Barcelona’s drummer Rhett Stonelake was incredibly nice enough to tell us about what he’s currently into as far as entertainment goes in this week’s Musicians on Pop Culture.
Based on Nothing: What are you currently reading, watching, or playing?
Rhett Stonelake: I feel like I’m always trying to surround myself with inspirational resources, be it books or films/documentaries or now with on demand TV and Netflix, there really is an abundance of content available it’s just a matter of how I can best organize and self-curate all these objects into a digestible and consistent pattern that will hopefully bring some meaning and greater context to understanding my life. I had a moment years ago watching the very average Mel Gibson movie Conspiracy Theory where his character can never be without a copy of the novel Catcher in the Rye. In a very different yet similar way I’m the same with always feeling the need to carry my latest discovery (book, vinyl, etc) around with me, almost like a badge of honor. I think in part so that I can keep what inspires me close by but also so that I have something physical on hand to pass along and share with close friends. There is no greater feeling passing along something you’ve worked to love, discover and earn to those you love, all in hope that they may gain some meaning out of what you love. This shared experience and expression is what makes us human and what I think reinforces our relationships with one another.
I use my circle of friends a lot to help me filter through current fads, especially with bands ‘of the moment’ or stuff that tends to be hyped from the start. I have a rule that if I hear about something new brought up in at least three separate conversations or discovery points, I will then try to go back and spend some time listening to that particular artist or reading a synopsis of the novel etc.
Something that does bum me out with the current experience of trying to filter the internet or discover new resources through friends is that for me it lacks what feels like your discovery was by happenstance or that you were at the right place at the right time to feel a certain way and connect with that source of inspiration. Some of my fondest memories from college we’re from when I would spend hours at the record store just searching the new/used bins, reading credits and chasing rabbit trails trying to find loose connections between bands/producers/songwriters etc. If I stuck around the store long enough for the playlist overhead to change I’d sometimes discover new artists this way — totally by chance. One time in particular there was a DJ Jazzy Jeff Mixtape playing overhead and I credit this experience to discovering artists like Slum Village, Pharcyde, Gang Star & Biz Markie.
Here is thorough breakdown of what has totally floored me the past month:
I picked up a copy of David Brooks (NY Times Columnist) The Social Animal while on vacation this summer. I haven’t been able to put that down. I find society and people fascinating, I think that’s a reason why I’ve grown to love touring so much because it has given me the opportunity to be in new experiences and situations with all walks of life.
I recently got turned onto the work of Robin Sloan. He’s from San Francisco and has a background working in tech but just published his first novel Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. Great read, really engaging and a thrilling story.
Some of my favorite writing has been featured in the New York Times Sunday Magazine. I use to be the asshole who would steal this section from the paper at the local Starbucks on Sunday mornings every week. I’ve now retreated to reading this on the iPad but this is still my favorite collection of articles and magazine layout cover to cover. It packs a punch, is usually very informative but deeply resonates with my desire to consume something in long form yet is easily digestible in an afternoon.
I love everything Monocle produces. Great insight to current events and world affairs, all filtered through a lens of culture and high-end design.
I just discovered the music of Ultraista last month. This is a new musical project for two of the members in Atoms for Peace (Nigel Godrich & Joey Warnoker) Super heady and groove-oriented jams. I just saw them live this week in San Francisco and was completely blown away. I’m a bit of a drum nerd and Joey has been a hero of mine for quite awhile (he produced the most recent Other Lives record) and he totally delivered live — maybe the most ambidextrous drummer I’ve seen perform. Highly recommend.
I’m a bit late to this release but I’ve really been enjoying the newest Father John Misty album Fear Fun. Again, total drum nerd (Josh Tillman was previously the drummer of the Fleet Foxes) but this release is something in a new direction for him. He’s totally taking a stance to not be afraid being sexual and expressive in these new songs. Josh is a very bright and very funny person and I can only think that these songs are the most honest and natural expression of what he’s currently observing about life and the state of music.
Check out the group Erimaj based out of NYC. They released a new record Conflict Of A Man this year and just announced they we’re included in the first round ballot for Grammy Pre Nominations. Another drummer-lead ensemble featuring the brilliant Jamire Williams. Really inventive and a soulful take on jazz that is based on influences as wide as ’70’s R&B to the more recent J Dilla.
I also try to follow a lot of stuff that is coming out of the UK. Ever since the explosion of artists like the XX and James Blake, I feel like this has opened the doors for a whole new era of artists in similar genres using some of the same tools. I really love Tri-Angle Records and most everything they put out (Clams Casino, Balam Acab, Holy Other). I’m really impressed by founder Robin Carolan and his ability to continually find and release genre-leading artists. I’m really anticipating the new Mount Kimbie release. I loved Crooks & Lovers so I have high hopes for what their new record will be like. I’d also recommend checking out the duo AlunaGeorge, they have a track called “You Know you Like it” which is a total jam. Another total jam is the song “Latch” by Disclosure feat. Sam Smith. I absolutely love all these new artists taking the best of where Aaliyah and other R&B artists left off and producing something new with similar feeling.
King for Two Days. This is a documentary following drummer Dave King (The Bad Plus) in his native Minneapolis as he puts together a two-night concert featuring five different ensembles that all feature him as the cornerstone: the drummer in each act. He’s such a person with an even bigger personality that I loved getting to see some of the behind the scene antics with his family and bandmates.
I really really want to see The Master. I’m a huge fan of Phillip Seymour Hoffman & P.T. Anderson and I’ve now had three different people recommend it to me!
BoN: What do you think draws you to that specific genre(s)?
RS: I definitely have my favorites that I circle back to (beat-centric music and bands that feature outstanding drummers) but I feel like I’m always trying to expose and further refine what it is that I identify with music and what moves me as a listener. A huge part of making our last record (Not Quite Yours) was learning how best to arrange our parts into the context of how it best suited the song, basically getting out of the way of the lyrics and melody when needed. Learning to intently listen for this and use restraint I think definitely informed how and what I listen for in music, but in general I think I’m always trying to bounce around and lift ideas from all different genres.
Would you recommend it or…?
RS: Totally. Anything on the list above is worth spending the time to really dig in and saturate yourself with — what that artist/author/resource is really trying to say. A definite downside to today’s pace and our voracious appetite towards content is our inability to sit with something if it doesn’t produce an instant stimulus. It’s taken time and patience, but I’ve proven to myself when listening to music that it’s not always in the first or third listen that I will relate. Often it’s not until after I’ve committed to it in a way, then it becomes something meaningful.
Is there anything else you’re enjoying now?
RS: Other than the list above, I’m currently loving spending quality time with my wife and newly adopted cat at home on the couch. Especially before leaving for tour, I’ve got to do everything I can to soak up all of their sweet smells!