Carbonstone is a multi-faceted metal band hailing from Baltimore, Maryland. Having existed in various forms since 2005, Carbonstone blazed back onto the scene in 2021 with the release of Dark Matter and has been unleashing their creative energies almost nonstop ever since.
After a random hopeful post stating that I would love to interview the band, vocalist/guitarist Corey James was all in, encouraging me when I teetered on the edge of giving in to my nerves. This led to an enjoyable conversation about Corey’s start in music, the formation of Carbonstone, and what the band has in store for their fans in 2023, including their big show March 25th at Power Plant Live in Baltimore!
First and foremost, thank you so much for talking with me – and for volunteering to do this at all. I guess I’ll start with something generic. What made you want to pursue a career in music? Was there any artist or band that specifically made you think “I wanna do that”?
Corey James: So, long story short, I grew up a military brat. My family and I were always on the road to keep up with base relocating. My mother always had several cassette tapes on repeat during those long drives. One of those was “Voodoo Lounge” by The Rolling Stones. That’s really where I got my first taste of Rock music as a child. (We actually have a full studio cover/remake version of “Paint It Black” out there in the internet music streaming pool!) My mother was also really heavy into Sci-Fi cons during my earlier years and would always bring my brothers and me along to them. She would dress us up in costumes and enter us into giant masquerade contests at the cons. Being 8 years old up on a stage in front of bright shining lights and several hundreds of people cheering was an incredible experience. I was instantly hooked by the feeling.
Fast forward several years…I found the band Korn. That was a completely life-changing moment for me. I was truly bitten by the music bug and knew that I had to pursue it! I already had a love for performing, so having an intense love for music alongside that only felt right. I saved up my allowance and bought my very first guitar a few weeks later!! I’ll always remember that summer! I couldn’t put the thing down!
So that kind of answers my next question, to an extent. Besides Korn, who are your other major influences?
CJ: There’s so many, haha! I was pretty damn obsessed with the band Orgy in my high school years. Those dudes could do no wrong! I also listened to a lot of NIN back then as well. I suppose I’ve always been drawn to artists that weren’t/aren’t afraid to do things differently when it comes to their sound. A completely off the wall artist that I listen to religiously is Ghostemane. That guy is just insanely talented!!
I loved Orgy. I still wanna see them, even though I think Jay is the only original member left. For my own curiosity, what was the first song you learned on guitar?
CJ: The very first song that I ever learned to play on guitar was actually “Come As You Are” by Nirvana!! Easy peasy.
If you could collaborate with anyone, who would it be?
CJ: Oddly enough, I would have to say Ghostemane, and that’s for several reasons! Again, his sound is just so fucking wild. I really feel that we would come up with some really crazy sounds on a collab together!!
I think there would definitely be a shared adventurous spirit there. So, in regard to the band, how and when was Carbonstone formed?
CJ: I formed the band waaaay back in 2005 originally under the name “Unspoken”. Similarly like Jay and Orgy, I am the only original founding member still around.
Where did the name Carbonstone come from?
CJ: So long story short…Alcohol. Haha!! Our new name was originally supposed to be “Carved In Stone” but when you say that out loud with 12 or so beers in your system, it slurs out as “Carbonstone” !! I had a large party many moons ago and told a friend our new band name while inebriated. He repeated back to me “Carbonstone? That’s the new band name??”…..And the rest was history!
Well, you know what they say: no great story ever started with a glass of milk. Haha! Or down here in the South, every great story starts with “hold my beer.”
So, y’all released Dark Matter in 2021. Can you tell me a bit about the writing and recording process for that album? Or just your songwriting approach in general?
