We caught up with rock & rollers The Stone Foxes fresh after their UK tour and the release of their fourth album Twelve Spells. They talk about what inspires their music, life on the road and what it’s like to be in the music business but outside the constraints of a record label.
You seem to have a pretty epic and serious goal, to make a mountain moving rock & roll record, but the end result sounds like you still managed to have a lot of fun making the record. How would you describe the process of going from that first idea to a finished track?
For me, the first step is writing lyrics that mean something. If we can get up night after night and sing the same song with conviction every single time, then we’ve done our job. The second part is writing music that makes those lyrics sing like mocking jays, and can carry you physically through a show. The rest is just belief that if we feel it, our friends and fans will too. Now if that’s not fun, I don’t know what is.
You‘ve mentioned before that some songs are born on the road, with you ironing out the kinks in front of a crowd. What do you enjoy most, this, or playing your finished songs?
I think once we’ve finished up the song, and put the sprinkles on top, that’s when it’s the tastiest. But, that first time you play it for an audience, and you feel the positive reaction, that’s a tough moment to beat.
Presumably you guys have a lot of influences from rock and blues. Are there any unorthodox influences – perhaps other genres or just things happening around you – that ended up affecting the record?
If you were to sit in our van for 8 hours, which we do on a daily basis, you would hear Kendrick Lamar, Tom Waits, Nirvana, Mozart, you name it. I think all of those sounds seep in somehow and make up who we are as musicians. There’s always our rock and roll foundation, but starting from there we can go anywhere as long as it feels good in our hips.
You dipped a toe in some different sounds on Twelve Spells, most notably for me was Locomotion – I love that track. Do you think any of these new directions will play a more prevalent role in your next album?
Yeah, we’re playing around with a lot of different sounds right now, but we love the punk aspect that some of Twelve Spells contains. Loco is one of our favorites to play, and we’re closing most shows with it. We’re diving deeper into those thrashing riffs and seeing what sticks for sure.
To some bands, you’re living the dream – no record label with their hooks in you. What are the biggest pros and cons of it, and has it helped or hindered the creative process?
The good part is, we can do whatever the fuck we want. We know we’re lucky to say that. The cool part about labels is the connections they bring to the table. We’re lucky enough to have a kick ass team of people who we trust and that believe in us, but those folks are hard to find. We would take a great label deal if one was to slide across the table towards us, but until then, we do what we want when we want.
Do you have any advice for bands starting up who want to avoid being sucked into a record deal?
Say no to dumb shit. But say yes to everything. They’ll see what I mean once they get started.
Are there any bands you’d like the chance to perform with, or significant venues to play at?
We’ve played some really kick ass shows, but oh man, if we could play with Nick Cave (the creepiest/coolest cucumber ever) at the Greek Theater in Berkeley (my favorite place so see music on the planet), I could die a happy man.
And lastly, if you had to cover a Pink Floyd song, which would it be?
Oooooooo, I don’t think I ever would. Wouldn’t want to tempt fate and disturb the rock Gods.