Out from their Attic Demos and under their Chemical Canopy, Stone Jackals quietly released another killer EP. It was only in 2021 that the band released their first single, “What They Called It” and have already had enough tracks for a full-length record. Their latest EP, Chemical Canopy, is an indie-rock standard, comprised of dream pop psychedelia, chillwave vocals and classic shoegaze. 303 Magazine spoke with Levi and Gabriel Heberer and Zeke Daggett of Stone Jackals weeks before the EP dropped to get to know them.
There are countless ways a band can get started, but they often begin the same way — as a few friends looking to create something to call their own outside of school. In 2019, when original members, Levi Heberer (vocals, lead guitar) and brother, Gabriel Heberer (drummer, backing vocals) joined their friend Adam Padilla (guitar, keys, organ) to form Stone Jackals (formerly, Lizard Church), they had a plan: start a band.
That was in 2019, but their combined experience at the time far exceeded their group performance history. Each member is skilled and trained in different musical styles, and was well-versed in their instruments at the time of their collaboration.
Gabriel Heberer: Me and my brother envisioned ourselves being a part of a band or making a band. We did a high school project — a music fest is what it was. We just put on a show there. It turned out somebody from the Greeley Stampede was watching and was fairly impressed, so they invited us to go play there.
No band or artist like to classify themselves into a singular genre, but for the sake of new potential listeners, Stone Jackals kept it simple — rock. It’s the easiest to understand and connect with, but the band draws influence from many of its subgenres.
303 Magazine: What type of music and what artist groups inspire your band and its members?
GH: Mostly Led Zeppelin — John Bonham. Definitely, the focal figure of my drumming when I was starting out. I’m influenced by Fabrizio Moretti of The Strokes and Matt Helders… [of] Arctic Monkeys.
Zeke Daggett: A lot of the same stuff. He and his brother actually got me into a lot of the music I listen to today but also a lot of jazz records. Ryokukui, Cedar Walton. It’s really cool, growing in musical influences with each other, just showing each other new songs and wanting to write a tune like that.
GH: Ian really likes Mcbase. Adam, he’s into Tyler the Creator, Kendrick Lamar, Lewis Cole and Vulfpeck.
303: How did you feel about your first single release, “What They Called It,” and how it turned out?
ZD: I was proud of it. I wasn’t on that track, but I was proud of helping with the mastering process and idea-making. We actually have stuff out there for people to check out, and then people who are checking it out, we got a good reception from it. People that we barely knew or people that didn’t really like us in high school were like, “this is my favorite song ever.”
303: Is there anything that was particularly hard about making your first track and producing it together? Were there any obstacles you had to face?
GH: It’s definitely all experimental. You could find any tip for any trick on YouTube when it comes to recording. It’s really experimentation with mic placement and tones and gain and all these different things. I guess we’re lucky to have Adam. He’s kind of a wizard.
ZD: We say he’s our quality control.
303: Have you all done your fair share of quality control on this latest EP?
ZD: I think they’re the best we’re going to have up so far, and I think that generally with every release we have, it’s so much better than the last one. It’s only going to keep getting like that, I hope. I’m just excited for people to hear these tunes because we’ve been working on them for so long at this point, and it just feels like we need people to hear them.
303: Is this EP a collection of different songs from different states of mind or is there a tone or theme you all had in mind?
ZD: Levi was reading Brave New World at the time. Gabriel was as well, I just finished it because he told me he was really into that book at the time that we were kind of writing these songs. So they (the songs) kind of follow a Dystopian theme.
GH: Three songs on it all kind of follow my theme of you could just call, like, drug use, but it’s more about behavior and social goings — how people do things in order to crack the glass, but really sometimes it seems more like that just puts a darker tint on the glass.
303: What were the challenges you faced as a band during COVID?
Levi Heberer: Being in a band during the pandemic was a challenging experience. We probably got started at the worst possible time. It was difficult to see all the traction we had gained suddenly disappear. When all the live shows and venues shut down, we did a lot of writing and rehearsing so that we were ready when COVID started easing up. It seemed like the only thing we could do anyways and it seems like the work paid off because we got a lot done.
303: Any future plans with your music?
LH: We just finished our Chemical Canopy EP and we already have ideas for the next one which I’m very excited about. We’re still trying to find our rhythm but we’re hoping to start writing songs more quickly and playing a lot more shows now that things seem to be going back to normal.
Chemical Canopy holds the fort down as part of the new wave of indie rock-inspired, neo-psychedelic style. It’s steady bouncing bass with simple but effective guitar riffs and low, smooth vocals that pleasantly reverberate in your head. It’s funkadelic rock with a dash of dopamine to ease a tired mind after a long week. They’re well worth the listen and follow, so check out Stone Jackals and Chemical Canopy now, as well as their upcoming show this Saturday in Downtown Denver at The Blackbuzzard and Oskar Blues.
All otherwise unspecified photography by Julia von Dreele