Category Archives: Profiles

Issue Magazine Interview

Sam and Rado were interviewed by Issue Magazine at the (apparently terrible) Canter’s Deli in West Hollywood for a new profile. The interview covers a ton of ground with lots of good nuggets throughout:

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Rachel Ellison: Where are you coming from?

Jonathan Rado: The Valley. Sam’s living in Westlake Village.

RE: Are you living with your parents?

Sam France: Yeah. It’s cheaper than paying rent. I’m kind of dangerously used to it. I don’t want to get too settled.

JR: [I live] in Woodland Hills with my girlfriend. It’s in the Valley, it’s like the furthest end of the Valley. I never really wanted to live in Echo Park or something, it just seemed too stressful. It’s a great place, I like spending time there. I lived in Manhattan for five years so I got all the city living that I need out of my system and now I’m just ready to not live in a big city.

SF: [I lived in New York] for eight months or something like that. I didn’t really like it.

JR: I think in retrospect you come to enjoy New York a little more or something.

SF: I like New York City but I didn’t like living there. I’m not very organized and I was really bad on the subways and stuff and I got really stressed out and there were just too many people and too much stimulation for me.

[…]

RE: Tell me about Foxygen’s beginnings?

JR: We met in middle school in 6th grade in math class. I was in a band called The Boscos that was like a Doors-esque band and we kicked out our lead singer and replaced him with Sam. I don’t even remember the details as to why he was kicked out.

SF: I orchestrated that secretly. I put it in everyone’s mind that I would be better.

JR: So we got rid of him which was fine, I don’t think he really cared that much. And then we replaced him with Sam. And then we did these recordings and Sam took them home and did all these cool little noises and stuff over it and lots of harmonies and interesting melodies and everyone in the band hated it except for me. And then we decided to do more of that kind of stuff, just the two of us, and called it Foxygen.

RE: Did you play instruments?

JR: Yeah I was mainly a “guitar player.” I took like ten lessons and then I just taught myself through the Internet and playing all day. And Sam played primarily drums, and sang. And that was kind of the initial lineup – not too many instruments, we didn’t own a bass or anything. It was kind of like The Black Keys or something in a weird way. But sounded nothing like that.

[…]

SF: On the last album we were listening to Fleetwood Mac and Todd Rundgren, just basically stuff from 70 to 75, whether it be easy listening stuff or like Stooges and stuff like that.

RE: What is your writing process like?

SF: [We write] separately and bring it together.

JR: We write stuff together too but this last album was written a lot separately.

SF: On the last album our songs had a lot of imagery in them, just like a lot of colorful images and stuff and I was trying to just make a lot of imagery in the songs, but on this album we were trying to have not that much imagery and make them sound like really generic love songs. Just like soap-opera feeling songs, which was more of a challenge than just saying like, lollipop, blah blah blah or something. For most of it we were trying to write songs that actually sounded like they were about something.

RE: Are they ever personal?

SF: Yeah I just notice it after the fact. But not straight up. I just don’t like doing that for some reason. But afterward I’ll look at it and I’m like, this is what this is about.

[…]

RE: What do you feel like each of you individually bring to songwriting?

SF: I feel like we’re on a really similar plane so we’re trying to cultivate the same vibe.

JR: We play instruments differently. I’d say I’m more technically proficient at instruments than Sam but sometimes that’s not what the song needs. I can’t figure out the right wording, I don’t know, how would you describe…

SF: Just say it, I suck.

JR: That’s the thing, I don’t want to say, un-technically proficient because that makes me sound really pretentious. I don’t know, yeah. I’m more technically proficient at instruments than Sam. But the songs themselves are always working toward the same thing so it’s easy to work together on something.

[…]

RE: Sam, when did you start singing?

SF: Forever ago. I briefly [had lessons], but I don’t think they helped at all. When I was in college I got really into The Talking Heads and I tried to be like David Byrne. And then I learned how to sing like Mick Jagger and then it kind of went from there.

[…]

RE: Is it hard reading negative reviews?

JR: It can be funny and it can be kind of infuriating too.

SF: I’ve only really been bothered by one article. Everything else just is whatever.

This kid couldn’t understand why people would like our music so he went into this whole societal rant about how we’re living in this culture that recycles old shit and people have no taste and we’re like the Olive Garden of music, like McDonalds, like Doritos, like the same crap being regurgitated because he can’t understand why people would consume this music so our generation must be stupid. But it was a kid my age who wrote it so I thought it was inappropriate. If you don’t like something then you don’t like something, but to justify it by going through this whole societal rant I thought it was ridiculous.

