Name: Evan Stone
Years Playing: since the age of 8
Location: Los Angeles, CA
I first met Evan Stone at a Greg Adams gig in 2004. He and I have played together a few times since then and have remained in contact. The idea for Teen Jazz Influences was actually inspired by Evan himself. We were talking about our websites one day, and I wanted to do an article on him. Since he didn’t really qualify as a Teen Artist, I created this series so I could feature Evan Stone. Evan is a very interesting and talented person and I feel very honored to have had the opportunity to play with him and call him a friend. After reading this article, if you are interested in learning more about Evan Stone, you can visit his website.
WHEN DID HE FIRST BEGIN SERIOUSLY STUDYING HIS INSTRUMENT?
Evan Stone has studied with Peter Erskine, Jeff Hamilton, Roy Burns. He first began seriously studying drums at the age of 12 and began playing in clubs at the age of 13 .
WHO ARE HIS GREATEST INFLUENCES?
Drummers: Peter Erskine, Jeff Hamilton, Roy Burns, Elvin Jones, Tony Williams, Jack Dejohnette, John Bonham, Stewart Copland, Vinnie Colaiuta, Max Roach, Philly Jo Jones, Phil Collins, Art Blakey
Non Drummers: Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Frank Zappa, Beatles, Police, Stevie Wonder, the Meters, Tower of Power, Dexter Gordon, Billie Holiday, Joni Mitchell, Steely Dan, Bjork, Radiohead, James Taylor, and many others
Styles: Everything from folk to progressive rock to swing
WHO OR WHAT GAVE HIM THE CONFIDENCE TO PURSUE MUSIC AS A CAREER AS OPPOSED TO A HOBBY?
Evan Stone’s parents were largely responsible for allowing him the opportunity to pursue drumming and music without any restrictions. They told him to do what was in his heart and if he wanted to be a musician to be the best he could be and not to settle for second best. Evan picked things up quickly and was able to play rock beats on the drum set without any formal training at first. He then began studying with drum instructors and still studies with other musicians to this day.
Evan believes that “confidence can be built through people telling you that you are progressing and that they really like your sound/style.” Evan Stone feels that being your own critic also will help you make better choices. “You need to monitor if you are making progress or not to determine if you can develop and establish a musical career.”
BRIEFLY DESCRIBE THE DIFFICULTY TO BE SUCCESSFUL IN YOUR CAREER WHILE REMAINING TRUE TO THE ART FORM WITHOUT “SELLING OUT” TO POPULAR ART?
“Success can be defined in many ways. If you find yourself in a situation that is less than desirable, that may be selling out. If you just want to play the music that you love which is in your heart and which is not particularly the most popular music on the scene at the current time, then it is very difficult to create a successful career from that if you are defining your success in making a lot of money from the music you created. If money is not the be all end all, and you are getting by and are happy with your life doing whatever it is that you do, then that could also be considered success.
I feel that as long as you are doing what is in your heart that keeps you satisfied, and as a result of that, you are earning enough money to make a living from that, than that is the ultimate success. If the music you create is also the music that you love, and appears to be what everyone else loves too, then you are in an ideal situation. I would not consider that selling out if it happens to be the popular music of the day. I believe that would put you among a very small percentage of creative people. If you are in music solely for the purpose of making tons of money, than chances are you are going to wind up playing music that you do not love.”
Evan Stone always wanted to play music that he created or helped to create part of the overall sound. He likes to be involved in groups that are trying to do something different. “When you try to create something new, you are a true artist because you are attempting music that hasn’t been done before.” If he was called for a gig he didn’t want to do, he would do it if it helped him pay the bills. He feels that sometimes you have to take gigs you don’t Necessarily love to keep doing what you do love.
The gigs that he does for love and the gigs that he does for money are very rarely the same.
DO YOU BELIEVE THAT YOUR GENDER OR APPEARANCE HAS AFFECTED YOUR CAREER? IF SO, HOW HAVE YOU CHANGED YOURSELF TO CONFORM TO YOUR INDUSTRY STANDARDS? HAS THIS CHANGED OVER TIME?
“Unfortunately, the music business today is extremely image driven. More so now than ever before. In the jazz world it never used to be that way; in the 40’s, 50’s ,60’s and 70’s, you were respected for your playing and not for what you looked like. MTV changed the value of image versus talent because you had to look good while you were playing. It has a lot to do with marketing – sex sells and it also sells in the music industry which is why you see Britney Spears, etc. The record companies want that image to create teen idols.”
It has even spread into the world of Jazz today. Although there is not much of a world of jazz left, certain artists who play music that I think better fits under the category of “Pop” or “R&B” who call themselves jazz musicians seem more concerned about how they look on the cover of their CD than they do about the integrity of the music they are making. Perhaps some of them really love that kind of music but I don’t call it jazz. Jazz for me is music that is improvised and in the moment. Remember, Jazz music was created out of the desire for personal freedom. It has little to do with how hot you look when you are playing your axe.
