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Zeph Courtney: A Rock And Roll Fables Conversation

It’s been a banner week and a half or so for us in terms of some of our all time favorites seemingly coming out of the woodwork with unexpected new material. The most surprising of those has to be Boston’s Stompbox who is just about ready to not only re-release their debut Travis for the first time ever digitally (With loads of bonus music) but also drop their first batch of new material since 1994’s Stress. That’s right, kids, 30 years. Being one of our bucket list Boston bands since we never got a chance to see them back in the day (We’ve since ticked that, ahem, box when they played the Boston Rocks For Julie Duffy shows in 2021), we jumped on the chance to review the new EP called Final Summer a little early and thanks to drummer Zeph Courtney that became a reality (You can read what we thought of that here). While we had Courtney on the line we thought it’d be silly not to catch up on all things Stompbox and, luckily for us and you, he obliged:

RNRF: When last we heard from Stompbox, you had just done a pair Boston Rocks For Julie Duffy Benefit shows at Paradise and that seemed to be it but now here you are with the re-release of Travis and 5 brand new songs due soon. What led to the new music and with that, is the band back?

Zeph Courtney: “The band is back as far as making new music. When we got together to rehearse for those shows we thought it would be cool to have a new song or two. Turned out that Pat (Gleespen, bass) had a lot of song ideas that he’d recorded himself. There was so much good stuff and we were having a good time playing together so we decided to keep going after the shows. We wanted to see if we could self-produce something worthwhile that seemed relevant to us now and still sounded like Stompbox.”

Getting back to the Duffy shows for a moment, how did that initial reunion happen? Was it something that the band decided on their own or were you approached with the idea?

“We were asked to do it. It came out of nowhere. I’m pretty sure none of us thought we would ever play together again. We got on the phone together and it took about 30 seconds to decide we’d do it because it was for Julie.”

With the shows in 2021 and the new music dropping soon, how easy or difficult was it to fall back into sync with one another with the recording and on stage after all this time?

“We’ve never really lost touch with each other. Jeff (Turlik, guitar) and I have been in a bunch of other bands together over the years. The main challenge was the travel arrangements. We live in different parts of the country and we all have families. Schedules are tight. Once we got in a room and started playing it fell into place pretty easily.”

Speaking of Final Summer, how long was the recording process and was anything from the new music taken from ideas leftover from before the band initially disbanded?

“Pretty much all of the leftover material from the old days is on the Travis re-issue. It was an unspoken natural decision to start with new ideas this time around. The recording process is open-ended and ongoing. We have a bunch of ideas in various stages of development. We’re fortunate that it’s fairly easy to collaborate over the internet.”

Are there plans to play any shows in support of the new release?

“No shows or tour booked at the moment but we’re open to offers.”

It’s been well documented about the issues the band had with Columbia in the ’90’s. Looking back now, is there anything you’d change about that era of the band?

“I think Columbia had more issues with us than we had with them. I’ve said to Jeff that if we had it to do over again I would just never argue with anyone whose job it was to market or promote us. I don’t know how the other guys feel about it. We don’t talk about the old days much.”

While the internet and social media was definitely a thing in the mid-’90’s, it’s definitely very vital when promoting yourself and connecting with fans today. As a band coming out of the age of big labels, PR, and the such, how has Stompbox in 2024 found the social media experience as a tool for self-promotion and interacting with fans?

“When we were booking our tours and dealing with labels and PR we didn’t have cell phones or the internet. Now of course it’s so easy to connect with people and share your work. We love it.”

Looking ahead, what’s next either for Stompbox as a unit or for the four members individually who make up the band?

“Who knows? None of us would have predicted that we’d be back together. Time will tell.” 

Final Summer along with the Travis re-issue drops on March 26th. You can pre-order it now by heading here and for more from Stompbox, follow the trail of socials when you click here or here.

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