Category Archives: Updates

Update on Sam’s Leg Injury

Foxygen has released a statement getting into more of the details on Sam’s recent injury. Basically, it was really, really bad:

Foxygen will be unable to perform at next week’s FYF Festival in Los Angeles. The cancellation is directly related to injuries sustained by Sam France during a Minnesota performance in late July. Sam sustained complete fractures of the tibia and fibula. The breaks were severe enough to require surgery, involving an intramedullar nailing of the tibia and a metal rod placed in his leg. Sam is currently unable to walk unassisted, and is undergoing six weeks of physical therapy. Being from the LA area, it’s a true heartbreaker for the band to be unable to appear at FYF. Thank you so much to our fans for your understanding, and we look forward to seeing you soon!

A complete fracture of both the tibia and fibula is pretty brutal. As my friend who plays rugby and has seen this injury before put it, “That’s when your foot just flops around because there’s nothing holding it in place. Gruesome to watch.” Yikes — can’t imagine we’ll see Sam back to his usual on-stage antics for quite some time.

Rado shares details of upcoming album: “Foxygen & Star Power”

Rado opened up to MTV Hive with some details on Foxygen’s next album:

But, soon, the focus should shift back to their music because the group is already working on the followup to We Are…, which carries the relatively concise title Foxygen & Star Power. (Star Power shares its name with the now-withdrawn solo album that France posted online last year, Fey cited in her tumblr post.) “We wrote it over the last 10 months,” Rado recently told Hive. “There’s like 50 or 60 songs right now. It’s kind of all over the place. There’s some stuff that sounds like Nick Drake, Fleetwood Mac — there’s a song that sounds like R.E.M.. It’s going to be wacky. We’re playing a few new ones. We’re playing a song called “Brooklyn Police Station” and a song called “Cosmic Vibrations.”

Rado also talked about a potential release date (not imminent), along with his upcoming solo album:

For now, the group don’t have a release date in mind. “It’s not even recorded yet. It might be a while. There’s a lot of songs.” But in the meantime, Rado’s solo debut Law and Order is due out September 3 on Woodsist and, the songwriter says, it offers a similarly ranging sound. “It’s pretty lo-fi. I made it in my bedroom. It’s a varied record.Every song sounds completely different: there’s an ‘80s song, there’s some gritty lo-fi stuff, there’s a Tom Petty-sounding song, there’s other weird crap on it.”

 

Sam injured at Minneapolis Show

At last night’s show in Minneapolis, Sam fell early in the set and apparently broke his leg:

The band has had a chance for a redemption on tour, but now that too has run into some unfortunate trouble. As Minneapolis’ City Pages reports, France “jumped and fell into the barricade in front of the stage” during the first song of Foxygen’s set last night at First Avenue (Minneapolis’ The Current says he fell off a monitor) — and was carried out in a stretcher by paramedics. The band called off the show, apologizing and writing on Twitter, “Sam is OK — he might have broken his leg.” Since then, Foxygen have also canceled their upcoming tour dates in Vancouver and Seattle, explaining in a Facebook post that France’s injury required surgery. The band hasn’t ruled out playing at Oregon’s Pickathon this weekend, though the statement warns performances “might be more subdued.”

Here’s video from the aftermath — can’t really see much though:

Elizabeth Fey unloads on Rado, Foxygen

Some new drama has broken out due to a Tumblr post writen by touring backup singer Elizabeth Fey (who was also featured in the San Francisco video). Suffice to say, she’s not a big fan of Rado:

Before the Of Montreal tour started Sam, Justin, and I went to New York for a few days  to practice for the shows. We had nowhere to stay and Jackie, Rado, and Shaun wouldn’t let us stay in their apartment because Jackie had finals. The first time I met Jackie she barely looked me in the eye and stormed right past me. They had an extra room in their apartment that they wouldn’t let us stay in and I thought it was kinda weird seeing as how they were Sam’s bandmates. Sam logged onto the Foxygen Facebook and posted about how we needed a room and this nice lady named Emmy let us stay in her apartment for the night. She actually left and let us stay there alone. I couldn’t believe that a stranger could be so hospitable and trusting. It seemed like there was a divide in the band even then: Justin, Sam and I ; Rado and Shaun. Rado and Shaun just never wanted to do anything with us it seemed. Shaun occasionally, but Rado never.

