Why Allen Stone Asked Capitol Records To Drop Him

5 November 2015 | 3:53 pm | Rip Nicholson

"And they complied; they dropped me, which was a huge blessing."

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"This isn't necessarily public knowledge," Stone lets slip. "I'm not sure if my publicist will be excited about me saying this, but that's exactly what happened!"

After his first two self-released records, Last To Speak (2010) and Allen Stone (2011) — the latter of which reached Billboard's Top 10 on the Heatseekers chart, and the Top 5 on iTunes' R&B/Soul chart — this past May Stone dropped his third, Radius, built with Swedish singer-songwriter Magnus Tingsek and produced by Benny Cassette. It's his first time on major label Capitol Records.

"Please, please, please drop me! You're ruining all the work I'd done over the years with your corporate-mandated recording label."

"I did the full record in Sweden — a bunch of songs that really meant something, like Fake Future, American Privilege and Circle and Capitol came back and said, 'We don't hear any hits; we need you to go back in and write with this person and this person.' So, I went back but once again the songs weren't poppy enough. They'd finally decided on one song, a song called Freedom that was probably the worst song I've ever written in my life. And that was the one they went to radio with. It flopped. I went into Capitol about a month ago and said, 'Please, please, please drop me! You're ruining all the work I'd done over the years with your corporate-mandated recording label. Please drop me.' And they complied; they dropped me, which was a huge blessing."

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Stone has since done a 180 with Radius, returning to Dave Matthews' ATO Records, who released his second record and who are set to re-release his new album worldwide with new songs and bonus material.

"It was a big win for me. I would much rather have respect for myself than to have money," he states. "I don't ever see artists who take that path cultivating a legacy. They may sell millions and millions of dollars worth of product but nobody gives a shit about them after they leave. Their music doesn't stick around. I'd much rather have music that impacted generations to come — my grandkids' grandkids — than to have extra money in my bank account when I die."

Tracks such as American Privilege, which paints a glaring dichotomy the first world faces in regards to a dependency grown from the misery of others less fortunate in the world, also illustrate the socially conscious landscape provided in Stone's catalogue.

"I really only write stuff that means something to me personally. The music that really turned me on was that like, the '70s protest and civil rights movement when young people were really shaping my country. Nowadays, they're just blatantly in debt and working their lives away. They used to be able to go and picket and have discussions to change the perspective of our leadership, but nowadays it seems like there is so much white noise that is pervading the minds of young adults, it's really hard for us to unite for a purpose.

"There's so much just cotton candy, cookie-cutter, in my opinion, just weightless music," adds Stone. "Maybe it was the way I was raised or just sorta like a juxtaposition I have, but I feel like if I have a microphone I should be using it more impactful."

Through the journey of his uncompromising soul-driven music of protest, Stone has found challenges along the way. His jamming with Miles Davis' keyboardist and Raphael Saadiq's rhythm section for his second LP seemingly appeared to the marketplace all too black for the image of the self-proclaimed strung-out, hippie white kid out of Chewelah, Washington State.

"It's been a relatively uphill battle for me because of the way I look," he continues. "I'm making a living doing music and that exceeds any expectations that I ever had when I picked up a guitar and started writing songs. I'm making music that I believe is different and not the same as everyone else and I'm proud of that.

Playing at this year's Bluesfest, Stone confides that he sees his music as therapeutic; he taps into the soul of his audience and provides solace any way he can.

"That's what my shows are really all about: taking a group of people and attempting to help them forget anything that would be weighing them down through the week. So I hope people would come and find that. The music is just a platform to cultivate a community of energy. So hopefully people can expect to find that safety, that freedom."