The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

Shane Pinnegar INTERVIEWS Sky from Foxy Shazam

 

Another amazing new band currently garnering rave reviews the world over for their dynamic and energetic live shows, as well as their unique and exciting albums, is Foxy Shazam. They're a bit road weary on the day I talk to keyboard player Sky (real name Schuyler White), but a more gracious and accomodating interviewee you would be hard-pushed to find. During the course of 25 minutes Sky really showed a lot of his character - quirky, funny eccentric, truly excited and happy to be making a living as a musician and - yes - as hippyish as he looks!

 

He was more than happy to discuss all manner of subjects, from their upcoming tour of Australia with Soundwave Festival; the rock scene in his home town of Cincinnati, Ohio; his desire to hug a koala; touring with indie bands; his bandmates; tour bus; appetite for piano destruction; and even his wacky facial hair. Read on, then get out and buy Foxy Shazam's ultra-cool, self titled second album

 

 

SP: Hi Sky, thanks for talking to The Rockpit


Sky: Yeah, thanks for caring enough to call


SP: Absolutely mate, no problems. So let’s get straight into it - Foxy Shazam will be in Australia soon for Soundwave Festival, how much are you looking forward to the visit?


Sky: Very, very, very much. Australia’s a place that, like, me personally and the entire band have wanted to go to for like, years and years and years and we’ve never been before, so as soon as we found out about it we were all like, very, very excited about it. I don’t know, like, it’s probably the most excited, or the most exciting thing we have coming up. We’re looking forward to it a whole lot


SP: I guess that must be one of the really cool perks of being in a popular band - you get to go visit all these amazing countries


Sky: Yeah, and personally, free, so that always helps (laughs)


SP: Absolutely, you gotta have perks, man, otherwise it ain’t worth doing it, right?


Sky: Yeah exactly, and like, I get to meet a lot of nice people everywhere and, just travelling and meeting nice people, is just the biggest perk out of all of this


SP: Absolutely, and how much do you know about Soundwave Festival itself?


Sky: I don’t know much at all about it, I know that our last producer, I think he played it a year ago, with [his band] Goldfinger


SP: Right


SKY: Like, he produced our last record, and I think he played it last year, maybe the year before and when he got back he showed us pictures and videos and it was, like massive, and beautiful and everything just looked like, like a masterpiece of shows! (laughs)


SP: (laughs) Yeah, it’s pretty crazy they have like, five stages and it’s just really good weather and ah, yeah I’m sure you won’t be disappointed


Sky: Yeah

 


SP: Is there anything specific that you’re looking forward to seeing or doing while you’re in the country?


Sky: (sigh) I know this sounds, like, probably silly or stupid Americanism, but I have my entire life wanted to hug a koala bear


SP: That’s not silly or stupid. That’s cool! (laughs)


Sky: (laughs) Yeah okay. I didn’t want to though - for some reason that seemed like a very American thing to say


SP: No, not at all, look, one of these days I’m gonna get to Africa and I really want to hug a tiger, so you know


Sky: Yeah...awesome


SP: (laughs) Every continent has its own little animals, you know? It’s all good


Sky: Yeah, they’re very huggable animals


SP: You just gotta watch out for the koalas cause they’re kinda like stoned on eucalyptus leaves all the time so they can piss on you if you’re not paying attention


Sky: Yeah that’s what I heard, like their main source of food makes them high


SP: Yeah, it’s a bit of a buzz isn’t it? (laughs)


Sky: That’s a pretty weird thing


SP: Yeah we have some weird animals down here. Just look at the platypus you know? (Sky laughs) Strange things happened in the design phase of that one! So, you’re from Cincinnati, what’s the rock scene like down there? Up there, I should say


Sky: Um, well its like, when I was young it was pretty bad, but it’s sort of getting better and better. I don’t know, I really, really like it a lot now. It’s not a big city so there’s not like a whole lot of big bands that go through there and it’s not like, you know, the greatest of venues in the world, but there’s, there’s a few really good ones, that we love playing and it’s always fun


SP: It’s right on the river there, so...


[Cincinatti is in Ohio, built right on the banks of the Ohio River, so it’s literally a bus ride or a stroll across the bridge to Newport in Kentucky]


Sky: Yeah, we’re like, thirty seconds from Kentucky


SP: Yeah, you can, you know jump to a different state... are the laws different, do you jump over the bridge and have later hours in one state than the other, or something like that?


Sky: Uh, not exactly, like, to cross a time zone...oh like later hours, like bar hours? Is that what you’re saying?


