Article By: Pat ‘Riot’ Whitaker ‡ Edited By: Leanne Ridgeway
Louisville, Kentucky‘s Stonecutters are a powerhouse band that is well into its first decade of creating intense music, to say the least. The band is widely known in our communal underground as being a caustic, genre-melding entity.
They combine elements of stoner metal, doom, hardcore, punk, heavy rock, and much more into their own branded sound. It’s incendiary and intense, ferocious and fierce, plus relentlessly uncompromising. I recall the first time I ever caught Stonecutters live. It was in our shared hometown of Louisville, as they supported Krisiun, Warbringer, and Obituary.
The band was immediately seared into my brain, partly due to their wide-ranging styling, mostly due to their kicking-ass live show. I recently saw the band again [live review] and they were just as volatile as ever. Their live stage assault is vicious and energized.
No one can say that Brian Omer (guitarist, vocalist), Kevin Redford (bassist), Johnny Wooldridge (drummer), and Nick Burks (guitarist) aren’t a lively, thrilling act to witness live. Their albums are just as enjoyable, they keep you invested and metalized without mercy.
It was a no-brainer to take a shot at an exchange recently with the Stonercutters‘ dynamo guitarist Nick Burks. The guy is a spectacle to observe and hear in the live setting for sure, while his recorded works are just as intense and chaotic. With that said, let’s get down to the business at hand, shall we? I present you the Riff Relevant Interview with Nick Burks!
Riff Relevant [Pat Riot] – For someone who may be unfamiliar with the origins of Stonecutters, how about a brief summary of how the band first came about… and how would you describe or summarize the band’s sound/style?
Nick Burks – Stonecutters is led by Vocalist and Guitarist Brian Omer, a veteran in the American Metal and Hardcore world. His previous band, My Own Victim (early ’90s Century Media hardcore) toured with Suicidal Tendencies, Biohazard, and Merauder. Omer was also in the legendary punk band Hookers and once served a tour playing bass for Slapshot.
From the ashes of MOV, Omer enlisted three other like-minded musicians to create punishing, brutal, genre-bending music. With influences reaching across Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Death, Obituary, Neurosis, Motorhead, Agnostic Front, Sick Of It All, Mercyful Fate, and early Metallica, Stonecutters masters a fresh take on nostalgic heavy music.
Riff Relevant [Pat Riot] – The band is based in Louisville, KY… how is the music scene in your home base? Hypothetically, if you all could change one thing in relation to the scene there, what would it be and why?
Nick Burks – Louisville’s music scene is awesome. The metal scene rules. Our vocalist/ guitarist started a ‘Metal Monday’ for local and touring metal bands. Your band gets to play in front of people that genuinely care about your art. The venue is always packed with diehard metalheads. The touring bands are always stoked to be playing to a packed room on a Monday night. I just saw a Celtic Frost tribute band play there last night.
I wouldn’t change a thing about the music scene here. What we also have in Louisville is Dead Fest. It’s a fest comprised of all local punk, hardcore, grind, metal, and every genre in between. We headlined one of the nights last year. Good times!
Riff Relevant [Pat Riot] – Describe to us a bit of Stonecutters’ songwriting process… who does what and how does a song come to be? During that process, how do you all come to realize that a song is “finished” or is as good as it can be at that point in time? Who writes the lyrics and where do they find the inspiration for them?
Nick Burks – I’ll start the process by writing some riffs on my acoustic guitar. If I think it’ll stick, then I’ll try it on the electric. I’ll record it all on my phone or on my computer, depending on where I am. I’ll show the riffs to Omer and then he starts adding his own twist on it. Brian and I get the song written from start to finish, then show the rest of the band. We always say the song is finished when everyone in the band feels confident about it. Never second guess yourself.
Brian and I write all the lyrics. Our lyrical inspirations come from horror movies, weird sci-fi, and life’s hardships. Pain is inherent to life and our music is a way to express that feeling.
Riff Relevant [Pat Riot] – In my opinion, Stonecutters are the very embodiment of the DIY ethos… even releasing albums on your own label, Time Is Truth Records. What would you all say are some of the Pros and Cons of doing such, and is it a conscious choice to keep things more in-house, so to speak?
Nick Burks – Yeah Patrick, you’re totally right. Everything we do has always been DIY. It’s time-consuming to book every show for a tour, make flyers for every show, create event pages, social media, etc., but it’s something we are passionate about, so we don’t care. I’d rather do this than have a job I hate. Life’s too short, do what you want to do. We have the ability to write whatever we want and are lucky enough to have a fan base that supports us album after album, tour after tour.
We have started working with a new PR company and we are really excited to show everyone what have been working on.
Riff Relevant [Pat Riot] – Going back for a minute, how did you feel when the first Stonecutters official LP, “The Death Of Me”, was a wrap and the final product, the album itself, was a tangible, physical item ready for public consumption?
Nick Burks – Here’s a funny story, I was in high school when “The Death Of Me” came out. I was 15 in 2006. I knew about Stonecutters because one of my friends in a jazz band took lessons with Omer. My friend came into school and showed me that CD. I had to borrow it, cuz it had an evil skull on the cover of the record. I met Omer through getting tattooed at the same tattoo shop by the same people. We have a lot in common and everything just fell into place naturally.
Riff Relevant [Pat Riot] – Your all’s latest release, 2015’s ‘Blood Moon’, will soon be two years old this October. What’s currently happening with the band and when might we see (hear) some new music? What’s on the horizon for the remainder of 2017 and next year?
Nick Burks – Our fifth record is completely written and we will be recording this December. The songs on the new record are a lot darker. We’ve been through a lot since the release of Blood Moon. This record is our way of saying ‘Fuck The World’.
We have a few festival appearances to wrap up the rest of 2017. We are headlining Heck Yeah Fest in West Virginia this August, playing WVRM Fest in Florida this December, and Oig Fest in Michigan this January.
Riff Relevant [Pat Riot] – Stonecutters share stages with widely diverse styles (genres) of bands. Is this just circumstance or is there more at play behind it? What has been one of your all’s most memorable shows and why?
Nick Burks – Yeah, it’s crazy how we will play a show with Nashville Pussy then play a show with Cephalic Carnage. It’s because our music is genre-bending, so we get in where we fit in. I always love seeing the crowd reaction. Sometimes they will look terrified and other times they go off.
It’s a tie for the most memorable show… First would have to be when we played Tampa and I saw Pat O’Brien (Cannibal Corpse) in the audience. He bought a CD and asked me for guitar lessons. I thought I was in another dimension when that happened. It was like an episode of The Twilight Zone.
Here’s the tie for “most memorable show”: We played a show with Deicide. After we were finished playing, Jack Owen (Deicide/ Cannibal Corpse/ Six Feet Under) walked up to me with a Blood Moon CD and asked me to sign his copy. I was speechless.
Riff Relevant [Pat Riot] – I have a tradition of leaving the final say on things with the interviewee… anything you want to say, share, state, rant over, whatever, now is the time:
Nick Burks – Listen to Heavy Metal!!!
Short, sweet, and to the point, Nick. There you have it, Revelers, and dammit you had best heed that advice.
I want to thank Nick Burks and his fellow architects of aural aggression, Louisville, KY’s masons of metal, Stonecutters. As you’ve read and heard here, they are one of the most able-bodied mashers of multi-genres of heavy metal, rock, punk, etc. They determine their own path and control their journey themselves and while they do it, they rock out in their own highly unique way.
If you get a chance to get out and catch Stonecutters live, then, by all means, make sure you do. See ’em onstage, buy and listen to their music, and most importantly, throw your support behind a Bluegrass State-based band that absolutely deserves it!