It’s been nearly seven years since Kid Rock convinced Ty Stone to come home from Los Angeles and make his music in the Detroit area.
And it’s been a long, slow process since then, with hints and peeks of an album always looming somewhere in the undetermined future. Until now.
On Tuesday, Stone releases “American Style” — an 11-track set of heartland-style rock with a gritty, Downriver Detroit flavor — online and through Meijer stores.
The album’s been done for more than a year, and Stone has well-learned the ins and outs of record company machinations. So there’s a sigh of relief and a sense of “finally!” — as well as a dogged determination to prove the wait was worth it.
“After so long, I’m happy to give people the opportunity to get ahold of the record,” says Stone, 35, who these days splits his time between Detroit and Nashville. “I still have faith in it. I think when people get it, they’re going to love it and they’re gonna share it and we’ll keep making new friends and fans.”
It’s safe to say people are waiting to get ahold of “American Style,” too.
Courtesy of Kid Rock’s patronage, (Stone is signed to his Top Dog Records label and Rock executive produced the album) Stone has been in front of plenty of eyeballs and eardrums opening for Rock’s concerts and on his Chillin’ The Most cruises.
He’s also been embraced by Nashville. Stone’s new video for the song “Anywhere’s Better” broke on CMT.com with 50,000 hits in the first two days. But he’s loathe to call himself a country artist.
“I’m in the middle,” Stone explains. “I’m so influenced by rock and country, a lot of soul and funk and blues. ... It all works its way into the songs. I love making music that’s country-influenced, but I know people at (the record company) would love for me to say I’m country, but I can’t make a George Strait record. No one’s gonna buy it. It’s just not real.
“That Detroit stuff is real.”
Stone had a decidedly Detroit musical upbringing while growing up in Lincoln Park.
His father — a factory worker at McLouth Steel and then at Chrysler’s engine plant in Trenton, where he’ll retire this spring — played guitar and drums. He played “all these great rockabilly, Motown, country songs” when Stone was a child. “There’s a great picture of me holding a doorknob when I was 3 or 4 years old, singing into it like a microphone,” he recalls with a laugh.
Stone’s mother worked for AT&T and also took time off to raise the singer and his sister. He played in bands as a teenager but went to Kenyon College in Ohio to study political science and perhaps pursue a degree in law.
“I really wanted to get into politics,” Stone says. “I sort of dream that one day I can still come back and get into it, too. As long as I keep my nose clean, maybe ...
“That shouldn’t be hard in the music business, right?” he adds with a laugh.
At school, however, Stone had an epiphany that music might indeed be his calling, after he won a battle of the bands competition.
“It was the first real concert I’ve ever put on, and I was in trouble after that,” Stone says. “I had to call my parents; I didn’t know how to tell them I wanted to get into music, especially after school. I didn’t think they’d appreciate it. But music was it for me after that.”
Stone did take a job with EDS in Pontiac after he graduated, working as a business analyst. But he tired of the hourlong commute each way and switched to Great Lakes Steel, Downriver, which allowed him to be closer to home and focus on his music.
After he was laid off in 2002, however, Stone decided to pack up and try his luck in Los Angeles. He flipped burgers in the kitchen at Molly Malone’s, occasionally filling in for artists who canceled at the last minute. He also had a song in one of the 2005 season finales of ABC’s “The Bachelorette.”
“I went from literally not knowing one human being in town to playing every club on the Sunset Strip,” Stone remembers. “I do think I got close to making it out there. But then Kid Rock came along.”
Rock had been handed a demo CD by a friend of Stone’s at a Pistons game. He popped it in on the way home and liked what he heard: “A really great voice, the kind you don’t hear all the time,” Rock said at the time.
He met with Stone on a subsequent trip to Los Angeles, inviting him to dinner with Grammy Award-winning producer Rick Rubin. “Right after that he called me and asked if I wanted to come home,” Stone says. “I definitely did.”
The songs on “American Style” certainly speak to the credo that you can take the boy out of Detroit but ... well, you know. Whether he’s rocking (the title track, “Down River,” “American Dream”) or balladeering (“Anywhere’s Better,” “Bob Seger,” “Smile”), Stone conveys an indigenous flavor of where he’s from, combining Midwestern romanticism with topicality — particularly about the economic climate.
At the end of 2010, in fact, the family home was foreclosed upon, which gave Stone an odd moment of pause when he was playing at Kid Rock’s 40th birthday bash the following month at Detroit’s Ford Field.
“There were 60,000 people in that building, and I couldn’t save our ranch house for $30,000,” Stone says. “If everybody there had come up with 50 cents, I could have paid for the whole thing in cash. It was a weird feeling.”
But, Stone maintains, there’s a positive and optimistic streak that runs through even the darkest parts of “American Style.”
“I’ve always been kind of a spiritual person, and I feel like a lot of that music is lined with that sort of positivity,” he explains. “I was never a very popular young man. I’m a big guy; I dealt with a lot of disrespect, didn’t go to my high school prom or anything. Things were always kind of bittersweet, so that’s in the music, too.
“I think that’s what makes it special. It touches on darker things, but there’s always an underlying sense of hope.”
Things have gotten significantly better over time. Stone does have a fiancée now. His parents have reconciled after 10 years of divorce and are living in Monroe. He has couples telling him that his song “Smile” helped them reconcile their own relationships.
And, of course, the album is finally coming out.
“The problem I’m having these days writing songs is I’m too happy,” Stone says with a laugh. “I’m always great at writing when I’m miserable, but I’m in a much happier place now. So I’m having a hard time. I haven’t written a very good song about being happy yet. I try to catch myself in a bad mood and then I’ll go write something.”
Creative time will be at a bit of a premium in the near future, however. Stone just started a tour opening for fellow Detroiter and Kid Rock association Uncle Kracker, which will keep him on the road until June. He’s hoping “American Style” will get into more stores as time goes on, and Stone promises that he’s “a man possessed to build things from the ground up.”
“I’m just gonna go try to make fans all over America. That’s my main focus,” he says. “As that grows and people get ahold of the music, I believe it’s going to spread on its own. The idea is to stay the course and try to build it grassroots and organically.
“I’m patient. I’ve gone so much farther than I ever thought I really would. I have fulfilled and exceeded my wildest dreams and fantasies through music. So I’m not in a hurry. I’ll be doing this for the rest of my life. Patience is true.”
CELEBRATING TY STONE STYLE
Ty Stone has two special local events planned to celebrate the March 6 release of his debut album, “American Style.”
— At 7 p.m. Tuesday he’ll perform an acoustic set and sign CDs at the Meijer location at 3565 Fairlane Blvd., Allen Park. The event is free and open to the public.
— Stone and his band, the Truth, will perform on March 20 at the Fillmore Detroit, 2115 Woodward Ave., Detroit. Doop & the Inside Outlaws, Brandon Calhoon, Paulina Jayne and Frankie Ballard also will perform. Tickets are $10 in advance, $12.50 at the door. Call 313-961-5450 or visit www.tystonemusic.com.
Send your thoughts and comments to