INTERVIEW WITH 7 STONE RIOT
‘Enhancing your quality of life with new single MANIPULATION’!
By Stephanie Stevens
Step into the new era of Birmingham, Alabama’s 7 Stone Riot. A band who is unleashing the darker side of rock on their new single ‘Manipulation’, a track significantly mesmerising and melodically haunting with tons of heavier overtones. I was honestly blown away from the growth in sound these guys have created vs. Their old EP “Scratching The Surface”.
The band, brothers Whit Millsap – Vocals, Tyler Millsap – Bass and Todd Millsap – Guitar, along with Reid Aldridge – Guitar and Skyler McCain – Drums started in 2012 as a cover band which helped them find the path to songwriting that they then applied to 7 Stone Riot’s sound. The newest single ‘Manipulation’ is about how we all are manipulated by something whether we believe it or not. The steady flow, heavy power and delicate melody is going to unite music fans of all genres.
Visually, the guys brought even more life to the song as the video is haunting, dark and phantom like, as you watch the “demons” seduce and manipulate and the evocative storyline embeds your thoughts. The growth I see in this band already is making me believe that they are ones to keep your eye on as we roll into 2021.
I had a chance to speak with vocalist Whit Millsap about creating their sound, the unique recording process for the track ’Manipulation’, his biggest role model and what they worked on to get better at as we all went through the chaos of what we called the year 2020.
Q: I love seeing you family as a band. Did you all fall for the music bug around the same time and how did that surface for 7 stone riot?
Whit Millsap: We grew up around music all our lives. Our grandmother was a singer in New Orleans in the 60’s. Our mom was a country singer in the late 90’s early 2000;s where she had a song on the billboard country charts. It took us a little longer to start playing instruments, I was 18 when I got my first guitar and Tyler was 16, but the first day we got them we thought maybe we should do something with this.
Q: You have two other members also in the band. When searching for people to round out the band what were you looking for in musicians to come into this brotherhood?
Whit Millsap: I and Reid played high school baseball together, so we knew each other but we didn’t know music was a big part of our lives. When I first started playing live music, I was doing acoustic covers and Reid saw one of my videos posted on Facebook and sent me a message asking me if I wanted to come and jam sometime. I and Tyler went over there a couple of days later and from that day we decided we should give the band thing a shot.
Q: You guys also worked in an industry where you were around music in a live setting. Tell us how that impacted the business with the artistry of your band?
Whit Millsap: Working for All Events has been one of the most fun jobs I’ve ever worked. It has taught us a lot about running live sound, putting on a lights show, and how to act as a band when you get to those big festival-style shows. We work with a group of amazing sound guys who have helped us understand what each button and knob does on the soundboard so when we get to ours, we can set it up just like we want it. This job it’s given us some close friendships with some great sound guys so whenever we have a show and one of them doesn’t have a gig, they will go with us to our show and run our sound, which is nice.
Q: What is the hardest thing about creating a signature sound for your band when you are surrounded by so many influential role models that you grew up listening to?
Whit Millsap: We don’t think creating our own sound is hard with all the influences. We think all of our different influences is what gives us our sound. We all like different styles of rock music. I tend to lean towards the 90’s rock with bands like Tool, Alice In Chains, and Stone Temple Pilots. I love bands with good melodies, so I also tend to listen to bands such as 3 Doors Down and Matchbox 20. Reid is a fan of the heavier side of music with bands like Sevendust, Tremonti, and Korn. Tyler is a fan of the progressive style with bands like Tesseract, Monuments, and Karnivool. Todd likes it all anywhere from the Weekend to Meshuggah. Skylar is your typical drummer and loves the bands Vinnie Paul, Chris Adler, Shannon Larkin, Jeremy Spencer, and Mike Portnoy are in. I feel like when you mix all of those bands you come up with our sound.
Q: You just released a brand-new song called ‘Manipulation’. An intense word with meaning. What projected the song for you to take this shape lyrically?
