskey A-Go-Go and that was something that not too many people get to do. Our hometown gigs are always a lot of fun, too.
Amps: What’s next for Stone Soul Foundation?
Jeff: We are knee-deep in writing new songs and also working on a tribute to grunge. We’re thinking about doing a set of that. We’re also thinking about a tribute to BLACK SABBATH of course! Who knows, maybe we’ll do another Kickstarter campaign to help raise funds for the recording and touring in 2014. We’re working with Oscar Mike, an all American-made apparel company that’s Veteran-owned. They employ Vets and they donate for Veterans sporting events. The coolest part of that is everything is 100% made in the USA, and we wanna be part of something that helps manufacturing in America.
Amps: Hey Jeff thanks so much for taking some time to speak with me. We look forward to seeing you down here in Dallas in 2014.
STONE SOUL FOUNDATION is not only a great band, but a great bunch of guys. If they’re on tour in your city, do yourself a favor and go see them. I can’t wait till they hit my neck of the woods!