They are southern rock from the True North, reggae music from a cold dark place and Stone Iris has blazed their own trail to pursue their passion.
Whether that path takes them to Penticton at Voodoos (May 26), busking the streets of Georgia or to the House of Blues in New Orleans, never taking a day off has got them there. Frontman/guitarist El Nivens said they have learned that you don’t take a 30-foot motorhome across Canada in the winter and that making something out of nothing isn’t that hard to do, well some days. It is why the Edmonton-based band packed up and hit the road for their second tour of southern U.S., then up the West Coast to land in Penticton and play Voodoo’s on Sunday. With pre-arranged gigs on their schedule Stone Iris spent their days in the southern U.S. busking on the streets to get their unique sound heard by new sets of ears.
“It is a little step further than busking. We actually wire up our amps into the van and do a full electric thing. Sometimes we get shut down due to bylaws or whatever, but being from Canada we don’t really know the rules so that card always works to our advantage,” he said.
Even when they do get shut down, they managed to capture that something out of nothing Nivens spoke of. Owners of bars and other venues often catch them in the street playing and offer them paying gigs for that night. On a Tuesday night on Bourbon Street in New Orleans, a lot different than a Tuesday night anywhere else in the world, Nivens said the band had an unbelievable stroke of luck, being in the right place at the right time.
“We got picked up just playing on the street. A guy came by and heard us and said this is cool. He asked us how would we feel playing at the House of Blues. We were like ‘hell yes,’” said Nivens, in a phone interview from Texas. “We definitely love New Orleans and we are still coming off the high of doing that. There is this melting pot of awesome culture and partying vibe, it was really cool.”
That’s almost exactly how Stone Iris’s music can be described. Nivens said they are a jam-band and when they start rehearsing their creatives juices start flowing with each of the five members contributing to new music as a team. With no concrete method on how they come up with new songs, Nivens said everyone has their own brand on it and it’s the reason why they have a catalogue of tunes to choose from. Having just released their eighth recording Kicking the Can in March, they already have recorded a full-length release (14 tracks) while they were in Louisville, Kentucky at Deadbird Studios. Excited about the release of that in the early fall, Stone Iris is still basking in their first single I Wanna which hit radio stations across Canada, their first music video and Edmonton Music Awards nomination for Rock Recording of the Year.
“Melting pot I think is pretty accurate, we are definitely influenced by southern rock, reggae and funk and blues rock. I am really excited about the songs we have on our upcoming album. I think its just a blend of what we listen to. We all got collectively into reggae and it is fun to play so it influenced us and it kind of just happened. We went in trying to make a reggae song and thought, hey, that sounds really cool,” said Nivens.
Stone Iris plays at Voodoos in Penticton on May 26. Admission is $5.