In the loft of the Troubadour watching their crew set up for their big show sit Eric, Alex and Loren of Foxy Shazam, a band renowned for its wildly engaging and theatrical live performances. The group looks a bit tired, as if reserving all of their energy for their upcoming performance.
How is the tour going thus far?
Loren: It’s going awesome.
Eric: I think this is our most successful tour yet.
Isn’t this show sold out?
Eric: Yes. Well, I think it’s 97% sold out and their just holding a few tickets for something.
Are these shows well rehearsed or completely spontaneous?
Eric: Most of it is spontaneous. Sometimes every now and again I’ll do a cool move and be like, “Oh, that was awesome.” Then I’ll save it in my catalogue and file it for later.
Loren: I like to go on You Tube and look at other artists, especially older artists like from the 80’s, and see what they were doing back then and try to do a variation of that. Like I’ve been trying to work in some MC Hammer moves.
I would love to see you do the Hammer dance tonight.
Loren: I did it a few shows ago. It worked for him because he had the big baggy pants but in tight jeans I just look ridiculous.
Without incriminating yourselves, how do you keep such a high level of energy throughout a show or series of shows – like SXSW?
Eric: It’s extremely difficult. For awhile I thought it was because we never played for over half an hour, but this tour we’re playing for over an hour and still able to maintain it the way it is, but I don’t know how we do it.
It’s a regular miracle. So you only have a few more dates left. What’s the first thing you will do when you get home to Cincinnati?
Alex: Kiss my girlfriend
Loren: Cuddle my wife
Eric: I have two kids and a wife so I’ll just be hanging out with them. Maybe play some videogames, take a shower and just wind down. Then watch my wife cook some dinner.
For this new album of yours, did you use a different formula then the last two?
Eric: It’s a step forward. Sometimes you stand still and sometimes you take a step backward but we always want to step forward, and never skip steps. We just signed with Sire records, which is a big label, and our goal is to go down in history as the biggest band in the world.
What are your goals leading up to becoming the biggest band in the world?
Eric: Just to always move forward and keep doing what we’re doing. You’ll never hear us doing something that we didn’t want to do. We spent a lot of time building our band from the ground up and when it starts to get really tall you need a good foundation.
What was the biggest challenge in creating this album?
Eric: Any step forward is scary no matter what you’re doing. Whether it be going from 6th grade to 7th grade or high school to college or changing jobs or having a kid or anything. Now we’re going on this major label where we still have complete control of everything artistically, but we’re taking more advice now and trusting our career with people who know what they’re doing. That was probably the most difficult thing, to just give into the label.
Out of curiosity why did you decide to make your third album your self titled?
Eric: It felt appropriate because the record before was Introducing. And now, Foxy Shazam, here we are.
How is your new label, Sire, treating you?
Eric: Very good. They’re very easy to work with. Every chance they get they’re at our shows hanging out.
Do you have someone from Sire here tonight?
Eric: Yeah, like, all of them. They give us complete creative control. They trust us and they know that we know what we’re doing and we know that they know what they’re doing.
Alex It’s a healthy relationship because they trust us and we trust them.
“Unstoppable” was pretty great at the Superbowl. Can we expect you to play a halftime show sometime soon?
Eric: I don’t know about soon, but definitely in the future.
But seriously, where do you expect to go from there as far as playing at public events?
Eric: we want to be the first band to play in outer space.
That’s awesome. What can you tell me about the rumor that your collective facial hair is going to leave the band to pursue a solo career?
Eric: I hope not, I would be nothing without it. Nobody would like us anymore.
Is that where you get your power from? Is it your inspiration?
Eric: Yeah. It moves my lips. That’s the only reason I can sing. I’m not actually talking to you right now, it’s my mustache.
Loren: It even writes all the lyrics.
If you could be one fruit bearing plant what would it be?
Blackberries are delicious.
Alex: I’m not sure if this is a plant, but… Grapes.
Yes, Alex, grapes are totally a plant.
Eric: Fruit of the loom underwear.
Good answers. Last question – favorite Bill Murray movie?
Eric: That’s tough. Definitely Life Aquatic.
Alex: My favorite Bill Murray movie is Stripes.
Never seen it.
Loren: I really liked his character in Zombieland.
Right? Wasn’t that the most random guest appearance ever?
Eric: He was also really good in the SNL days.
Yeah. What happened to SNL now? It all went downhill.
Alex: I’m a big fan of anything SNL.
I love the old school stuff. You know what’s interesting is that Bill Murray doesn’t have a star on the Hollywood walk of fame, however he is on the board to put people on the walk of fame.
Alex: Really? That’s pretty noble.
Eric: He’s the god who paints the stars in the sky. I’ll have to remember that one.
Thank you for chatting with me. I look forward to the show tonight.
It’s apparent that musical diversity was one of the goals in selecting the supporting acts to tour with Foxy Shazam. Opening is a group who calls themselves Bad Rabbits, as they forced the crowd to repeat over and over until their egos were uncomfortably full. What’s unique about this band is that their sound combines 80’s funk pop with modern electro pop, throw in a dash of R&B and you have Bad Rabbits. Utilizing heavy bass, playful synth lines, and R Kelly esque vocal harmonies the band produces a live performance that’s just dripping with funk the likes of which you could only find in 80’s Harlem.
Next up is the Young Veins, which features two of the former members of Panic! at the Disco, Ryan Ross and Jon Walker. The five piece band comes dressed as The Beatles circa the Ed Sullivan show and plays in the same manner. As if picking up where Panic!’s Pretty. Odd. Left off, The Young Veins’ tamed style is so reminiscent of a 60’s rock band that the only thing missing is girls swooning and screaming in the background like a Jonas Brothers concert.
The elbow to elbow sold out venue erupts as Foxy Shazam makes their way onto stage. From the gate Eric illustrates exactly what he meant by selecting particular showman moves from his lexicon like the pelvic thrust, handstand, and doing push-ups on stage. Not to be outdone, the rest of the group has their own cache of quirky maneuvers ready to be unleashed on an unsuspecting crowd. Alex and Aaron mimic intercourse with the phallic portions of their instruments while Loren does his best Hammer dance that looks more like a scene from Flashdance. Still, the award for best stage presence has to go to Sky White, who finds it necessary to play the keyboard with every limb humanly possible, including both feet, head and tongue at one point, all without missing a note. Ever the crowd pleaser, Eric stops the show momentarily to denounce the “Twilight” series, set the record straight on his heterosexuality, and to light a joint (which he later ate!). Certainly, Foxy has the stage theatrics down, but that doesn’t mean the music was below par. They nailed each and every song like the sentiment on the albums, but with the high energy level you can’t hear on the records. Whether you’re a fan of the music or not, it’s easy to appreciate the hard work these gentlemen put in to give the audience what they paid for.
*photos by Brett Padelford