Stone Senate Interview with Clint Woolsey – Part 2

Photo by Michael Weintrob

“Stone Senate Interview with Clint Woolsey – Part 2”

J. Zimmerman | Nashville Bypass
December 6th, 2023

INTERVIEW: Two part interview. Part 1 was released on November 8th, 2023.

J.Zimmerman begins to finish the remainder of his interview with Clint Woolsey on the topic of touring as Stone Senate is currently (as of this article release) on their first European tour.

Clint Woolsey: It’s always exciting to travel around and see some new places and then see the same places you’ve already been to, you know what I mean?

J Zimmerman: Yeah. That’s gotta be half the fun of touring: “I was here five years ago and now everything’s totally different.”

Clint Woolsey: Right! Yeah. In this band, we’re all so close and have known each other for so long, it makes traveling together super easy. We’re like a small little family, man. And we’re all history buffs too, so we always try and stop along the way to see some cool stuff. It’s a good time traveling around, being able to play some music. We’re real lucky to be able to do it.

J Zimmerman: It’s sounds like the life, honestly.

Clint Woolsey: It’s the life we all really wanted, it just took a little while to get here. The goal was just always being able to make enough to pay your bills and stuff, to live on. By playing original music, ya know? Staying after it, we’re finally getting to see some good things happening.

J Zimmerman: I noticed a lot of different inspirations throughout this album. Were there any musicians or songs that inspired you while you were working on this album?

Clint Woolsey: Between the five of us, we’ve all got a lot of different musical inspirations. Me personally, I love a lot of classic rock stuff. I’m a big Allman Brothers fan, and The Doors and The Velvet Underground. And Skynard, of course. I also love like Alice in Chains, Soundgarden… There’s a band called Failure, and they were around back in the 90s. And I love old, classic country, man. It’s like a whole ‘gumbo,’ I guess, of influences between all five of us, and I think you can really hear it. From the guitar solos to the drumbeat to the lyrics.

J Zimmerman: I think that makes it special: You can hear how each individual’s piece of the song differs from track to track, what they brought to it.

Clint Woolsey: Absolutely. It’s really cool being able to pull from all these different influences. It makes getting together and writing or rehearsing a lot of fun. We all really enjoy it. It’s a good thing, I guess. It should be enjoyable, getting together to write music. It’s shouldn’t be a chore.

J Zimmerman: You’re a hundred percent right.

Clint Woolsey: I mean, I hope it’s not a chore. *Laughter*

J Zimmerman: So most of Stone Senate’s songs are co-written?

Clint Woolsey: Yup! Pretty much all of them, man. All five members on all thirteen songs. And our producer, Toby Wright, is credited as a writer on a few of these songs as well.

J Zimmerman: I find that interesting since it seems most modern songs have a songwriter and then performers credited.

Clint Woolsey: It is interesting! Somebody might have a riff or an idea for some lyrics, or David Zettler, our drummer, might just have a cool beat and then from there springs a new song. Keiran might have a bass line or I’ll come up with a lyric… It’s definitely a group effort, but it all comes from someone’s idea.

J Zimmerman: I think that’s were a lot of the friendly, familiar aspects come from in this album. You’ll hear a song from the album and think, “I’ve heard this before, but I haven’t.” Ya know?

Clint Woolsey: Right! Thank you for saying that. That’s awesome to hear.

J Zimmerman: Maybe I’ve heard a riff like that before, but never with the same polish you guys have. Maybe I’ve heard a similar lyric, but it was blared by someone who was half-drunk. You guys bring a lot of craft the genre often lacks. The songs have a thoughtfulness to them.

Clint Woolsey: It was, as far as polish and stuff, working with Toby was amazing. Just the way he thinks and stuff. As far as like your intros and your outros, the structure of songs. All kinds of stuff that we probably would never have thought of on our own. We would’ve gone in and hammered the song out. He was able to go in and say, “Hey man, that’s really cool, but we should try this and this and this.” It adds so, so much man, just little things that make the song, uh, ‘sparkle’ I guess. It was a really cool experience working with that guy.

J Zimmerman: After watching a bunch of your live shows on YouTube, I thought you guys had an astounding stage presence. Too many guys go up there and just stand there, but y’all seem to have a genuine conversation with the audience.

Clint Woolsey: Thanks for saying that! We have a really good time on stage whether there’s two people there or two thousand. It’s what we all absolutely love to do, man, is play live. I definitely think it shows when we’re on stage. We definitely have a good time, maybe enjoy a couple beers. The more we play live, we always thought, the better the band’s gonna be, the tighter we’re gonna be. It’s just better for everything.

J Zimmerman: I don’t think you guys lacked any polish live compared to the album.

