After hitting the music scene at lightening speed, selling 500,000 copies of their debut and sophomore albums, 12 Stones are returning as the underdogs once again. More than six years has passed since the band met, gigged and were scooped up by Wind-Up Records after just thirteen shows.
A chance meeting at a music store started the whirlwind of their first two years as vocalist Paul McCoy recalls, "none of us were friends prior to being in the band. The guitar player, Eric, and our previous drummer both worked there and I came in just to play around with some instruments. It was like 'O.K you sing, you play guitar, that's cool.' And then this guy came in and it was like 'you play bass, alright, well you guys want to get together tomorrow and we'll jam out?' Then six months later, we're in New York signing papers for a deal with Wind-Up. It was a very, very fast experience for us getting from not even knowing each other to being in a signed band together. So three albums later, we can't complain too much."
Having minimal air and video play to back up their first two albums, 12 Stones and Potter's Field, the band still managed to sell almost 300,000 of each, a feat Paul attributes to 12 Stone's commitment to their fans; "When we work, we work hard. We tour and when we tour we try to spend a lot of time with our fans, new fans and old fans. When we go do shows, after we go out in the crowd, mingle and make friends, stay out until the last person is sick of seeing us. We really have taken a lot time to get to know our fans and show them we appreciate them. We interact with them, have fun and make them feel like they are part of it, like they have stock in it, they invest in you. A lot of times bands take for granted what fans have to do(to get there); they have to get tickets, get dressed, get gas, get a babysitter and they have to drive all the way there. They don't want to just hear what's on the CD, they could just stay home and do that. So when people come to see you, take time to see your show, it's good for you to take time to meet them."
Landing an arena tour with Creed, gave 12 Stones the exposure they needed and their fan base grew. Add to that, McCoy's stunning vocals on Evanescence's smash hit "Bring Me To Life", these Louisiana boys proved they could rock out with the big boys or girls. But after relentless touring and two albums, the band decided to take a well deserved hiatus. As McCoy explains, "I got signed when I was nineteen. I went straight from high school to touring. I never really had any time. I missed all the college years, all the crazy party years and hang'n with friends. I'm married now and she's been with me forever but when I got signed I never had anytime to spend with my family. Now I have a little girl, so I really took some time to enjoy that aspect of life and growing up. We were still always working on the record as well. I got together with Justin Rimer (Breaking Point), our new guitar player and we had this great chemistry and started writing together. So we just all got back together and slammed it out and here we are again finally. It was nice to have that little bit of space to show you what you're working for, the family. So when we are gone we know who it's for, for the people back home. My wife is great for letting me travel the country. She stays home, works a fulltime job and takes care of our daughter. So she's the actual hard worker and I get to come out here."
Being natives of Mississippi and Louisiana, all band members were all deeply affected by Hurricane Katrina's devastation in that region. "We were very fortunate. Our house wasn't destroyed, the yard was pretty bad but our house wasn't messed up. The hardest part was the area just suffered for so long. Businesses couldn't stay open, they didn't have any employees. Those people lost jobs, families had to leave their life long home to go and find work. Just weird, nothing was open, restaurants, nothing. Everybody's moral and attitude was just so bad. Everywhere you looked there was devastation; your high school, your favourite place to go eat, just shredded. To live through that is great but to see all the people who had to struggle everyday, made it really tough. It just gives you a whole new respect for where you grew up. There used to be hurricane parties, if a hurricane was coming through, you'd get a keg of beer, light some candles and it was a party. But when the local weather man is saying if you're going to stay, get a sharpie and write down your social security number on your arm. Then we knew and it was like 'I'm out, I don't want to be found.' And we got out in time."
Surviving and living in the aftermath of all the devastation had a tremendous impact on the band and their music. "We didn't set out to write about New Orleans's but just being a writer, you tend to write about what you know and when something is right in your face and just being in there for months and months of devastation and people being so upset and all the bad things going on. It tends to make you feel like you can overcome this and that is reflected in Anthem For The Underdog
Webster's defines the underdog as "one that is expected to lose a struggle." As McCoy sees it 12 Stones has been the underdog for "always being the first band up, the openers. Just short of selling enough records. Little things like that. But with this record, I think we have a really good shot. We worked hard. Going back and listening to it think it has some of the best material we've ever done."
Anthem For The Underdog hits the shelves on August 14 in the US and September 18 in Canada. If the first single "Lie To Me" with it's catchy radio friendly chorus is any indication, 12 Stones are well on their way out of the dog patch.
For upcoming tour dates visit www.12stones.com.
Writer: Lisa Kerr