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An Interview with... 
Curtis Stone of Highway 101

April 2004 

Question: Would you please introduce yourself to the readers and tell us something about your history.

Answer: Curtis Stone of Highway 101

Question: Country Music has many new fans in Europe who may be learning about you for the first time. How would you describe the music you play to someone who's never seen or heard you before?

Answer: Energetic country music played with the energy of the Rolling Stones and the attitude of the Eagles

Question: What is your current CD and how is it doing?

Answer: The new CD is called "Big Sky". You can hear bits and pieces of it at the "highway101.net" web sight and pick up a copy if you like.

Question: How did you find the title for the CD and what inspired you?

Answer: Cactus, our drummer, wrote a song for one of our earlier albums called "big Sky", we loved it, but it didn't fit in. Finally with this new record, it fit. We always thought it would be a great Album title or even a great name for a band. So, here it is the title track. 

Question: Do you write you own songs and if not, how do you go about finding songs for your albums?

Answer: On this new record, we wrote them all. Years ago we would go around to publishing companies and listen to all the great ones they had for us. We passed on some huge hits for other people that weren't right for us or ones we couldn't agree on.

Question: What's your favorite song among all the songs you've recorded and what's the story behind it?

Answer: "Cry Cry Cry". It was on the first album. It was a number one record for us. When we heard the demo of songs that the record Company had "weeded out", we all thought it was perfect for us.

Question: How much creative control do you have over your music?

Answer: At this time, we have TOTAL control. We are now on our own label and producing it ourselves, so we have freedom we didn't have back in the late eighties and early nineties.

Question: There's a lot of work that goes into a number one hit ... what's it take to make it?

Answer: Waiting and searching for the perfect song. One that hits you in the heart and the head. One that the listener can relate to, and say.."Hey, that is what happened to me" One of our tunes, "Whisky If You Were A Woman", is probably our most popular, cuz so many people have been through that experience.

Question: How much do your songs influence your audience?

Answer: That is a tough question. Like I said above, a lot of people related to 'Whisky". " The Bed You Made For Me", also had a contingent of followers. "Bing Bang Boom", everyone has fallen in love like that at some point. But do these songs influence them? Only in the sense that it makes them feel good, or in some cases, bad. Or makes them think about something in their own life that was a particularly tough or wonderful time.

Question: The Internet is playing a bigger and bigger part in the world of music. Has the Internet hurt or helped you and how would you like to see it evolve?

Answer: the Internet has helped in the sense that we can get in touch and have one on one with our fans. But, to be honest, we have seen very little effect on record sales. It has been great for exposure. People can see that we are still out there doing. It. Maybe articles like this will help make more people aware of us and what we are all about. I thank you for the interest.

Question: Who do you look up to musically and where do your musical roots come from?

Answer: Songwriters, Merle Haggard, Buck Owens, and Dwight Yokum. My personal roots are steeped in 60's rock and 60's country. The Beatles, Crosby Stills Nash and Young, The Byrds. And, Alan Jackson inspires me. In the sense that he knows what he is and what his audience wants and is committed to fulfilling himself as an artist and sticking to his roots.

Question: What do you think about today's Country Music versus it's roots and where do you see it going in the future?

Answer: I must say, today's country music is a lot like rock music of the 70's. There are some great songs. The production is of a more "Pop" treatment than it was in the good ole days of Alabama and George Jones. I would like to see it go more retro, and feature a more "raw" sound than it does now. You, know, guitar, bass, drums, steel, piano, vocal harmonies. Things are just a bit over produced now.

Question: If you had a chance to change something about the music industry, what would it be?

Answer: I would create a place, a label, where people like George Jones; Haggard, Alabama, Highway 101, Marty Stuart, Ricky Skaggs could do what they do best, great songs with no frills. Country, "Rock a Billy". "Rock a Billy" has never changed, why should country music have to?. There is an audience out there for real country music. The new stuff is good, don't get me wrong, but it is not the same as traditional country. "Asleep At The Wheel" is still doin' it. .

Question: As an artist you have so many different things you have to do such as recording, touring, doing interviews etc. What do you like doing the best, what's your favorite activity?

Answer: I like touring, playing live. I also like the creative process of taking this song and making it our own. Recording is a painstaking process. By the time the recording is done, you get pretty tired of hearing those songs, those recordings. It is possible to keep creating throughout the recording. Mixing and overdubbing can be very creative, but it is hard to
keep focused on the "creation". The great ones do that, Strait, Jackson and Yokum, manage to keep their focus and create every minute of the journey. You can hear it in the records. It their own way, Shania Twain and Mutt Lange, are very creative. They know what they want to do and do it. If the artist has fun in process you can feel it in the finished product

Question: How did you get into Country Music ... is there a story behind it?

