Never Taking The Easy Way | An Interview with The Foxies

Nashville power-trio The Foxies looked into harnessing the explosive freedom of punk while endlessly turning out pop-perfect hooks with Who Are You Now, Who Were You Then?  The Foxies ultimately matches its visceral impact with bluntly poetic yet heartfelt lyrics—the type of irreverent truth-telling sure to inspire countless tattoos and recklessly scrawled bedroom graffiti.  To reach the vision, the band looked to Prince and David Bowie to be inspirational in the writing process.  The result is an album overall showcases new wave and glam-rock, post-punk and grunge, left-field hip-hop and the weirder edges of the pop world.

The Foxies have released their latest off Who Are You Now, Who Were You Then?, “I Don’t Wanna Want It.”  The song emerged from a melody that the band’s Jake Ohlbaum conjured up while driving to a session, then morphed into a hot-tempered expression of self-destructive lust (“One kiss and I’m in a different time zone/Pull my hair like a bullet in a bible”).

Speaking on “I Don’t Wanna Want It,” the band reflects: “This feels cheesy, but we’re always looking for something that we probably don’t need. It’s a dark place when that thing that’s bad for you is the person you love. I don’t think anyone has a foolproof system for making it out of that place, but it can consume you for days at a time, if not months or years. I don’t know why this song came out so upbeat and driving for a lyric that’s such a bummer, but I’m glad it did. I think for Julia and me, writing this song was cathartic because we both were dealing with people we cared for deeply but maybe didn’t show it back to us. It felt easier and worth it to headbang and scream a little bit rather than calling up that toxic person and screaming at them.”

When did all of you realize this project would be something special?

Julia Bullock: I realized this project was special when Jake and Rob joined. We all had the same dreams and goals: to make an impact and a name for ourselves in the world.

The band seemingly channels that grimey, infectious DIY vibe. What would you say has drawn you into incorporating this into The Foxies?

Rob Bodley: I believe that sound comes from all of our personal musical backgrounds and that we do keep the writing and producing as in-house as we can. 

Having released an EP that was critically acclaimed from so many, how much pressure was on you to deliver on the new album?

Jake Ohlbaum: That’s a really interesting question because I feel like all my favorite bands have had to wrestle with this one, but I don’t think I ever gave it a moment’s thought on this. Maybe because we’ve never put out a full length, so it felt like a different beast? Maybe because the album was written sort of accidentally? We didn’t feel any external pressure, but we always put pressure on ourselves for the music to be great. If we like it and our team likes it, our fans will probably like it too.

You brought in several individuals to help shape the new album. What led you to go in this direction?

Jake: It’s a pretty important part of our “model” or our “process” to have outside co-writers and coproducers. I find that it keeps us honest, driven, focused, and avoids any bit of drinking our own kool-aid, if you know what I mean. When Julia and I are writing songs, and we have some outside perspective, it forces us to stay the course on the material and never take the easy way out. Plus, our friends are awesome; they make our songs a lot better.

How collaborative was the band when writing the album?

Julia: Jake and I do the main songwriting and then once the songs are fleshed out and have a nice structure, demo it, and we send it to Rob so he can add his magical drummer flair to it.

You had the experience of touring with Billy Idol. What were some of the band’s fondest memories from that time?

Rob: We honestly had such a blast just watching Billy perform every night. He is just so legendary. His band and crew were so kind and fun to spend time with. 

Listening to the album, I can feel there’s a more personal flair lyrically. Was that by design, or was it just how the writing was taking you at the time?

Jake: I think it’s a reflection of Julia and myself, but mostly Julia, taking more ownership of the material than we had before. These aren’t just our strongest songs; they’re the ones that mean the most to us. Julia, in particular, really left it all on the page with these lyrics; I think that’s maybe the coolest thing about it all. During the height of the pandemic, we all had to spend lots of time alone, in front of the mirror, confronting ourselves. These songs were written during those times so I think that kind of reflection and honesty is in every line of each song.

What songs would you say stand out more than others? I felt “Overrated” is one that truly showcases the band to the fullest.

Julia “Overrated” is just a rad rock song for us. It points the finger to all-consuming social media. But one that is very emotional for me to perform is “Good Try” and “Then I’ll Go.” They are both songs that dive into the relationship I have with myself… and it’s a diary entry of nothing but my flaws. It helps me write about the things I don’t quite like about myself because I feel it makes me accept them more.

How was the experience recording overall? Did you take time to explore fleshing out the tracks?

Rob: From the start, the demos are pretty ironed out to how we plan on recording but the band does like to live with the songs for a bit before we record them. Some of our music takes new life when we jam on the songs as a band and really find out how to put a little of our individual personalities into the song. 

What should we expect from the band coming?

Julia: Expect a lot of kick-ass shows. And an album, of course 🙂

Who Are You Now, Who Were You Then? is out September 23.

Photo Courtesy: Libby Danforth