(Photo: Angel Ceballos)
By Alexander Laurence
Foxygen are a new young band who are thrilling musicians and talented songwriters. They are from Los Angeles and have existed in some form for many years. They have produced more than eight albums in the past few years. They are presently releasing an EP, called Take The Kids Off Broadway. They hope to finish their first actual physical release later this year, produced by Richard Swift. The main members of the band are Jonathan Rado and Sam France. I got to speak to the band at the practice space in Olympia, WA this past week.
AL: When did you actually start this band?
Rado: We started in 2004 in Westlake Village. We were in another band called The Fionas. We were also called The Boscos. Sam was the singer of that band. The Fionas was like a Doors influenced rock band. We had another singer, who was replaced by Sam, who I didn’t know that well. We had done some instrumentals that Sam took home. He did the vocals and all these crazy sounds. I listened to it and thought it was genius. Everyone else in the band hated them. We had to break up the band and start again. And that is when we started Foxygen.
AL: Did you spend a lot of time thinking of a name?
Rado: We actually left a rehearsal with The Fionas and went to the first Foxygen practice. Foxygen started right there. When we recorded our first album, we didn’t know each other. It was called “Electric Sun Machine.” We decided that Foxygen would be just me and Sam. We recorded the first album in my bedroom in a week. We played all the instruments. It was 2004 or 2005, we are not really sure.
AL: You were very young back then?
Rado: We were babies. Neither one of us had hit puberty yet. Our voices were extremely high.
AL: When you played shows back when you were in High School, did you have a driver’s license, or did your parents have to drive you to shows?
Sam: Yeah. We played at the Whisky a-go-go a few times. Most of our shows were at school. It would be some class show where we would fuck around on melodica and guitar. Our early influences were Brian Jonestown Massacre. We watched Dig The Movie every day. We were into the fact that Anton “played everything.” We wanted to play everything. So I went on Ebay and bought every strange instrument. I would buy an accordian or a xylophone. We would bring them to shows and we couldn’t really play any of them. But it worked for some reason. We tried to get a sitar for a long time.
AL: What was it like playing the Whisky nowadays?
Sam: It’s like a pay-to-play place. They were interesting shows. We had a guy playing a triangle and another playing the trombone. We thought it was funny. The Whisky sucks, but the people there were probably happy that we weren’t another screamo band. The people who worked there were very positive. After you finish they throw your gear on the street. They charge you a hundred dollars and make you sell a bunch of tickets in advance.
AL: When did you get serious about the band?
Rado: The intention was always that we were going to be huge. It was always a bedroom project. We were always hoping to share our music with the people in a big way, but we never went through with that.
Sam: I don’t think the intention of the band was ever to be huge. I guess that is possible. The band was basically me and Rado writing all these songs during high school. Some of the songs had strange lyrics and weird sounds. We did some rapping. We went away to college and came back together in the summer of 2009, and did an album called Kill Art. This was basically us going through all our recordings and keeping the best parts. This record was really popular among our friends and other people who heard it. When we did Kill Art, we discovered we can actually write songs. So Foxygen probably really began around then.
AL: How many albums did you do?
Rado: There are “Electric Sun Machine,” then “Cat Food, Dog Food, Motor Oil,” and “The Jurrassic Exxplosion Phillipic,” and “Ghettoplastikk” “Kill Art,” and “Take The Kids Off Broadway,” and the new one. Plus there is us live at the Whisky.
AL: Rado went off to school in NYC. Did that slow down the band?
Rado: Yeah. We were more creative in High School, it’s true. When you get to college it can take up a lot of time. Sam doesn’t go to school anymore. I am still going to SVA. During the summer after high school we started to make a lot of movies. We joined other bands. Sam lived in Washington state a while. I was in NYC. We both came back together. We were unhappy in the bands that we were in. Foxygen officially never broke up. We stopped for a while.
AL: So you are playing a bunch of shows this week. It’s like a six date west coast tour. What should people expect to hear?
Sam: You know, psychedelic punk rock ritual. It doesn’t sound like the record. It’s the same songs, but we have seven guys in the band now. We are playing a lot of newer stuff. It’s like a different beat.
AL: Do you think there will be some stage diving?
Sam: We talked about it. It was a quiet moment. Our bass player said “What happens if someone tries to stage dive?” I said: “I don’t know how high the stages are.” We will see where the music takes us. There may be blood. There could possibly be blood.
AL: So you will be playing songs from “Take The Kids Off Broadway” and some new ones?
Sam: Yeah. We won’t be playing old songs. We like to move forward. We get over our songs pretty quick. I am the curator of vibes and the cult leader.
Rado: I am the manager. I am the accountant of Foxygen. I make most of the phone calls.
AL: I saw some of the pictures that Angel Ceballos took. Are you guys going to wear costumes? Are you going to have capes and makeup?
Sam: I think we have to now.
AL: Are there any bands that you like?
Rado: Richard Swift and MGMT.
Sam: We like our back up band Holy Komono. I met them years ago before when I lived in Olympia.
AL: You mentioned Richard Swift. Are you going to work with him in the future?
Rado: We are planning that. He is doing a mix of our EP. We will probably get together later this year and work on our first album.