CJ: A song usually starts with just myself and a guitar. I’ll mess around with writing a ton of riffs until one speaks to me. Once that happens I’ll start to really flesh out the song (structure/vocal melodies). That can take as much as a few hours or up to a few days/weeks, depending on how inspired I am. “Scream” was literally written in a few hours! (The holidays are always a GREAT time for me to write, haha!!) Once I feel that I have a solid song, Neely [songwriter/guitarist] will then add a bit of his leads into it before we demo the song in its entirety. After the demo is completely done, I’ll listen to it about a billion times, picking it apart, making notes and finalizing lyrics. Eventually we bring the song into Tony’s (synth player/producer) studio, where we then shred it to complete pieces and begin rebuilding and recording it from the ground up. This is where all the extra polish and synths make their way in! Fast forward roughly 13-15 hours at Tony’s and the song is finally complete!! It’s a TON of work, but we all love doing it!!
Speaking of “Scream,” what’s the story behind that song? (It’s actually the first original I ever heard by y’all, followed by “Pins & Needles.”)
CJ: Ah, awesome!! Those are two very different songs for a new listener to be introduced to us by!! Yeah, so as I mentioned, “Scream” was just one of those songs that practically wrote itself. We had literally just dropped our new album (Dark Matter) at the end of October 2021 and I was messing around with the guitar one evening. It literally just happened and then our usual songwriting/recording process took place. I remember all of us laughing in the studio about how it totally should have been on the album!! Haha!! The song is pretty much an anti-hater anthem. I wrote the lyrics around the idea of someone out there constantly bashing/belittling you to the point of snapping. It’s just a big giant fuck-you song to anything/anyone in your life that attempts to drag you down!
With “Scream” being a non-album single upon its release, can we expect it on an album in the future? Like…2023?
CJ: Oh, for sure!! “Scream” will absolutely be included on our next body of work! We’re still working on the next album as of now, but we have some really killer plans to release something brand new VERY soon!!
What is next for Carbonstone? I know there’s a tour in the works, and y’all are hitting the studio in February, right?
CJ: Ahh, yes! We definitely have some really big surprises in store for 2023!! One of which is indeed a “little trek” down south! We also just announced two separate festival appearances (Maryland Day Festival, 3/25 in Baltimore, MD, and Rock On The Hill Music Festival, 5/13 in Hanover, PA.)
And yep, that’s correct!! We will be entering the studio in mid-February to begin recording some new material! It’s been a bit since we’ve released anything, so I’m definitely chomping at the bit!
So with that tour coming up, tell me (and the other misfortunates who haven’t seen y’all) – what’s a live Carbonstone performance like?
CJ: Ordered and structured chaos, haha!! On top of writing and recording, everyone’s schedules are so crazy that we all literally have to bounce dates/times back and forth just to book rehearsals. When we finally do get up on a stage and perform, everyone kind of just gets into their own personal zone and just cues off of everyone else’s energy. We also always have our nightmare bear “Frankie” up there with us getting the crowd hyped up! He’s a huge fan favorite! It’s a really wild time because no show we play is identical to the last!
You’re making me really hope for an Alabama show! And here’s another fun question that ties in: what would be your dream tour lineup that includes Carbonstone?
CJ: Hmmm, a dream tour lineup… That’s actually a tough question. I think I would have to say Korn, Static-X, Orgy, and us as the opener. A whole bunch of Nu Metal nostalgia! That would just be absolutely INSANE!!
That would be a phenomenal lineup! Okay, I have two more questions for you. Is there anything you want to say to your fans, new and old?
CJ: To all of our beautiful and amazing fans, Thank YOU!! We literally can’t do any of this without you!! You all make the hardships and battles of being an artist so truly worth it!! ❤️
And last but not least, where all can my readers get their hands on Carbonstone’s music?
CJ: You can find our music in all of the usual places! Pandora, Apple Music, Spotify etc..We’re literally everywhere!! Thank you again!!
And that’s a wrap! Y’all make sure to follow Carbonstone’s various socials and watch for updates (particularly those Southern tour dates; I tried to weasel details out of Corey, but mum’s the word right now).
Listen to my personal favorites here: