SAN FRANCISCO – The San Francisco Bay band Stone Foxes brings its indie rock style to the OK Theatre Feb. 26 as part of its winter “Golden Burger” tour of the Pacific Northwest.
For a band known for “Rock ‘em, sock ‘em, hit them in the face rock and roll,” bandleader Shannon Koehler said their new EP “Gold” is a collection of songs that focus on melody and a higher level of production than perhaps some of their earlier release.
“‘Gold’ has More groove and melody, but still lots of guitar work,” Koehler said. “I think we are pushing some boundaries and feel like we’ve found a home with some new sounds.”
A collection of five songs, “Gold’s” cover is a photo of a hamburger and fries – at first glance, it looks like a decent pub-style meal, but the second glance reveals the hamburger is painted gold and doesn’t actually look so delicious. Koehler said the photo symbolizes the story of the title track – a juxtaposition of an artist who is trying to create something golden while someone else is trying to acquire gold.
“It feels like in America we are trying to live our lives and then there’s this terrible, poisonous, super pesky, stinging bee and there are these terrible things swirling around us we can’t ignore – we still have neo-Nazis marching and it goes to show that it’s deeper than we thought – it’s incredibly serious and hard to ignore lyric-wise,” Koehler said.
The spray painted burger image was chosen, Koehler said, to represent big industry pursuing wealth by selling something “gross” like fast food.
The second song on the EP, “I Know Who you Are,” Koehler described as, “A big rock song that is another reminder that things aren’t that great.”
“The point of the song is to empower people – we’ve had enough speeches – let’s get up and move and get some spirit behind it.”
Adding to the focus on melody, Koehler said the band is bringing along keyboardist and vocalist Emilie Raines on their tour.
“Emily has an amazing voice,” Koehler said. “Getting into that high register during the shows is going to be really important, especially on ‘Can’t Go Back’ and ‘Running Out of Space.’”
For the last 10 years Stone Foxes’ sound had dug deep into the blues, like their cover of “Little Red Rooster,” and hard-driving guitar sounds of Jimi Hendrix on their track “King Bee.” The “Gold” EP is a slight diversion from their previous work.
“These five songs belonged together and the other stuff we had recorded didn’t so we put these five songs together as a message that is a really nice balance and represent where my head was lyrically.”
Koehler said he started playing rock and roll with brother Spence in high school. They played
gigs in college, but didn’t have aspirations to play for more than 25 people until they got some encouragement when Shannon Koehler was interning at a radio station.
Koehler said, “I gave one of our rock DJs a demo of our band and he said, ‘You should definitely try and do this.’ Having someone believe in you is so huge – and that guy is still our manager.”
With further encouragement from their parents, the Koehler brothers started making a living with their music. About six years ago Shannon Koehler said his brother Spence, who had been the lead guitarist and songwriter, decided he no longer wanted to travel, but remains as one of the band’s creative forces.
“We always write together and we speak the same musical language,” Koehler said.
Originally the band’s drummer, Koehler said he got out from behind the trap set to take over lead vocals while bandmate Brian Bakalian takes turns at drums/bass/guitar. Vince Dewald shares the vocal work and trades off on bass and guitar while Ben Andrews plays lead guitar and violin.
Koehler said fans should expect more of the band’s new sound – blending pop-style melodies with guitar-driven rock – in the future.
“What I think is really fun to find the cool grooves that go with the cool melodies and blend that with more “fuzz” guitar and a rock sensibility, but not so much that you can’t move to it. Blending those worlds together is what I’m really interested in.”
Be ready to get out of your seat and onto the dance floor February 26 at The OK Theatre. Doors open at 5 p.m. for a double feature starting with The Fellow Pynins, at 6 p.m.
Tickets are $20, $15 for seniors and $10 for students and are available at www.eventbrite.com, The Bookloft and Dollar Stretcher in Enterprise, Joseph Hardware in Joseph and at the door night of the show.