Perennial San Francisco blues rockers The Stone Foxes are back with a new EP, Visalia, and a massive tour where the quintet will see 40 cities between September and early December.
Beginning with the first single, the brawling bar sing-along “Fight,” frontman-drummer Shannon Koehler, bassist Vince Dewald, guitarist-violinist Ben Andrews, drummer Brian Bakalian and keyboardist Elliott Peltzman—guitarist Spence Koehler still writes and records but is no longer a touring member—want to take another step or two forward in finding success on their own terms.
“I think we’ve been together for as long as we have because we all believe in the same message [and] the live experience,” Peltzman told RIFF at a warm-up gig before the band hit the road in August. “We believe in what we’re doing. We love what we’re doing. If either of those things weren’t true, we would have broken up a long time ago.
Indeed, the Stone Foxes have withstood some lineup changes and passed up enticing record deal offers in the name of remaining true to their roots and retaining artistic freedom.
“We’ve done a lot of stuff without a label, but we haven’t done it by ourselves,” Koehler said, crediting the band’s management, touring partners and fans for its success. “We’re not against labels or anything like that, but we’ve just been lucky enough to get this far with a team by handling it ourselves.”
The Stone Foxes recorded in Oakland with producer Jay Pellicci (Deerhoof, The Dodos, Thao and the Get Down Stay Down). The other cuts on Visalia include “If I Die Tonight.” On it, Shannon Koehler, who lives with a pacemaker and has undergone 11 heart surgeries, sings, “If I die tonight, that’s all right,” as a message to live life to the fullest in every moment. We’ll let the band describe why they named it for the town in central California and the story behind the lead single, “Fight.”
“The new stuff is kind of like the next step if you want to go forward,” Dewald said. “The root is still the same: rock ‘n’ roll. The blues, those kinds of flavors, but ultimately, we’re moving it more into a lot of collaboration, so our voices are starting to come together as a team of writers and musicians. The music is definitely getting more clarity, I think. The vision is getting sharper.”