[…]

When we took band photos in Amsterdam Rado kept trying to put Shaun in front of me and didn’t want me in the pictures. It was obvious on tour that he was miserable because he wasn’t with his girlfriend and she was torturing him about that. She was pissed off that she was “replaced” by me but in my eyes she chose not to go on the tour and go to school.  When I joined the band Sam called Jackie to talk to her to make her feel better about it all. Rado never could even call me or talk to me once after the UMO tour about his problems with me and thought he was just going to ignore me forever. Rado never once opened up to me or even tried to be my friend and didn’t talk to Sam either. IT was strange meeting him and knowing they were supposed to be a “duo” but there was no friendship at all, just contracts that needed to be fulfilled.  Once Sam and I started dating in November, he never once wanted to accept I was Sams girlfriend or ANYTHING. During the whole European tour and Unknown Mortal Orchestra tour Rado never once asked me if I was doing okay, knowing that my best friend had died. He never once reached out to me. He is the kind of person who acts cold and unfriendly around most people until he meets someone “famous” or something and then he totally lights up and acts nice. It’s insane.

Perhaps the most provocative part of her post is the claim that she is going to start a new band with Sam, though in contrast to some of the earlier reporting there’s no suggestion that Foxygen will be breaking up as a result:

He was threatened by Sam and I, saying it was, “The Sam and Lizzie show”. Well we are going to start our own band (not saying it is replacing Foxygen).

The entire post doesn’t paint a pretty scene about the internal working of the band, though as usual with posts like this it’s hard to know who to trust and how much. The band responded first with a Tweet:

And then later through their publicist (via Pitchfork):

Despite this, the band’s publicist confirms that Foxygen is not breaking up, and are currently recording a follow-up to We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic in Bloomington, Ind. They play New York City tonight and have shows scheduled through the fall. Fey is not currently on tour with them.

Time will tell on whether Fey’s post was prescient, or just projection.

Pitchfork Music Festival News Roundup

Lots of coverage from the Pitchfork Music Festival — see below for a roundup of various items.

Positive coverage from Vita.mn’s blurb on their performance:

Foxygen channels Jim Morrison, kind of pull it off. This is a band that’s already been under such hyper scrutiny, so there’s always the fear that their live performance won’t stack up. But Sam France & Co. came through in the most entertaining way, bantering their way through technical difficulties, doling out compliments to the audience and death-growling the verses to certain songs. They had character, and they sounded strong.

Chicagoist also liked what they saw:

After seeing a lackluster Foxygen set at Lincoln Hall this spring—just prior to their SXSW meltdown—I was excited to see what this young California psych rock band could do. Luckily, this was the set we hoped for and knew they could deliver. Frontman Sam France was all over the stage, climbing the rafters, over his drummer and on and off the front of the stage. It was controlled chaos, wild and fun. They opened with “On Blue Mountain”—a catchy tune, and one of my favorites (though every time they get to the chorus, I can’t not hear “Suspicious Minds” instead.) Alternating between a deep ’70s vocal style and a lighter California-flecked singing voice, France and crew moved through a high-powered half hour set. There was some lighthearted banter from France and his keys player, including a shout out to the Chicago Bulls that moved into talk about the ’90s movie Space Jam. That’s when France responded, “You’re talking about Space Jam, let’s talk about songs,” as they launched into another one. That’s what we’re talking about. After seeing their music suffer at that Lincoln Hall show, it was nice to see this group delivering the goods as they should be heard. —Michelle Meywes

Minnesota Daily’s Spenser Doar enjoyed the performance:

[D]uring Foxygen’s freewheeling performance, it was all goofiness. Since they were in M.J.’s home city, Rado took a moment to mention how much he loves “Space Jam,” asking audience members with smartphones to check out how the original website hasn’t changed since the release of the film in 1996.

It really hasn’t.

Over the course of the 40 minutes, they took time to thank ATMs, ESPN, President Barack Obama, AOL, Red Bull, Batman, The Roots and Wilco.

With all the nonsense during the set, some would slam Foxygen as immature.

But then you see them take the time to chill on the grass with reporters and fans alike, signing autographs, answering questions and smoking cigarettes in the afternoon heat when they don’t have to.

Foxygen: they’re still amazed by their success and inexperienced with being known offstage.

