The Stone Foxes-7 Questions
The Stone Foxes are a five-piece San Francisco band that promise foot-stomping Blues traditions invigorated with teeth-kicking rock. Expect wailing guitars, shrieking organs, and even the odd harmonica solo that evokes the smoldering confidence of the early Rolling Stones. Since forming in 2005, The Stone Foxes have put out four albums and played alongside bands like ZZ Top, The Black Keys, and Cage The Elephant.
Their latest album Twelve Spells was released in August of 2015 and continued their streak of Americana-drenched attitude, which they took on the road in February 2016 on their first-ever tour across the UK. This summer will see The Stone Foxes touring back and forth between festivals and bars across the U.S. We spoke to Shannon from the band before a recent tour stop in Northern California.
San Francisco seems like a strange place to hear so many American Blues-Rock influences meld into each other. How did you find each other playing that kind of music?
Shannon Koehler: Well, I actually think it’s the perfect place. We all grew up in different parts of the States, but mostly rural areas, where there was a lot of country and rock and roll playing on the school bus and turntables at home. People might see San Francisco as place for tech nerds, but we saw it as the place where the tastiest music had come from—CCR, Sly Stone, Big Brother—we all wanted a piece of that. People who want the same gravitate towards each other. We met almost nine years ago playing the same small cafés and clubs around town, and about three years ago, we decided to join up and play together.
How would you define the Blues, and what does it mean to you as a band?
SK: I don’t think there’s a way to define it, but if you listen to Muddy Waters, Willie Dixon, or Howlin' Wolf for about five minutes you’ll know exactly what it is. Even though we’re not a blues band, the blues is at the core of everything, because it’s all about style. That is the greatest lesson the Blues teaches I think. All those old guys played the same chords and the same songs, but it was the way they sang and played that made each special.
People can say we’re indie, bluesy, or whatever, that’s fine. I just wish someone one would call us EDM, but I don’t think that’s gonna happen anytime soon.
How would you situate your music in the Blues tradition? Are you more interested in reviving the scene or letting it continue in a natural direction?
SK: It’s not really something we’re worried about. We just want to build a strong musical community with the bands we play with on the road, our friends back home in San Francisco, and our fans. That’s what really matters to us.
Do you feel restrained by the genre labels that get attached to your music?
SK: No, we’re happy to say we’re a rock and roll band. We’re confident in who and what we are. People can say we’re indie, bluesy, or whatever, that’s fine. I just wish someone one would call us EDM, but I don’t think that’s gonna happen anytime soon.
In advance of your latest album, Twelve Spells (2015), you released free tracks on the first Friday of each month (#FoxesFirstFriday). How was this release format received in comparison to its more conventional LP counterpart?
SK: I think it’s like rewarding yourself with an ice cream at the end of the day. I think people enjoyed it, but it was really about us wanting to do something different with songs that weren’t recorded in the traditional album sense. We were recording one or two at a time, and we thought it would be cool to release the songs the same way.
You recently got back from your first UK tour. Do you find your style and tone are received differently overseas than they are in America?
SK: All I know is that we were worn out after almost every show because the people over there we so amped! People were getting crashed into around the mosh pits and women were being slammed into the front of the stage from all the jumping, but they would just look up, smile, and keep jumping! There are great crowds in America too, but going to London for the first time, and it being sold out, that’s something you don’t forget.
If you could collaborate with any artists—alive or dead—who would they be?
SK: Nick Cave, Bob Dylan, or Kendrick Lamar—maybe all of them on the same day. That would be nice.