The Stone Foxes Talk Blues, Kendrick Lamar, and How to Write A Song Live

Featured Image by Joe Barham

Californian rock band The Stone Foxes claim on their website that they “are an experience to dive into, to get wild with, to sweat with.” Known for their wild and enthusiastic live shows, it’s this dedication to old school rock’n’roll ethics that have made the band get noticed, despite not having a record label to help them. On a new tour to celebrate the release of their fourth studio album, Twelve Spells, the band is more excited than ever to interact with their audiences. On Tuesday, November 10th, The Stone Foxes will return to Philly and play at Milkboy Philly, an intimate venue that’s perfect for the band to get right in their fans’ faces (check out our giveaway to try to win a pair of tickets!). Rock On Philly had the chance to speak to the members of the band about the new album, West Coast/East Coast vibes, and much more.

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Photo by Joe Barham

Rock On Philly: I recently read an article on Forbes that said that because of the money made from licensing your music to various shows and commercials, you could finance making your record yourselves.

Are you guys still unsigned? Do you plan to sign to a label anytime soon? What are the pros and cons to such a DIY lifestyle? 

Elliott Peltzman (keyboard) [EP]: The pros of having more control over your art far outweigh the cons. In an age when our industry has a fraction of the money it used to – it’s no surprise musicians are looking to advertising and licensing for the big bucks. Licensing our music is what pays the bills so we can continue to own our art and do what we want with it. We’re definitely not opposed to signing with a label, we just haven’t had a good enough offer yet.

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Album Art via BandPage

 

ROP: Some music critics are calling your latest album, Twelve Spells “back to basics” rock. Was it intentional as a band for you guys to go “back to the basics”? Are you guys reacting to a trend in modern rock bands of today? 

Brian Bakalian (drums) [BB]: I’d say its actually the farthest from a “back to basics” album. With the entry of three new members, we have explored more sounds and new textures that hadn’t been tapped into on the Foxes’ previous records.

ROP: What do you think about the state of today’s rock scene? Any bands/albums you guys have been loving recently? 

BB: It’s all personal taste. There is a lot of fluff out there and there will always be an argument for the current rock scene not being as good or as strong as the one before. If you really look, you’ll find something right for you. We always try to find the gems and stick with em. Along with a few others, these are some newish records that we’ve been digging: Kurt Vile’s b’lieve i’m goin down, Wilco’s Star Wars, Alabama Shakes’s Sound & Color, Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly, and D’Angelo’s Black Messiah.

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Photo provided courtesy of the Artist

ROP: One of the best qualities in your music is that it includes the soulful blues influence of classic rock, but it also feels very modern.

Where does your dedication to the blues come from?

Vince Dewald (guitar, bass): The blues is where all real rock n roll gets its heart. The gritty tonality and earthy nuances that we love in rock n roll all came from the blues. Even the simple everyday lyrics of love, heartbreak, resilience and even cocky swagger is seen all over the blues. Rock n roll isn’t about perfection or musical proficiency; it’s about expressing something in a way that people can feel and move to. This comes from its blues root. In our evolution into modern sounds and modes, we always craft songs from the root on up, so the blues is unavoidable for us even when our sounds are very modern.

ROP: On your website, you all explain, “So rather than holing up in a studio, writing songs in a void, then cutting an album and touring it, The Stone Foxes work their new material out on stage over a period of months, playing it for their fans.” Can you give an example of how a song was shaped by the fans and morphed from the original version? 

Shannon Koehler (vocals, drums, harp) [SK]: We did that a lot before with songs like “Cotto,” where we added a chorus in there after playing it without one for months, but Twelve Spells is the first record where we went straight to the studio.  We’d write for a week, take all the freshies in, and lay ’em down while they were loose. That way we didn’t have any preconceived notions as to what they were supposed to be.

ROP: Any new song off of Twelve Spells that you guys are particularly excited about to play live, and why?

EP: I’m loving playing “Eye For Love,” “Locomotion,” and “Cold Like A Killer.” Most of our songs have different nuances live, but those three really take off into a whole new area. Plus, “Locomotion” kicks [butt]!!! I love that song.

ROP: You guys are from California’s Bay Area/San Francisco, the mecca of rock’n’roll and American bohemia. San Fran has also been a textbook example of gentrification as of late. Do you still feel an energy to San Francisco that is unique for music? Explain. 

SK: We love our city, but SF is kind of f****d up right now.  People move there to experience the music and the culture, but as more and more of the tech industry moves in, all of the people creating the culture are getting pushed out. We’re one of the last rock bands living in SF proper because we got here early, but a lot of our friends have had to leave. But, there are a few of us rock and roll dogs scaling by out by the bay, and we’re not dead yet.

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Photo by Joe Barham

ROP: What are some significant differences, if any, between West Coast and East Coast scenes? Anything in particular you are looking forward to while you are in Philly? 

SK: A lot of the US is homogenized, but crowds really do change out East and you always know when you’re in Philly.  Every time we’re there, people are rowdy as hell, and that suits us just fine.  We know you guys are capable of booing, but you’ve been great to us so far!

ROP: Glad to hear that! What are some ways you spend your free time while on the road? 

BB: Extra naps and searchin’ for healthy food so we don’t keel over. This tour has been on the colder side so we’ve takin’ to cuddling. Especially Vince, but especially Ben [Andrews, guitar and violin].

You can purchase Twelve Spells on their BandPage or Amazon and you can get more info about their show at MilkBoy here

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