Not everyone was so positive. Here’s Greg Kot’s recap for the Chicago Tribune:

Hyperactive Foxygen vocalist Sam France climbs the lighting trellace on the side of the stage. He quickly descends, smacks himself in the head and surfs atop an amplifier before striking drum cymbals with his bare hand. Meanwhile, his band is one song into its performance. Where does Foxygen go from here? Nowhere memorable. Cramming late 60s psychedelic, glam and baroque pop cliches into songs and twisting them with garage-rock edginess and spontaneous combustion, the throwback collective resembles a nightmare parody of the Doors on their worst night. Clad in thin paisley trousers, the wiry France embraces the role of Jim Morrison, replicating many of the latter’s juvenile look-at-me antics and inane banter. He strives to convey elements of weirdness and humor, the equivalent of the kid in class that will stop at nothing to get attention and draw laughs. Yet France’s cartoonish behavior is about as authentic as Foxygen’s originality. It may be designed to conjure bipolar disorder or a vicious acid trip, but the acting is transparent. At its best, the California group qualifies as carnival-level entertainment–something meant to distract the audience from tedium until the main act goes on. Mostly, however, it is pathetic farce, a band designed to incite reactions no matter how idiotic the cost. (BG)

Click here to watch several videos from Foxygen’s Pitchfork Music Festival performance.

 

Fun at Solid Sound

Sounds like quite the set at Solid Sound, with Foxygen captivating both audience and security personnel alike. From Scott Waldman’s writeup for the Albany Times Union:

This review should not just be about Foxygen.

It should be about the whole slate of artists that played on Saturday at the Solid Sound Festival at Mass MOCA. It should be about festival hosts, Wilco, one of our great American musical exports. For almost two decades, Wilco has put out a string of consistently great albums with an ever-developing sound that draws on classic country, free jazz, as much Carter Family as it is Ornette Coleman.

Foxygen has just a single album to offer, and its performance on Saturday was just a shuffling of their limited repertoire. Musically, they didn’t offer the versatility or range of the forebears who graced the other two larger stages.

But this is about Foxygen. This is about the type of musical performance that leaves your mouth hanging open, that makes your heart race, that makes you excited to dissect over and over with your friends what you just witnessed. It was actually painful to endure their sheer volume so close to the stage, and yet we were planted firmly in place the entire time. They play relentless sonic riffs that feel like you’re racing a highway in a muscle car and then there is a pause as the whole group shifts into a Broadway-style interlude before slipping again into gearhead mode.

[…]

A large part of the Foxygen experience centers around lead singer Sam France. At first, it seemed sheer theatrics, the way he possessed the stage. He dramatically waved his body at us, clad in a 1970s frock, and leaped off the monitors. Then it got darker.

France climbed the corner of the stage, making it sway, until a security guard ripped him off and they stood nose to nose on stage as the guitars swirled raucously in the background. He wrapped the microphone cord around his neck like a noose and never missed a beat as he sang into it. He flailed and thrashed on his back.

Improbably, every song sounded great, with hints of The Stooges, Devendra Banhardt, even a touch of Queen.

In the crowd, people wondered if he was on acid. They wanted to give him a hug, to calm him down.

“The whole thing is scripted; we know what we’re doing,” he offered at one point with a sly grin. Liar.

Here’s video of the incident with the security guard:

Jonathan Rado Solo Album Coming In September

Jonathan Rado found some time to record a solo album during some of the band’s recent time off the road. “Law And Order” Is due out on September 3 — here’s the lead single, “Faces”:

Whoever wrote the press release did a great job of making the album sound interesting:

On his debut solo album, “Law and Order,” the San Fernando Valley and the Lower East Side flirt over muddy coffee, get married over corned beef, and give birth to a Motown drum beat – but something is amiss. For example, there is no bass line on LA-psychedel-dance-jam “Seven Horses,” and not a single hand clap satisfies the droning singer’s gently repetitive request, “If you feel it all, clap your hands.” “Hand In Mine” sounds like an idea Johnny Cash had while sleepwalking through a fever dream. June is awakened by a frenzy of crashing symbols and revelatory mumbling as Johnny, pajama’d, arranges equipment atop the bed and holds out an urgently affectionate hand, beckoning her to sing. She complies without ever removing her silken, floral eye-shade.

The zonked-out guitarist settles back to warm Christmas sleep but dreams only of synthesizers. “Looking 4a Girl Like U” is an opium den, and there in the running shower Prince stands, sultry. He kaleidoscopically unbuttons his soaked, sequined shirt for six consecutive minutes, screaming baaaaaby and ego-dancing until “I Wood,” a folk spasm of paranoid schizophrenia in which Rado’s Bob Dylan vowels pile so heavily upon a White Fence-minor progression that Tim Presley actually materializes on “Faces” to turn the water and steamy distortion off. “All The Lights Went Out In Georgia” is a self-loathing diary entry thrown into a fire and “Pot of Gold” gets too drunk, freaks out, and starts hitting on everybody. So Rado wraps up the album and apologizes to everyone, promising not to invite that guy over anymore.

