Ontario rock outfit Ninety-Foot Stone is the brainchild of breakout singer/guitarist/songwriter Austin Cole and Toronto record producer Brian Moncarz, known for work with Our Lady Peace, The Trews, and The Tea Party among others. The debut single “Out of my Head” is out now and features collaborations from veteran musicians from Our Lady Peace, Bleeker and The Trews. We talked with Austin recently and asked him about the project.
Your debut single, “Out of My Head” just recently dropped. This is a collaboration with some relatively well-known musicians. How did this all come about?
It started a couple years ago. I got in touch with Brian Moncarz, who’s my producer, and he acted as a quarterback for this whole project. So it started with him, my ideas and my musical content, and we just went back and forth and played with different things. It came time and he’s like, “Okay, well, we got to find people to play with you”, because it was just me. He got Duncan and Jason from Our Lady Peace, who he’s worked with in the past, and then he was able to bring in Taylor from Bleeker.
It’s been like this evolution through time. Things just happened as it went and it wasn’t like everything was set and planned at the start.
It became what it is now over a period of about a year or two and that’s where we are now with having some music actually done.
How did you meet Brian? How did that relationship start?
I met Brian through a friend of mine. I had reached out to him and just said, “I want to professionally do some music, what do I do?” I had no idea and he put me in touch with Brian. He said, “You need a producer, that’s your first step. Here’s a contact.” And that’s how it started.
He’s a great producer. He’s mentored under some pretty big heavyweights like Bob Ezrin and David Bottrell, another great producer. You’ve been writing songs for a few years now. Tell me a little bit about that back story. You haven’t even been playing gigs for the last few years really, have you?
Yeah, I’ve played guitar for a long time, but it was a few years back where I wanted to play my own music. My love for playing guitar changed to a passion for creating my own music, and that’s really my focus right now.
So I’ve just been progressing doing that. When I got in touch with Brian and we started working together, it took my writing ability to a new level. It’s just evolved, evolved into the excitement of writing music, I love it so much.
Being able to work with the musicians that we have involved with the project is really quite incredible. It raises the bar certainly for what we can do, for what I can do.
How was the recording process for this? Did you guys all get together in Toronto and record it together or was it done in pieces?
It was done in some pieces. We’ve actually done quite a few songs, and then we just changed our direction with the type of music that we were doing because this whole process started with me being so novice at this and it was a really big learning experience for me.
What we did was some of the songs initially, we met all together with Brian in the studio with Duncan, and Jason, and we did a few songs in that one day. Taylor came on later so he did all his stuff remotely from his house, but this new single coming out, “Out of my Head”, that was actually done during the pandemic.
Everyone did that from their own home studios because we had to work remotely; we didn’t have the option of going into a studio, so that was different. It was fun. It was a new challenge recording something without the human interaction.
Of course we were in contact and Brian was sort of sitting at the back, bringing in all the pieces of music and guiding everybody. It’s different when you don’t have someone next to you to bounce ideas back and forth, you do lose that, but it was a fun challenge.
I don’t know if I’d want to do it like that all the time, but I think considering the circumstances, we had a lot of fun with it.
Are there plans for an EP or an album?
Yeah, there is. The first single came out on the 19th of November and we’ll have another single coming out in the New Year and then we’ll have a full EP hopefully by the spring. I mean, it’s all done; it’s just a matter of release times.
Are you forming a band? This is a collaboration with these musicians, they’re not actually part of the touring band per se, right?
That’s correct, yeah. There’s Brian as well. I say he’s my producer. He’s also acted as a mentor for me and he’s been my first and my main contact for anything related to this project or my musical life. We’ve had conversations about doing something a little more permanent. Like I said, this whole project evolved from nothing into what it is now. In terms of going forward, if we want to actually play a show or do anything live, we’re going to need something more permanent in place. We do have ideas for that. It’s a matter of getting the right people together and making it happen.
Tell me a little bit about this song “Out of my Head”. What is the song about and what goes into your writing?
Taylor does all the lyrics, so for me, what I think of when I’m doing a song, this song in particular, I had intended that it was going to be the first single.
What I wanted to do is create something that draws you in right away. We have some other good songs that we’re really happy with but I wanted something that hits hard right at the start and is a really good representation of what Ninety-Foot Stone is.
I think if you listen to this song you’ll have a pretty good idea of the other music that we have coming. So it was meant to be a sample of future music.
It’s pretty heavy production, but it’s also really melodic. What are your influences? What did you listen to growing up?
I’m all over the place. I love Metallica, Billy Talent, and Megadeth are some of my big ones I would say but I’ve also always listened to Robert Johnson, old blues music, The Band, you know, I love all that. Asking Alexandria is one of the more new bands, but I would say James Hetfield from Metallica has got to be one of my biggest influences.
Levon Helm, Robbie Robertson, those are two totally different worlds, but those are the people I looked up to. That’s the music that I’ve grown up listening to.
Are you still running that outfitting company up in Algonquin Park? Is that your company?
It’s not my company but I do run one of the locations. I do that for about seven months of the year.
What’s nice about that is it gives me the ability to be able to put my time into music when that closes down for the winter. I do that at this time right now. It’s all open and I’m just committed to music.
So that works out really well for you. I’m looking forward to the rest of this music coming out. Is it going to be coming out in bits and pieces over the next few months?
Yeah, we’re going to have a second single and then we’ll have the full EP, so it’s going to be two singles and an EP, as far as I know.
For more about Ninety-Foot Stone, visit www.ninetyfootstone.com.