Since this interview was conducted, the title of the disc, Potter's Field, has been announced for a Summer 2004 release.
cMW: What can you tell us about your upcoming album? Date of release? Number of tracks?
Paul: It is going to have 11 songs on it, I think, and it will be released hopefully June or July. We are still trying to pick out a single so it is based on when the single is ready to go out—the album usually comes out about a month later. So it should be June or July, and it is really energetic. It is the real 12 Stones. Because the first record we wrote in the first month we all knew each other. We were not friends before the band. We all just kind of met one day and started jammin'. We have actually had time to get to know each other and to learn how to play with each other. And now we have the new record so hopefully it should work out.
cMW: Is there a theme or a title yet?
Paul: Not yet. Actually we had a big call yesterday when we went with the art department and started to work on it We are right about that point when the songs are done but now we have to make the album—to make the package.
cMW: You have touched on this already, are there any changes or similarities between the first and this one?
Paul: Yes, like I said, the first one was written really fast. We got signed seven months after becoming a band, and the record was written in the first three months of that. This new record we have all new members. Eric and I are the only two original members. We hired Aaron as our drummer and Greg as our lead guitarist and we have Clint as our bass player. We have been able to just mesh together and make a more energetic record—a much more honest record, I think.
cMW: Honest in what way?
Paul: The last record was more about keeping your head up and this and that. This record still has that same theme, but there is also those tracks of frustration where people come at you and constantly try to set you off. We have one song called, "Far Away" — "now I am feeling so far away / now I am hating you every day." And a lot of people end up hating you and they are just really set back by it. It's not a physical, "I am going to beat you up," kind of hate. It is just that ultimate feel of frustration coming out in the songs. There is a song about a kid that committed suicide that was friends with my sister. I mean there are all kind of just real issue songs that are just honest opinions on those subjects.
cMW: Do you have any sophomore jitters?
Paul: Yes, I think any time you release a bit of yourself, whether it is your first record or your tenth record, you are always going to be nervous to see how people respond to it. We are really proud of it and worked really hard to make it happen so in the months leading up to the release date it is always hard to relax. You are wondering if it is going to do well and if people are going to like it. You always get the jitters.
cMW: Is your relationship with Evanescence more than label-mates?
Paul: Not really. I did the one song with them. They are so busy. The only time I see them is if I am doing something about that song or if I am doing a live show with them. I saw them at the Grammy's.
cMW: Your bassist recently left the band? What was your reaction since it was so close to the beginning of this tour?
Paul: Yes. Kevin had a lot of things he needed to get straight with himself—personal issues back home that he needed to attend to before he could come back out. It was very sudden and it was very unfortunate but we luckily found Clint who is from Connecticut. He came down and auditioned—he played three songs. We gave him the record and said, "You have two days to learn this." And he came back on to the tour. We rehearsed three times through the actual 45 minute sets. So we gave him about 2½ hours of rehearsal time before we did this major tour. And he has pulled it off amazingly. Hopefully we'll be able to work in some new material.
cMW: What is your favorite song to play live? Why?
Paul: Hmmm.... That's a good one. I like doing "Broken" live because that seems to be the one that a lot of people know. And we end on that one so it is always nice to have a really strong—you know, the crowd jumping and going absolutely insane on the last song. That would probably be my favorite one because that is the one most people get into.
cMW: What CDs are you looking forward to releasing this year?
Paul: I am hoping that Three Doors Down comes out with something new. I am really good friends with those guys. They always deliver really good stuff so I look forward to them. There are just so many bands that are working on records. I think it is going to be a good year. I think the music industry will hopefully take a step back to where they were originally going.
cMW: What do you think about downloading music?
Paul: If people want to download a song to see if they like a band, that's totally cool because you never know if you are going to like them. There is no need to spend $20 on a CD if you are not sure if you are going to like them. But my biggest thing is that people don't understand that when bands are on a tour—like right now we have been gone for three weeks and we have not seen girlfriends or family or friends. We are out here sacrificing everything we have. We are not Metallica. So we still have to pay rent every month. We still live check to check.
It's tough because we don't make money like a lot of bands. A lot of people say, "You are on tour. You are in a band. You are set. You got money." That's not the case. You have to sell millions of records to make it to that level. If a person downloads a song and they like the band, the most important thing to do is to go pick up a CD or go and pick up a shirt—anything to do where they can support the band. Because that band lives off of that kind of support, and if people like the song and only download the record, the band gets nothing for it and all three months they spent in the studio making the record goes unnoticed. And the four or five months that you go on the road sometimes end up being pointless when you don't sell records. And the next record—you can't even make the next record because you don't have the amount of money to do it.
