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Motor City Mutation: The Stools

Following last year's Feelin' Fine EP, The Stools teamed up with their pals Toeheads last month for the split LP, Watch it Die. We caught up with Detroit's bluesy punk trio to discuss the album's sweaty sessions and how their garage-punk geekdom earned them an opening slot for Jack White last summer.

Photo by Maude Cottone

Grit, noise, and a bubbling tension: it was these components that made the Motor City the birthplace of rock 'n' roll. Not only did it host Motown, but legends like The Stooges, MC5, Death, The Gories, Negative Approach, The White Stripes, and so much more. The young punk trio The Stools are one of the latest components to Detroit's brimstone stench of hip-shaking rock 'n' roll and are ready to explode.

Comprised of guitarist-vocalist Will Lorenz, bassist-vocalist Krystian Quint, and drummer Charles Stahl, The Stools followed up last year's EP, Feelin' Fine, with Watch it Die, a split LP that was released back in October with their city mates and longtime pals Toeheads. Released through the ever-reliable Drunken Sailor Records, the new album is a rollicking fast-paced thrill ride, culminating in the abrasive and bone-shaking garage-punk energy of two of the most revered bands in the scene.

To dive more into the split LP, we caught up with The Stools to discuss the album's sweaty sessions and how their garage-punk geekdom earned them an opening slot for Jack White last summer.

Paperface Zine: So how did you all meet and form The Stools? Also, do you maintain any side projects?

Charles Stahl: We're all childhood friends and have known each other since elementary school. We've always bonded over our love for music so when the time came it happened very naturally. One evening Will and I recorded two songs straight to tape with a boombox in a dirty wine cellar. We settled on The Stools for the band name based on a doodle I did in high school. Will had booked us a show at a local house venue and we convinced Krystian to play bass for just that show. After that set KQ was in full-time and the rest is history. We all stay quite Busy with other projects as well. We recently started playing with Danny Kroha and have formed a new band fittingly called Danny and The Stools. All three of us play in a H/C band called PHARMA on different instruments also with Joey from Toeheads. Will and Krystian play in The Long Stairs which I would refer to as fuzzy garage pop. Krystian has some pretty sweet solo stuff released under his name. I run a Detroit tape label called Painters Tapes.

PZ: Following last year's Drunken Sailor-released 7", Feelin' Fine, you returned last month with the split album, Watch it Die, with your pals Toeheads. Did this release come about during your East Coast tour back in May?

CS: The idea for the split LP actually came well before that tour. We have been buds with those darlins for quite some time. Both of us were supposed to tour Europe back in the spring, but it unfortunately never came to be (we're still trying though so EU bookers get at us). The plan was to record the split and have it released for the Euro tour. We had already recorded everything before the tour was cancelled. After the Euro tour was cancelled, we decided to book the East Coast run since we already had the time off work.

Photo by Merlin Loetzner

PZ: What was the process like putting that split 12" together?

Will Lorenz: On our end, the split was a matter of coordinating with all six of us musicians and collaborating with as many folks we admire as possible. Over the course of many months of prep and organization we had Low Level design the art and packaging, Cam Frank record the thing at the Russell, and Caufield Schnug from Sweeping Promises master it. Working with Drunken Sailor has also always been very easy and right to the point. Plus we've known Toeheads forever. I have actually been to every one of their shows and have a binder with each of the setlists in chronological order.

PZ: Aside from the new release, you also played some interesting shows last month; playing with Snooper, Silicone Prairie, and Tropical Fuck Storm. You also all dressed up as mimes and played Theatre Bizarre! What was that experience like?

WL: All of those shows were great. Snooper and SIlicone Prairie put on probably the best live sets I have seen in recent memory, they're so unique and on the forefront of where "punk rock" is going so it was an honor to play with them. Tropical Fuckstorm made me wanna get my act together with playing and songwriting, the singer had the same rig as me, but sounded like an insane nuclear blast, like what am I doing? Theatre Bizarre felt like home, I see blade wielding titted goat beasts in my eyes on the daily anyway.

Photo by David James Swanson

PZ: What was it like opening for Jack White in Lewiston, New York back in August?

Krystian Quint: We all grew up massive fans of The White Stripes and other Jack projects, and of course being from Detroit he's considered a deity of sorts, so it was an honor to say the least. The gig itself was nuts, hearing 4,000 people actually respond to you and your rambling/noise/chaos on stage is overwhelming in the best way. They seemed to dig it too. I would do that shit every night if I could. We shared tequila with Jack and crew afterwards and talked about suburban Detroit novelties. All in all, it a night to remember. Thirdman Records has done a lot for us, specifically Dave Buick and Roe Peterhans. Dave really came through on this one. Shoutout to Dave.

PZ: We were lucky to catch you twice in Buffalo last spring and summer so it's always a pleasure when you come through the area! Following this split LP, what can we expect next from The Stools?

KQ: Thank you so much! Buffalo officially holds a very special place in our hearts after this summer. We'll be back very soon. Big Neck Fest was an absolute blast and I shamelessly teared up seeing Sweet Knives for the first time [laughing] and anywhere Science Man and Biff are doing anything, I want to be. As for what's next for us, we have an album we've been sitting on for some time that we're pushing hard to get out to the world. We're going to be hitting the road for some shows in December. with our pals Sugar Tradition. We're also looking to tour (again, EU bookers hit us up!). We've been working on some new material as well, another tour in spring with Toeheads and if the stars align, world domination by 2024 (I'll accept 2025).

Watch it Die is out now through Drunken Sailor Records. Order your copy here.


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