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It's been silent for a long time in the Sandstone camp, but now the band is back stronger than ever! The brand new album 'Epsilon Sky that saw the light of day end of last year, is definitely some of the bands strongest work to date! Axeman Stevie gladly answered some of our questions!

Written by Nico


First off, welcome back guys, we missed you, but tell us, what happened you needed such a long break? 

After we finished touring Delta Viridian we were a bit burned out and disillusioned. It is so hard to put your life on hold and pump all your money into something like this over an extended period of time. We decided to take a break. But soon after that I had a solo album out and the guys were joining other bands and getting jobs and stuff. So it was looking dangerously like we had split up. But we never publicly announced that we had split because none of us really believed that Sandstone would never re-emerge. Sean has been my best friend for 20 years now and we are so entwined in each other's lives that there is a gravitational force that keeps drawing us back to each other. As we get older we are starting to see the beauty in that. We are musical soul mates and could never imagine a world in which we weren't writing songs together. About 3 1/5 years ago we decided to take it back to basics, just Sean and Myself in my home studio. Let's try and write some music and see where it goes. Almost immediately the songs were flowing out of us and we knew a new album was on the way. When the other guys got wind of this they drifted back towards us also and there was a buzz developing that the band was back. Two years ago the album was finished and mixed and we surprised our label with a submission. They loved it and were ready to release and then the pandemic hit. So we held back because we wanted to be able to play live in support of the album. Finally the album is out and it seems like a long time, but I think we needed that because we are now more focused and enthusiastic about the band than before. 


Stevie we know you released your own solo album during the break, was that something you wanted or needed to do? 

To be honest, I've never imagined myself outside Sandstone. This band has been my passion and identity for most of my life. My solo album was all songs that I probably would have used in Sandstone if we were active at the time. But I am a busy person and cant sit down and relax. So I just decided to release the songs on my own just for the fun of it. I'm glad I did, because now I feel I have 2 avenues for my music. Sandstone is now more collaborative than in the past so we'll always work on songs together. But I cant help myself I'll still write crafty songs on my own. In future I'll keep these for further solo releases and stick to shared songs for Sandstone. 


What were the other guys up to? Nothing music related? 

Dee has been flat-to-the-mat travelling the world as a special effects technician for the movie industry after his success on Game of Thrones. Tom teaches and plays in an orchestra. Eamonn and Sean both got day jobs and I've been supporting myself as a session musician. 


When did it start itching tob ring Sandstone back? How smooth did the recording and writing process go? 

The itching never stopped for me, but it was all about timing. We all ended up on different pages of our lives and it became very complicated to do anything. But I knew it was only a matter of time before the planets aligned and we would be back at it. Some of the best times of our lives happened on tour in Europe and as time passed we all began getting together and reminiscing and getting the fear that maybe those times are behind us and may never happen again. I think lock-down has consolidated the band and galvanized us into getting back on the road and making more great memories. 


Did you still have an active contract with Limb or did you need to negotiate a new deal? 

Yes we were still under contract with Limb although he was as surprised as anyone when we turned up with a new album. There was talk about closing out the deal with a greatest hits album, and we will do that at some point but we're not ready for that yet. Our best songs are still in our heads. 


Honestly I must say, I was quite blown away by the new record, I think it's the bands strongest and most diverse record to date! 

Thanks so much! I agree. It's a bit nerve wrecking putting out a new album. When it was finished we listened to it and thought 'holy s**t this is really great' but it's hard to be objective when it's your baby so we were tentative. But so far the vibe has been very positive from the music press and we are even more excited. One thing that surprised me is how much I feel we have improved during our time off. 


Your sound is a bit darker and more heavier, agreed? Did the current situation (covid, Brexit, etc..) have anything to do with this? 

Covid and Brexit have been a bit of an existential crisis and a perfect storm over here. It has affected everyone in unexpected ways. Maybe that has made us darker and heavier. But I'd like to change darker to more complex. We're always drawn to more complex lyrics because we feel life and relationships are complex. A long term relationship in harder to achieve than a short term love affair. And this is the subject matter we gravitate towards, so maybe darker to some, but we see it as complex, which reflects how we feel about life. Not in a bad way, but in the sense that it's all the compromises and messiness that makes life interesting. Maybe we are heavier or maybe be have just latched on to the vein of passion that set us on this road in the first place. We are working hard to get better at what we do and that is what we love about being in the band. The opportunity to improve and become more articulate at expressing ourselves creatively. 


As a longtime follower of the band I must say that Sean vocals on this new record never sounded any stronger, he also sings way more diverse, what's the secret ??? 

Yes this is something I find very exciting about the new album. Sean is sounding better than ever. I suppose being on stage with Tim Ripper Owens every night on tour will have that affect on a singer. They'll either, up their game, or throw the towel in. Sean learned a lot for the master Ripper and has been working very hard at honing his craft over the last few years. There are moments on the album where I find Sean's new vocal skills genuinely spine tingling. I'm so proud of him. 


We also see two new members in the band, tell us something more on that matter.. 

The new guys are not exactly new they were in the band on the last tour. Tom came in to replace my brother Dave. Dave moved to England and took a degree in music, he now lives in England and works as a sound engineer and plays in a fantastic band over there. We love him and miss him but that's how life goes sometimes. Our drummer woes were a long time saga in the band, but I feel we now have a committed drummer in Eamonn who will be here to the end wherever that takes us. Myself and Sean feel privileged to be surrounded by the best musicians we know. It really is astounding to share a stage with them and watch how good they are. 


Being of Northern Ireland, you are also affected by Brexit... SO that will probably make touring harder and more expensive, so I guess we won't be seeing you anytime soon? 

Luckily there is a loophole being from Northern Ireland we all have Irish EU passports so we still have free travel throughout the EU. But being from Ireland it has always been more expensive for us to get on tour. We are so envious of EU bands that can access the whole of Europe in just a clapped out van. For us its logistical but we love it so much we will climb any obstacle in our way to get on the road again. I'm sorry to break the news, but we'll be back in Belgium sooner or later to fry your heads with our noise LOL 


Stevie you are the main composer, did you keep writing during the break and is there much music left? 

Sandstone has always been based on the song writing partnership of myself and Sean. This album is a bit different, in that, instead of separately writing songs, like we did in the past, we collaborated more this time around. I think this has helped to give us a more cohesive sound and style and this is how we hope to proceed going forward. We are both quite prolific and could probably release a few more albums without writing any new songs. But first and foremost we are a studio band and we love getting together with a blank page and by the end of a session bringing a new song into the world. This is our biggest buzz in life and we are addicted to it. 


Critical (from Purging the past) got a little reworked for the new record, something you guys like to do every now and then, but we agree it's an upgrade, are there other songs left you like to rework in the future? 

Critical was on the first release of Purging the Past but when the album was licenced to Limb he wanted to shorten the album and, as there were a few ballads on that album, we decided to hold that one back and I'm glad we did because now I feel the song sounds the way we always hoped it would. Yes we have lots of older songs still in the vault, some ready to go, and some need a lot of work. Hopefully we'll get round to releasing these songs w'd love everyone to hear them. We're feeling very optimistic about the future right now and cant wait to work on more songs and get out playing again. 


Anything left to add? 

We are very fond of the rock community in Belgium, tell all the guys we said hello and we can't wait to get over there again soon the drink copious amounts of Jupiler with you all. Thanks for the interview Nico and all the best and much love from Ireland!





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