Burro Bar, Jacksonville, Florida – June 10th, 2014 | Slims, Raleigh, North Carolina – June 20th, 2014

Article/Interview and Photos by Wanda Blake

Arc & Stones (A&S) has that bluesy rock 70’s vibe which brings to mind some of the harmonically focused bands of the time. Bands such as the harmonies of Gentle Giant, the hard rock bluesiness of  Led Zepplin and even the harmonics of Jimi Hendrix.  When asked who their early influences were the answers varied across the band and time. From the mid 70’s with artists such as  Thin Lizzy, Led Zepplin and Fleetwood Mac to more modern bands such as Prodigy, Blind Melon, and Queens of the Stone Age.

The band is currently out on tour supporting their latest EP, As You Were, which was classified on iTunes as  “alternative rock,” an interesting choice and completely out of character for the bands style. Joey Doino, A&S’s drummer, doesn’t disagree but says, “It has a little more soul to it because of the way Dan sings. Dan’s got a very, very soulful voice. He’s not like your typical rock singer… he kind of reminds me of Steven Tyler in the sense that he can make those bluesy kinds of sounds. I feel that’s what separates it from typical alternative rock. It’s the vocals for me.”

The Arc & Stones are a young band but with an interesting history.  They were “discovered” by Phil Ehart, the drummer and manager for the band Kansas. Recognizing their talent right off, he offered to take them on as their manager. But the story starts well before Phil Ehart.

Arc_&_Stones_IMG_1997Dan Pellarin (vocals), Ben Cramer (guitar), Eddy Bayes (bass) and Joey Doino (drums), are the talented guys that makeup the Arc and Stones. Pellarin, Cramer and Bayes met at the University of Miami (UM) while pursuing degrees in music.

Cramer and Pellarin decided not to stay to complete their education and when asked, Cramer says, “I hated it.” Pellarin’s response, on the other hand, was a bit more complex, “Honestly how are you going to say you’re in an educational environment? How can someone actually tell you how to write a song? Is there really a formula for writing a song? I get that there’s a verse, chorus whatever, but like you’re only going to learn from experience. All the great songwriters in the world they learned from experience. They went out and did it.”

Cramer left UM and moved to Athens, Georgia playing in bands there. After about a year he decided to give Pellarin a call and the two picked back up where they had left off, joking about starting a band. But this time it turned serious. The two then made contact with Bayes, who was already an accomplished guitarist and wanted in, but they needed a bassist not another guitar. So he grabbed a bass for the first time and learned to play it.  Next the three made a plan to rendezvous in New York.

Eddy Bayes & Danny Pellarin  IMG_2413Once in New York, they put out a Craig’s list request for a drummer and found Joey Doino. Doino was deep into the funk, R&B, hip hop, and soul scene and played in several bands in high school and college.
Doino a graduate of Sealy Purchase and when asked about his educational experience said, “Initially I wanted a double major in management and production, but I was already skilled at production so the instructors just let me audit the classes to finish my education.” Doino stuck it out and received his degree is in Arts Management. After graduating, he worked as a drummer for hire in New York until he responded to the Craigs List ad.

Joe_Doino_IMG_1601Doino was the first respondent, got the five songs to learn for the audition and showed up to play, and they clicked; as people, as musicians and with the type of music specifically. Doino has been part of A&S now for almost two years and feels they have something special. Doino, a newcomer to the world of  rock n roll, brings his funk and R & B roots to the chemistry that ignites Arc & Stones.

When asked about their songwriting process, Bayes said, “It all comes together in different ways, someone might come in with a whole idea and we all kind of add to it, someone might come in with a small idea and we all pass it around. It depends on the song.  Someone might come in with the entire song.”  And then Cramer added, ” We usually do like a free jam at the beginning of practice, just to warm up. We’ve come up with some cool ideas from that too. Then Dan will start singing like, gibberish.” Gibberish?

He continued, “It’s like a working melody.” As Pellarin chimed in, “The easiest way to come up with lyrics is to understand not just what you want to sing about, but how you want to go about singing it, in my opinion. Once the atmosphere is created, then as you’re playing through the music,  it starts to take shape to like what comes into your head first and foremost and basically musically how it moves you and then you start formalizing.”

Pellarin says the song “Control” is about hearing a lot in music,
“you can’t do that, people will tell you, you suck, or you’re not supposed to be doing what you’re doing in a song. So “Control” is the culmination of everybody’s thought processes. An F- You to everyone who says you shouldn’t be doing this, or you’re not going to amount to anything, or you have no purpose, and you’re kind of useless. Then those people are the first ones to come back and say they’ve been behind you and supporting you the whole time when they see you succeeding immensely.”

