STONE SOUR guitarist Josh Rand was interviewed by Guitar Mania prior to the band's December 12 performance in Vienna, Austria. The full conversation can be viewed below. A few excerpts follow (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET):
On the group's growth during the current "Hydrograd" record cycle:
Josh: "This whole year for us has just been unbelievable, but this specific tour in Europe, just how the band has taken this huge step as far how many people are coming out to the shows to see us is kind of unreal, or surreal, to us. It's not like we're a young band — we've been doing this for quite a while — so to have the response that we've had and the people, these numbers grow this far into our career on the sixth record, is kind of unheard of. It usually doesn't happen. We're just taking it all in and are very thankful for that."
On the factors to which he attributes that growth:
Josh: "I think with this record, specifically, is I think people hear the honesty in the record. What I mean by that is by the way we approached recording it. We got into one big room as a band and recorded the record. In seven weeks, we ended up recording 19 originals, four acoustic versions, cut a couple of videos, all in the studio. It's pretty amazing. It really was painless. We laughed so much; everybody had so much fun; and I think it translated in the music. We did it as a full band, no click-track, [none of] that editing crap – how does it sound, not what it looks like or if it's proper — and I think that also is what naturally gravitated towards. All my favorite records, they didn't have that editing capabilities. The imperfections sometimes is what makes it awesome and perfect, really.
"We knew that we were going to record it as a band, and that kind of started when we did the two cover EPs at [drummer] Roy [Mayorga]'s. We recorded those basically live together, in his little studio. I think that kind of was like, 'Well, we can make an actual, real, proper STONE SOUR record that way.' It kind of gave us, I think, the confidence, and the label confidence that, 'Hey, we back this, with you guys going in and trying to do that.' They really believed in the album going into it. They always have been gracious. I've heard label nightmares of stuff, and Roadrunner's been amazing to us as far as giving us musical freedom to do whatever.
"We had so much fun doing all those covers and playing that, that I think that also helped with this record. The whole point of us doing the covers was to get back to when we first started playing, what got us excited and made us want to play music, and that's what we set out to do with those covers. It was literally no more than that."
On whether he plans to release a follow-up to his 2013 instructional DVD, "The Sound And The Story":
Josh: "Probably not. The thing that was cool and really drew me into doing that was the fact of the story part of it, more than the technical side. I can show you a bunch of exercises and stuff that I do, but you can get online and see — there's so much now with the Internet compared to when I first started playing. You waited every month for that guitar magazine to come out to look at a column. Now, it's like, you hit 'sweep picking,' search, and there's so much that your head explodes. It's so much information. The other thing that was cool was just to teach people the proper way of how [to play certain STONE SOUR songs]. It was more geared toward truly the STONE SOUR fans. I'm by no means, like, a guitar virtuoso like some of the guys I look up to, like John Petrucci or Steve Vai or [Joe] Satriani or Paul Gilbert. Those guys are so far advanced. I'm still taking classes. It was kind of weird to put that [DVD] out because I'm still taking online classes right now at Berklee. I actually have one more class I need to take, and then I'll have my master's certificate, which is the highest thing for an online student. I hope to get that done. I started taking them in 2009 or '10. I've just taken a class here or there. It's more of just where I feel like – and I didn't start it to get the certificate; I just kind of took the classes when I felt like I was hitting a wall, where I felt like I couldn't write anymore, or I just needed that extra motivation or kick in the butt or a new direction. It's influenced a couple things. One of the classes that I had to take, which was like Chords 201 or whatever, and we started doing all these weird chords, and I ended up using those jazzy-type chords in a song called 'The Sadist' on 'House Of Gold And Bones – [Part] 2', so it has paid off for me over the years somehow."
On the album album influenced him the most:
Josh: "I actually started on bass guitar, and then I switched to guitar, and what made me decide to make that change was 'Street Lethal', RACER X. I heard that and I was just like, 'I want to learn how to play like that.' That was just, like, frenzied, so over-the-top. That album, to me, changed everything."
"Hydrograd" was released in June 2017 via Roadrunner. The disc was recorded at Sphere Studios in North Hollywood, California with producer Jay Ruston, who has previously worked with ANTHRAX and STEEL PANTHER.