Howler Musical Origins : Antlers in Velvet

Posted on March 5, 2021

Music is a vital part of the origin of Howler Brothers.  In fact, before Howler was even a twinkle in the eye, Howler Founders Andy Stepanian and Chase Heard, along with HB partner Mason Brent, were making music together and plowing the clubs of the US and UK with their band Wrinkle Neck Mules.  The Mules spent the better part of the mid-2000s on the road playing 150+ nights a year and recording 6 albums.  They developed a cult-like following and even brushed shoulders with the mainstream when a tiny computerized lizard danced along to one of their songs in a television commercial for auto insurance.  Without question, Wrinkle Neck Mules was the origin of the creative relationship between Andy, Chase and Mason.  To this day, they say that their years of writing songs together, traveling for weeks at a time in a van, sleeping with 5 people in one hotel room and braving the often-ruthless music world prepared them for running Howler Brothers better than any design school or MBA program.  

The musical lineage took on a new branch when Andy and Mason released an album under the moniker Leon III in 2018.  The album took a detour from the WNM path “into the psych-folk wilderness” (Jedd Ferris / Blue Ridge Outdoors).   Although technically a duo, Leon III employs a revolving cast of ridiculously talented folks who play in the live show and on the recordings.  Some of you may have seen them on tour with Howler amigos Futurebirds or Mother Hips in recent years.   

Leon III is at it again with a new album called Antlers in Velvet which came out today.  The release is already being called “expansive”, “damn good” and “genre-bending”.  Live for Live Music even went so far as to call Leon III “one of the next big names in improvisational music”.  The list of players on this album is pretty startling.  Even our very own Howler Ambassador Kai Welch - who is a recent Grammy nominee that plays all kinds of musical instruments in Kacey Musgraves band - played on the sessions which took place in Stinson Beach, California.  A whole laundry list of others including Matt Pence (Centro-matic, Paul Cauthen), William Tyler, Dana Colley (Morphine) and Paul Niehaus (Calexico) contributed to the cause.   

If you’re watching really closely you will see that Leon III released it’s album under a new record label called MonoSonic.  Mono like the spanish for monkey.  Not mono like the opposite of stereo.  If you can read between the lines, you will see the connection.  We are happy to say that the Leon III release is just the beginning of a number of big things we have in store involving Howler Brothers and music.   In the coming months, we will begin to peel back the curtain on Howler Music, MonoSonic and a larger musical stew from Howler Brothers.  It only makes sense because it is in our blood and it is where we came from.  Until then, we invite you to check out the Leon III Antlers in Velvet on your favorite streaming service.  You can follow them on IG at @leonthethird or order the album and some badass Howler-made merch on their website at leoniii.com.  Follow MonoSonic (@monosonicrecords) and Wrinkle Neck Mules (@wrinkleneckmules) while you’re at it.  And, stay tuned.