Members: Greg Byrne, Mark Fouche, Kevin Fouche, Alex Qasabian, Billy Handley
The voicemail is simple "Just past the laundromat then turn left, you'll hear us when you get there". Alex is a man of few words.
Inside a poorly lit factory, behind walls of guitars, old paintings and broken amps I find drummer Billy Handley hanging out his washing and cleaning up dirty dishes which have been left on the sink against his wishes. He's not a happy camper as his sign above the sink clearly states "Wash up your own stuff morons!" You see, since Billy's back living at the band's rehearsal space, the rest of Stone Parade feel that this is the fairest way for their newest member to 'pay his dues'. "A little morning fresh wouldn't kill anyone" laughs someone from the other room. I get the vibe these guys know each other a bit too well.
The rest of Stone Parade has gathered around with a jovial manner, more akin to a flock of seagulls after a stray chip than a rock band strung up on appearances. Definitely no swagger here. It's far from what I expected from a Sydney band who only recently won the International Songwriting Competition.
What started out as a jam in a pool side cabana, turned into months of sleeping on floors in LA and has now finally resulted in Stone Parade's second full length album 'Stratosphere' (due for release June 2010). The sound is raw, energetic, rich & vibrant. Add to it they have some quality players behind them including mixer Mark Needham (The Killers) & masters by Leon Zervos (Midnight Oil). The fact the album was not only self-produced, but self-engineered is astonishing. They had no outside influence and relied solely on borrowing mics off friends and using brooms as mic stands when they ran out of gear. This no fuss attitude can be heard in the fibres of every part of the new album.
Gently poured into the back of the mixing desk in equal measure were laughs, tears, sweat, a few empties and many a good time. What came out was the next chapter, the next Stratosphere.
"These songs are meant for the stage. They are meant to be drunk with, danced to and lived out. I really don't know how we have come to write songs in the theme of orbiting around the solar system on an adventurous mission to no where â¦but I like it" says singer Greg Byrne.
Guitarist Kevin chimes in "The songs on Stratosphere are exactly where we are now as a band, where we've been and what we've been through. To me, they are Stone Parade". Next to him his brother Mark smirks at what he's just said. "What we've been through? We have it pretty good mate, we live in the best country in the world and get to play music with our best mates" Mark quips.
The Fouche brothers, Kevin and Mark (bass) have been playing music together since Roxette's 'Look Sharp' back in '88 and although they haven't improved much on their instruments, they make up with it through passion and um..well passion. At times the two can be at each others throats, but I guess that is what makes them such a tight unit. Most arguments are broken with a peace offering of 2 large flat whites and a well timed "Howzit man you ok?" in their delicious impersonation of their South African heritage.
Adding to their eclectic cultural mix is Armenian fishing guru / guitar pedal addict / guitarist Alex Qasabian who has a very un-Armenian love for tomato sauce on absolutely everything. Add to it a pinch of Greg's Irish blood and a tablespoon of Billy's icelandic viking looks and you have a pretty damn good tasting cup cake.
Stone Parade have a warm batch of a dozen or so fresh tunes ready to hit the road in 2010.