When asked to describe The Foxery, each band member contributed one word: Passionate. Intense. Cathartic. Heavy. Genuine. Fun. In a sense, there could be no better way to characterize both the music and the poetically thrashing spirit of the Louisville sextet.
Coming on the heels of several independent releases, incessant D.I.Y. touring, and months and months of persistent writing, The Foxery has found their home on Spartan Records with their debut full-length Unless, unquestionably their most prolific recording to date. Thematically, Unless tackles massive questions against the backdrop of a dark and wandering musical journey.
Ghettoblaster recently caught up with keyboardist/percussionist Travis Beck to discuss the record (which drops September 9). This is what he said.
When did you begin writing the material for Unless?
Well, Calvin and Cadillac began writing a few songs on Unless in December of 2012. We continued writing for the next several months, and then had a lineup change adding Cam as our drummer, Kyle as our bassist, and Steve as third guitar. I also picked up playing a Rhodes piano in addition to auxillary percussion.
The record really took shape how it is now during the spring and summer of 2013. We then took the rest of that year and the beginning of this year really fleshing out the songs, re-working them and making sure they were as good as we were able to make them. So it’s been a long writing process, but one that we believe has really made for a strong record and one that we’re extremely proud of–and incredibly stoked to finally release to people!
What was the most difficult song to take from the initial writing stage through recording and mixing? Why was it so troublesome?
That was definitely “The Filth ll.” There’s nothing overly complicated about the song, we just really struggled figuring out how to give the song the vibe and flow we wanted. It was tough because the song is kind of drony and builds on itself so we spent a ton of time figuring out what rhythms to use that complimented that feel, but that also kept the song interesting and moving towards an end. Ultimately, I think we achieved that really well, and this turned into one of my favorite songs!
Which of the songs on the record is most different from your original concept for the song?
I would say “The Gnashing.” The original concept of the song isn’t too far off what we ended with; however there was a big change that really turned the song into something different than I initially thought. We wrote “The Gnashing” and “The Gnashing ll” together right off the bat, and knew that we wanted them to connect in some way, but didn’t really know how. We got to a place we were happy about with “The Gnashing,” and were just jamming it one day, and ended up kind of just falling into this interlude-type part that falls into “The Gnashing ll.” It was such a cool moment to figure that part out and really gave the song a new feel for me. The transition from this song into “The Gnashing ll” was definitely one of the more anticipated parts for all of us when we were first listening to the finished record, and we’re all really happy with how it turned out.
Did you have any guest musicians play or sing on the record?
We did! Our friend Angela Clark (soon to be Angela Berry, as she is about to get married!) sang on a bunch of the songs, providing some truly incredible harmonies. Her part on “Crawl” still gives me chills! And our best bud Jake Snider screamed on “The Gnashing ll.” I think his part is absolutely KILLER on this song. Jake previously played in a band called Mountain Asleep, who we all loved, so we were super happy to have him be a part of this record.
Who produced the record? What input did that person have that changed the face of the record?
We produced Unless ourselves, so it was most definitely a collaborative effort from all of us. There were a lot of different ideas in writing and working through this record. We worked through all of them and ultimately melded together a ton of different ideas to arrive at a place better than any of us would be able to produce alone. At least that’s the way we saw it and went about it. It was most certainly never easy, but we think we all work really well together and grew a ton as a band during the process–both as musicians and as friends.
Is there an overarching concept behind your new album that ties the record together?
There are several overarching concepts that tie this record together, and we definitely set out to write a record with this quality. The concept this record deals with that has had a strong effect on me is the idea that in spite of all the tough parts of life, and the uncertainty and fear we may encounter, that we are still fully capable of pulling through these times and can even make use of them to create greater things. Most of the record is pretty dark, and deals with a lot of difficult questions and ideas, but in the end the message to me is that through this we can strive to make things better and become stronger. The last song on the record is a call to “make sounds”– no matter how bad stuff is, or how hard life may be, you can always control who you are and how you handle situations. So make all you can of the life and individuality you possess!
Have you begun playing these songs live and which songs have elicited the strongest reaction from your fans?
We have! “The Sorrow” has gotten a good reaction for its heaviness and dynamics. “The Gnashing” is always fun to play live for a lot of reasons, but it’s been funny to have people clap during the short pause in the middle of the song, only to have us start back up again and surprise everyone! Although we are really happy with the record, we definitely think you’ve missed a huge part of who this band is if you haven’t seen us live. Shows are what we truly love and are most passionate about, so please come join us at a show! There’s nothing we enjoy more than meeting anyone that loves music the way we do!
(Visit The Foxery here: https://www.facebook.com/thefoxeryband.)