Evan Stone feels he might only have lost a couple gigs because he didn’t look the part of what they were looking for. He hopes people don’t care about what he is wearing and only what he is playing. But he feels that musicians should still dress nice to respect the music and show that it is a serious art form. You don’t want the audience to feel like they are watching bums on stage. Also, as a drummer, it doesn’t matter as much because we are in the back. He listens to musicians because they sound good and he feels that people need to close their eyes and use their ears more.
WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN DOING WITH YOUR CAREER FOR YOURSELF? HOW HAS MONEY CHANGED YOUR INITIAL CAREER PLANS?
Evan Stone is a free lance drummer. He produces other artists, and is writing music for television and film with the drummer for Offspring. Evan Stone has his own jazz quartet that he leads and has been performing around LA the last 16 years working with many groups of musicians. He just recorded his first solo record that will be out in the fall.
In the future he would like to do some jazz festivals and continue doing local bands playing funk, rock, and jazz. He feels that he needs to play jazz to feel complete.
Money hasn’t really changed his initial career plans – but he just has to be able to pay his bills. You are generating your own income as a self employed musician, you are constantly struggling to get new gigs, to keep gigs. He feels as a musician you are on a constant job search – with no security blanket. There are pros and cons – you are your own boss but when you take time off you aren’t getting any income. You have to take the leap of faith and not let money be your driving influence.
WHAT INSPIRES HIM TO CONTINUE TO PURSUE MUSIC? HAVE HE EVER COME CLOSE TO GIVING UP?
Evan Stone’s inspiration lies in the fact that learning an instrument and trying to master it is never ending for anyone who wants to continue their craft and keep developing. He is always trying to come up with a new direction in music. The musicians that are around him also inspire him. He has never minded being the weakest link in a group because it forces him to grow. He is also inspired knowing that there is so much to learn.
He has wanted to quit at times in the past as a young musician – when he used to see great drummers perform, it was hard not to walk away feeling inspired but also feeling a bit like quitting because it seemed impossible to reach their level. Every artist who is serious about their craft deals with this at some point. He has also gotten pretty burnt out on drums – so to prevent this, he has picked up guitar and keyboards. In the last three years Evan Stone has bought a saxophone and has been practicing. He is self taught and practices with Aebersolds. Evan started playing sax to get interested in music again so he would not be burnt out on drums. It worked because he started learning the melodic side of music rather than the rhythmic side. It was another perspective on music – how a horn player hears a drummer.
WHAT WAS HIS COOLEST GIG? WHAT WAS LAMEST HIS GIG?
Evan Stone’s coolest gig – ” I think some nights when I am playing with my quartet and things are really flowing and everyone is listening well and playing at a very high level that those are some of my coolest gigs. Some nights are absolutely euphoric. “Part of the allure of being a musician is when you are completely aligned with your musical thoughts – it is the ultimate high. They don’t happen often which is why they are special.
Lamest Gig – Any gig where he has to put on a tuxedo to play music for people who aren’t listening to the music.
Some of Evan Stone’s other hobbies include chess, baseball, and traveling.
EVAN STONE’S ADVICE FOR THE YOUNG MUSICIAN:
“Get with a good teacher and learn how to manage your time effectively so you can practice, perform and look for gigs. Have a smart business sense on top of being a good player so you can have a successful career. Surround yourself with great players who will push you to become what you have always expected of yourself.”
HIS MOST EMBARRASSING MUSICAL MOMENT:
His most embarrassing moment was when he was playing with Maynard Ferguson and he couldn’t read music well yet. At the time, Evan Stone was 21. Maynard Ferguson pulled a new chart out on a gig. Evan had all the music in the book memorized, and was not able to sight read the new chart. Since he couldn’t read, the band almost folded on stage because of it. After that gig, he made it a goal for that to never happen again, so he learned how to read music better.
EVAN STONE’S OWN CDS:
Solo record “Evan Stone Sticks & Stone” – all straight ahead jazz
FAVORITE JOKE ABOUT HIS INSTRUMENT:
What did the drummer get on his IQ test? Drool
WHAT WAS HIS FIRST INSTRUMENT? DREAM INSTRUMENT?
His first instrument was a trumpet – he played trumpet for five years. His dream instrument are the Drums – the ones he is playing now they are the best drums he has ever played in his life
IS HE ENDORSED BY ANYONE?
Evan Stone is an artist for Canopus Drums, Vic Firth drumsticks, Aquarian drum heads, Bosphorus Cymbals.
LOOKING FOR MORE INFORMATION?
Evan Stone has his own website with sound clips, a blog, and much more.