Hello Martin. I am glad to hear your voice. It still feels good to talk to a well-known musician. Could you please start with introducing yourself and the band? Why did the White Stones come to be?
Hello, I am Martín Méndez from White Stones. When this band started, I didn’t have any intentions to release this music. Anytime I have some off-time from Opeth, I usually write music, but usually it ends up in a hard drive without being finished. So this time I wanted to do it properly and record it and everything. So I did that, and I like the result from a few songs that I’ve made. Everything started there. When I had these songs ready, I showed it to a few people and then I got the contract with Nuclear Blast, so then it got a bit more serious in a way. So yeah, that was the start of everything. I didn’t plan anything, but once I had the label and everything set up to release the album I kinda realised, that I had a band.
You guys started in 2019, and due to corona, your debute may not have gone as planned. How did it come out as opposed to your expectations?
Well the first album came out in 2020, and it was at the same week when the lockdown started. I mean it came out well, but we never had a chance to play live. We had a few shows after the release, but then everything got cancelled of course. But when all this happened, I didn’t realise that I will be home for a while, and then I started to write the second album directly. And in a way I kind of enjoyed becuase it took such a long time, and doing this album was a good thing for me. I think I took advantage of the feelings and emotions that I had on the pandemia as well. So I think there was something positive at least for me.
Your debute album ,,Kuarahy” came out in 2020. How did the Opeth fans and the rest of the musical world received it?
I think it was good in the end. A lot of people automaticly started to compare it with Opeth. I think it’s a normal reaction. People do that. I think it’s a different thing. In Opeth I don’t write the songs, and this is what I’m doing in White Stones, I write the music myself, so this is more me. For sure there is influences, but they are different. I think overall the response was good. I don’t have social media things, I am not into it, so I don’t know much. I am not looking at every comment, but since haven’t been playing live I don’t know what people think about it, but I think overall it’s good.
In any case, you went ahead and released another album, wich came out in the previous days. How much is this album a continuation of the first one? What changed?
It’s a bit different of course, it’s been written in a different period of time. I mean this new album was written when the pandemia started, and I had different emotions and feelings in my body. So I think it has a different aproach to the music, I think it’s darker, but at the same time I would like to think that I learned something from the first one. So the newest album might be a bit more complex, but I like to think that it’s a bit better, because I learned something from the first album. Wich is a good thing.
There are a lot of influences mixed in your music, and it’s fascinating to hear the creativity and the preciseness. What qualities would you highlight from your music?
When I make these albums, I try to make them as natural as possible. In the sense that I don’t want to edit the music, and I like to choose one sound at the beggining, and that sound what I chose is what you will hear on the album. It’s not like the modern kind of style for making a metal album. And I try to make it as natural and as earthy as possible in a way, but I also like music when it’s well done, and I am very hard in that sense. I like do take as many takes as it takes to feels good and have the right take on the album. I like to make it as it’s supposed to be, like it was back in the day. You play what you hear.
“Dancing into Oblivion” has 8 tracks, and it can stay fresh even after multiple listens. Do you think that it’s easy for the listener to get involved?
Well, it’s not the easiest music to understand in one listen. It’s a bit technical, but I don’t like when the technical side takes over, because I think that’s more difficult to understand. I like music, and I like to write it when my emotions and feelings are the most important things. So in that sense, I think it might be easier to understand, because the emotions tell you what the song is about. But then if you listen carefully of course you will discover new things everytime you listen to the record. Because there are a lot of influences in it. And at least I try to do music that is complex, but it is also easy for the ear.
What kind of music do you normally listen to? How much time do you have to explore other artists?
I enjoy a lot of music, and all the music I listen to does influence me. I listen to many different types of music. From rock to jazz to folk music… And I listen to mostly old music. There is not much new stuff I listen to, but there is so much old stuff to discover. In the last few years I really started to like jazz, so there I have a lot of discovery. Everything influences me, when it comes to writing, and it helps me to come up with new songs.
What is important to you? What helps you to create?
Life in general does influence an artist in my opinion. Depends on how life is or how I feel at the moment. These things have an impact on me when I am writing music. I would say that my family and the environment I live in influences me a lot. Basicly everything. Combined with the music I listen to.
What are the things you are trying to add to your life? How is your wealth?
I am an easy guy. I like to keep it easy in a sense. What I want is to know that my family is healthy and also everybody else around me, so I can make the things I love to do, wich is to make music. I am only capable of doing music when I have the comfort of my family behind me.
When did you realise, that you had to make music? With whom did you play with first?
When I realised I wanted to be a musician I was a child, but when I started writing music as a composer, it came a few years later. I used to write music in bands when I was young, but since I started playing in Opeth when I was 18 years old, I kind of stopped writing music. Because I didn’t have much time for it, and I was very busy with Opeth. But once we had some time off I started making music again, and then I realised that it is very important for me to compose music. And that’s the reason why I am doing White Stones. Because for sure my main act is Opeth and I am very busy with it, but I realised that I have to have something on the side to express myself 100%. Wich is not the case in Opeth, but it is very important to me as a person and as a musician.
There are a lot of Opeth fans here, and I think White Stones’ popularity will rise here as well. What message do you have for the fans?
I just hope they give a chance to this new album. I think it’s intresting, and if you like Opeth, and the earlier style of it, you maybe like this album. And sure, Hungary is a very good market for Opeth, and I liked to play there too. And we’ll love to come with the White Stones someday. It would be awesome.
Thank you for you answers. We hope to see you in the future! Take care.
Thank you very much! You as well.
The interview was taken with Martín Méndez on 31.08.2021.