With their new album, Unless dropping in just a month (9/9) via Spartan Records, we decided to have a chat with Louisville, Kentucky's The Foxery about the concept behind the album, their unique writing and recording process, and their goals as musicians. The Foxery seem to know exactly what they want their fans to be able to take away from their new record and live shows, making Unless an album that shouldn't be missed! You can read the entire interview and check out a stream of the band's new track "Broken Vessels" below.
Interview by Shannon Shumaker
Hey guys! Thanks for taking the time to talk to us. Could you tell us a little bit about The Foxery for our readers who haven't had the chance to check you out yet?
We sure can! We're a six piece from Kentucky. We have three guitars, bass, electric piano (Rhodes, not a keytar), drums and auxiliary percussion. We like our loud parts to be as loud as possible and our quiet parts to be as pretty as possible and for all of it to be equally heavy. We like layers and harmonies but we find just as much importance in stripping everything down to one quiet instrument and a shaky voice.
Now you guys are getting ready to release your debut full-length, Unless on Spartan Records - how has the journey with the new label been for you guys?
It's absolutely super. John has a lot of experience in places we've never been. He knows how to help us reach wider audiences and really rock this record to its full potential. A goal we all share is being able to make music that affects people in a positive way and the more ears we can reach, the more hearts we can touch! Spartan is allowing us to do what we were already doing but with an organized sense of direction now and on a bigger, better scale.
What was the writing process like with this album? I read that you self-produced it, so what was that experience like?
Writing this record and self-producing it was the best experience ever. There are six of us with six different backgrounds and six different preferences and six different approaches to writing in general. Calvin and I sat down in the studio and hashed out some skeletal framework for a few of the heavier songs before the current line-up came to be and the ideas we had were great but it wasn't until we found ourselves with the group we're playing with now that it all fell into place.
We're all very open and eager to fit all of our ideas into every song and sometimes that can get frustrating trying to make everyone happy and still create a cohesive song.
Every song was mapped out, structured, broken down, built back up again and repeated multiple times until we ended up with what you're hearing and I'm absolutely positive that they all represent us as individual musicians as much as a band which is what we wanted.
Do you think you had more freedom in self-producing the record?
I personally didn't want a producer telling us what The Foxery should sound like. I didn't want someone saying, "Hey, there should be a chorus here." No there shouldn't. We didn't write a chorus there, so there shouldn't be.
We also got to spend a ton more time on it than we would have if we were paying some studio by the hour. We got to do a lot of experimenting with tones and mic placements and layers and things we may not have been able to do if it had been in someone else's hands.
You've talked about how Unless has a lot to do with darkness and redemption. It definitely does seem to build like a story with every song, too, so would it be safe to say it's loosely a concept album? Can you talk about the message behind Unless a little bit?
It is absolutely a concept album. We set out to write an EP to kind of find a new sound with the (then) new line-up and found ourselves piecing together this puzzle. We wrote "The Sorrow," "The Filth" I & II, and "The Gnashing" I & II first and then realized they told parts of a story. So we wrote the rest of the story around them.
Each song references another song on the record either musically or lyrically. Some songs answer other song's questions. I don't think we ever intended Unless to have one clear message and each member could probably answer completely different and still be totally right. The message I'll go with for today is that the album is a process of realizing that everything is meaningless; but after coming to that understanding, that what you do, what you make, who you affect means everything. It's all that matters. You make your own meaning as we all drift through this crazy, dark world that can seems so hopeless sometimes.
I think this album flows really well from one song to the other, too. Was that something you guys set out to when you were writing?
We definitely did that on purpose. We always try to find ways to connect our songs for live sets and so when it came time to write the record, we wanted it to reflect our live attitude towards that and also we just wanted to drive it home that everything is connected. These aren't just songs thrown together in any particular order. And if we found ourselves with two songs that didn't quite connect, we took that as a sign that the story wasn't done being told and that we should flesh it out more and fill in the gaps.
Do you have a favorite song off of Unless?
I actually don't. I like every single song for different reasons. Depending on what mood I'm in, I might skip straight to this one or that one but no one song on this record is complete without another or multiple other songs so it's hard to really favor just one.
What is something that you'd like listeners to be able to take away from your music or live shows?
We want people to walk away thinking. We want people to find happiness and sadness out of our songs. But of course we want the happiness to stick. And as far as live shows go, whether you like us or not, we like when people appreciate how much work we put into transitions and trying to connect different songs in different keys and such.
What do you guys enjoy doing when you're not writing or playing music?
Writing, riding bikes (and motorcycles), reading in general but especially comics, farming, cooking and canning, eating, video games, busking, roasting coffee (ew!) and loving each other!
With the album dropping soon, do you guys have any big plans that you can talk about? What's in the future for The Foxery?
We're working on a music video and booking a fall tour. The future hopefully holds non-stop touring and eventually being asked to play The Late Show with Stephen Colbert or co-headlining a tour with The Smashing Pumpkins (original line-up please).