Atlanta's Stokeswood Comes to Blackbird Ordinary for a Free Show

For its third record, the 2075 EP, Atlanta-based, alternative pop outfit Stokeswood goes back to the future by remaining rooted in the past. It’s a dynamic contrast of sounds the five-piece hopes will win over Miami music fans tomorrow during an appearance at Blackbird Ordinary, the second show of a three-stop tour through Florida.

By setting its new album 60 years from now, Stokeswood immediately invokes a sense of what’s to come even though it's steeped in the type of “future rock” that’s become so popular recently. Combining elements of electronic/dance music with the charged energy of indie rock, 2075 successfully marries the pop components of '80s bands like Depeche Mode and New Order with bombastic hip-shakers like the Killers, Bastille, the 1975, and Panic! At the Disco.

Frontman and lead vocalist Adam Patterson spoke to us ahead of Stokeswood’s trip to South Florida, a place that he and the band consider a home away from home.

New Times: Let’s begin at the beginning: where did the band’s name come from?
Adam Patterson: The name came from the name of the street that [guitarist and cofounder] Mark [Godwin] and I used to live on when we first started the band. We used to live on Stokeswood Avenue. Then the attic caught fire and we had to move out. It’s just a little tip of the cap to where we all started.

What’s been the reaction to the new EP, 2075?
I feel like we’ve gotten some really good responses to it. New fans at every show, which is always nice. All the write-ups so far have been pretty positive. We’re just continuing to play new markets and hopefully pick up more steam.

Why did you guys go with the futuristic theme for the title and the cover art?
I think it was kind of a juxtaposed thing, where we’re at right now and thinking about how things are going to be in the future. We can’t really predict the future, but with some certainty, there’s going to be love and loss and longing. It’s here now, but that’ll all still be there in the future and we thought that would be a nice idea to put it all together.

Speaking of the future, what are the plans for a follow-up album to 2075?
Well, that’s the thing — we ended up writing like twenty songs for this album and we just ended up putting out the seven on the EP. We still have the other ones that we’re fleshing out, we’re constantly writing new stuff, so we’re definitely planning on putting out a full length. We don’t have a timetable yet, but we’re certainly working on it.

How did you end up choosing these seven songs out of the twenty?
We kind of felt like this one really needed to be our strongest calling card to put us forward. This was a nice, cohesive group. All the stories go together — together and on their own, they're strong enough songs. We also figured it would be a good way to reach a wider audience. [The songs] are a little more accessible than some of the other stuff we’ve been doing.

In the past, Stokeswood has commented that all five members bring ideas to the table. With that many chefs in the kitchen, how does the band resolve disputes?
It really does come down to what’s best for the song and everyone is really diplomatic. It’s always how it’s been. There’s never been any other approach.
What’s been the biggest difference between you and Mark writing alone and then bringing in Jon Joiner, Justin Mullinix, and Michael Roman into the fold?
Well that’s the thing that was really nice to do. When we recorded the first album, Carassia, we got hooked up with Justin, who is now our bass player and does the machine. He’s kind of like our DJ and bass player. He actually produced our first album, so that’s how we met him. It was a nice rapport. Halfway into the next album, he just joined the band. It was a nice transition into that. He’s brought a lot of the new sounds that we’re incorporating.

October won’t be your first visit to the Sunshine State. You played the 2013 Aura Music Festival in north Florida. What was that like?
Aura is great. Those people were super nice to us. We always look forward to going back to that.

With the way Stokeswood is combining EDM with indie rock, do you have any aspirations of one day playing Ultra?
We would absolutely love to, yeah. We were able to play Counterpoint the first year it was up, and as far as stuff like that, it’s tough for us as a full band to be able to do that because they’d rather just have DJs…But yeah, we would absolutely love to play Ultra. Mark and I got to go down there a few years ago in 2010]and saw Ghostland [Observatory] and Passion Pit, that was a lot of fun.

So how often have you been to Miami, either for business or pleasure?
We actually have been playing Miami a lot. The reason we’ve been down there so much is that we got hooked up with [Hollywood roots rock musician] Brendan O’Hara very early on and were able to play with him a bunch and that turned into a little, kind of residency at the Florida Room. We were going down about once a month and that helped us build a little following down there.

What’s your experience been, both with the city and the crowds?
The city is beautiful. The city is amazing. The city is alive — big pulsing heartbeat. We're always trying to come down. To me it's nice to come from Atlanta to another big city and play like that and not necessarily have the same sort of crowds. The people have been great. We actually used to hang out at Blackbird Ordinary when it was still Transit. We're definitely drinkers so we've hit up many bars and restaurants.

You guys have a thing for Jameson, don't you?
We do, we do. [laughs] I don't know if it's reciprocal, but we definitely have a crush. We like it, but I don't know if it likes us.

Stokeswood. 8 p.m. Friday, October 2, at Blackbird Ordinary, 729 SW First Ave., Miami; 305-671-3307; Admission is free. Ages 21 and up. 
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Angel Melendez is an unabashed geek and a massive music nerd. A graduate of Florida Atlantic University and an accomplished failure at two other universities, Angel is a lush and an insufferable know-it-all, and has way better taste in music than you.
Contact: Angel Melendez