The most surreal moment Tedo Stone can recall in his budding career playing fuzzed-out rock n’ roll is also a moment he can’t actually recall all that well. It occurred at the Atlanta venue The Masquerade when Stone and his band opened for Philly’s Dr. Dog.
“That’s definitely the most euphoric moment that I’ve had playing music, and I don’t even remember half of it,” Stone tells me in his Georgia drawl. “I think because I was so in the moment, and there was such a high that I walked off and went, ‘whoa, did that just happen?’”
A palpable energy filled the packed house as Stone and his band tore through the tracks on his most recent record, 2015’s Marshes. On it, Tedo and company sound, at times, like another popular Philly band: The War on Drugs. At others, T. Rex and T. Rex-acolyte Ty Segall come to mind. Stone himself cites Neil Young’s Zuma as an influence on Marshes, and it doesn’t take a cartographer to draw a map between the murky guitar swagger of Crazy Horse on “Cortez the Killer” and the heavy garage heroics on Stone’s “In Tune.”
Right now, Stone is working on a new album. It doesn’t have a title yet, but he’s already tracked seven songs. He’ll be taking a quick break to get married, and then he will be back in the studio in October to track seven more. Stone and his band are recording with Drew Vandenberg, who has worked on records by other Peach State residents such as Deerhunter, Drive-By Truckers and of Montreal.
McKendrick Bearden of the Athens band Grand Vapids is co-producing the untitled album alongside Vandenberg who also previously mixed, produced and recorded Marshes. Bearden was especially brought on to help challenge Stone to approach his songs in a new way.
“[The new album is] sounding different from what we’ve already got going on,” Stone says. “One of the songs we were working on was a full-blown rock song, and we went through that a couple of times and listened back to it, and then we completely took a different approach. I got in the room with an acoustic, and we approached it more like a psychedelic country song. So [we’re] just trying to push the songs out of the comfort of where they were written.”
During the writing and recording process, Stone has been listening to Jackson Browne’s seminal road album Running on Empty and a legendary 1978 New Year’s concert that Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers performed in Santa Monica, CA. His desire is to make a record with no limitations; one in which he can be more vulnerable while achieving the timelessness his idols Browne and Petty have reached.
Stone mentions the latter’s classic breakthrough, 1979’s Damn the Torpedoes, as inspiration as well, but the live sound found on the other two recordings is one he and his band have been channeling in studio.
“When we go in to record, even though we’re decomposing some of these songs and trying to re-build them up, the number one priority when we’re sitting in and live tracking—and there’ll be four or five of us in a room trying to approach this song—the number one thing we’re looking for is the feel and the energy and how we’re creating that in the room together. The best way and the most efficient way for us to approach getting the song to where we want it to be is searching for this energy with a live take and live tracking,” Stone tells me.
The new batch of songs are some leftover from writing sessions for Marshes, though the majority of them were written more recently. Stone says he likes writing catchy songs, which he then distorts just a bit in order to mask their poppiness in chaos. (“Pop” is a word Stone seems wary of using when describing his music.)
A month or two back, Stone and his band headed to a lake cabin and hunkered down in order to discuss how they’d like to approach the songs Stone demoed at his home studio.
“I sent the demoes out, and everyone came into the same room, and we just pulled out the guitars and talked about the direction to take the songs and what we wanted them to feel like. [We] just kinda sit down and analyze them and see what they need from the demoes, and that’s very much a collective process,” Stone says.
The writing of the songs themselves, though, is a solitary process for Stone. He started writing songs around the age of 10—terrible songs, he makes sure to point out, but he improved and started booking shows, and then more shows.
Tedo’s father played saxophone in a couple of bands as a student in high school and college. They toured around Georgia and neighboring states to play R&B/ soul covers as colleges.
Tedo’s older brother played bass and introduced him to the Grateful Dead and The Allman Brothers Band. As you might have guessed, his father was more a fan of James Brown and Otis Redding.
“I was always around a lot of music when I was growing up,” Stone remembers. He wasn’t satisfied just performing other people’s songs, so he worked at his craft. “That always appealed to me more: doing original songs and trying to create something outta nothing.”
In 2012, Stone debuted a 6-song EP called Happy, which he recorded in Athens with John Keane. Next came his first full-length, Good Go Bad, which was recorded with Matt Goldman and came out in summer 2013. He toured around for about two years, and by September 2015 put out Marshes. Soon, there’ll be one more. And after that, well, there’ll more than likely be another.
“I’m always going to have a song that comes to me in the shower that I’m going to want to record down the road. I like the idea of putting albums together and trying to give [the songs] some kind of common thread and get the right guys together for it and create this organism you see from beginning to end,” Stone says.