Eddy Bayes   IMG_2442According to the band, any conflict is handled by very open conversation, so everyone is heard and their point of view is considered. Spending so much time  together they are like a family and they treat their family with respect. Pellarin comments, “You’ve got to understand though, with that whole process a lot of people might really get bent up about how much eagerness and how much passion everybody has in the process of doing things musically and writing especially. And I’m a firm believer in, if there’s no passion, like there’s no serious, serious dedication to your opinion, then there’s really no point in trying to come together. It’s about sorting out the things that do fit and the things that don’t fit. Obviously, everybody is passionate but as a band we come together and understand that there are some things that work better than other things. If things happen to balance themselves out perfectly then, it’s wonderful….and rare.”

Dan Pellarin   IMG_2392A & S’s first gig was September 11th, 2012, by January of 2013 they had signed with Ehart. Things have moved fast for these guys and all agree they are learning a phenomenal amount from Phil Ehart. He has drilled them to sharpen their skills, preparing them to play before larger audiences and giving them the opportunity to open for Kansas.

Being managed by a drummer, Doino is like a sponge. He says, “I”ve learned a lot from Phil being our manager and both being drummers. I‘ve learned a lot from him.  He’s very focused, he’s doing a lot simply because he loves us and our music.  Like first he fell in love with the music and then now he’s almost like an uncle or some sort of a male leader, role model kind of guy. He ‘cares’ about everything we do like every step we take. He manages Kansas; also, he’s kept them going for 40 years, he knows something.  He knows a lot of the landmines to avoid, because he’s gotten bit in the ass himself enough to know.”

Doino says Ehart will sit in the seats listening during sound check, moving around to make sure A&S sound their best for every show. “He’s come to our rehearsals and made us drill things until we were perfect. He’s really helped us work out a lot of the kinks…” When he put us in a big rehearsal space in Atlanta to help us prepare for the bigger shows, he drilled us. When Doino was asked what the biggest difference was between small bars and larger stages he didn’t hesitate with his answer, “Band communication. If the four of us are in really close quarters its really easy to communicate with each other and the crowd. If you’ on a stage where the front row is 10 feet away, you still have to engage the audience and be entertaining.”

Cramer states, “We’ve been very lucky with a lot of the opportunities we’ve had as a band and for such a young band. Like last summer, we played a show in front of 15,000 people and like three weeks later we were back playing in front of 20 people. So, it gives you a taste of hopefully what’s to come, but shows like this (Raleigh at Slims) and Jacksonville (Burro Bar) kind of keep you grounded because you know exactly where you are.”

Ben Cramer   IMG_2520Recently A&S moved to Nashville from New York where the music scene welcomes newer younger bands and the cost of living is affordable. They all love the city but left behind a well-developed fan base and separated two of the band members from their girlfriends.  The women in their lives are supportive and successful in their own right, which keeps them from worrying about the miles between them.

Bayes’ wife moved with him and has traveled on the road with them to filming a documentary of their experience. Not to worry ladies there is “one” single band member… But that information is left for another time.

A & S have travelled all over the Northeast and Southeast of the United States. The four band members, a woman and their tour manager, sometimes up to six people in a van with clothes and equipment. It would seem like it would be uncomfortable with too much togetherness. But these guys try to make it fun. Even having a whiffle ball game or two at 3 or 4 in the morning in a parking lot somewhere on the road to make sure they don’t wake hotel patrons and give Rock ‘n’ Roll a bad name. But when they’re not on tour they give each other some space.

In this changing climate of the music industry, the one continual issue bands, even a band with as many opportunities as A & S, is the financial support from the industry. Artists were once paid for their music, today it’s downloaded for free, they were once paid to tour and still are today but with soaring ticket prices and the availability of YouTube and social networks fewer fans are going to live shows. The lack of support and ability for anyone to record and produce in their bedroom has had a crippling effect on the quality of music we are exposed to. So when a band such as the Arc & Stones who are gifted and strive for excellence go to make a record for us to enjoy they need to get creative and smart. Kickstarter is more and more the answer to the financial dilemma and is where Arc & Stone turned to help fund their EP, “As You Were.”

Each of these guys Bayes, Cramer, Pellarin, and Doino are all, as musicians, extremely talented in their own right.  All  of the men would be successful on their own; however, they recognized the chemistry immediately as the four of them connected. The harmony of the four when singing together, is truly a thing of beauty.  They have that bewitching quality that gets into the soul and makes the heart feel and connect to the music. Experience the connection for yourself the Arc & Stones tour dates have just been extended check their website via the link below for dates and cities near you.







A Couple of Evenings with the Arc & Stones…
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