Free music. Two words that, when put together, bring joy to almost everybody. Those who do not feel joy from the delightful pairing either work on the business side of the music industry and will henceforth be referred to as “Mr. Scrooge,” or they hate music and free things; therefore they too will be henceforth referred to as “Mr. Scrooge.” Sadly, the weight of music industry consists of a bunch of Scrooges seeking only financial gain, something that holds many artists back from their creative potential. So, how does a true artist screw the Scrooge? Those two sweet words: free music. Foxy Shazam, the soulful bunch from Cincinnati who never fail to bring the unexpected, put their newest album on the internet not only streaming, but as a free download.
Bold moves like this one can only come from those passionate enough to make them. Foxy Shazam has definitely proven that they make music for one reason: they love it. Frontman Eric Nally explains in an interview with Substream, “By giving the record away for free, it meant that everyone could hear it easily. I need to support my family, but it’s not about the business part of it for me, it’s about making a mark on the world.” A mark that will not go unnoticed, I am sure. Foxy Shazam said goodbye to labels and have been writing, recording, mixing and booking tours with a team consisting of only the bare necessities. With a small and trusted handpicked crew in their corner, Foxy Shazam put Gonzo (2014) on the internet for all to possess.
Hopefully, with free music in their iTunes library, people will pay for a concert ticket to see Foxy without even an utterance of bah-humbug. According to Nally, the Gonzo Tour, lasting from late May till late June, will give the world a show they have never seen before.
In 1960, Barrett Strong first sang the lyrics, “the best things in life are free,” but would it not be natural for one to expect only the most awful and undesirable music to be free? Possibly; however, Nally assures Substream and all of its readers that he and the entire band are exceptionally proud of Gonzo and that they, as a band, poured their soul into each track and every lyric. Nally continues, “I wanted to put all my energy into something and make it right. Then give it to all the people for free because it’s just not about the money.” So Foxy Shazam gave an album that encompasses an incredible amount of emotion and that represents so much hard work to all the birds and bees to download for free. And their sleeves are still filled with tricks.
Substream Magazine: Why did you put Gonzo online for free?
Eric Nally: To be honest, money just doesn’t matter to me. A lot of people equate not having money to not having power or opportunity but if you just don’t worry about money then you’re more powerful than anything.
SM: Do you see any downsides at all regarding giving away your music for free?
EN: Getting your music out in more places means more people coming to the shows to enjoy it too. It’s just a win – win and everyone feels like they’re in it for the right reason. Because we all love it.
SM: When did Fozy Shazam decide to take the power away from any labels?
EN: Coming off of The Church of Rock N’ Roll (2012) and the self-titled record (2010), we were always working and compromising with labels and other people, just some desk jockey who doesn’t have a clue. I think that all started to build up and it felt like we weren’t able to really get out what we wanted to get out. We’re still extremely proud of those records, I wouldn’t change it for anything, but I feel like it was all leading up to this opportunity to say: “You know what? Just fuck it.”
SM: Foxy Shazam posted online that you all poured your soul into Gonzo. Can we talk about that? What inspired this record?
EN: I felt like for the first time as an artist, I got in touch with something inside myself and I really felt like I had something to write about. I don’t really want to get into the details about it, because it’s personal, but it’s definitely something I finally found in myself. And I feel like everything I said on the record… I couldn’t have said it better. Artistically, I am very thankful to express myself that way.
SM: So do you think such an honest album will be more enjoyable for listeners?
EN: This album… I wrote it about things that were upsetting to me. Even though it is sad, I can walk around the neighborhood and listen to the record on my headphones and I feel on top of the world. I feel so proud of it even though the thing I got in touch with was something sad inside of me.
SM: What was the writing process like for Gonzo?
EN: We worked nonstop, the six of us all together. Before we would write in groups in different places, not all of us would be there and it would piece together in a different way. We rented a practice space and wrote the record literally every day for the year we took off. We just wrote together and before we knew it, we came out with stuff that we really wanted to say and that had always been inside of us.
SM: What else makes Gonzo unique compared to your other albums?
EN: Daisy plays guitar on this record and the guitar player plays bass. It’s a major thing in the equation of the record and how it sounds different. We were able to get to a different place.
SM: What can you tell us about the Gonzo Tour this spring?
EN: There’s a mood that goes along with Gonzo that no one has seen yet. On the Gonzo tour, what we’re going to open the show with Gonzo from track one to track nine, the whole record in sequence. We’re gonna do it all Gonzo style. The formation will be different: Daisy on guitar and Loren on bass. Then we’re going to take a five or ten minute interlude and change the stage over and we’re gonna play the old Foxy stuff. It’ll be a Foxy show that they’ve never seen before, nobody has ever seen before.
SM: Foxy’s music videos are always convey your music so well. Can we expect more great videos from Gonzo?
EN: We have a video coming out for “Tragic Thrill.” We’re not sharing the date of when we’re going to release it yet. Videos are the thing for me. As soon as we’re done with the record I start thinking about the video immediately. I think a lot of times when I make the video, people understand it better.
Whether you are an old or new fan, make sure not to miss the Gonzo Tour this spring and keep a look out for a new music video from Foxy Shazam coming…. Some time.
May 27 Harrisburg, PA Fed Live
May 29 Boston, MA The Sinclair
May 30 New York, NY The Bowery Ballroom
May 31 Philadelphia, PA Theatre of the Living Arts
Jun 02 Baltimore, MD Baltimore Soundstage
Jun 03 Richmond, VA Canal Club
Jun 05 Nashville, TN Exit/In
Jun 06 Columbia, SC New Brookland Tavern
Jun 07 Charlotte, NC Amos Southend
Jun 09 Ft Lauderdale, FL Culture Room
Jun 10 Tampa, FL Orpheum
Jun 12 Orlando, FL The Social
Jun 13 Jacksonville, FL Freebird
Jun 14 Atlanta, GA Terminal West
Jun 17 St Louis, MO Freebird
Jun 18 Omaha, NE The Waiting Room
Jun 20 Minneapolis, MN Mill City Nights
Jun 21 Chicago, IL Lincoln Hall
Jun 22 Detroit, MI Magic Stick
Jun 24 Toronto, ON Lee’s Palace
Jun 25 Buffalo, NY The Waiting Room
Jun 27 Cleveland. OH Grog Shop
Jun 28 Columbus, OH Newport Music Hall
Interview by Alice Carson