Clint Woolsey: Yeah! A lot of that stuff was cut live. At least like the drums, bass, and rhythm guitars were all cut live, like together. Takes a little bit longer, because if one person flubs up you gotta start all over, but it was really the only way that we’ve ever recorded. Obviously you’re gonna do some guitar lead overdubs and some final vocals and stuff, but yeah. Recording that stuff live puts some oomph behind it.

J Zimmerman: Yeah. Even just listening on my phone, there was a natural sound to every track.

Clint Woolsey: Having eye contact, all of us in the same room. It makes a huge difference, man. I know a lot of folks… Everybody has their own process, but doing it live like that was really cool. Hell, you just wake up every morning energized and excited to get back to the studio and do a 12-, 14-, 15-hour day. Do it til it sounds how we wanted it.

J Zimmerman: A lot of bands don’t have the same… perfectionism in the sound. Y’all sound meticulous, but also effortless.

Clint Woolsey: Well, there was definitely a lot of effort but also a lot of changes. While we were recording, someone would have an idea and we’d go back in and start all over to include that new part. It was kind of like an ongoing, work in progress. *Chuckle* It was quite the experience, and I’m looking forward to doing the next album. I think we’re going to get in sometime early next year and start doing a new album finally. We’re all excited about that. We recorded Between the Dark and the Light during the pandemic… in 2020. And with the pandemic, nobody was touring, obviously, and so we really just kinda slow-walked everything out just to try and get our numbers up, but we really wanted to be able to tour behind the music. It doesn’t feel like it’s been three years, so we’re ready to get some new music out there.

J Zimmerman: It’s not bad timing, the way this last album has been put out piecemeal.

Clint Woolsey: We were always told, “If you’re going to tour in Europe, you’ve gotta go on a release.” You can’t just go over there and just tour, ya know? At least not as an up-and-coming band.

J Zimmerman: Well even the big old bands like Radiohead and such, it’s always an album release tour it seems.

Clint Woolsey: Yeah. It’s worked out well. And the last two singles from this album actually drop while we’re over there in Europe. It’s like perfect timing, man. It kind of wraps up our 2023 year, and we’re ready to jump into 2024. Keep the ball rolling. *Chuckle*

J Zimmerman: Well, I know I’ll be keeping my ear to the ground for the next album! There was a lot about the songwriting that struck me. What they call country rock usually lacks a lot of the self-awareness and sensitivity you guys bring to songwriting. You guys don’t sound tongue-in-cheek or like salesmen or something. These songs sound like they’re based on someone’s life.

Clint Woolsey: Thanks for saying that! All this stuff was written… they’re all true stories. It was all completely heartfelt. Whether it was a relationship gone bad like Whiskey Helps or trying to chase down your musical dream. Down’s more of a, “I’m sick of it all, ready to go get hammered at the bar,” kind of song. It’s all definitely very heartfelt, the lyrics, the way they’re written.

J Zimmerman: It was really interesting to me hearing ‘truck driving music,’ like you get in your pickup and blare this track but then like, Shine is like down-home metal.

Clint Woolsey: That was… James actually wrote that about his family when he was growing up. They had a bible that had a bunch of pictures I guess for younger readers. He wrote Shine about one of the pictures in that family bible. Talking about shining a light and all that. It was pretty cool how we put the lyrics to it and kinda brought that story to life.

J Zimmerman: There’s also… Slow Crusade sounded to me like healing after a hard breakup or losing someone.

Clint Woolsey: Man, yeah. I wrote that about my divorce. That kind of thing is never easy. It was based on my divorce, but I guess it was really more about different relationships gone wrong. That was actually the second or third song we worked on for the album. That was a very personal song to me. And the way it came out was better than I imagined it in my head. The arrangement, the acoustic guitars and stuff. Especially the guitar solo, it’s a little tear-jerker for me. *Chuckle*

J Zimmerman: That solo, yeah, you could really feel the emotion. It was like… Well you can’t see me, but I’m doing a chef’s kiss.

Both: *Laughter*

Clint Woolsey: Well thank you, man. Between James Edwards and Ted Hennington, the two lead guitar players. They’ve been friends and played together in other bands. They already worked great together, and they know how each other plays and such. The two of them working out the guitar parts was really cool to watch in the studio. It was almost effortless for those guys. They’re just excellent, excellent players.

J Zimmerman: That was something that kept coming up for me: “These guys really know how to play.”

Clint Woolsey: For me, this is like my dream band lineup. Everyone who’s in this band is just excellent. They’re wonderful, good-hearted folks. Even though it took a lot of years to get this lineup together, it’s really cool that it is what it is now. That we’re able to pursue it and have the Europe opportunity, and even the opportunity to make another album with these guys. It’s really cool, man. I couldn’t be happier about the whole thing. With some of the questions you’ve been asking, I was wondering what kind of music you grew up on.

