Guitarist/song writer/guitarist and jewelry maker Blacky Lee Stone – Triton Devs
Interviewed by: Anders Sandvall
Thanks to Roberto at Rockshots Records for setting up the interview.
Thanks to Rockshots Records for the promo pictures of the band.
From Italy comes comes the new project band Triton Devs, led by guitarist/song writer/guitarist and jewelry maker Blacky Lee Stone. The debut album was recorded during the COVID pandemic and is called STAY ALIVE. I had the pleasure to talk to Blacky about work on the album, the members that participated, such as bass player Anna Portalupi (Hardline and Tarja Turunen), drum legend Mike Terrana (Yngwie Malmsteen, Rage, Axel Rudi Pell, Tarja Turunen etc.), and and how the current pandemic situation is in Italy.
I also asked Blacky about the 7-string guitar he plays, what it’s like to work with Rockshots Records, and a little about what the future has in store for Triton Devs. Read on to see what he had to say…
Hi Blacky, how are you doing today? Ready to kick off the interview? First of all, what’s the status in Italy regarding the pandemic? Are venues open or are there still restrictions?
Hi, thanks for the space dedicated to the band! The Italian population is almost all vaccinated and we are returning to a “normal” life or to a new post-COVID lifestyle.
Was it easy to find members to join you in Triton Devs?
I was lucky to be able to contact great musicians, also thanks to Anna. Great musicians and good people.
Very famous drummer Mike Terrana and bass player Portalupi, who played with Hardline and is in Tarja Turunen’s band are involved. Were they also part of the band when you recorded the 2019’s 4-track demo?
Yes, the first Triton Devs project started with them but later on I decided to continue the collaboration for the whole album.
Is it you and singer Eric Castiglia that wrote the lyrics to the new album? What are they about and where do you find inspiration to write?
On this album, I only composed the music and I left Eric total freedom to write the lyrics. Of course, I had to specify the meaning of my music to him and the result was excellent.
When did you start to material to STAY ALIVE?
I started working on the project in late 2019, just before the pandemic started. As many artists did during that bad period of isolation at home, I continued to work on the album.
Does the band name have any special meaning?
The invented name “Triton Devs” contains three different meanings. The first meaning lies in the representation of the three weapons possessed by the gods Zeus, Hades and Neptune, which together form a single weapon called “Triton Devs”.
Secondly, the tritone is also a musical interval and finally it is the name of my model of the 7-string electric guitar created in synergywith Liutart.
Did the pandemic have any effect on the writing process or the making of the rest of the album?
I think the pandemic has left its mark on everyone. The intention of this first album composed at that time was to produce an album light and ironic enough to play down the situation.
New album STAY ALIVE
The info sheet says that you’re a fan of speed metal, hard rock, and progressive metal but which genre would you say is your favorite?
I like them all. A band that I really appreciate is Dream Theater, you know they are very technical but what I like most is their musical taste. I also really like the more direct bands like W.A.S.P. and also Axel Rudi Pell band. There are so many good bands.
Summer Day (PLAYTHROUGH VIDEO)
I think STAY ALIVE includes elements of melodic metal, hard rock, progressive funk and dance music. What made you mix all those genres together?
Mainly I am a metal guitarist but I have many influences outside the genre. In this first work, I didn’t want to follow a single direction in order to compose something different from the usual metal album.
Which musical acts would you say lay close to Triton Devis?
At the moment I don’t know. This was the first album and it went like this, with its strengths and weaknesses. Assuming we make a second album, I think the direction would be to churn out a totally heavy metal album without too much contamination.
Another Round (VISUALIZER)
To whom does the album appeal to? Fans of metal, progressive metal fans, or hard rock fans?
This album basically has a common thread belonging to rock music and related music, but it does not have a specific genre. I used a lot of musical contamination to make each song different and it was a kind of experiment to see the reaction of the fans for this strange and original album, which will surely take a clearer direction in the future.
Why did you choose to feature the song “This Summer Day” twice? Once with vocals and one as an instrumental piece in “Summer Day”?
This song was born to all intents and purposes as an instrumental piece. Then I thought that the backing track would also lend themselves to another version sung in anticipation of the long awaited summer season after several months spent in lockdown.
What are the longest songs “The Light of Your Skin” (5,04) and the ending “Metalus” (5,13) about?
“The Light of Your Skin” is a “progressive ballad” that stimulates the sentimental sphere, while “Metallus” is a power metal song with a fantasy lyrics about a hero who, using the “triton devs” weapon, fights his enemies. They are two songs that have a longer duration than the others. Generally, I don’t like songs that long, but sometimes it takes time to tell everything.
Besides the already mentioned instrumental piece, you also added another strictly instrumental song in “Magic Rainbow”. Why did you put two instrumental songs on the album?
To tell you the truth, in the past I have composed and played many original instrumental rock songs like and enjoy playing them. I have also cultivated the instrumental genre for years.
There are two drummers listed, Terrana and Zammkenoby. Who plays on which songs?
Mike Terrana played both versions of “Summer day”. All other songs were played by Zammkenoby.
How did you get Terrana to play with the band? Is he a friend of yours?
He became a friend of mine, but Mike’s contact was passed to me by Anna. It was a pleasure to collaborate with him and with all the musicians who played on this first album.
Why did you call the album STAY ALIVE? Is there a story behind the choice of name?
Given the bad period of the pandemic, it seemed a very appropriate title. “Stay alive and fight for your life”.
The Light Of Your Skin (OFFICIAL MUSIC VIDEO)
Who did the cover artwork for the album and are you happy with it?
Let’s say that 90% of all the work, including the artwork, was done by me. Calculating everything I would say that I am satisfied.
Have you read any reviews in the media of the album yet? Do you care about what critics have to say about your work?
