The Foxies prove time and time again: Nothing truly dies in a Goth Disco … especially not rock.
By now, the self-fulfilling prophecy that rock is dead is all too familiar – and all too cliché. But you’ll find no evidence for it with The Foxies.
A modern power trio built on thrashing punk energy and the hypnotic pageantry of electronic pop, The Foxies feral brand of rock is just now emerging, despite more than half a decade of restless prowling. They’ve already built a loyal following through euphoric live shows and snarling, self-styled recordings, preaching empowerment and sharp-toothed individuality at maximum volume. But with the new EP, Growing Up Is Dead, they’ve found a brave new creative focus – evidence that rock ‘n’ roll is very much alive.
“I think rock’s just been sleeping for a bit, and it’s about time to wake the bear,” says front woman and band founder, Julia Lauren Bullock. “And right now we have a very pointy stick.”
Conceived in Arizona but born in Nashville with the addition of guitarist Jake Ohlbaum and drummer Rob Bodley, The Foxies have previously attracted critical intrigue with two cunning EPs (Oblivion, Battery) and a pair of stand-along singles (“Be Afraid Boy,” “Chewing Gum”), highlighted by Nashville staples Native magazine and Lightning 100 radio. Along the way they were also tapped for Volume 63 of NOW That’s What I Call Music and made standout appearances at prominent festivals like Sundance, South by Southwest and Bonnaroo. But Growing Up Is Dead marks a different sort of milestone.
“The moment we stopped trying was the moment we created this music, and it was like ‘Shit, this is who we are,’” says Bullock, the flame haired alpha female who channels Debrah Harry and David Bowie onstage. “Let’s be more authentic to our primal instincts.”
Recorded over a 6-day block in Music City, producers Alex and Sean Silverman pull those primal instincts out on Growing Up Is Dead. Distorted guitar melodies and warbling songbird vocals take on a rabid edge, driven to the breaking point by pounding drums and splashes of synthetic moonlight as the band unveil a sound they affectionately call “Goth Disco.” “I’m a very visual person,” Bullock explains, “and every song somehow made me think of a vampire nightclub.”
Turning their muse away from outside relationships and instead exploring their own internal compass, what emerged was a batch of blood pressure-spiking confessionals like the radio single “Anti Socialite.” It stakes a claim for the castaways of a world gone social-media mad, co-written by the band with the Silverman brothers like a badge of outsider’s honor.
“It’s the anthem to what everybody battles with all the time,” Bullock says. “I get FOMO [fear of missing out] real bad, but now I’m finally OK with doing my own damn thing. It’s the anthem of being like ‘I don’t give a fuck what anybody else is doing. I’m happy right here by myself, and I’ll throw a party with my imaginary friends. You’re more than welcome to come!’”
“As a writer, I heard the first bit of ‘Anti Socialite’ and was like ‘Alright, we’re doing this. This is what I was waiting to hear her say,’” Ohlbaum adds. “You get like ten words, but it’s all right there.”
Others like “Hyper Hypo” toss and turn with the maniacal energy of a A.D.D. hypochondriac, while “Call Me When Your Phone Dies” turns the other cheek on a contact list full of wanna-be players.
“It’s just the ode to all the ‘Fuckboys’ out there,” Bullock says of the synth-driven standout, a headbanging masterpiece which crashes through a wall of male-dating privilege. “It’s like ‘Hey listen. I had a night with you, but I shouldn’t have. You can’t do anything for me, and that’s that.’”
It’s potent evidence of the band’s rock spirit – even if it sounds more like a raving mix of grunge and second-wave EDM. “I think there are a lot of rock musicians saying rock is dead because they’re afraid to play with the new toys,” Ohlbaum says. “But that’s what all of our favorite artists did.”
“Rock’s about stepping out,” Bodley adds. “It’s not Metallica or AC/DC or this guitar-driven thing, it was a movement of attitude and personality.”
Meanwhile, there’s no debating the punk prowess of tracks like “French Boy,” a frantic, full-speed fantasy about leaving life behind for a romantic tryst in the City of Lights. “It’s almost like falling in love with a dream,” Bullock declares. The Foxies are in this one.
Likewise, the “Goth Disco” imagery comes into high definition on “Neon Thoughts” – a haunting but irresistible call into the pop darkness that culminates with the lyric “I’ve got the perfect little coffin for you.” “It’s very abstract, but basically it’s like ‘Oh, you think you can leave me, but I’m going to be a neon sign flashing in your mind all the time,” Bullock says with a laugh.
And finally, the set finishes in a melodic maelstrom, with the whole band jumping from a cliff of ‘80s power pop and free falling to an ocean of love below. The only question is, who’s falling for whom?
“‘Deep Sea Diver’ started off as a typical love song, but as I spent more time with it, I realized it was more of a love song to myself,” Bullock explains. “It’s going to the deep end of your own soul to tell yourself ‘Hey, I’ll be there for you.’ You’re going to have to live with yourself for the rest of your life, so you might as well be your best friend.”
“I had no idea of that, and that’s why I love music so much,” Ohlbaum admits. “To me it’s just a love song about the moment you plunge in, but this is probably the lyric that gets me the most.”
“This one hits me hard, too,” Bodley says. “Julia is one of the most passionate, love-inspired people I’ve ever met, and she wants her relationships to be deep. I always envision this song as Julia’s desire to have that kind of love – she’s willing to go all in.”
On a personal level, that’s what Growing Up Is Dead marks for The Foxies – the moment they decided to go all in. And what could be more rock ‘n’ roll than that?
“If you want to come and tell us our record is not rock ‘n’ roll because it’s quantized or there’s click tracks or whatever, you can say what you want,” Ohlbaum says. “But then you try to blow my mind with something different. It’s about being brave, that’s the most rock ‘n’ roll thing.”