Wednesday, May 13, 2009

12 Stones flashback

Today I was listening to Pandora and stumbled upon a random 12 Stones song. The lyrics spoke right to me; I'm sure you know the feeling. :) Here's my recent interview with lead vocalist Paul McCoy and story (originally published in the Gannett Lansing State Journal).

Grammy-winning rocker comes to Flint; Christian vocalist Paul McCoy hit it big duetting with Amy Lee

By Anne Erickson, Gannett Lansing State Journal

There's a good chance you've heard Paul McCoy's screams at least a few times.

The lead vocalist of 12 Stones is famous for duetting with Amy Lee on Evanescence's 2003 breakout hit, "Bring Me to Life," screaming, "Wake me up" every chorus. The song earned McCoy a Grammy and catapulted him into hard-rock fame.

But there is much more to McCoy and his band, 12 Stones.

12 Stones is a hard rock band from Mandeville, La., signed to Wind-Up Records (Creed, Evanescence). The outfit's self-titled debut came out in 2002, complete with post-grunge rock, soaring vocals and intense riffs. "Potter's Field" followed in 2004, and 12 Stones released its most recent album, "Anthem for the Underdog," in 2007.

Catch the band - including McCoy, guitarists Eric Weaver and Justin Rimer, drummer Aaron Gainer and bass player Shawn Wade - at The Machine Shop in Flint on Friday.

We chatted with McCoy about winning a Grammy and the band's positive take on hard rock.

• LSJ: How did the collaboration with Amy Lee on "Bring Me to Life" come about?

• McCoy: We're on the same record label, and I was sitting in the label's office and heard a demo version of the song. They had the idea to have a male vocalist on it, and I just said, "If you can't find anybody famous to do it, let me know and I'll do it for you," kind of jokingly. A few weeks later I got a phone call saying, "If you're really interested, we want to use you on the song." So I flew out, met the band, did the song, flew back and two months later it blew up. Now everybody knows me as the "wake me up" guy. (He laughs.)

• Was it crazy winning a Grammy for best hard rock performance for that track?

• McCoy: It was actually one of the coolest experiences I've ever had. I won that when I was 23 years old, so to own a Grammy and be thrown into that list of names that is so established at that age was an honor.

• You guys are from the New Orleans area. What impact did Hurricane Katrina have on you?

• McCoy: It was pretty crazy to see how everybody was affected by it, not just the band, but everybody in that area. It was very hard to watch and go through, but it's kind of coming back around and people are getting back on their feet.

• How does that experience come out on your new album, "Anthem for the Underdog"?

• McCoy: We never really set out to have anything on the record about Katrina, but when you live in that kind of environment, anything you go through works itself into the music. So I think the idea of overcoming adversity and getting over tough times comes through on the record.

• I read Chris Daughtry co-wrote one of the tracks on the album, "Broken Road," via e-mail. That's cool!

• McCoy: Yeah, "Broken Road" was a song that was actually written for Chris Daughtry's record and it wasn't done in time. ... I heard the song and said, "We can't let this go to waste." So we contacted Chris and said, "Hey man, what if we continue to write the song and put it on the 12 Stones record and give you credit?" He was all about it. We made changes back and forth over e-mail. When went on a tour with Chris, he would come out and sing it with us every night.

• It is true your name, 12 Stones, is a reflection of your Christian faith?

• McCoy: We picked the name 12 Stones out of the Old Testament of the Bible. It's a symbol of strength and a reminder of God's power. We had a bunch of different band names and we threw them into a hat - no lie! - and 12 Stones is the name we picked out. It definitely has a spiritual meaning.

• You guys are embraced by the Christian community, although you've never really labeled yourselves a Christian hard rock band.

• McCoy: Yeah, if there's somebody out there who listens to our music and they get something out of it spiritually and it helps them get through something, that's really cool. But we also want to embrace those people who take the songs for other reasons.

• Your music is heavy, but the lyrics seem to always come to a positive place.

• McCoy: That's what we wanted to do. We wanted to prove to people you can be loud and aggressive and scream and still have something worth saying. ... And then we have some songs that are just like guilty pleasures and fun. Our rock songs have a lot of meaning to us, and we want people to embrace that and take it for their own personal message.

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