Foxygen reveal influences, prolific production pace

FoxygenWritten by Molly Kish //

Showbams interviewed the duo behind Foxygen, Sam France (vocals) and Jonathan Rado (guitar/keyboards), before their show at Brick & Mortar Music Hall in San Francisco. The band was on tour promoting their 2012 EP Take the Kids Off Broadway with its debut LP We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic to be released on January 22nd.


Showbams: While still in high school, you guys formed the band back in 2005 as result of a common interest in The Dandy Warhols and Brian Jonestown Massacre. Do you feel these bands play a part in the overall Foxygen sound and the type of music you currently are producing?

Rado: I’d say more so Brain Jonestown Massacre than The Dandy Warhols. I don’t want to bash the Dandies, but we were really into the Brian Jonestown Massacre.

Showbams: As multi-intrumentalists, how many different ones do you play, and do they all make it onto your records?

France: I’d say pretty much every single instrument that we know how to play is on the album, except for maybe sitar. We definitely can adapt to most any instrument between the both of us.
Rado: We play pretty much every single instrument ever (laughs). It’s all in there.

Showbams: While in school you guys recorded a bunch of material and distributed in a very DIY manner. Did any of that make it on the LP or new album?

Rado: Most of the earlier efforts were written while we were both in college and in different places. We were writing songs away from each other and then later came together and recorded it. Nothing from the high school years made it onto the LP or album, but there is a huge back uncatalogued that someday will probably come out.


Showbams: How difficult was it to develop an album while on completely different coasts?

Rado: I had quit college, and we were living together in New York during that time. We just worked on it for months. Everything down to little sounds and nuances, it just became our life for a little while. Although we wrote it in different places, we were able to record it together, so technically it wasn’t as bi-coastal as the press makes it out to be. While still attending, I would go to school and come back and Sam will have been, some days just tampering with about 30 seconds worth of recording. The album took about seven months for us to make or something like that.

Showbams: During that time, I know you guys both played in other outfits and still were doing separate things musically. Was this project just simply the one that worked the best for both of you?

Rado: It was never really a question. You know we did other things, like I was a hired piano player for some chick. Sam was in kind of a funk band (laughs). But it never really made sense to do anything other than Foxygen.

Showbams: Upon completion of the album, did you guys know that this was “the one,” as in the one that was going to take you to the next level career-wise?

Rado: We definitely never counted on getting signed because of it, or anything like that. But I think whenever we make an album, we kind of have the attitude like, “This is it, this is the album.” Sam and I don’t really know much about anything but making albums, and we’ve always just done it. I don’t think we started making it with any sort of intent, other than to just make it, and we gave it to one person.

Showbams: Were you guys fans of Jagjaguwar before getting signed? Was giving their contact the record an intentional move, with the hopes of potentially getting the type of response you did?

Rado: I wouldn’t say we were fans of the label as much as we were fans of Richard Swift. We loved him more than anything, and I still think he is one of the most legitimate people working within the industry. I knew of the label, and that they would kind of like it if they had heard it, but ultimately we just needed to give it to Richard Swift. That was the main goal.


Showbams: He ultimately helped you guys produce and add the finishing touches to the album in the long run, didn’t he?

France: Yeah, we gave him all of the thousands of overdubs, and he somehow took them and mixed them into what you hear today. He’s genius!

Showbams: What’s next for you guys? What would you ideally like to see transpire in this upcoming year?

Rado: I don’t know if we’re allowed to say this yet, but I don’t care. We already have an album done that we did with Richard Swift that’s coming out next year some time. We just started working on the next one after that and already are drawing out plans for the one following that.


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