Local Talent

A Fiendish Conversation with Allen Stone

Seattle's new soul king talks about his Muppet dreams.

By Seth Sommerfeld December 4, 2012

Image: Jason Tang

Seattle has seen a soul revival over the last few years, and Allen Stone is the flag bearer for the movement. The Chewelah, Washington native has taken his songwriting talents and rich, booming voice to the national stage with appearances on The Late Show with David Letterman and Conan and opening sets for Dave Matthews Band. After spending almost the entirety of 2012 on the road, he’s returning home to play his biggest headlining gig to date at the Paramount on December 7.

For our latest Fiendish Conversation we called up Stone while he was in Germany on tour to chat about his favorite Seattle bands, hiding his talent, and Muppets.

When did you first realize you had a talent for singing?

I first knew I could sing on pitch was in third grade. We had this music class and I remember purposefully singing badly because I didn’t want any of my buddies to make fun of me. I grew up in a really small, kind of hick town and, obviously, it wasn’t like the coolest thing in the world to be able to sing well. I sang in church and knew how to sing, but I didn’t want anyone to know.

Do you come from a pretty musical family?

Yeah, in comparison to some, sure. I mean, not incredibly musical. My dad played acoustic guitar and led worship. My mother has a really beautiful voice though, with a very, very deep bravado. I think that is probably what initially just got my ear. I think maybe when I first heard soul music, that’s why it sounded so appealing to me—because my mom had that deep, kind of soul, bravado.

What was your first introduction to soul music?

My first introduction where I was entranced by it, I was about 15 or 16 and somebody gave me Innervisions by Stevie Wonder. That was kind of like the spark that lit up that forest fire.

Are there any up-and-coming Seattle musicians you think people should take note of?

You know, I haven’t been back in Seattle is the problem. I literally counted on my calendar, three days ago in Dublin, how many days this year I’ve been home, and it’s been 15 days total this whole year that I’ve been in Seattle. I’m very, very much missing the scene. I haven’t been back long enough to see any shows.

I still really hope that Pickwick and those fellas get their act together and get a record out. [Laughs] 'Cause I love those guys, but man, they’ve just been locked in the studio for too long. I want it out. I want it right now, in my hands. I want them to get out and tour and show the rest of the world what they’ve got.

Also, Motopony. That record they came out with was one of the best records to come out of Seattle. For me, I’m big on that train of hoping that they can figure out the right partnership with the label or management or whatever it may be so that they can get on the road. I think Daniel Blue is one of the most intriguing front men to ever come out of Seattle.

Lemolo—have you ever seen them live? They’re soooo good, dude. They’re so rad and they’re so adorable, too. It’s, like, the greatest combination. There are a lot of bands that are pretty well know in Seattle, but just haven’t made it past Portland. I’m not sure why that is, but I really wish that they would get their due credit.

If you weren’t a musician, what other job might you have pursed?

Well, music kind of saved me from being a minster. Music was a huge part of what brought me out of the church and saved me from organized religion. So sadly enough, I’d probably still be involved in that. But in my heart, I really, really have a heart for animals. I think some veterinary work would be awesome or, like, a dog shelter or something.

You’ve been rising steadily for a couple years now. At this point, what are your career goals?

I’ve got the shoot-for-the-moon goals and then I have what I would deem as successful goals. I just want to be singing when I’m 45, 50. I want to have a job and be able to play shows all around the world until I’m old. That’d be the goal that would make me happy, and fulfilled, and feel successful. The shoot-for-the-moon is like: I want to play arenas, I want to host SNL, I want to play with the Muppets.

Allen Stone
Dec 7 at 8, Paramount Theatre, $21

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