Whit Millsap: When you sit back and really think about it everyone is manipulated by something. That’s why everyone has different beliefs. Everyone is pressured into doing things whether you want to do it or not, so you’re manipulated into feeling hate for something or love for something. If someone were to live my life and go through all of my manipulations, they would have the same views just like if I lived someone else’s life, I would probably have totally different views on things. So, in the end we’re all the same, we just have been through different manipulations that have given us the views that we have.
Q: The new song also takes a darker approach musically for you guys do you feel this is the real sound and feel of 7 Stone Riot?
Whit Millsap: We feel like this is the start of the real sound of 7 Stone Riot. We did this song differently than anything else we’ve written. Before we would split up and say each person write their part and then we would come back together and make it a song. With ‘Manipulation’, each person gave their opinion on every part of this song. I feel like this is the approach we will be taking for every song we write now because it really helped fine-tune each part of the song. The melody and lyrics were totally different at the start of this song than it is now because once we all got together and put different ideas into the melodies and lyrics it really started taking a different life that we all loved. Once we changed the melody it opened up even more ideas for the instruments which were really cool to do.
Q: Can you talk about the DIY approach you took for recording the new song and after all was said and done, it turns out it’s one of your favourite sounding songs. What do you think it was that made it more sacred to you?
Whit Millsap: With everything getting locked down at the beginning of the year we felt like this would be the perfect opportunity to release something new. None of the studios were open so what we did was turn our guitar player Reid Aldridge’s garage into a studio. We had a ton of moving blankets, so we created a vocal booth made out of moving blankets plywood and pipping. After that, we then spent some money on some professional mics so we could still get that studio-quality sound out of our recordings. We were able to record every instrument inside the vocal booth we made and to our surprise sounded just like what it would have sounded like if we went to the studio. When we were done with all of the recordings, we sent it to our producer Ken Lanyon who would give us different ideas to do and when that was done, he mixed and mastered it. We were really surprised at how it sounded considering we recorded this all in a garage.
Q: How important to you is “performing” the song be it video or live show and do you feel you can get more of the story out in this way rather than just having fans sit home and listen?
Whit Millsap: I feel like with a video you get a lot more emotion out of the song. With the video, we kinda left it up to the viewer to make their own assumption about what it means. Everyone in the band has different views on what the video is meaning which is what we were going after.
Q: Some bands feel that singles are the way to go since the music industry has changed a bit. What do you feel about that vs full length and where does your band stand on this topic?
Whit Millsap: We all kinda feel like releasing singles is the way to go right now. Recording full-length albums with a professional sound to it takes so much money these days that it’s hard to do that without being signed to a label. With all the advantages we have these days with social media you don’t necessarily need a record label to get noticed you just need a song that catches everyone’s attention.
Q: What is the one thing you worked on in 2020 through this chaos, be it musically or personally, that you have enhanced, or have you learned something new?
Whit Millsap: One of the things we did was upgrade our equipment. Our main goal is to give a professional sounding performance and to do that you have to have the right equipment. We also took a few weeks to ourselves and not thought about anything musical for those few weeks. After those few weeks, we got back together, and our creative mindsets were a lot better so taking a little bit of time off is always a good thing to do.
Q: Who would you consider your biggest role model that has made you the man/musician you are today and why have they?
Whit Millsap: To me, I’m going to have to with Garth Brooks. When I was 3 years old back when he was taking over the world, I was his biggest fan. I used to dress up like him and run around the living room pretending I was him during a concert while a videotape of his concert played on the tv. I knew all his movements on stage and what he was going to say to the crowd. Once I saw him perform and the reaction he would get out of a crowd I always wanted to do what he does.
Q: What do you hope people walk away with after being introduced to 7 Stone Riot?
Whit Millsap: We hope that people really enjoy the messages we’re trying to say with our music. Our messages tend to be uplifting by saying we’re all going through things; you just have to fight through all the bad and you’ll end up where you want to be.
CONNECT WITH THE BAND:
Manipulation (Official Music Video):
Disclaimer: This interview is solely the property of Stephanie Stevens and East Coast Romper, and has been released to Ever Metal on this basis. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this interview, unless you have the strict permission of said party. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.