Yes, I have read almost all the reviews for better or for worse. Negative reviews are not pleasing but if they are objective, they can help you grow and improve.
With that said, Metal-Rules.com gave STAY ALIVE 3 out of 5. Was that a fair grade?
I certainly didn’t like it! I think that the reviewer didn’t understand the spirit of this album which, for better or for worse, seems to me to have been an honest and undoubtedly original work.
Do you think fans of Terrana and Portalupi are going to take a closer look at Triton Devs?
I think some of their fans got curious, but just at the beginning. I hope with time to be able to consolidate the project and to gather many fans.
The info sheet claims that, “the album shifts from the classic cannons of metal towards new arrangements and sounds. Each musical composition has its own magic and atmosphere that act as the soundtrack to the narration of the lyrics.” What do you have to say about those big words?
As already mentioned, this is not a concept album or a speed metal record where most of the songs all sound the same because they follow very specific structures. I do not know if you understood all the songs on STAY ALIVE album have their own world.
You play Liutart 7-string guitar on the album, what’s special with that guitar?
After trying many very good guitars, several years ago I definitely fell in love with Tom Anderson guitars, (year of construction 1992). That sounds very good and after having customized it it reached the top for my needs.
I’m comfortable and Tom Anderson felt the need to have a new instrument with a more modern design but that was at the same time as manageable as a traditional body guitar and that also had the seventh string for heavier riffs without lowering the tuning. From these needs, in synergy with Liutart, I started working on the “Triton Devs 7st“ model.
Telling you a couple of technical aspects, I can say that the size of the body and its weight (Mahogany + flamed maple top) are slightly lower than similar guitars to be lighter and more manageable. Like all the work and finishes, the choice of pickups was also obsessive, we tried several before finding the perfect ones for this guitar in combination with its woods. The choice fell on the Dimarzio XN2 Bridge position at the bridge and the Dimarzio Illuminator Bridge – at the neck.
This model is sold on commission at www.blackyleestone.com
Studio and production
Where was the album recorded and how long did the overall recording process take?
All the production work was done during the worst time of the pandemic, so I worked on the album in my home studio. It took several months and I kept myself busy throughout the lockdown.
Did all the members record their parts in the same studio together or did anyone record their parts separately?
We each recorded our parts separately from our home studios.
You produced the album, but is it hard to stay objective when it comes to producing your own work?
I know the work process behind a quality production well, from recording first to mastering at the end. It’s a very fussy job, it takes time, preparation and a certain budget. In this case, I tried to do my best considering the critical issues of the moment.
Who did the mixing and mastering and where did that take place?
As already mentioned, it was all done by me in my home studio. Considering the quality of the recordings received and the work done in an anomalous phase criticizing myself, I could give myself a grade of 7 out of 10.
Are you going to continue producing the bands albums in the future?
Yes, I think next spring I will start writing new songs for the second album.
What did the rest of the band think of working with you as a producer?
For better or for worse the first album was done; we’ll see what happens with the second album.
Was it easy for the band to ink a deal with a record label?
To be honest, the first label I introduced the project to was Rockshots, and it happened.
Why did you choose Rockshots Records?
Rockshots believed and showed interest in this project. I hope to continue with them and to consolidate the band.
Are you happy with the work the label has put into the band and the album so far?
Yes, at the moment we are working well in small steps.
STAY ALIVE is currently released on CD and as download. Any plans on releasing it on vinyl?
At the moment, I don’t think so.
Are you fan of the vinyl format?
I think the song “Another Round” is the most listened to for now.
Is RR releasing the album worldwide or only in Europe?
The album was released worldwide.
What are the benefits with working with a smaller record label?
Finding a serious label that knows how to do its job is not easy, I’m doing well with Rockshots at the moment.
Past present and future
On your website you offer guitar and song-writing lessons and you also sell jewelry and build guitars. You are indeed a busy man! Where do you find the time to do all these things?
Well, anything that has to do with music and imagination is in my nature, the word artist says it all.
I like to give space to my ideas.
Your homepage is Blacky Lee Stone and you have the band there as well. Why do you not have a own homepage for Triton Devs as you have on Facebook?
On my official site, there is a page dedicated to Triton Devs. Basically it’s always me, all my projects have their own dedicated page. Probably, as you point out rightly, I should change the name of the page from “band” to “Triton Devs”. Thank you for your suggestion.
Does the band have many fans on Facebook and do you think the amount of followers are going to increase with the release of STAY ALIVE?
I hope so, but as I said we are only at the beginning. With small steps we will be able to do everything.
The work of the social media manager has now never become a very important aspect to which a lot of time must be devoted.
Is the band active on Instagram, YouYube or twitter?
Yes, we have Instagram and YouTube.
Is Triton Devs a band or a project?
At the moment The Trtion Devs is an evolving project, let’s see what will happen in the future.
Metallus (OFFICIAL VISUALIZER)
Any plans on heading out on the road to tour or do some shows? If so, will the musicians on the album join you?
I intend to play live with the band but not now, probably after the second album. It will take some time yet.
What would you like to say to the ones who haven’t heard the music of Triton Devs?
I would tell them to listen to us and support us. Behind a good band there are many factors that consolidate over time.
The Show (OFFICIAL MUSIC VIDEO)
Could you give the readers three reasons why they should buy STAY ALIVE?
I think this is an album that can reach different types of fans, it is original, melodic, energetic, and easy to listen to. In short, there is something for everyone.
Well, that was all for me and Metal-Rules.com. Thanks for taking the time to make the interview, I wish you and the band all the best in the future. Do you have any final words of wisdom to share with the world?
Thanks to metal-rules, for the space dedicated to us! I can only wish everyone to be happy in their own existence. The things that really matter in life are very few. Thanks!
// (Blacky Lee Stone)