SP: Yeah, that’s what I was wondering


Sky: It’s fairly similar but, uh, the only thing I know is like, there’s cheaper cigarette prices and booze prices and stuff in Kentucky


Sky: I don’t smoke but that’s what bands on tour always say to me - they always wait till they get to Kentucky to get all their stuff


SP: Well I was actually there last year and we saw Lynyrd Skynyrd supporting Kid Rock and it was actually kind of scary cause there was a lot more, um, rednecks than we’d thought there’d be, we were up at The Riverbend Amphitheatre or whatever it was called...


Sky: Oh! Yeah


SP: ...and it was kinda full on man, we had people walking up to us with no teeth and that sort of thing, and it was all pretty full on - we didn’t expect to see that many rednecks that far north in your country, so...

 


Sky: I tell ya, yeah, it’s almost north, and almost south, it’s kinda on its own, like it doesn’t really fit into anything


SP: (laughs) But does that whole redneck thing - for want of a better word - sort of influence you as a band? You seem almost wilfully defiant of that musically, that whole southern sort of sound


Sky: I don’t know, like, I don’t know if we’re defiant of rednecks, or if that’s like - we grew up sometimes having to deal with that, but like we also had to deal with every other kind of weird problem in the world, so. .. I guess we’re probably influenced by like, everything (laughs)


SP: The band’s getting lots of attention in the Indie music press, all the “you must see this band” sort of lists you’re appearing on. And you’ve toured with The Strokes and and a whole lot of others. To my ears you sound a bit more rock than indie, so why do think the indie kids consider you so cool?


Sky: I have no idea. I’d say the biggest appeal we have to them is that most of what we’ve got, we’ve just gotten from touring a lot. We’ve probably played close to two hundred shows every year for the last, like, five and a half years. And, like, I guess that’s what a lot of indie bands tend to do. We probably have come up a little bit in that scene because of that and just from playing with a lot of different bands, making friends with a lot of nice bands everywhere and everything... so…


SP: (laughs) Whatever works, right?


Sky: Yeah, I would assume that, it’s the whole lots of shows that are our biggest connection to the indie scene


SP: Cool. And what are your influences personally, cause I know that you’re classically and jazz trained on the piano


Sky: Yeah, most of my childhood I listened to a lot of, like abstract jazz stuff, and Herbie Hancock, and a little bit more recently I’ve gotten into Art Tatum, and I always loved Thelonious Monk. Ah, like, stage-wise I got, I was strongly influenced by Jerry Lee Lewis, and uh...


SP: Yeah I saw a photo of you last night when I was researching the interview with you; your foot up on the piano and everything like that. That was cool

 


Sky: Yeah, I break my piano, very, very often. (SP laughs) Like one of the many skills you get from playing a whole lot of shows is...I am...I am an artist with a tube of superglue. (SP cracks up) Keyboards being held together by like, melted pennys...


SP: Nice


Sky: ...and popsicle sticks and superglue and all this weird stuff, and yeah it still works every night, so um, (SP laughs) so I’m guessing my, uh, haphazard, uh, maintenance of my gear is working fairly well!


SP: Your appetite for destruction hasn’t quite extended to destroying the thing yet


Sky: It’s fairly destroyed. If you’ve seen us, if you’re keen on seeing us, you’ll probably see a few notes rip off and I’ll just find them after the show and put them back on


SP: Nice, I remember seeing an Australian punk band called The Hard-ons many years ago and they actually had the roadie come out with a welding mask and a welding kit and had to solder the back of the amp on once, in the middle of the show, cause it had broken, so...you know, it’s all good (laughs)


Sky: Yeah


SP: Now, I’ve read that a lot of journo’s have compared Foxy Shazam with The Darkness, but I don’t hear that so much. What do you think about that comparison?

 


Sky: I don’t - we’re actually good friends with Justin Hawkins from the Darkness. Like we’ve been to the UK a few times and our singer Eric and him a wrote a song for Meatloaf... so, like, maybe the British press just got a good hold on that and, they both do have little moustaches, so maybe that’s where they compare (laughs)


SP: I was thinking it was more about the falsetto thing…


Sky: Oh, yeah they do both have very high voices, and pretty big ranges, but musically, I don’t think we sound a whole lot like ‘em


SP: I don’t think so at all. I’d go so far as to say Foxy Shazam and The Darkness were both influenced to different degrees by Queen and glam rock and that sort of stuff, but, I certainly wouldn’t compare the two


Sky: No


SP: So what is life on the road with Foxy Shazam like?


Sky: Um, pretty much we all live in a RV most of the year, and it’s like uh, it’s like the Millennium Falcon, like from Star Wars, how there’s always stuff falling off of it. Like just today, like, the air conditioner on the roof of it, like, big plastic and metal chunks, flew off during the middle of the drive today. And power stuff has gone off in there, and uh...