It's just important that if you believe in a band and if you want to support that band that the most important thing you can do is go to the store and pick up a record, tell your friends about it. Downloading is fine with me as long as it is not excessive—as long as you are not downloading entire records and taking that away from the people that put their heart and soul into it.
cMW: A lot of times I come across websites where you can hear pieces of a song.
Paul: And I think that is a great idea. I don't want anybody to buy a 12 Stones CD if they don't like it. I'd much rather someone come up to some website and say, "I like these couple songs so I think I am going to pick it up." Or if they are going to a website and they don't like any of it, that's cool. Go spend your money on a band that you want to support. Don't waste money if you don't like it.
cMW: I have read that you want to be known as a "positive" band as opposed to a "Christian" band. What would you say to the parent of a teen who won't allow them to see a "Christian" band playing with a "Mainstream" band in a club?
Paul: Our biggest thing is that each band has to have their own ideals and set standards. And kids today need role models and kids need to have a way to release their frustration. I think during the shows whether it's at a club or whether it's not, if you are not so sure you want your kid to go, then go with them. Go with them so you can experience first hand what they want to do. You might not like the music, but you are at least there watching your kid and making sure they are cool. Bring earplugs and sit in the back. Kids today need to be able have fun and to know that their parents are behind them and believe what they do.
My dad is a cop. He has been a cop since the day I was born. I came home covered in tattoos. I dropped out of college and wanted to join a rock band. He thought I was absolutely insane. And then seven months later we got signed and now he is the biggest fan we have. He shows up to every show that is within 200 miles. He has people at his office—he brings like 40 people to shows. My dad is like the ultimate street teamer. My parents head up the website. When there are people that cannot afford a show, my parents pay for them to get into the shows. They just go out of their way now to be supportive. It makes such a difference in a kid's life when you have something you believe in and your parents are saying, "You know what. It's not necessarily my thing." My dad always talked about how I would grow up to be a cop or someone to protect and serve. When he realized this is what I wanted to do and what I chose to do, he put his pride aside and said, "You are good live. Let's do it." They have people come stay at the house. I come home sometimes and there are 12 Stones fans sitting on the couch watching TV.
It is just very important for parents to support their kids. Obviously don't let them go out and get in trouble. But let them have freedom and let them enjoy life because if you don't, it is going to hurt them in the long run.
cMW: If you could take away the difference between, for lack of better terms, "Christian" and "Mainstream" music; if you could break down that barrier, what would you do?
Paul: It is hard to say. For 12 Stones it has always been about trying to be a good role model and trying to be positive. There are bands out there that don't agree with being positive. They want to release all their frustrations and tell how they were beaten when they were little. That is cool because that creates a balance. I think that if music was all positive and all excessive, there would be nothing unique about positive music. And if music was completely negative, then there would be nothing special about negative music. I think that life as a whole is all about balance, and it is all about unity and you have to have the good and the bad in order to make things accomplish. There has to be some kind of disagreement for progress to be made a lot of time. If every band were up here signing positive, people would get sick of being positive and I think it would have a total opposite affect. I am definitely not agreeing with a lot of things that bands are saying today, but I am happy that we can be out here and at least be a band that is all about believing in yourself. If a person listens to 12 Stones and it helps them on a spiritual level, and they feel like they can relate on a spiritual level, then that is what we enjoy. If there is another person who has never been to church and doesn't know anything about spirituality, but hears a 12 Stones song and it affects them and they enjoy it, then that is just as important to us as the people who are reached on a spiritual level.
We have had people come up and say, "I was a heroine addict and I was actually in the process of trying to O.D. myself, and a song of yours came on the radio and it changed my life. I quit heroine." That dude had never been to church in his life, but he still did not kill himself and he did not overdose himself because of a song that was written. You never in a million years would think it would affect someone like that. For us it is not always about reaching somebody on a spiritual level. We want to reach everybody with good music, hopefully.
cMW: Where do you see yourself in five years?
Paul: Hopefully on a stage or in a studio somewhere. I love what I do too much to think about giving it up. And when 12 Stones is done, I would like to work at a studio. I'll always do something music related—working for a record label—whatever. I love music too much to let it go. I have done every minimum wage job you can think of in the world, from selling Christmas trees, working at grocery stores, fixing cars—I have done it all. I found this and I was like, "This is what I do. This is what I love."