J Zimmerman: Oh jeez… There’s a lot. I’ve been a music lover my whole life, and my parents are old -legitimate Baby Boomers- so I had a lot of 60s and 70s influence. My dad loves prog rock so I was into things like Yes and ELP as a teen growing up in the 2000s. So my musical taste has always been on the weird side. *Chuckle* They took me down to the King Biscuit Blues Festival a couple times, and I don’t know how many jazz legends I’ve seen live… It’s just a little bit of everything. My parents decided at some point, “You’re gonna be cultured, dammit.”

Clint Woolsey: That is fantastic man! Every kid should be raised like that!

J Zimmerman: I got to see Dave Brubeck three times before he died. And I was probably the youngest person in all those theaters. We sat so close at one concert, I could hear his foot tapping as he played the piano.

Clint Woolsey: That’s really cool, man! It sounds like you’ve been well-versed in some great, classic stuff.

J Zimmerman: So I found this album really telling about y’all as a band: It’s awesome how you guys can have such a good time and talk about some heavier issues in your songs. Most other albums that sound like this are all about getting drunk, and it’s like, let’s have some of that, sure, but where’s the introspection? I feel like Stone Senate really brings a sensitivity to the genre that’s unexpected and quite welcome.

Clint Woolsey: Shoot! Yeah! We… I guess the way we look at writing songs is, again, kind of the heartfelt, write-what-you-feel thing. Still got a few rockers on there. *Chuckle* Don’t wanna put anyone to sleep.

J Zimmerman: Exactly: It’s still a party, but you’re not afraid to get a little philosophical from time to time.

Clint Woolsey: Absolutely. That’s the way our live shows are too. We space them out pretty good. If we go into a more mellow or sadder song, it doesn’t stay there for too long. Setlist-wise, we try and make it ups and downs. Starts with a big boom and ends with a bigger boom. Still leaving room to get to stuff like Slow Crusade in there.

J Zimmerman: You need some of those dips. It’s like real life. Can’t just be bangs all the time.

Clint Woolsey: Yeah! We’ve all seen so many concerts in our lives. One that always came to me is the Black Crows. I’ve seen them probably 30 times. Allman Brothers about the same amount. And their shows were always a lot like that. They’d start out rocking and then they’d slow it down for a song or two and then BOOM building it right back up. It’s one of my favorite things to do, putting a good setlist together for each show. *Laughter*

J Zimmerman: The way this album is arranged, it struck me as a writer. Between the Dark and the Light almost has a ‘Hero’s Journey’ vibe to it.

Clint Woolsey: We spent a long time trying to figure out the song order on the album. So it was a ton of back and forth between the five of us and our producer with everybody’s different ideas. Once we hit it, everyone agreed. It was Unanimous. That was a really good feeling, knowing it was gonna be like a story from beginning to end. Ending with the big double guitar solo song, All the Broken Pieces, I thought was the perfect ending for the album.

J Zimmerman: We’re nearing the end of our time, so I wanted to ask if there was anything else you wanted to talk about that we haven’t touched on yet.

Clint Woolsey: Shoot, man. You pretty much hit everything I was thinking of and then some.

J Zimmerman: *Chuckle* I try to be thorough.

Clint Woolsey: Just besides the two new singles coming out – Ghost, November 10th, and Buddy’s song, December 8th – we’re on social media. We don’t know how to run any of it, but luckily we have a lot of help with that.

Both: *Laughter*

Clint Woolsey: We’re on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter -or X as they call it now-… Really been working on our YouTube channel, trying to get good-quality live stuff up there. Not like distorted cell phone footage. That’s kind of our focus right now. We had to jump on that TikTok train, man. *Laughter* Trying to do something cool with that, some good minute-long clips of live stuff. You can find all the links to that on A lot of cool stuff on there. There’s a newsletter if you wanna sign up with an email. Just trying to keep in touch with the fans. Trying to continue on into 2024.

J Zimmerman: Looking forward to it!

Clint Woolsey: We’re already getting a pretty full calendar next year. We’ll be announcing those dates later on this year.

J Zimmerman: Exellent. Well, Clint, thanks so much for taking the time to talk to me today.

Clint Woolsey: Man, I had a great time. Thanks for having me.

Related Posts

Stone Senate Interview with Clint Woolsey – Part 1

J. Zimmerman interviews Clint Woolsey of Stone Senate about their latest release and the upcoming tour they’ve planned in Europe.
Nashville Bypass - Ad 001 Nashville Bypass - Ad 002 Nashville Bypass - Ad 003 Nashville Bypass - Ad 004 Nashville Bypass - Ad 005 Nashville Bypass - Ad 006