By Drew Ailes
By Joseph Hess and Mabel Suen
By Kenny Snarzyk
By Dave Geeting
By David Thorpe
By Ben Westhoff
By Shea Serrano
By Drew Ailes
Foxy Shazam lives up to its name: The Cincinnati, Ohio, band is a glammy, soul-kissed rock band with little regard for genres or conventions. This year's self-titled album, the band's major label debut, is a sassy collection descended from Queen, My Chemical Romance and the Darkness. From hi-NRG disco vamping ("Killin' It") to late-'80s trip-hop throwbacks ("Connect"), from horn-flecked funk struts ("Count Me Out") to piano-driven theatricality ("Wanna-Be Angel"), Foxy Shazam is a well-produced triumph.
When reached via phone, soft-spoken vocalist/band founder Eric Sean Nally was enjoying a rare moment at home in Ohio: "We've been so busy, and we will be so busy, that I'm trying to be more in the moment and be happy where I am." He touched on his love of music, touring with Hole and cowriting two songs on MeatLoaf's 2010 album, Hang Cool Teddy Bear.
Annie Zaleski: When Hole announced their tour, I thought, "Who could open for them?" And when I heard you guys were, I was like, "That makes total sense."
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Eric Nally: With our band, I always want to associate myself with things that are very rich in history. Courtney Love obviously has a very rich history, so it's kind of cool that we're teaming up together, because I feel like they've been through a lot. It's a cool thing to be attached with.
How did the tour come about?
Well, we played together a lot — some one-off shows, we did a lot of SXSW stuff together, and we played once together over in London, in the UK. [Courtney Love] also [has] the same management [company] as us, so we kind of have mutual friends. This is their first tour since they've been reunited, and they asked us to do it, and we were honored.
Are you at all nervous?
No, I don't really get nervous. I always tell people we were all born entertainers, natural-born entertainers. It's just in our blood; we don't stress out about it — it's just what we do.
When you were a kid, did you always want to be in a band?
Oh, yeah. You know how when you're a kid, for Christmas, every year you ask for something different, because every year you're into something different? One Christmas it's Nerf guns or Nerf football, the next Christmas it's G.I. Joes. At least that's how it went for me. And every year it changes, because you lose interest as you get older. But this music thing has been something [in which] I've never lost interest.
[Phone call cuts out for a few seconds] I've always had this one initial goal for myself, and that's to be the biggest band in the world and just go down in history for doing what we do and bringing something new to the world and being recognized for that. That's our ultimate goal, and I always tell people that. I know we're really far from it — I'm not saying we're anywhere near that time — but we're not going to give up until we do. That's our goal.
What were the first records that you bought — or your parents bought for you?
The first record I bought, ever, was Green Day's Dookie. A lot of people my age have the same record. That was a big thing for me. I wanted to dye my hair and all that stuff when I got it. It was really cool — and to this day, they're still a band I listen to. I've been doing a lot of that lately, revisiting things that I liked as a kid, even if they're goofy. I had the Green Day record, I had Marilyn Manson's Antichrist Superstar, and then I would always listen to a lot of my mom's old vinyl she would play, like Elton John, the Beatles, Rolling Stones.
Now that your record's been out for a while, what's your take on it? Is there anything you would change?
You know what, I don't think so. This is the best record we've ever made, in my opinion, and I'm glad, because each record you should feel that way. You should never feel like, "Aw man, I wish something was different." I feel like records capture a moment in time, and if there's something that you don't like, it just makes it better, because it still stood for that time, whether you like it or not.
I have some tattoos on my body that I can't stand, but I'd never get 'em removed, just because that's what they're there for — to remind me of that time in my life, whether I like it or not. And I love the record, everything about it, and there are some things that I don't like about it. But not because I shouldn't have done it differently, but just because it reminds me of things in my life that are sensitive to me, and I don't necessarily like to think about. But that's what music is — whatever the emotion may be, as long as it provokes, makes you feel it, it's important and it's good music. And that's the way the record makes me feel — it just makes me feel.
Some of the stuff that you might be sensitive about — is it hard listening to or performing it?
When I hear a song — I don't know if you've ever done this before — but sometimes you'll hear a song and you get, like, this tingle up your back. I'm really sensitive to music, that's one of the reasons why I'm so passionate about it, because it's one of the only things that really gives me...I can't explain it, I get emotional listening to anything that is good to me. And there are certain songs that just make me...I'll cry, or [they'll] just make me excited. I feel 100 percent of my emotion comes just from listening to music and stuff. It doesn't hurt at all.
At the end of the year, when I'm going back and looking at my favorite records or songs, the stuff I choose are things that make me happy, make me want to dance or make me cry. That's my criteria.
I love when I'm able to get some type of an emotion through listening to something. That's how I know that it's good. I'm sure it's different for everybody...[but] my record does that for me. When I first heard it, I was so proud of myself and my band for making that record. I'm really proud of it; I feel a lot for it.
I always listen to my heart. That's a good way to ensure that you have strong feelings for something, is if you just listen to your heart. So we make the music that comes from our heart — it's not fake, and it's not made just to be made. It's there for a reason. That's why we feel so strongly about it.
How did writing a few songs for MeatLoaf's record with Justin Hawkins [of the Darkness] come about?
This was the first time anything like this had ever happened to me. I'm very interested in writing music for other people. My manager called and said, "Hey, this is happening, I think that you would be great for it, I mentioned it to him, and they think you'd be great for it as well." So I said, "Heck, yeah! I'd love to do that," because I've always been a big MeatLoaf fan. We went to [producer] Rob Cavallo's house [in Los Angeles] — we met through this whole experience, so that's how he came to produce one of the songs on our album.
But anyway, I got to Rob's, and I was really nervous because I had never done anything like it. Justin Hawkins was there too, and he was in the same boat as me, he had never written for anybody else. MeatLoaf was there every day, he told us what we wanted, and me and Justin just worked together every day — I think it was like a week, a week-and-a-half — at Rob's. We stayed at the same hotel, and we wrote together and became really, really good friends.
We successfully wrote two songs for his new album. It was a really awesome time in my life for that type of opportunity to be available to me. A lot of people don't get that type of opportunity until they're much older and much more experienced. I'm really appreciative to have worked with that and [to have made] so many good friends doing it.