INTERVIEW: The Stone Foxes

Hi Shannon, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

Thanks so much for having me!  Nice place you got here.  I’ve been real good, just making soups and finishing a music video for a new song off of our EP.  When we were filming I broke the neck of a guitar throwing it on the beach, and when my friend screwed it back together I cut my thumb on the screws…but it’s healing up nicely.

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Death of Me”?

Well I wrote the lyrics a few years ago, and if they seem contradictory when you hear them it’s because I was feeling pretty contradictory about my own feelings, ha!  Young infatuation feels confusing, at least it was for me.  For a few years the song was lost in a pile of demos, till we started picking through them and found it again.  I’m glad we had the wisdom to give it a second listen, I guess it’s all about timing.  I wanted it on this EP to balance out other tracks addressing the darkness coming in from the outside world.   Even though it’s got the word “Death” in the title, I always thought the song had some levity to it. 

Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?

Not any one event, just a big mixing bowl of frustration, jubilation and stupidity in my mid 20’s.

How was the filming process and experience behind the video?

It was honestly so much fun!  My brother Spence(lead guitar) and I choreographed it, stealing one or two moves from Beyonce, a hustle shimmy move from our buddy Brian Adler, and some Spence wedding dance originals.  We practiced in a neighborhood in Oakland, with people staring at us from their cars as we danced in the streets.  We danced to the music at double the speed during the filming, but shot it in slow mo to give that Beastie Boys.  And of course getting rejected in the end with all the sad faces was fabulous!  Our manger Joe Barham and friend Rowan MacNiven filmed it, huge thanks to them and to all of our friends who made cameos!  

The single comes off your new album Gold – what’s the story behind the title?

The first song on the EP is called “I Want Gold.”  It’s about the difference people who create things made of “gold”, and people who just want to acquire “gold.”  It just felt like the perfect color or metal to represent that struggle, like a symbol of that conflict, and that conflict runs through out the EP.

How was the recording and writing process?

It took so many forms in so many studios.  Some songs were written five years ago, or over many years of rewriting and  in-between other projects.  But they stood out to me as being sonically united, and lyrically balancing for each other.  I’ve always had a hard time writing about myself and my own feelings in songs, and just as I was figuring out how to do that, all of this hate and division started spewing back up from the ground all over the country, and I couldn’t help be drawn into writing about it.  This group of songs encapsulated that period of writing for me.  All the songs were recorded and written with my brother Spence Koehler, guitars and violinist Ben Andrews, bassist and guitarist Vince Dewald, drummer and bassist Brian Bakalian, and our keys player Elliott Peltzman.

You brought on some great people to lend you guys a hand – did you handpick them or how did they come on board?

Yes!  We hand picked three of our favorite vocalists in the bay area to come help us on a couple of the songs.  Oona Garthwaite, AhSa-Ti Nu, and Kelly McFarling helped completely transform the recordings.  I had my voice all over their voices in the chorus of our song “Can’t Go Back” till Ben said, “Dude, get your voice out of the way, it sounds way better with just them.”  That was a great call.  We also had producers and engineers Jay Pellicci and Jon Shamieh jump in to arrange, giving us direction and making it sparkle.

What did they brought up to the table?

The vocal power of Oona, AhSa-Ti and Kelly was incredible, but they also knew how to subtly blend together so well.  That blend really balanced the tracks out.  Kelly’s vocal on “Running Out Of Space” was absolutely necessary to brighten the song and to convey the relationship between the lovers in the lyrics.  Oona helped me re write a lyric on “Can’t Go Back”.   Jon totally arrange “I Want Gold.”  He also heard the bridge I had for “Death Of Me” and decided it should be the chorus.  Another good call.  And Jay, well Jay is just a god damn professional who makes everything sound like an ice cream sundae on the speakers.  

What aspect of greed and deception did you get to explore on this record?

I’m just struck by how blatant all the greed and deception going on in our country has become over the years.  All of the sudden some people feel like they have permission to talk poorly about minorities, or treat immigrants as “others.”  And for some reason we don’t seem to give a shit anymore when people lie to our faces, even about very important things.  That’s why “Gold” seemed to be the perfect symbol, because it’s loud, shiny, and right there for all to see.  

What made you want to tackle on this rather dark themes?

Again, it’s almost like you don’t have a choice other than to talk about the big golden shit burgers getting shoved down our throats everyday.  I don’t think it’s healthy to just shut up and take it.  Better to discuss it at length.

How did you go on balancing this dark topics with rather uplifting message?

I think that’s just the power of music.  Music lifts us, even when it’s dark or sad.  And I did try to balance the EP with some love powered tunes, because all of the darkness isn’t happening in a vacuum.  

Where else did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?

I try to lean on my imagination for inspiration.  Not everything in the songs actually happened or comes from an actual event, or even real feelings.  I’m also a very happy person most of the time, so I like to let the other side of myself roam for a bit, imagining what it would be like to be the villain is a very intriguing and intoxicating.    

Any plans to hit the road?

Oh definitely!  As of mid February we’ll be up and down the Pacific Coast, from Seattle to San Diego, to Phoenix and back.  Should be a busy year!  And I’m gonna try not use any plastic bottles on tour, time to be part of the solution!

What else is happening next in The Stone Foxes’ world?

We’re releasing tons of new music and more videos, got lots of tunes already recorded for a future releases, practicing for a big home town blow out with our friends in the Original Sin Brass Band, bringing new players on the road, making even more soups…all kinds of business!  

For a comprehensive list of forthcoming The Stone Foxes tour dates, please see below and visit: thestonefoxes.com

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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