SP: (laughs) It sounds awesome


Sky: Stuff’s always breaking. Like we’re almost dying on the road, all the time. Two days ago we almost got into a horrible accident. It’s pretty much...pretty crazy all the time (laughs)


SP: (laughs) So not so much sex, drugs and rock n’ roll, as, uh, rock n’ roll and mechanical failure


Sky: Yeah, it’s more like rock n’ roll n’ being really sleepy. And uh, lots of driving


SP: Yeah, that sucks but you’ve got such a big country, man


Sky: Yeah, like we just drove across Texas, from like, where were we? I think we were in Dallas, and it took us like an entire day just to get like, from Dallas, out of the state. So we drove all yesterday and all of today to get to Phoenix


SP: Oh wow, up to Arizona, nice and warm


Sky: Yeah

 


SP: Um, can you just describe each of your band mates in three words or less, starting with Aaron? [Aaron McVeigh]


Sky: Aaron, uh. Aaron is clean, perfect, and uh, I gotta put clean again (laughs)


SP: Very clean then?


Sky: He’s always cleaning himself


SP: Well someone’s got to on the bus, surely


Sky: Yeah, and he never messes up. I don’t know how to put that in there (laughs)


SP: How about Daisy? [Daisy - bass]


Sky: Uh, Daisy is, like, a music super genius. I don’t know if I can boil that down to fewer words


SP: No that’s fine, that’s all good. Alex? [Alex Nauth - horns]


Sky: Uh Alex. I don’t know how to say this, but we were a band for a long time before we got him, and then we got him, and it was like... like a perfect thing. I don’t know how to, like we were a band for like five years before we got him, and like...


SP: How ‘bout, ‘A perfect fit’?


Sky: (pause) Yeah…


SP: There you go...nice one. Loren? [Loren Turner - guitarist]


Sky: Hard working, no, funny as hell. How about that one?


SP: Yeah very good. Eric? [Eric Sean Nally - vocals]


SP’s Daughter: Hello?


Sky : Eric, uh, wow, three words for Eric.


SP: sorry I missed that, mate, my daughter came along and jumped on my lap.


Sky: (laughs) three words for Eric, uh, let me think, um, uh...Off the wall. Yeah, he’s always, always, what you wouldn’t expect (laughs)


SP: (laughs) Uh and yourself?


Sky: Um, uhhh, let me think…


SP: You’re an enigma that’s what it is, Sky


Sky: I’d just say that I’m a happy guy


SP: Hehe, nice one. Hey we just got the beep so we’re gonna have to go, but finally we ask all our interviewees...for you what is the meaning of life?


Sky: For me, the meaning of life...is having fun


SP: Nice


Sky: And to maximise the goodness in life


SP: (laughs) and apparently Foxy Shazam means “cool shoes” so what are you wearing on your feet right now?


Sky: Uh, right now I’m wearing my uh, D6 running shoes


SP: And are they foxy?


Sky: Uh, not really. (laughs) they’re just black normal running shoes. They’ll be foxy tonight on stage though!


SP: I bet they will. Look we’re really looking forward to seeing you in March when you hit Perth, it’s gonna be awesome


Sky: I’m very excited to be over there


SP: Yeah well we look forward to having you


Sky: Yeah, uh, if we run into each other, I’m definitely wanting to find good places to eat and some beautiful places to see. I know nothing about the area


SP: Well dude, I don’t know if it’s relevant to you personally, being a bit more classically trained, but we do have Bon Scott from AC/DC’s grave in town. That’s a bit of a landmark rock n’ roll wise for a lot of bands that visit, and there’s some great restaurants around town


Sky: Awesome


SP: Now one last question, we seem to have a little bit extra time. You’ve got some pretty wild beardy action going on, so, I have to ask...who stole your moustache, dude?


Sky: Who stole mine? Why? Don’t I have a moustache?


SP: (laughs)


Sky: Uh, I don’t know. I look at myself, like when I have moustache, and I, I don’t like it! I just don’t see a lot of people who have like a beard like this and no moustache, especially a beard like this!


SP: Amish?


Sky: Yeah


SP’s daughter: Hello!


SP: My little girl’s saying hello again


Sky: laughs


SP: Thanks so much for talking to us Sky, awesome, and good luck with the touring, mate, and we’ll definitely be seeing you in March


Sky: Thanks for caring. Talk to you later. (laughs)

Thanks to Soundwave Touring for setting up this interview with Sky

Thanks to Lana Oldham for transcribing this interview