Interview with vocalist Stacy Jones | By John Glynn
Drum roll, please. Hugely successful pop rockers American Hi-Fi are back with Blood & Lemonade, their first full-length in well over four years. The Boston boys, who have been on an “artistic-interval” of sorts, return to their specialty: fashioning impressive sounding tunes. Renowned for the superb sounds of “Another Perfect Day” and “The Art of Losing,” the boys have supplied us with some truly memorable music. However, Blood & Lemonade – the group’s imminent fifth album and their first since 2010’s Fight the Frequency – is something that fans have been craving for far too long. So much has changed in the last few years: Justin Bieber is now a “bad boy,” Hannah Montana now twerks, the U.S. now possesses a respectable soccer team, and American Hi-Fi have evolved in every way imaginable. Blood & Lemonade is a record that pays homage to the old school, unapologetic, riff infused rock of the ‘90s. Although, fear not long-time fans, the power pop perception is still there, the same awareness displayed when they burst onto the scene all those years ago. “Allison” – the album’s standout track – highlights this evolution in sound, especially when compared to the “Flavor of the Weak,” the group’s 1998 smash hit single. Maintaining that radio-ready quintessence, tight guitars and an infectious beat compliment the lyrical maturity displayed by the Massachusetts maestros.
Stacy Jones, Hi-Fi’s talented vocalist, epitomizes this maturity. His development is clearly evident. From his lyrical awareness to an improved vocal ability, Jones commands respect like never before.
You have been together for 16 years. What can we expect growth-wise with the new record?
We have been a band for 16 years, but it has been on and off. Especially the last eight years or so. I think our sound has evolved nicely. We have taken chances and experimented with varying degrees of success. I think as a singer I have finally discovered a place where my voice doesn’t sound as annoying. It only took five albums [laughs]. At our best, we have always been a band driven by riffs and melodies. That’s our sweet spot, and I believe we have captured that with our new record.
Apart from yourselves, who is the best band Boston has produced?
Boston has always been a great place for bands. There are so many venues and so many college students in town. It is the perfect combination to create a thriving, supportive music scene. My personal favorite band to come from Boston is The Lemonheads. Evan Dando is one of my favorite singers. He has a great knack for melody and a unique lyrical style.
“Flavor of the Weak” was the song that launched you guys. On an artistic level, which of your tracks makes you most proud?
“Flavor of the Weak” is the song that put us on the map. I am really proud of that song and I still enjoy playing [it] to this day. It is difficult to choose a song that I feel most proud of. I can certainly name songs I am not proud of, but I won’t [laughs]. I will say that I am particularly happy with the songs on our new record. I think it is some of the most honest, personal songwriting that I have done.
Where is the weirdest place you ever performed?
The weirdest place we ever performed was a donut shop at six in the morning. I believe it was in Arizona somewhere. It was the grand opening and we were the entertainment. No one showed up. For donuts or rock! We also played a car dealership opening for Willa Ford. Random.
You were a pretty well known drummer before American Hi-Fi got together. Have you ever challenged Mr. Nolan to a drum off?
We have never had a drum off! Brian is an amazing drummer! I am really lucky to have him back there. We have been friends for so long and grew up listening to the same music, so he always plays what I hear in my head without [me] having to say anything.
What inspired the tight, established sound of your latest single “Allison”?
“Allison” was inspired by a girl I saw on the show “Intervention.” She was really having a hard time and it really moved me. Her name was not Allison, incidentally. Sonically, I was just trying to rip off The Foo Fighters. I think we did a pretty good job!