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Music: Introduce Yourself

Grassroots support and touring nets a record deal for Foxy Shazam

By Ezra Waller · January 17th, 2008 · Music
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Foxy Shazam



Sometimes singer Eric Nally will put a _________ (noun) in his __________(body part) on stage. Sky White was once __________ (verb pt) by his own keyboard because it was too __________ (adjective). Guitarist Loren Turner helps pay for recording sessions by ___________ (verb ending in "ing") the producer's ___________ (noun). They have a new record called __________ (album title) on _____________ (record label).

Whatever you filled in for the first six words is probably not as weird as the truth. The last two, however, are Introducing Foxy Shazam and New Weathermen (a Ferret Music imprint). Depending on your perspective, this undeniable success was either improbable or inevitable.

Foxy Shazam's 2005 debut, The Flamingo Trigger, was an existential Rock masterpiece -- an unapologetic clash of crushing guitars and Jazzy piano splattered with surreal interludes and oblique lyrics delivered with genuine (if fractured) soul. The new disc, a slightly more focused affair, is still proof that you can get away with anything if you have great songs and an enigmatic frontman.

Foxy's live show takes that principal to the extreme. Intricacies and syncopation give way to mayhem as Turner, White and bassist Daisy abuse their instruments with deranged zeal while drummer Joe Halberstadt dutifully tears his way through the tangle of tempo and time changes.

A possessed Nally twists and trembles and only occasionally comes up for air or to belt out a few lines. The spectacle has much more in common with performance art than a Rock show, falling somewhere between early Genesis and Andy Kaufman.

I once envisioned Foxy's art being lost on anyone except thirtysomething fans of Ween and Mr. Bungle. Hundreds of shows in 46 states later, I'm proven wrong.

Despite their challenging songs and unconventional show, Foxy connects with younger fans (as evidenced by their 40,000 MySpace "friends"). While their music is irreverently anti-Pop, their attitude is decidedly anti-Punk, trading cynicism and disaffection for an open and engaging demeanor.

So how does a group that does nothing but tour and make friends get signed? In March of 2007, they shared a bill with a band that brought them to the attention of manager Jesse Korman (frontman for The Number Twelve Looks Like You) who in turn introduced them to Nick Storch, head of New Weathermen and a respected booking agent. After Foxy sent them a few batches of fresh demo recordings, everything fell into place.

These contacts secured them a month-long, live-in recording session with Seattle producer Casey Bates and a video shoot with Jeremy E. Jackson. Judging from the online teaser trailer, they've captured all of Foxy's zany goodness.

The band is perhaps most appreciative of the booking assistance.

"Going through (big-time global firm) The Agency Group, it's retardedly awesome," explains Nally. "Plus they've got the same idea as we do. Even though these guys are perfectly capable of putting us on a huge tour, we want to keep playing little shows in front of 12 kids and building a respectable fan base and be genuine about it."

In what has become my favorite Foxy anecdote, they arrived for a show in Toledo to find that it had been canceled. Armed with only a laptop and with just hours to spare, they informed fans that the show was canceled via bulletin, convinced another venue to let them play and ended up bringing out 40 people.

Their album cover photo, in which a relaxed Nally is held aloft by the audience, is another perfect example of the interaction.

"I told the crowd that I had this vision in a dream the night before," he says, "and I asked them if they would help me do it. I had no idea it was going to be so great. Everybody thinks it's fake."

"Those are real fans that got to be on our CD cover," White points out, "and they're real excited about it. That's what it's all about."

Ultimately, Foxy's success is owed to their supporters as much as their own commitment.

"It's like in Peter Pan when everybody claps for the fairy and she gets stronger," suggests Nally. "You just have to believe."


FOXY SHAZAM (foxyshazam.com) hosts a CD release party Thursday at The Mad Hatter. Buy tickets, check out performance times and find nearby bars and restaurants here. For more of this interview, check the Spill It blog here.)


 
 
 
 

 

 
 
 
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