Mike Cotton Interviews Kory Kochersperger of Three Legged Fox
With Three Legged Fox preparing for the imminent release of their third album, drummer Kory Kochersperger took time out his busy schedule to talk to Musicbailout about all things music, the new album and why the band is happy to be classed as a reggae-rock band.
Three Legged Fox, a four-piece out of Philadelphia, first burst onto the reggae-rock scene thanks to an appearance on The Pier’s Summer Sampler 2008, with the catchy Maybe I’m Sorry – a tune which stood out from the crowd for the simple reason it was not a typical reggae-rock song. In fact it had more in common with alt-rock, soul and a bit of blues.
Fast-forward three years and two full length albums later, Three Legged Fox will release their new record, Always Anyway, on August 16, an album Kory says is “a significant departure” from the last two albums the band have put out.
MB: Let’s start with you new albums, what can fans expect from it, how will it differ from Not as Far, Ideas and Acoustic Trax 2010?
KK: This new record is a pretty significant departure from the two records we have out. I think in the past we kind of just wrote song ideas, each person wrote their parts, and that’s what it was. And that comes across in the recordings of those 2 records, pretty simple, pretty raw.
"We try a lot of new things this time, which excites us. We wanted to make it big, and loud, and fun."This time around, we knew we wanted to make a “big” record. We went away from the traditional model of reggae being skank guitar/one drop drums/horns/and organ.
We try a lot of new things this time, which excites us. We wanted to make it big, and loud, and fun. Lyrically it’s pretty similar to the others in that we touch on society, love, greed, being away; things that still play a big role in our lives. But musically to the ear, it’s quite different than anything we’ve ever done.
Three Legged Fox describe themselves on their facebook page as an indie-rock, reggae-rock band but this is a tag which many fans feel does not do the band justice. What many fans like about Three Legged Fox is the different genres the band manage to squeeze into their music. This is something the band takes as a compliment.
“We have heard that reggae-rock doesn’t do it justice or whatever, but I think we’re just simply a product of what we are individually influence by.
“Being classified as a reggae/rock band is fine with us. It’s still the simplest way to explain our sound.
“It’s not a conscious effort to be outside of the standard reggae-rock bubble,” explains Kory.
But Three Legged Fox’s previous albums certainly incorporated more than reggae. Soul, rock, and blues can all be heard on Not as Far and Ideas.
“Our previous albums definitely have a little soul or blues in them, explains Kory, stuff just kind of morphed that way.
“For what it’s worth, when people say that our band is more than just a reggae/rock band, we certainly take it as a compliment. To be perceived as being even a little bit unique in the music world is a humbling compliment.
“There’s also a good chance that after hearing this new album, people will have some new genre’s to throw in there for us too.”
MB: What influences you to make music?
KK: I can say with certainty that writing songs from scratch is by far the most satisfying and enjoyable part of being in a band. Writing songs, and putting them together, and all that stuff is a fulfilling form of expression for us. To be honest what influences us the most are the fans. To have a platform (however modest it is) to present our music to people who really truly want to hear it; that’s the motivation.
MB: Are you politically engaged, do you view music as an avenue to get your politics across?
KK: We’re politically engaged to a point. We don’t stand on one side of the political line and then point our fingers at people who are on the other side. For us, the world isn’t just black and white like that....there are hundreds and hundreds of different shades of grey.
So when we deliver songs that are rooted in politics or are socially motivated, it’s much more just a viewpoint, it’s the way I see something through my own eyes. And the song is just me talking it through.
There are plenty of people doing enough finger pointing. So, we kind of make it a thing to always be looking inward. What do we have control of? What do we have the power to change? What can we do to better ourselves?
As for other bands and how they choose to fuse politics and music, that’s clearly up to them. But we’re not going to build an audience willing to give us their ears and their time; and then just sing to them about smoking weed and chillin’ on the couch.
MB: Musically, who influenced and still influences TLF?
KK: Pretty diverse groups. And that list is probably fluid.....ever-changing. Some bands that have always influenced ours a little bit would be: Citizen Cope, John Browns Body, Giant Panda Guerrilla Dub Squad, SOJA, Black Crowes, Black Seeds, Tarrus Riley.
Kyle was deep into reggae far before the band started. Mark is real into the complicated/genius type of musicians. I came up on rock music. Brody started out real into jammier guitar guys.
MB: How did the band form?
KK: The band came together when Kyle and a friend of his started writing songs at the University of Delaware. He was actually the 3LF drummer for a few months. They held auditions looking for some guitar and bass players. That’s where they got Brody and our old bass player Eric. Kyle and I incidentally went to high school together and had played together for years, and I took over on drums just a few months in. When the band parted ways with the original bass player (January 2010), we started asking around, got some names, had a few dudes come in and play, and Mark got the job.
MB: Where did the name TLF come from?
KK: Actually just an arbitrary name, it doesn’t really have any real importance behind it. Our first gig was going to be the Battle of the Bands down at University of Delaware and the deadline came to submit a name for it, and that’s the one we used for better or worse.
