The Stolen are a quartet of New Jersey natives who have been touring across the US with their name on the same bill as acts such as The Maine, The All American Rejects, and even Duran Duran. Heavily influenced by the music of the late 80s, the pop-rock outfit write songs that pay tribute to the sounds they grew up on. Since releasing their previous album Fragile Heart in 2017, The Stolen have been consistently dropping singles from their upcoming record, due early next year.
We got to talk with Rob Chiarappa (guitar and vocals) and Dom Cuce (vocals) of The Stolen about the band’s latest single “Rooftop,” and how far they’ve come from playing neighborhood block parties in their hometown. Check out the full interview below.
TYF: Your new single “Rooftop” just dropped last month and it deals suicide, which is a pretty heavy topic. Have you guys had any feedback from fans on what it means to them?
Rob: Yeah, when we wrote the song, obviously it’s a heavy topic, we felt that the world is in a time right now where a lot of people aren’t talking about these topics that are uncomfortable or touchy. We did have a few fans reach out to us a let us know what the song meant to them and how they felt it was really important so the feedback has been really phenomenal.
TYF: How did the collaboration with Jake Miller come about?
Rob: We’d been friends with Jake for years, probably since 2012 or 2013. Kevin, the bass player in our band, also played drums for Jake and when we were writing this song we knew that it was a topic that Jake also feels strongly about. Back in his day, he had a song called “Steven” which was kind of a similar topic and we knew that if we wanted to collab with anyone not only did we want it to be a friend, but someone we feel also kind of understands and is about spreading awareness. So I shot Jake a text one day with the song pretty close to finished and said “hey, let me know what you think of this song.” And he sent back in 20 minutes, he has a crazy work ethic, a vocal sample to my email. And it was as simple as that, just friends making music.
TYF: Any plans for touring or collaborations in the future?
Rob: Absolutely! As far as collaborating, we’re always down to play around with other things. At the end of the day we always want it to make sense for the song and for it to be someone we like as an artist. As far as touring, we’ve toured with plenty of different artists over the years and we look forward to touring with new artists in the spring.
What are your plans when it comes to releasing new music? An EP? An album?
Rob: It’s going to be an album.
Dom: We’ve been consistently dropping singles off the record and we’ll be leading up to a release sometime in the early coming year so we’re really excited about that.
As you’re working on new music to release, how would you say that it’s different from your previous album, Fragile Heart?
Rob: I would say every artist says “over the years you get older and more mature,” but for us, I think it’s also not pigeon-holding ourselves and expanding our palate not just what we listen to but with what we’re writing. There’s really no boundaries to the way we write anymore, we can write a song that sounds a little more funky and pop, we can write something that’s a little more of the rock side, just overall I think we’re just trying to write the most important music to us at this point. We’re trying to dig deep and touch on things we haven’t touched on before.
Where do you find inspiration for your songs?
Rob: Inspiration is really kind of coming from a little bit of everywhere, it’s not a concept record at all, just whether it’s things that have happened to us personally or things that we feel strongly about that are going on in the world. Whether it’s touching on personal situations with relationships and things like that or a song like “Stuck” we put out which is self-reflective on having anxiety. It’s really all over the map. We have a song we’re working on that’s about where we’re from and coming home from tour, just watching where you’re from change. At this point in our life, when we were 15 and 16, what we had to write about was definitely limited and we saw a lot less but now we’re in our early and mid twenties, we’ve been writing music together for almost 10 years and we’ve seen a lot more than we did when we were that young.
What does your songwriting process look like?
Dom: We understand how each other works now, you know? We were friends before the band so you really get to see each other as people that way and that I think reflects in our songwriting process.