Answer: My dad and brothers were publishers and producers in Los Angeles. I was a studio musician in LA, for years. I played on most the West Coast country records that were cut in the 70's. I played in country clubs, like the Palomino; in LA. My father was very important in the West Coast country community. His name was Cliffie Stone. He discovered Ernie Ford, Molly Bee, had Buck Owens signed to his publishing company. He knew all the legends. In 1985, I had the opportunity to pursue a Pop or Rock career, and he encouraged me to keep following country. He said, "Country has much more longevity, it will support you for years to come". He was right.

Question: Before you became a star, were your friends and family supportive or was it a struggle?

Answer: I was always supported in what I wanted to do. I won a few ACM "Bass Player of the Year" awards in LA. I wish I could say that I struggled, but I just kind of did what I did and eventually I wound up in this great band.

Question: Has your journey to success been a hard or an easy road?

Answer: I have never done, in my life, anything I didn't want to do, so I always enjoyed music, at whatever level I was playing, or performing. That sounds pretty easy to me. Don't get me wrong, I paid lots of dues, crummy clubs, lousy records, goofy weddings, but I loved every minute of it. It is a miracle to get a deal. It is a miracle to actually get to make a single. It is a miracle to make an album. It is a miracle to have a single. It is a miracle to have a hit. It is a miracle to have more than one. . It is a miracle to be able to make a living at it for the last 20 years.

Question: What drives you? What inspired you to become an artist?

Answer: The music drives me. I was inspired by listening to records in my bedroom and being taken away by them. In those days there were 3 channels on television. no MTV, no computers. Music was the ultimate escape.

Question: What does it take to be a Country Star?

Answer: Perseverance and love of what you do.

Question: What's unique about you that differentiates you from other artists?

Answer: When we hit in '87, we were a country band, with a girl singer. No one had done that before, or since, for that matter, with any kind of success. I believe of we were given an audience, we would make believers out of the "new country" fan. We slay live. I would feel comfortable on any stage with any country artist today. We'd be like "The Flying Burrito Brothers" of the 2000's.

Question: What's the best thing about being a star and what's the hardest thing?

Answer: I don't consider myself a star. What I do for a living, at this point, allows me to spend time with the family. The hardest thing is having to leave them.

Question: What's your greatest challenge been in the music business?

Answer: Dealing with the ever changing and fickle aspects of radio.

Question: What moments in your career stand out in your memory as highlights and achievements, which you're proud of?

Answer: Of course the ACM Vocal Group awards, the CMA Vocal Group awards and the Grammy nominations.

Question: Who's your biggest critic, yourself or others?

Answer: Myself, definitely

Question: When you get time off, how do you like to relax?

Answer: I chill. Work in the yard. Read, Golf.

Question: Is there anything in your life that you would change if you could?

Answer: I always wanted to win a BMI songwriter's award aside from that, not a thing..

Question: What private hopes and desires do you have?

Answer: Someday I want to have a beach bar, and play my acoustic and sing songs.

Question: What's the biggest disappointment in your life been?

Answer: I really can say that I don't have one. Everything that has happened in my life, good or bad, has brought me to where I am. I can live with that.

Question: Many European fans travel to Nashville for Fan Fair because of the opportunity to see so many of their favorite stars at the same time. Will you be participating and how will the fans be able to find you?

Answer: The best way for fans to hunt us down, is to use the web. We probably won't be at fan fair anytime soon, however, if we were to have a big hit again, we just might show up.

Question: When you're on tour, do you have time to play tourist?

Answer: Not really. Get in town on that day, do the show and leave the next morning. When we get to Europe, we have more time to be a tourist. We love coming over there.

Question: Can your European fans look forward to seeing you in concert in the future?

Answer: Maybe this article will make that happen. We have been to Norway, Switzerland, Sweden and Germany. Had a blast the fans are awesome over there.

Question: Many music fans today get their information about artists via the Internet. Do you have your own website and what information can the fans find out about you on the Internet?

Answer: highway101.net. You can buy CD's, photos, see pictures, find out where we are playing, talk to us, and check out our history.

Question: What are your plans for the future and how can new fans keep informed about you?

Answer: We are in the process of making a live record of our hits.. keep checking out our web sight for info.

Question: What's the best compliment a fan has ever given you?

Answer: "You guys really brought me through a hard time"

Question: What's your favorite song that you didn't record and why?

Answer: I have too many of them. But the first thing that comes to mind is this. David Essex recording of "Rock On". It is raw and moving. It just makes me feel good.

Question: What message would you like to send to your European fans?

Answer: You guys are the best country music fans on the planet.

Christian Lamitschka ( Ch.Lamitschka@t-online.de )
CSO European Contributing Journalist

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