By: Ben G. Rowin
Again, NUG Magazine is bringing our readers what we feel is the best in the San Diego music scene. I personally have really been digging the sounds coming from San Diego locals Stone Senses. Stone Senses began in the summer of 2004. Originally, the band was just a few musicians who got together to have a few drinks and play some music, but by 2005, they had turned into a group of seven musicians very serious about taking their band to the next level and taking the rock-reggae scene by storm.
The founders and vocalists Eric Castaneda and Mike Oâ€™Gara had become friends in their days at Carlsbad High School, and recruited another Carlsbad native, Garrett Grabowsky, to play guitar. They began playing shows around San Diego and quickly built a name for themselves with their mix of heavy rock influences and modern reggae. Over the next two years, the band released two albums: â€œHarder Than the Restâ€ and â€œLive it Upâ€, both of which have been on heavy rotation in my car!
The band toured the southwest, from San Francisco to Aspen, San Diego to Tempe and everywhere in between until unrest within forced some lineup changes. Some of the original members were not able to commit to the full-time grind that the founders knew was needed! Mike, Eric and Garrett were left with the task of rebuilding the band from the ground up. Bringing on John John Laue (from Tribal Seeds) immediately changed the sound of Stone Senses into what it is today. Next, Charlie Ball (formerly of Faded Chroniclez) joined the band in 2009, gelling the new lineup. Ever since, they have been touring the west and writing the upcoming album they are currently recording at Studio West in San Diego.
NUG Magazine caught up with the band to get a little insight on their future plans.
NUG: Thanks for taking the time to answer some questions for the NUG readers.
SS:Â Of course!Â Weâ€™re stoked to be in NUG.
NUG: How is the new album coming? Tell us a little bit about the new sound that people can expect from the upcoming release.
SS:Â The album is going great; we have been having a blast tracking at Studio West. Weâ€™ve been working with a new engineer and producer on this album, Wiley Miranda.Â Heâ€™s really taken our sound in a new direction for us, and our experience in the studio with him has been nothing short of fantastic.Â Itâ€™s pretty cool when you can work with someone who has an understanding and an ear for what you are trying to accomplish.Â As far as the music itself is concerned, making the band sound unified between the two singers has been a big goal of ours.Â Having two singers, we sometimes write songs that seem to appeal to one singer or the other stylistically, and that isnâ€™t what we really want.Â We have been working on creating one, unique, complex sound that fits both singersâ€™ styles but, at the same time, is unmistakably Stone Senses. We have a real eclectic mix of musical influences in San Diego, not simply reggae.Â We have been blending these influences into the reggae foundation that we started with to create our sound, and not all these influences are what you might typically associate with reggae music.Â The new sound is definitely more driven, focused, and catchy than before.Â We had a few elements of rock thrown into our earlier albums, but this one has a bit heavier than the first two.Â We still keep it mellow on some tracks, but overall, the album is our most upbeat and exciting yet, so keep an eye and ear out for it later this summer!
NUG: One of my favorite tracks on the last two albums is â€œBroken Crownâ€, can you tell our readers a little bit about the inspiration for this song?
SS:Â That question is best answered by Mikey, who wrote the song.
Mike Oâ€™Gara:Â The song is about a time in my life where the first girl I had really fallen in love with left me for someone else.Â It had gotten to me pretty bad and I was upset over the situation, but awhile afterwards, I sat down and took that negative energy and used the song as an outlet.Â I just wrote about how I felt, and the song was created.Â Over the years people have told me that the song helped them get through tough spots in their relationships, and it makes me feel good that I could take something negative in my life and flip it to have a positive effect on anotherâ€™s life.
NUG: What are some of your favorite venues to play at in San Diego? I know you guys are local and have the same love for SD that I do, so I am curious about where your favorite places to play are.
SS:Â There are so many places in San Diego that we have had a blast at over the years, but if we had to name a few, we really love the Belly Up, House of Blues, 710 Beach Club, and The Leucadian.
NUG: So I understand a few of you are cannabis patientsâ€¦.tell our readers how cannabis has helped you?
SS: Medical cannabis has been a lifesaver from the typical â€œpill for your problemsâ€ remedy to ailments. Due to accidents and injuries from the past that still require pain medication to be bearable throughout the day, it became obvious that cannabis was the only logical long term solution. Instead of taking hard-core pain killers and becoming useless throughout the day or constantly takingÂ aspirinÂ (which kills over 2,000 people a year!), I can now take a few puffs from a joint and the same results occur but without the nasty side effects.
NUG: What are your favorite collectives?
SS: NUGGETRY, Green Tree Solutions, San Diego & North County Delivery, Great OGâ€™s. Unified Collective is home to the original HAWGSBREATH – always a favorite of ours.
NUG: Tell us also some of your favorite strains.
SS: Any bomb OG is at the top of the list. Jack Herer (R.I.P) and HAWGSBREATH areÂ definitelyÂ up there for amazing taste and smell. There are so many amazing flavors coming out of San Diego in the medical scene, so it is pretty hard to choose!
NUG: I find that some really good mellow vibes come out of San Diego, do you feel that it has something to do with the laid back lifestyle we are able to enjoy living in paradise?
SS:Â You pretty much just answered your own question. But weâ€™re pretty sure your magazine is helping San Diegoâ€™s vibes mellow out even more!
NUG: OK, I donâ€™t want to take up much more of your time, but are there any shout outs you would like to throw out there?
SS:Â What up to Astra and Studio West, our friends High Tide, Natural Incense, and Fayuca, and of course our sponsors Anarchy Eyewear and CleanFiend!
Stone Senses are:
Eric Castaneda – Vocals
Miklo Oâ€™Gara – Vocals/Guitar
Garrett Grabowsky – Guitar
John John Laue – Drums
Charlie Ball – Bass
Wiley Miranda – Controls/Dub FX
Daniel Reedy – Positive Vibe Technician/Management
Upcoming Shows for May and June:
PierView Pub/ Bubâ€™s Whiskey Dive 21+
May 1 2010 8:00P
Leucadian Bar 21+
May 8 2010 8:00P
Pier 23 w/ The Dirty Dub Band
San Francisco, California
May 14 2010 8:00P
Brick By Brick 21+
San Diego, California
May 16 2010 8:00P
Queen Bees ALL AGES
San Diego, California
Jun 11 2010 8:00P
Grover Beach, California
Jun 18 2010 8:00P
Anaheim Rumble & Rock
Jun 19 2010 5:00P
Boar Crossâ€™n Bar and Grill 21+
Jul 9 2010 8:00P
Redondo Beach, California
Jul 22 2010 8:00P