I originally found this interview here


One of the hot new alternative acts in Britain is Stony Sleep. They have released their debut album "Music For Chameleons" which comprises twelve interestingly vivid tracks. The band consists of Ben Smith - vocals/guitar (19 years old), his brother Christian Smith ñ drums (16 years old), and Lee Citron ñ bass (16 years old). Lee took over his role from Will Salmon who left earlier in 1997. People immediately draw a comparison with Australiaís silverchair because of the young ages. However, these gifted guys seem very independently minded and have a lot of attitude, which should see them succeed. I recently spoke to a very articulate Christian Smith about the band.

Q. How did Stony Sleep begin?

  1. We were on holidays once, and we were watching the television show "The Wonder Years". It showed this kid using music as an influence and as a means of playing around. I was nine years old then and, with my brother and others, banged around with tennis rackets wanting to be rock stars. We thought to ourselves that all we needed were real guitars. For me, it was just a simple matter of getting a drum kit worth about 70 pounds. It was bought for me and I got into it heavily. After three years, when I was twelve, Ben and I started a band with a couple of other mates from school.

Q. Did you actually start playing drums at age nine?

  1. Yes, I had a few lessons then and it was quite hard for a while. Perhaps I didnít have enough co-ordination. We never took ourselves seriously which proved to be a good attitude. We just went about practising to what we are now.
  1. You were fourteen when the band was signed to the Big Cat label on V2. What was going through your mind? Is it true that Columbia Records made a big offer to the band?
  1. There were weird things going around our lives at that stage. I was put into a school that made me miserable. We had gone from a small community school to a rigid private school, where teachers and people there were arseholes. We had a lot of stress with the family. As far as the music went, it was a gradual process anyway. Itís not that we suddenly got caught up with a big deal or had sudden interest shown in us. We almost went to EMI in fact but the demo didnít go well. It was too clean and crisp, like Hanson, and that made it worse. We now have a handshake agreement with Big Cat.
  1. The songs on "Music For Chameleons" are dynamically simple and vividly poetic. What have you noticed, as Benís brother, of what influences his songwriting? Do they relate to personal experiences?
  1. There is a strong 60s influence because of what was played at home. Ben believes strongly in simple powerful songs. They are raw and poetic. Ben reads a lot of Russian and American authors and UK poets. He sometimes just wakes up to write a few sentences to capture the nice things in his head. The songs are neither political nor aggressive.
  1. Each member of the band is a teenager still, which draws a comparison with our own silverchair. Have you seen them play, and what is your opinion of them?
  1. They played at the Reading Festival once and I was in the crowd. They sounded like they could really play very professionally. They were cool.
  1. Will Salmon, who appears on the album sleeve, has now left the band. What caused that? Tell us the difference that Lee Citron has made to the band.
  1. Well, there were no punch-ups. Will just lost interest and became bored. He thought this band might have been just a hobby for a few years, not that it was going to change his life. Ben and I always showed that we were prepared to dedicate our lives to it. Lee has always been a favourite bass player of mine. He plays it like a guitar. He is not as predictable as Will. He is just a top player and weíre glad heís with us.
  1. Are you still going to school? If so, what are you studying for?
  1. I left school four months ago to concentrate on a long career in music. I am in it for the long haul, and so is Ben.
  1. Have you read much about the history of music? What have you learned, and what sort of music influenced your desire to play in a band?
  1. Iím not into modern music that much. Grandaddy is the only new band that I like. My favourite bands are Faith No More and Sonic Youth but theyíve been around for ages now. I am not a reader of music. You could say that The Beatles and Pink Floyd didnít want us to read about them. They just wanted us to sit down and play their music. I really like Pink Floyd because I was brought up on 60s and 70s music being played in the house.
  1. Is it true that youíre also a member of another band? If so, whatís the future for both?
  1. Lee and I formed French Car & the Bolemic Wizard just after Stony Sleep started. In this band, I sing and play guitar. Ben wants to get involved with this band too, but itís not a priority for a few years. We play something more experimental with French Car. Itís a bit weirder and is more of an acquired taste.
  1. Q. What has been the reaction in Britain towards a bunch of teenagers like you?
  1. A lot of people are taking an interest in us. There are many young bands around at the moment and extra attention is being paid to them. Itís not necessarily because of our age, but because of the music we play. Itís interesting that some people are putting us on the same level as Symposium, but weíre too grungy and raw to be thrown into that category. Our live gigs have been great, especially in London. Weíve had the single of the week in radio as well.
  1. Q. With your desire for a long career, how do you view the immediate future?
  1. We have already recorded a second album, which is more experimental within the alternative scene. The new songs contain rock songs and headbanging stuff. I suppose weíre always going to be an alternative style band. We are still very raw and we expect continual development. We sacked our manager this year. Ben is now doing the bandís admin work.
  1. Q. Has there been much interest from the USA as yet, and what will occur in 1998 for you?
  1. We could be getting signed to Mercury in the USA. In 1998, weíll release a new album and hopefully tour the world.


"Music For Chameleons" album is available on V2/Sony label

Carmine Pascuzzi