When South West trio Black Foxxes landed in our inbox, we were very intriguing to hear what they had to offer. Why was that you ask? Well simply because any that band is labelled as being “For Fans Of Manchester Orchestra and Brand New”, we are bound to be interested. Thankfully from hearing ‘Rivers’, it’s not tag to hype up the band. The lead single from ‘Pines’ is thoroughly raw and immersed in deep emotion. Something that is seen throughout the EP.
Their sound grabs hold of you with lyrical sentimental and musical rawness. ‘Pines’ sees the band being introspective and dealing with common issues of growing up; frustration, small town claustrophobia, etc.
As vocalist/guitarist Mark Holley tells us, the band have brilliantly combined the roots of what makes rock music so powerful and combined with a modern dynamic twist. The end result is a band finding their sound and one that has tons of potential for the future.
Mark Holley from Black Foxxes recently took some time out to discuss the bands formation, their songwriting process, that Brand New/Manchester Orchestra comparison and more.
AH: With our “Recommends” feature we always like to learn how a band came together, so what’s the story behind Black Foxxes’ formation?
Mark: I had personally been writing music with two other friends for a few months. The first song we ever wrote was actually ‘River’. It’s hilarious listening back to how it used to be, it was all over the shop. To cut a long story short, I’d known Ant from the scene for a long time. Ant had just finished playing bass for Brotherhood of the Lake, I didn’t know if he was ready for a new project but it turned out he was, and was more than keen to get back on the drums for a fresh project. To be honest we clicked straight away. That kid hits like a truck and is able to take songs in directions I often wouldn’t think of when writing. Tris came a few months down the line after our old bassist parted ways with us. He turned up, played obnoxiously loud and the rest is history. It’s cliché, but it felt organic as soon as Tris joined. We were stoked with the three piece.
AH: In terms of the bands sound, how would you describe it to new listeners?
Mark: Touching on what I said before, everything we write is organic, we turn up to practice, we play some chords, we play loud and the stuff that sticks we turn into songs. I think you can hear that in the music, especially if you come to a show and hear our new material. If I had to describe it I’d say we take the roots of what made rock music what it is today, from the raw sound of the 80’s and we mix that with a modern dynamic.
AH: You’re currently planning to release your debut EP (‘Pines’) on November 24th. What can we expect from the EP?
Mark: It’s an eclectic mix of modern rock music really. I think you’ll be able to hear a bunch of different styles throughout the EP. We recorded it a few months into our new line up as a three piece, and I think you’ll be able to hear the fun we had making it. It’s definitely 5 tracks of us finding our sound and experimenting in every way we wanted too.
AH: From hearing ‘River’ from the EP and reading the bands bio, it seems the EP is lyrically very personal. Can you talk us through the bands songwriting process?
Mark: I will usually write something at home. I’ll send a voice memo to Ant, to which he’ll either say “I love it", or he’ll tell me “it’s shit, go do something better" haha. But it works, it’s not always full songs. Often it’s just a chorus or chord sequence, but it always changes massively when we take it to the practice space. Tris and Ant are a fucking unit rhythmically, they just latch on to something straight away that i never heard in the song before. We never spend weeks writing one song/section, if it’s not working straight away, or we get stuck on a certain part then we usually put it to one side. We’ve only ever had one bout of writers’ block as a band which lasted a good 4 months. I just couldn’t write anything that worked. There’s no feeling like getting over that.
AH: One thing that drew our attention to you was the comparison to Brand New and Manchester Orchestra. What do you make of that comparison?
Mark: I mean we don’t hate it haha. Those are absolutely our two favourite modern rock bands at the moment. I think as a band it definitely shines through on the early stuff though. We started the band with an idea in our heads of what we wanted to sound like. Then as soon as we got more comfortable with each other we found our own sound. I think the two songs that sound most like those bands we’ve released were our first two videos. Our newer stuff is definitely more our own sound.
AH: When it comes to musical influences, what bands would you consider as an influence on ‘Pines’?
Mark: I guess similar to before in terms of how we were still finding our feet at the time of writing this EP, so there’s a lot of experimenting. Some stuff worked, some stuff we can look back on now and realise that wasn’t so much “us”. But overall I think we wanted to make something with a very ‘live’ and ‘raw’ feel. We were obsessed with Sound City at the time and I think those raw sounds come through. I guess ‘Pines’ is an ode to those guitar/noise bands of the 80’s. We were listening to so much Zeppelin and Neil Young at the time.
AH: With the EP coming out at the back end of the year, many people will be putting together their end of year lists. What albums will you be putting on your end of year lists?
Mark: The Xcerts album comes out sometime in November, we’re all excited to hear that. I’ll try to do a top 4 list for this year so far:
Ryan Adams – Self titled.
La Dispute – Rooms of the House
DZ Deathrays – Black Rat
Manchester Orchestra – Cope
As we’re getting closer to the EP release, what else does Black Foxxes have planned in the coming months?
Mark: We have a couple of London shows coming up. Oct 21st at Dingwalls w/ The Struts. Then November 24th at The Stillery.
We are also recording some live sessions for BBC Introducing. We’ve rented out the studio we practice at; it’s got a really cool space so we’ll be doing some live videos for those. Bar that we’re just getting everything in line for 2015.
Any final comments to round off this interview?
Mark: Just to say we’re so stoked with all the music coming out at the moment in general. I never ever used to listen to the radio, but they’re playing more and more banging stuff. It’s so rad hearing how much the public are picking up bands like Royal Blood & Marmozets. Long may it continue. Thanks for the time dudes.
‘Pines’ EP by Black Foxxes is out now.
Words by Sean Reid (@SeanReid86)