There was an excellent double billing at Milkboy Philadelphia on 1100 Chestnut St. last Thursday night, February 21. The headliner was Broken Anchor, an atmospheric retro influenced indie rock band from Los Angeles debuted along with Stone Cold Fox, a dreamy folk inspired band from Brooklyn. Broken Anchor has recorded music on several TV shows including “Private Practice.” This tour is a prelude to their release of their brand new album yet unreleased title in the summer. This is Broken Anchor’s first East Coast Tour. Stone Cold Fox promoted their own release of “The Young” EP and celebrating their new single and video on MTV Buzzworthy called “Seventeen”. The combination of these 2 bands was electric! Since both bands are new to Philly, I was curious to find more about them.. the following is the conversations I had with these artists.
First, I sat down briefly with Austin Hartley-Leonard (vocals/ guitar) and Mike Duffy (Duffy) (drums/ percussion) of Broken Anchor for a chat about their music and their upcoming album release this summer. The new album will have selected previously released material and four new songs.
Jon: How is the music different from what you have released?
Austin: Duffy and I arranged the songs together and they are more indicative of us as a band than as of me as a songwriter and as a band too….
Jon: What are some of your influences? How would you describe your music?
Austin: I’m from Chicago just north of the city. So, Wilco is without a doubt in my top 3 favorite bands. I really love Little Richard, Chuck Berry, I really love Dion. I went through a huge Dion phase. I love dreamy hazy ‘50’s music. I also really love punk rock. I love Fugazi and so, it’s hard to say my influences because when we started the project, I was really starting from zero. I had been doing an Alt-country Americana thing that I didn’t feel any connection to whatsoever anymore. I trashed all of it and was like let’s start over. Alright, what’s your vision. I don’t have a vision. So this is just what happened. If you had asked me: in 6 months, when you make a record, what will it sound like? If someone had told me, it’s going to be retro inspired California music, I would have been like ‘it is? I had no idea’. It’s come up from a lot of 50’s stuff also My Morning Jacket, also Wilco, also Fugazi …..it’s just come up organically….it sounds so cliché but it really has….it just sprouted up.
Duffy: He and I never knew each other before the project started, and then once we started playing together, we realized we had a love for punk rock. I grew up in Southern California. (Duffy mentions going to a lot of punk shows as a kid). I have a strong punk background, and then obviously went to music school and found out about Wilco and a lot of other bands. Both of us have a starting block of punk rock, and it comes out at times in our music, but I think all those others influences make their way into it…..one of the things I think is Californian because it has all the makes of what California is, it still really has a lot of frontier energy in California. Let’s just try it. It’s not like the East Coast. It’s not going to have the same aesthetic. We’re just going to try it.
Jon: What do you think of the L.A. scene (We paused and named a bunch of bands from the scene…..)
Austin: We, or at least, I don’t fall into a scene in LA…. but we just spend so much time in the lab. I played the Hotel Café for years and years, great room and primarily as a songwriter, way more than that now…and that was really my home. I was not playing indie rock. Now that I am, I’ve spent 6 years in L.A., over here, and now I’m doing this thing, and now I know all these people.
Duffy: Me too, I spent 10 years playing in Latin America. I did a whole thing where I was playing with big artists in Latin America, traveling all of the time. I never played in that scene either. I played with a lot of Mexican artists, and it was something I just fell into it. It was not something that was planned. I played with Ozomatli, probably one of the bigger Latin Alternative bands. I played in that band for a couple of years. I was over here and he was over here, and now we’re kind of in this thing we never put our foot into until recently.
Broken Anchor – Dear Diary
Jon: What would you like your audience to know about you in general?
Austin: We are putting out a full length soon. We are super excited about. It’s a culmination of when I started over. There we so many different things happened… big things like meeting Duffy, or small things kind of “serendipity like”. I was in New York ( never impulse bought anything in my entire life). I found a guitar & I bought it. It’s the guitar I play now. You see it in our video. It’s changed the direction. There has been so many things that happened over 20 months since I decided I wanted to do something different. This record is a culmination of going from “I have nothing” to “I have the greatest thing I have ever been a part of”. Beyond that, we already have another record. Our record that we will put out in 2015 is probably already done. We are constantly writing, constantly rehearsing, constantly recording. Now we want to constantly be touring. We want everything and we want it right now. We are taking every step we can to put ourselves in front of people as fast as we can without cutting corners…..
The headliner, Broken Anchor, hit the stage that night with a high level of energy. The duo was very tight and exploding with a lush, driven and dreamy style. Duffy is a talented and prolific drummer with a fresh style providing a full compliment for Austin’s lyrics and searing sweeping guitar licks. They said they would be back around in April/ May. Be sure to catch their live show next time around, you don’t want to miss this act. Check them out on their soundcloud and buy the new album soon to be released this summer.
Stone Cold Fox
I had brief conversation with the entire band, Stone Cold Fox, all at once. Most of the responses were from the founding members Ariel Loh (producer/ synth) and Kevin Olken (lead vocalist/guitarist), although each of them contributed giving a great insight about the band. They have a new single “Seventeen” which was just released along with a music video that can be seen on MTV’s Buzzworthy. They are touring in support also of their “The Young” EP. Ariel talked about this album as a senior project at school at first but grew into “it’s own thing”.
Jon: What are your influences?
Kevin: The Walkmen and Radiohead are our top influences, especially with vocal phasing.
Jon: What do you enjoy about recording?
Ariel worked with Justin, who was brought into the new recording. Over the course of playing live, the act grew into a formation of five. As far the recording of the individual music, there is a lot of acoustic and melody driven stuff from Kevin, and Ariel would contribute with electronic and programming. The main thing to take away, is that they are taking something melody driven and trying to make it danceable too. Ariel said that three of them went to school for recording and music production…. They all have a very technical background. Stone Cold Fox all agreed that they love being in the studio and thrive off of it. Kevin and Ariel surprisingly have very different songwriting processes. Kevin is loves to compose with an acoustic guitar and Ariel is prefers to use software, primarily Pro Tools to record and mix.
Jon: What else would you like listeners to know?
Collectively: This was our first time playing in Philly, and playing at Milkboy. They want to start a great relationship with the fans here. They had a chance to do some site seeing while they were here and ate at various local restaurants in the area. They love Philadelphia food. The band has been playing live for about 1 year, and in this incarnation for a couple of months. They are eager to get more live shows under their belt. They all want to come back to Philly!