Ohio’s Foxy Shazam is injecting the theatricality of Queen back into the indie-rock sphere. The band, a favorite of SPIN magazine, released their major label this April and is currently co-headlining a North American tour with Free Energy. Intermission caught up with Foxy Shazam’s lead singer Eric Sean Nally, who spoke about the band’s rise to fame, their sound and their out-of-this-world live show. The band swings by Slim’s in San Francisco on Oct. 29, and the Blank Club in San Jose on Oct. 30.
This has been a pretty big year for you guys. You had a major label debut, “Unstoppable” featured in the Super Bowl, and your latest album is getting really great reviews. What’s that been like for the band?
It’s been cool! I always tell people our initial goal for the band is to be the biggest band in the world, and I know that we’re a long way from that right now. But with this whole album release, you know, it’s just felt like a big step, the right step in that direction, you know? It’s been really awesome to kind of soak everything in. Sometimes when you’re in a band it feels like nothing is ever happening, even though it is, like extremely slow, it’s hard to be so patient sometimes. With this album coming out it’s a little bit easier to see the growth of our band as far as shows go – the kids turning out to the shows, people being interested in the music – it’s just a lot easier to see that, a little bit more of a following building.
That’s great! I noticed this year you were ranked among SPIN Magazine’s 10 bands you need to know. Was that shocking to you?
Yeah! Well, I always kind of feel like we’re something special, and it’s hard to get other people to see the way I see. And obviously I think it’s a good thing to feel that way about your band, because it’s good to be proud of what you do. But, it’s cool that someone recognized us, and I’ve always liked SPIN Magazine, I respect their opinion, so it’s cool that their opinion is as good of us.
This summer, I noticed you toured alongside Hole [led by Courtney Love] on their reunion tour. How was that?
That was cool, I love being a part of things with rich history. And Courtney Love definitely has a rich history. So it was kind of interesting just to sit back and watch her and watch the band, and just everything. There’s just something special about that tour because they’ve been there before, so it was kind of cool to see that as a younger band.
And I also saw another throwback to the classics, that you helped write songs for Meat Loaf’s new album.
Yeah, and that’s another thing, being a part of his career was special to me too, because it was being a part of his history. It went really well, and you know it was a great opportunity for me, again being such a young artist, that I would be able to do something like that. That happened before our record even came out, our new record. Our manager called me up and said, “Hey, I think you’d be good for this, they think you’d be good for this, what do you think?” And I was like, “Yeah, for sure!” Next thing you know I’m on a plane going to California. I co-wrote those two songs I did for the album with Justin Hawkins, who used to be in The Darkness, and he’s one of my best friends now. That’s my favorite thing about that whole experience, that I found a lot of new friends through that whole thing.
Besides me getting two songs on Meat Loaf’s record. That was really nice.
That is great. So is Meat Loaf one of your major influences? Because I can definitely hear some similarities, especially in the latest album.
I mean, “Bat Out of Hell” is a great record, I think it’s an amazing thing to listen to. I don’t know if I’m really… Yeah, I’m influenced by Meat Loaf, I am. I hadn’t really thought about it because when you know somebody, and you know I worked with him so I think when I first saw him it was kind of like this weirdness, but then once I got to know him it was almost like… I kind of felt you know…. I’m sure I was influenced by my mother, too, but I don’t really think about that because I know her. So it’s a weird thing, hard to explain.
Listening to the new album, I guess you could describe some of the songs as overwhelmingly motivational. How intentional was that?
Well we wrote “Unstoppable” to be a motivational song, you know, when you hear it, whether it’s the Super Bowl or whatever, I just want it to encourage people to do things. When I was a kid my mom used to listen to that Chumbawamba song all the time, that “I get knocked down, but I get up again” thing. <laughs> And that’s kind of a goofy song but it did a lot for me as a kid just motivating me to be positive and stuff so it was really cool.
Yeah, “Unstoppable” actually got me across campus to my chemistry midterm the other day, so good job on that.
Oh, cool, man! Yeah!
So I’ve read that the Foxy Shazam that goes onstage is really not the same as the actual members in real life. Did that sort of just happen as you went on doing shows, or was there a conscious decision made there?
Well, when I’m onstage I’m an entertainer. Everybody in the band is an entertainer, that’s just the way we were born. It’s in our blood. But when I’m offstage I’m more of a spectator. I think entertainment is a special thing because it gives you an excuse to be someone that you’re not. So I’m not that person you see onstage, but that’s okay because that’s what entertainment is, you know? It doesn’t matter.
So one last question: between the dress, the stage presence and that glorious facial hair, you’ve created quite a look for yourself. What inspired all that?
The look… The thing about this is, I feel like a lot of bands nowadays say, “It’s not important what you look like, it’s all about the sound.” And I can understand that, it makes sense I guess, but in my opinion, it’s completely wrong. It’s just as important to look the way that you sound. Like, it’s a whole lot easier for people to understand a sound when they can see what it looks like, you know what I mean? And Foxy Shazam looks the way we sound. And we’re there visually, from the outfits, to the facial hair, to the CD art, to the merchandise, to the pictures – it all comes from my head. And I feel like it’s really important that it does, because, you know, otherwise it would be someone else’s. It just wouldn’t match up, you know? Because the music comes from us, too, and it just makes sense that everything else should. So we take a lot of time in making sure that we look the way we want to look, we… just everything.
Well, hearing all that makes me just that much more excited to come see you live.
Yeah, man! Can’t wait.