UMO on the media’s Foxygen bashing

Paste Magazine recently interviewed Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s Ruban Nielson, and the conversation eventually turned to the media reaction to Foxygen’s SXSW stint:

Paste: Your tour mates Foxygen kind of had a rough go of it at SXSW. They had a breakdown on stage, ended up canceling several of their scheduled performances and have since canceled some upcoming dates in Europe. What do you make of that whole situation and how they’ve been getting a lot of flak in the media?

Nielson: I really sympathize with them because they were just two kids making records at their parents’ houses in high school, and they were messing around and thinking about going to college and then all of a sudden Pitchfork gives them Best New Music and they get to work with Richard Swift and make this really good record, and now everyone expects them to be the best new music there is at the moment. They just haven’t played enough shows and really haven’t found their footing live, so it’s just another symptom of the modern music world. When I was first playing music with my first band, we were playing house parties and doing stuff like that, playing punk shows and playing basements and stuff like that. We did all of our experimenting and all of our stuff in a kind of environment that’s conducive to that. Foxygen were thrown out on the road with a band like us and we’re selling out shows and there’s a lot of hype around them, too—they’re contributing to the selling out of the shows as well. People just expect it to be this really reliable, really complete thing, but they’re still young and they’re still experimenting and trying to figure who they are and stuff like that.

I don’t think it’s fair. I think that people need to understand that. On the one hand, people don’t really want too many new musicians to be older. They want these kids. But they want the kids to be born fully formed. They want them to emerge from the egg completely formed already. They’re not going to get that because the environment just sucks, so it’s just kind of a bullshit thing really, to expect a kid to have everything figured out. No one expects anyone else in the music industry to have anything else figured out when they’re 21. If they want more maturity then they should look to musicians that are older and who have done more and who have more figured out.

Paste: Yeah, I was lucky enough to see their first performance right after they arrived in town and they were incredible. I saw them after the show though and not only are they young, but they just seemed really young. I can’t imagine going through all you have to go through on the road and at SXSW when I was 19 or 20.

Nielson: Yeah, and [the media] should be talking about all the things they are doing that aren’t breakdowns. The breakdown part is really not that surprising. It’s all the things they have achieved that isn’t flying off the rails that people should be focusing on. I don’t know why that is. I think people just want musicians to suffer [laughs]. People want rock and roll bands but they don’t want anything to go wrong. They want this rock and roll thing, and then when it happens they get scared of it.

Point/Counterpoint on Foxygen in Noisey

Entertaining “debate” from Vice’s Noisey on whether Foxygen “sucks” or “is awesome” “doesn’t suck.”

Drew Millard with the wholly original argument that they are idiotic rip-off artists:

The unfortunate truth of Foxygen is that they’re an IRL Tumblr, simply reblogging cool stuff with absolutely no originality while rendering themselves one degree removed from true music quality. If you like new things, your only choice is to hate Foxygen.

[…]

There is no way a band with any sense of self-awareness and intelligence would sing, “Maybe in space there’s an alien race,” or just yell “Fish man!” on one of their songs. Only Foxygen would do this, and that is because Foxygen sucks. Would you play this for your stern but loving father? Fuck no, because he would call it (and you) stupid, and then tell you he loves you. Foxygen’s stupidity is also why you couldn’t have sex to them.

Whereas Benjamin Shapiro argues that this is performance art that shouldn’t be taken so damn literally:

First off, you can’t name a record “We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic” and not have a killer sense of humor. It’s that referencing of over-earnest flower-power buoyancy and heart-on-sleeve stoner utopianism that seems so out of place in 2013. That’s got to be a joke, and it’s hilarious.

[…]

Drew et al were made extremely uncomfortable by a certain Pitchfork interview in which the band is obviously not taking themselves seriously at all. In fact, if Drew could read sentences that are longer than a tweet, he’d see that they preemptively anticipate his type of response:

Sam Frank: “I’ve seen some tweets and shit that are like, ‘Fuck Foxygen, those fucking hipsters!’ or ‘You motherfuckers with your little twee bullshit.’ I mean, yeah, we put a fucking xylophone on ‘San Francisco.’ I don’t really blame anybody, because if I saw the ‘San Francisco’ video, I’d probably be like, ‘That guy looks like a fucking clown idiot imbecile asshole, what the fuck is going on there? This sucks– it just sounds like some 60s bullshit and looks like Wes Anderson.’ But that’s the point. We’re trying to bring a little fun, a little color.”

Why you mad, Drew? That’s the thing about these guys: they are being funny, and the value in their music is that push and pull between playful sincerity and earnest sarcasm.

Hardly a full-throated defense of the band, but about the best you could expect given the apparent groupthink in the Noisey offices. And I hate to make an “all press is good press” argument, but at the very least it’s proving very hard to ignore this band…