Kid Rock protégé has major label release and Tuesday show
Published: March 14, 2012
But kid life beyond the family wasn't nearly as fun for Stone. He got a lot of shit as a kid.
"It's not easy to be overweight in America today, and I was big by the time I was 5, so it's something I dealt with my whole life," he says. "Luckily it was a family issue, so I had some people close to me who understood what I was going through, and helped me to deal with it, but at the end of the day, the fight is yours to win or lose. I chose to take to the stage, and in some ways I believe I started singing because I realized that people suddenly started noticing my voice, and not my weight."
(The singer says that his weight remains a daily struggle, but claims that what really pisses him off is the stigma associated with weight problems, the stereotype of laziness, and social ineptness. "I'm happy to stand up and let people know that big folks are people too, rich in talents and gifts, each one unique, and we should never be judged by our size or as a whole.")
Stone loves Elvis and rockabilly, stuff he picked up from Mom and Dad. He then soaked up all of the influences that came his way, from country to hip hop (at one point, Stone saw himself as an emcee). With his warm, throaty country vocals, truck-driver aesthetic and Motor City work ethic, country with a blue collar rock 'n' roll edge pulled him in. Stone calls it off in his song "Bob Seger": A little Bob Seger, a little George Jones, a little Hank senior, a little Rolling Stones. A little Stevie Wonder, a little Stevie Ray, a little Marvin Gaye, they'll sing these working blues away.
Stone — who also plays a little piano, bass, drums, mandolin, Stylophone synth and iPhone Theremin — first picked up the guitar in college when he was about 18 and began writing songs about a girl he had a crush on.
Stone had followed Dad's path into the steel industry but, having been laid off by Great Lakes Steel, "I was distraught for about 10 seconds, until I realized, I'm outta this bitch," Stone says.
He packed up and followed a girl to L.A. "Being laid off provided me with the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to show her that I could do that too. And seeing as how I wanted to be a musician anyway, it all fit. Girls I couldn't get have always fueled me to try and be better."
As Kid Rock has pointed out, Stone's move to Los Angeles wasn't the best idea from a career point of view. The City of Angels is a graveyard for never-wases, failed bands and stalled scenes. Things only started happening for Stone when he returned to Detroit, guitar in hand. The Top Dog/Atlantic deal got signed, and things began to move forward. But Stone couldn't have known quite how slowly those things were going to move:
It's been three years since Atlantic Records released Stone's first EP, "Four on the Floor." Stone's debut album is out, but only after myriad delays. Stone says he got frustrated at times, but only now understands what the wait was all about.
"You only get one chance to make a first impression, and Atlantic knows that," Stone says. "They've been very smart, and they wanted to make sure it [the album] was absolutely right.
"Eventually, we had to get the record out and see how it does. People have been waiting a long time. I have no doubt in my mind that this record is now perfect, to me. It is [a relief], but I'm a person who is always thinking about what's next. The record is out, that's great. Now what do we do to move forward? Most importantly, I absolutely feel like I have Atlantic's support."
American Style mixes Seger's dusty, hometown vibe with Merle Haggard's honky-tonk and songwriting that can sometimes rival an Elton John-Bernie Taupin ballad. Stone isn't afraid to get sentimental, but, in the blue-collar-hero tradition, he does it with enough grit to steer clear of schmaltz. It was produced in fits and starts by Stone, Marlon Young, Brian Irwin, Keith Stegall and John Fields. Kid Rock is the executive producer, and the majority of the record was recorded at Rock's studio in Clarkston.
In fact, those three years of waiting for the record to get a release allowed Stone to evolve as a musician. He toured and played countless shows, honed his chops and stretched himself as both a singer and guitarist. Where he once used to put his foot on the gas vocally, he now knows all about restraint and how that services the song.
His mates in his band, the Truth, believe in him. Guitarist Billy Reedy says, "Ty's songwriting ability has expanded since I started playing with him, and it was already really good. His ability to write in different genres and do it convincingly is pretty outstanding."
Band guitarist Christian Draheim says Stone has grabbed at the opportunity presented to him by Kid Rock and not let go of it or made the mistake of taking it for granted. Rather, he has worked his ass off and, as Draheim put it, "put in a lot of hustle."
And Stone can hustle. Other area musicians have called him a master self-promoter, sometimes not in a good way. Once, while hunting for permanent members of his band, Stone decided to film the audition process for a reality show screened on CW50 (the CBS-affiliated local television station) with judges and everything (this writer was one of them). He took knocks for that, because the concept reminded folks of America's Got Talent. The show involved Stone playing his songs with different local musicians in front of a panel over three different rounds. By the end, the singer had his band. Basically it was an audition in front of an audience. But it worked. With the exception of drummer Bryan Reilly, who joined six months later after the "winning" drummer moved to Vegas, the current lineup of the Truth (Reedy, Draheim and bassist Greg Beyer) is comprised of the winners from the show.
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