MB: Where do you see TLF going in the future?
KK: Hard to say. We’re all friends, but we don’t share a house, and actually we don’t see much of each other outside of travelling, rehearsing, or working on the album.
When you first get together, you kind of feel like you can do it forever, but reality seeps in eventually. It’s got to end at some point. Truthfully, the future of our band will be determined by the fans. If they decide they want to continue to see us play music, and record songs, and the demand to do that is there, then I think we’ll be around for a solid while.
MB: What do you make of the current live music scene in the US?
KK: I think it’s stable if not even pretty strong. The artist still believes in it. I think social networking sites help to get the word out to people about bands touring, and coming through their hometowns and all that stuff. With everything else in music changing so rapidly, the concert aspect seems to stay pretty rooted.
MB: How easy is it for a band like TLF to play shows and make money?
KK: Well it’s never easy. I think that the bands making good money through touring have earned it!! You look at some of the bigger reggae bands in the US, they honed their craft, and they’re road warriors. They tour eight-nine months out of the year. Their success is not some mystery equation. As for Three Legged Fox, it continues to get a bit easier, as our music continues to spread, but it’s never easy. There are a lot of overhead expenses to touring, a lot to account for. That’s why you have to be at least somewhat intrinsically motivated to do it.
You have to believe that you’ve got a voice; you’ve got something to say that no one else is saying. ‘Cuz if you don’t, you’ll wash out pretty quickly. But yea, we do alright. We aren’t starving.
MB: Would you class yourself as a DIY band, do you have to arrange your shows?
KK: We totally and completely define the term ‘DIY band’. Everything that gets arranged, from shooting a video, going on a mini-tour run, recording...it’s all done from the inside.
But at the same time, you build a network of people whom you work with in each field. So while the band itself has no representation, no label, no whatever...we’ve got good people that help us with touring, with merchandising, with advice on what to do, what not to do. I’m proud of the group of people we get to talk to pretty regularly, who help us make decisions.
MB: Moving onto song-writing – where do the initial ideas for a song come from?
KK: Oh man... I have no idea. It’s very much a fleeting thing. A couple of these news songs came right out of the news. It’s interesting, because when you’re in college or right around that age, you retract into this odd bubble where you lose sense of time and space. But after that, you do some growing up, you read the international news, you pay attention to the politics, you understand the importance of knowing what’s going on in the world...I mean, it’s all we’ve got.
Critical thinking starts, independence kicks in, and you really begin to formulate your opinions and beliefs. So, between the last two albums I think we’re a lot more socially conscious of the world around us. Besides that, ideas come at odd times, and they’re about the same things that everyone else experiences. A lot of the beginning ideas for songs on this album were jotted down on my phone at all times of day and night.
MB: How do you keep pace with your song-writing, do you have a notebook which you jot down your ideas?
KK: I ended up filling three or four notebooks between the release of Not as Far, and the completion of Always Anyway. The memo pad app on my phone has a ton of lyrics, or the beginnings of lyrics in it too. Song-writing for me is usually three, four or five pages of terrible lyrics followed by a few that I think are pretty decent, and it follows that pattern for the majority of the process. At the end I’ll just kind of piece it together.
MB: Is song-writing in TLF a group, collaborative effort?
KK: We don’t usually write as a group. Kyle and I live about a mile apart from each other, and I do a good bit of the lyric writing, so together him and I will get the ball rolling on the majority of the new stuff. But at the same time, when it’s time to bring in Brody and Mark, we don’t stand over top of them and rule with an iron fist.
One thing we did have was a shared vision about what we wanted this new album to be, so I think we all took criticism really well from each other when things weren’t working, because it was always in the interest of meeting that vision.
It hasn’t always been that way, but we’ve matured a good bit and we’re cool with our roles within the band. From the collaboration standpoint, by the time a track is finished, I think we’ve all had a pretty good chance to put our individual mark on the song.
MB: Once you are in the studio, how does a TLF song form?
KK: Usually I walk in to our home studio and Kyle’s there and I’ll say something like “hey, I’ve got this idea...I’ve got a definite chorus lyric” or “hey, wouldn’t it be sweet if we...?”
And since I can only play drums, and he can basically play anything, I try to explain what I hear in my head, and explain what I’m looking for, and more often than not, he delivers it to me almost perfectly. I don’t know how.
MB: You are based in Philadelphia – what is the city like for music and have you ever considered relocating to another part of the US to aid the band’s development?
KK: Never considered moving. Geographically it’s in a great place. I think with the internet you can obviously reach anybody at this point.
I definitely think the east coast has a bit more grit to it, a bit more “feet on the ground, reality” type of feel to it. We got the ten degree winters, and all that kinda stuff. But no, probably would never move as a band. We’re pretty rooted here.
Three Legged Fox’s third album, Always Anyway, will be released August 16, 2011 and will available through the usual mp3 download site as well as through the Three Legged Fox website.
There will also be a Deluxe Version of the album which will have some extra bonus songs for another dollar or two.
Interview conducted by Michael Cotton