Stompbox – Stress – Interview


Stress (Columbia)
An interview with drummer Zach Courtney and singer Erich Thaler
by Scott Hefflon
photo by Chris Johnson

Stress is a more aptly chosen title than Stompbox could ever have imagined. But now, with Stress being released, so to speak, the boys are loving every second of it and looking toward a wild summer.

During an extremely laid back “interview” with drummer Zephan Courtney and singer Erich Thaler, they described the importance of having two record release parties. While labeled a Boston band, Erich gave thanks to their Western MA supporters.

“We just played a free record release party at Pearl Street (in Northampton) with a few really good bands from the area. We’ve had a following there and been headlining the clubs there for a while. GWAR played the night before us, so we didn’t think anyone would have any money left to see us the next night, so we made it a free show. The kids have been really into it, and with our roadie extrordinaire, PJ, stagediving onto a kid crowd-surfing, it’s been exciting.”

As far as the Boston release party, it’s going on (will have gone on by the time y’all read this) at the Paradise. When asked why the Paradise and not the Rat, the Middle East, or Local 186, Zephan replied, “It was the next step. We’ve played sold out shows at those clubs and we wanted to take it a step further.” The fact that they lined up one hell of a bill probably won’t hurt their chances of an impressive turn-out.

Next topic: Decision making and gruntwork. Stompbox may now be signed to Columbia (well, they have been for a year, but now we get to see something for it, eh?), but they still do their own booking, interview arrangements, and non-musical strings that come attached to the package.

Erich explained, “We want to play shows with bands we like and that like what we’re doing. In a few weeks, we’re playing a Cheap Date Night at the Middle East where you can see bands for $3. We want to stay accessible and not just play the obvious big business gigs that are “good for you.” Playing the Rat for $6 tickets is fine. The rest only goes to the promoters and stuff anyway.” This summer, Stompbox will be touring with 7 Year Bitch, Sugartooth, Surgery, Orangutang, and Tree. (Their shows often end with Tree covers when they’ve finished their set list early.)

Stompbox also has a video for “No Woods” in the making. After the surprise mention on Headbanger’s Ball (notice that’s a mention, not a plug. This was because the VJ really dug the band, not because he was being paid to endorse it. Big Difference.) we got to talking about video – the next logical step. Zephan tells the tale of filming “at one of our many loft parties. We had Colin Barton, an old friend of ours, doing all this color manipulating/mutating stuff. I’ve only seen the raw footage, but it’s got great wide-panning and shots from the pit. We had a professional film crew come in, too, but we wanted it to be natural.” Both Erich and Zephan remembered “no alcohol on the set.” Bummer.

The Stompbox CD, entitled Stress, went on sale at Tower at midnight on the night of our first interview. Mere days later and they’re being approached to autograph their CDs and various other signs of success. For those who have followed Stompbox’s growth from the early days, this is a time to celebrate along with the band. (Sure, you get put on hold a lot during a conversation, but that’s part of the price you pay for stardom and holding true to your roots.) For those who have yet to run into Stompbox (kind of like running into a dump truck while on a mountain bike – the bodily damage can be pretty intense, but it makes a great story later) they come highly recommended. That’s a mention, by the way, and not a plug. I’m not getting paid for this, although it would be really swell if I were.