Foxy Shazam’s Eric Nally Discusses ‘Gonzo’ Album, Band’s Independence + Touring Plans
The always entertaining and never predictable Foxy Shazam managed to surprise many a few months back when they announced the release of their 'Gonzo' album. The big surprise was that the group released the disc independently for free and without much advanced promotion, but rest assured that 'Gonzo' finds the band in its truest form and by releasing the disc independently, they removed some of the outside influences that have affected past releases.
Loudwire had a chance to speak with frontman Eric Nally about the 'Gonzo' album and he shared how freeing and creatively conducive it was creating in this manner. Nally also spoke about working with producing legend Steve Albini, the band's ambitious plans for their touring support of the album and more. Check out our chat with Foxy Shazam's Eric Nally below:
Hey Eric, awesome to hear your new 'Gonzo' album.
How enjoyable was it for you guys to do this album independently after you've been under the big label influence for a few years -- just to be able to do it the way you wanted to do it?
It was beyond refreshing. Doing the album the way we did was something, you know, aside from breaking away from the labels and everything it was us taking control of our own future and career, and our own passion -- just to be able to behold to no one, you know beholden to no one. But this record gave us the power to really go for it, you know, and not have to compromise, just to play it the way we want to play it. It's not that we didn’t in the past, you know, but there’s always exceptions and compromises you have to make when you’re a part of a huge company that is only worried about making money. Money, this time, was not in the equation, which made it even better, made it even more something that was being done just straight from the heart, you know?
Did you have an idea what you wanted to do going into the record or did it evolve in the studio?
This was the only record for Foxy Shazam where we were completely done with it before we got to the studio. After 'The Church of Rock and Roll,' after that relentless touring off that record, you know, we were more than thankful. We really worked to the bone that last year with 'The Church of Rock and Roll' and then after that we just we took off a year in Cincinnati and we practiced every single day from 11 to 4 or 11 to 3 or something.
We wrote everyday. We just altogether, six members, and we wrote 'Gonzo' and we practiced. It took us about a year to write, to come up with the record that we have now and the nine songs and we rehearsed that for another half a year in sequence from track 1 to track 9 all the way in the same order that it is on the record and we played that back-to-back, every day. Then we just brought that to the studio and we set it up in the room the same way we set it up at our rehearsal space.
Steve Albini does what he does best and he mixed everything up and he pushed record and we just did it the same way we knew how. We were just completely muscle memory like it was in our blood we just trained to do that and we did it there.
I spoke to you on 'The Church of Rock and Roll' album, and if I remember right, some of the band members were in the U.K., some in the U.S. during the recording ...
Yeah! That's right.
This has to be a whole different vibe, setting up in a room and playing all together at once. Can you talk about the experience of laying down the music all at once instead of individually?
Yeah, really you notice it. I have nothing [bad to say], just for the record, I’m so proud of everything we’ve done in the past like 'The Church of Rock and Roll,' self-titled, everything, and I think those albums had to be done in order to to execute 'Gonzo' the way we did, but I feel like it was the first time I realized how important it is [to record like this]. You know, when we were in England writing 'Church of Rock and Roll,' half of us in England, half of us in New York, now that I listen to that record I can hear New York and England and I can hear them happening at the same time and I feel like there’s that disconnect in the music, which is cool you know for what that was.
But with 'Gonzo,' it’s like I can hear us in the room together. I can hear everything that we’ve been through in the past, in our whole career together, happening there amongst the music. Doing it together is so much more, it makes it to where you can actually build the song off of itself, as opposed to putting pieces together that you're not really -- you're trying different things, piecing it together like a puzzle. This was more like braiding, or weaving this record, with six pieces of string. Making this solid thing that couldn't be done any other way. That's something I realized on this record.
Foxy Shazam -- the six members of our band are so close, on a friendship level, on a brotherly love level. We never used that before. We never used the power of our communion. It was always making the music we have but in different places and not really putting our heads together. This was like, we all came together and made something that is the best thing we've done so far, in my opinion. I'm really happy with that. I feel like being together making the record was something that was the biggest thing that made the record what it is.
One of the key statements I came across on this was in the final song, 'Story Told.' You say, "You've gotta ask yourself who you are." Foxy Shazam has never been afraid of change. But do you feel this is maybe the best representation of "who you are" as a band at this point?
I feel like this is the first time in my whole career that I've been able to channel something that I really am. In previous albums, like I said before, I'm proud of what we've done but it wasn't something that was so sentimental or personal. The songs were more of a wide concept that was just, you could interpret however you wanted. It was for everybody. I wasn't singing about anything personal or anything, it was just creating music for fun and doing it and having a great time.
'Gonzo' has elements of self discovery all over it. I know for you, it is more personal. Can you talk about what it is for you as a musician to lay it all out there for people to take in?
Something that I've noticed is that when I made this record, I intentionally closed off the world and the happenings and what people were going to think. I made a point to not consider what anyone would think about it or what is happening in the world. What is popular, what is not. What's going to make money, blah. None of that stuff crossed my mind when i was making it.
This is the first time I've ever done this. You never express it to the world, that's extremely scary once you've done it. You're like, "Oh crap, now that I've accomplished it I can start to think about what I had actually done." That is scary. That's what you would call taking a risk, I guess. It's that which makes things important. It makes things worth listening to. It makes things honest and just true. It's where you're putting yourself out there for everyone to pick apart and critique. The beauty about this, is that it's the truth. I feel like the truth will prevail.
'Story Told' might be my favorite track on here. Talk about that song, where did it come from?
I can read this album like a book. The way we wrote it, it's a concept record and that piece was a very big piece to the whole album. It kind of brings it all around. In that song, I wanted to explain to everybody what it was I actually just did with the record. It's basically kind of like recapping the record in a way that is just in a song at the end.
The inspiration behind it was just bringing -- the bible, and I'm not a religious person, but the bible is something 'Story Told' is inspired by. Because the bible is supposedly a circle. You can read it, the ending is the beginning and the beginning is the ending. You can read it in a circle, and that's what I wanted to do with 'Gonzo.' I wanted it to be a circle, not a straight line. It comes full circle by the end. 'Story Told' was the piece of the puzzle that connected the two to make it a full circle.
You put 'Gonzo' out there for free. You've been working on this for a while, but it kind of snuck up on people. How tough was it to keep that secret?
It was tough. What we did, was we made this circle really small. We independently released the record. We said goodbye to all the desk jockeys and label people that just don't have a clue, we made our circle very small. The Foxy Shazam circle, our team was extremely small. It made it easier to keep it a secret and do it that way. We were really careful with everything.
The record is out, the tour is coming up. Anything else?
We have our East Coast tour, we'll shortly be doing a West Coast after that. We'll also take this overseas after that, we'll be doing Europe and England. I just want to say we're Foxy beholding to no one now, it just empowers us. We're the boss. I was put on this earth to be in a band and to be a musician. We're just going to be here forever, Foxy doing what we do. Record after record. It's always going to be a better record than the last. It's always going to be -- you won't be able to assume what we're going to do, ever. It's what we're here for.
I love that about the band.
Thanks, man. I swear it always will be from the heart. It will always be true. I just want to end on that. We'll always be here for everybody, making music.
Our thanks to Foxy Shazam's Eric Nally for the interview. The band's 'Gonzo' is available to stream and pick up for free at this location. Be sure to check out Foxy Shazam on tour this spring and summer. Dates can be found here.