JR: Yeah there’s this one magazine that just hates us and it’s like not even appropriate. It’s not based in anything. It’s weird. They think that we’re trying to be a psych band, which we’re not. And they’re always like, “They’re not even a psych band,” and we’re like, “Yeah we know we’re not, so like, what the fuck.”

SF: Yeah they think we’re a psych band and they think psych is stupid.

JR: I always agree with them in a way. They’re always like “Foxygen isn’t even psych,” and I’m like, “You’re fuckin’ right.”

[…]

RE: Have you started the next album?

SF: We’ve written it.

JR: At least the music is done I think Sam is still working on the lyrics. Musically it is there. But we’re going to try to record it in November or December.

Read the full article here.

Paste Magazine Feature

Paste Magazine — which has done great coverage of the band over the yearshas published a very complementary feature on the band:

“Double albums always seem like kind of bad ideas,” Rado says, laughing, “but they’re always so great because of that.”

“We wanted to make something that was excessive,” France adds. “Like the White Album or Tusk by Fleetwood Mac. We just wanted a ridiculous, excessive album.”

[…]

“I think we wanted a record that encapsulated a lot of different sides of our personalities because the album previous to it was just…we liked it, but it felt kind of one-dimensional, and so we kind of wanted to create this idea that maybe it wasn’t even just Foxygen on the album, that maybe we were collaborating with this other entity, like some sort of weird punk band from space or something,” Rado explains.

[…]

Whatever you do, don’t get used to Star Power. The concept isn’t so much a new direction for the band as it is the latest in a series of ongoing musical explorations.

“For now it’s probably one and done,” France says. “It’s funny to imagine us doing Star Power 2. Maybe we’ll make that when we’re like 40.”

Rado laughs. “I was thinking about that the other day,” he says. “I was thinking about how, you know, Eminem put out the Marshall Mathers 2.”

Instead, he and France will hit the studio after their tour wraps in November to begin work on their next album, one that will feature neither the heavy ‘60s influence of We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic nor the glittery excess of …And Star Power.

“It’s gonna be kind of like an orchestral album,” Rado says, one that sounds “kind of like a Disney movie” with “lots of fancy arrangements and stuff.”

“It’ll be really pretty.”

And so it seems that no two Foxygen records will be alike. There are no “changes in direction” for the band because that implies some sort of linear trajectory, and that’s not how stars work. They appear at random points in the universe, and we orbit them.

Read the full article.

Esquire Profiles Foxygen

Nice profile of the band from Esquire featuring interviews with both Rado and Sam:

“With [21st Century Ambassadors…] we were really trying to make a literal snapshot of the ’60s,” says France, sitting next to Rado on the same particle board box. “We didn’t care. We wanted to reproduce that completely. We didn’t care about being original or anything. The new album is a little more vague, a little more mysterious.”

To many, “originality” is a prerequisite for “good” or “important” music, and it’s not surprising that despite the charm and polish of their first album, it had its fair share of detractors. …Star Power is likely to face just as much criticism, as it’s a double album. In the age when albums are marketed behind readymade singles above all else, the grandiose double album is antiquated. Any attempt to make one is generally seen as self-indulgent, and what results is usually bloated and overwrought. But just as Foxygen were setting out to copy the music of the ’60s on We are the 21s Century…, so too were they diving headfirst into the double album and all its associations when they recorded …Star Power, which was pared down from over 100 songs and ideas for songs they had written since recording We Are the 21st Century…. “It’s a double album that plays into the tropes of a double album,” Rado says. “It’s self-aware.”

“That’s kind of the point of it,” France adds. “We wanted it to be ridiculous.”

[…]

In many ways, …And Star Power and its accompanying live show serve as the culmination of all that Foxygen has been through, musically and otherwise. Their first release, the 2012 EP Take the Kids Off Broadway, was the raucous, excessively overdubbed effort of a band that was still trying to figure out how to make a record. We Are the 21st Century… was, by contrast, polished and concise, recorded with the help of producer Richard Swift (the Shins, the Black Keys). Not only have they honed their live show to near-perfection—on Wednesday night, Rado tactfully maintained his composure after a wannabe stage-diver knocked over his keyboards (although he did later say “fuck that guy”)—they have also figured out how to truly be themselves on a recording. …And Star Power, which they produced themselves, is as rough and distinctly them as Take the Kids Off Broadway, but also polished and coherent in a way that doesn’t belie this spirit. For the first time, they sound more like “Foxygen” than the acts that came before them. But a band once defined by its influences is a band always defined by its influences.

Read the full profile here.