Rob: Absolutely, it’s always been a pretty group effort. More or less things are similar yet have evolved, It’s usually I’ll start with an acoustic guitar and a vocal or I’ll make a quick demo up on Protools, send it to the guys and everyone kind of brings their own thing to the table. But I think how much more that has developed is maybe in the beginning we were just sticking to our own instruments, Mike was sticking to his drums, Dom was sticking to the vocals or whatever, I think even now without crossing each others’ lines we’re all pretty humble. Like Dom might say “hey, this kick-drum here sounds kind of weird or Kevin might think something different about a vocal, everyone is kind of intertwined in that way, more than when we were younger. I would write like lyrics and a melody and Dom would only focus on vocals, I would only focus on guitar, Mike on drums and so on. I think we all kind of have no ego in the sense of going into each other’s departments. We all want the song to be as best as it can be.
How involved are you with the creation of your music videos?
Dom: I don’t want to say we’re control freaks but we kind of always have ideas bouncing around and who is going to care more about than you? So thats something we’re always very big on. We’ve also discussed for future videos getting treatments done and working with other directors and I think that’ll definitely happen for the band but again, I think when going into something like that, you want to find someone you trust and you’re on the same brainwave with and they understand your art in the same way you do in a sense.
Rob: We’re always going to be hands on too, it’s not like we’re going to go and like tell the director “hey, make the entire video idea up for us and do that.” I think for us we don’t know directors at all and that’s something none of us have real experience in but in terms of coming up with concepts as creators and human beings, it’s a reflection on your music, it’s a reflection on you as people so I think that we’re always going to be hands on on that side when it comes to coming up with ideas and allowing someone with experience in that come in and craft their vision in the video. When we’re creating music, that’s something that we’re all extremely hands on in and we produced it all ourselves, we mixed it all ourselves, when we go to the studio we have an engineer, Brody, who helps us out, him and I are almost like this really cool dynamic duo. He knows the knows what type of microphone to put up in the room and I do the hands on, computer mixing on that end. Again, we’re humble enough to know that if there is something we’re not strong enough in, we’re absolutely going to ask for help but in terms of creating we always just want to be as creative by ourselves as possible.
TYF: As the year comes to a close, what accomplishment would you say that you are most proud of in 2018?
Dom: I think the amount of shows that we played — how many shows?
Rob: I think it was 147 or 148 this year.
Dom: Yeah, it’s somewhere in there, and obviously this band has a lot more to grow and we’re going to continue to grow but if you look back, we were the kids just playing any gigs that we could, playing block parties and stuff like that, to playing full US tours, playing a lot of shows and meeting a lot of new people, every year I think our show count has gone up. I think the amount of shows and the amount of kids we’re connecting with, at least for me, that’s a pretty big accomplishment. I would say not many people get to do it but it’s just a crazy experience to be traveling and playing shows, I think the whole thing itself is very awesome.
Rob: I agree and I think another big accomplishment that ties into that as well is the fact that the reach of music and the connections to people have just been significantly stronger this year more than ever. I think it’s a really good feeling to know that you’re on a good track where you played one city a year ago and now you get to go back and there’s triple the amount of kids. Those are things that even if it’s small baby steps that we’re doing, it’s just really awesome. And again, the reach of music to the amount of new people who are just finding out about us now, that to me is the biggest accomplishment we could get.
TYF: What do you want your legacy as a band to be?
Dom: I think we want to be remembered for making the most honest music that we can. Like Rob said before, our music is a reflection of us and that’s why we are very hands on in a creative sense. Regardless of how big our band gets, if one day we get to sell out arenas or just play the same rooms we are now, we would just like to look back and say “we gave it all we got, we put out the most honest version of ourselves.” That’s something we’re very big on.
Rob: I completely agree, just being remembered for our music more than anything else.
TYF: What are some of your favorite 80s movies?
Dom: I’m not the biggest movie guy so this is going to sound so typical but like Back To The Future, The Goonies, and The Breakfast Club. Even like the Ghostbusters. The 80s were just such an interesting time in the creative sense in with music and movies.
Rob: It’s funny though because I love 80s music but I’m way more of like a 90s movie guy. Some of my favorite movies are Dazed And Confused and Garden State.
Dom: You know what else, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, that’s my number one.