Before San Francisco rock band the Stone Foxes hopped on a plane to the United Kingdom for its first international tour, its members huddled in the basement of Moe’s Original BBQ in Tahoe City. The five musicians were surrounded by beer and liquor as a winter storm crept over the western Sierra and out onto twinkling Lake Tahoe. Not a bad situation necessarily, but it certainly lacks the romance of wooing some British women with your California accent and good old American rock and roll.
Beginning Feb. 3, the Stone Foxes will be roaring through the U.K. on a 10-show tour that will see them playing Leeds, Bristol, Glasgow,
Liverpool and London, among other cities. Shannon Koehler (vocals/drums), Elliott Peltzman (keyboards), Vince Dewald (vocals/bass/guitar), Ben Andrews (guitar/violin) and Brian Bakalian (drums/guitar) have released six albums of boisterous rock and roll that shakes with hints of soul, blues and pop in all the right places. Now, the Foxes are finally getting the chance to flex their stuff out of the country. They will be joined by their British allies Bite the Buffalo, a band they met at South by Southwest last year.
Down in the basement, Koehler, Dewald, Andrews and Bakalian shoot the normal pre-show shit of setlists, band jokes and general conversational white noise, wondering what the show will be like as they sip beers. Peltzman joins later after doing some laps around the venue socializing. The players seems eager to get out from underneath the floorboards and go tear open the venue, but they will settle for some free food and beer as they wait. Outside smoking a cigarette, Andrews mentions that while the money isn’t great, it’s still pretty fun and easy being a musician and that he could never trade it in for an office job.
Back inside, he’s having fun throwing in a sarcastic jab here and there challenging all things British in anticipation of their upcoming tour. He insists the locals will love his and Dewald’s over the top British accents, and when it comes to an agreement that the British bands will have tighter pants than theirs, he interjects, “They’re gonna have the tighter pants, but we’re gonna be louder!” You could see him being the one who might trip over some customs and pleasantries with people after a couple of pints in the pub, but always with a smile on his face.
Despite his horror at potentially earning the distinction of being the asshole American touring through the U.K., Koehler is happy to finally get the chance to go overseas and is legitimately stoked when he hears that Stone Foxes tickets are actually selling in another country, with the London show close to selling out.
“This is a first time for the band. I think we’ve been taking it serious for a while and this is the first time we’ve gotten over there. It’s really cool. … And I feel like we know all these songs forward and backward, now it’s trying to go play the best show that you can. So I think we’re primed and ready for it. We’re not trying to figure anything out now, we’re just having fun,” Koehler says.
The show at Moe’s certainly is a deliciously fun blast of soulful, fuzzy rock and roll. Every song feels like it could be played in the encore, yet the band’s energy only increases as the show goes on, the crowd wrapped around its finger the whole time. Nevermind the fact Koehler, Dewald and Bakalian are constantly interchanging guitar, bass, drums and singing duties between the three of them, an utterly impressive feat of musicianship that cements how tight and vicious they are. Five friends having fun onstage rocking people’s worlds is the dream every musician has and the members of The Stone Foxes are living that dream one night at a time.
After this tour the band hopes to sit down and write a great rock record to follow up its most recent release, “Twelve Spells.” Great rock songs have great stories and Dewald hopes the tour will provide a few choice stories to work with.
“After this U.K. tour, we’re going to be focusing a lot on new material. So I think the last album we’ve been touring with, this is kind of like our peak tour for it. Great time to show our stuff before we start writing new stuff. … The thing about touring for writing is that it is a huge area of gathering inspiration. You see so much, you meet so many people, you see different places, you see the country from all these angles. You end of gathering a lot of experience to write about,” Dewald says.
While the five band members looking for experiences that hopefully will have an impression on them later in life and on record, they are also looking to make an impression of their own.
“We’re gonna kick ass and make friends,” Dewald says with a smirk on his face when asked if the band has any goals for their first international tour. Judging by their night in Tahoe, they shouldn’t have any trouble with that in the U.K.