“Dark-Prog” act STONE LEADERS came to life in early 2016 when renowned drummer John Macaluso (of ARK, Yngwie Malmsteen, TNT, Symphony X, James LaBrie, Labyrinth and Michael Romeo) was contracted to do a drum clinic in Zagreb, Croatia. Asking the clinic organizer to find a band to accompany him in the clinic, Macaluso then met guitarist Ivan Mihaljevic and bassist Marko Karacic of Croatian band Side Effects ten minutes before the clinic began and decided on what they would play. The start of the clinic (now basically a full-fledged gig) was the Deep Purple classic “Burn” and it brought the house down. Right then, the trio knew they had something special here so when New Yorker John went back to Italy (where he now lives) he contacted Ivan and plans were made to get together and write and record an album. Ivan knew Dino Jelusic (Trans Siberian Orchestra / Animal Drive) so he called the talented keyboardist and vocalist to set up a meeting and to run through a few songs. And that was it, the final piece of the STONE LEADER puzzle was in place.
Throughout the meetings together in Italy and Croatia the band discovered that they also clicked as friends as well. As songwriting began. John and Ivan started the process with Macaluso recording his drum tracks with song arrangements in mind after which Mihaljevic then took the drum parts and started writing riffs and moods over top with some help from Marko on a couple of songs. John lays out the writing and recording process. “The writing and recording process is much different than the way most bands do it. We did it the way my past band Ark did. First I went into the studio and did a demo of only drum arrangement before any notes were written. I recorded the track with songs in mind, intro, verse, chorus etc. Then I sent these tracks to Ivan and then the songwriting process began: recording over the drum tracks while writing the song. I also gave him a song title so he could capture a mood and not just write cold over drum beats. It worked with Ark and worked for STONE LEADERS also. Ivan and I really click as a writing team, he is very talented and thinks out of the box.”
https://amzn.to/2UK6Avy (UK album purchase)