Cincinnati rock group Foxy Shazam is flying into town and taking no prisoners. The band's frenetic live show is not to be missed, judging from a recent appearance at the Metro on Clark Street.
Foxy Shazam's latest album, The Church of Rock and Roll, dropped in January, showing why this band was dubbed "one you need to know" by the Alternative Press. Picture a mix of Elton John, Queen and Evel Knievel to get the idea.
We spoke to Alex Nauth, who sings and plays the horns in the group before an upcoming show in Wicker Park.
Windy City Times: Hi, Alex. I heard you just got back from the SXSW festival. How was it?
Alex Nauth: It was pretty insane. It really never even sinks in until you get home then it all comes rushing back to you. It is magical in that as well.
WCT: Lots of musicians I have interviewed recently just went.
Alex Nauth: It is getting bigger and bigger, and a little bit crazier.
WCT: I heard Eric Sean Nally, your lead singer, lost his voice there.
Alex Nauth: We both had a hard time with doing multiple shows at one day. You want to give it your all, you know?
WCT: Your group really does that. I just saw you open for The Darkness at the Metro.
Alex Nauth: That was a big night for us. The Metro is a place we have always wanted to play. There is so much music history there. We had been looking forward to that.
WCT: Your keyboardist, Schuyler White, was crowd-surfing with a keyboard in his hands!
Alex Nauth: Pretty weird.
WCT: What is one thing you have learned by touring with The Darkness?
Alex Nauth: We were honored to be out on tour with a band that has a part in rock n' roll history. We are really good friends with Justin, the lead singer, now. It felt very humbling and at the same time very inspiring. We got to look up to guys that are older than us and have been doing it for such a long time. They have carved out their niche. We got to experience a little bit of it with them.
WCT: On the new album I like the track "Wasted Feelings." What can you tell me about it?
Alex Nauth: It is hard to explain a song because we come from a school of thought that how a song hits a person is very personal in a way. We never want to take that away from somebody. It was important to me when I was growing up and listening to something from Green Day, for example; it was probably different to me personally than the artists themselves. But I wouldn't have it any other way. If I can respectfully decline telling you too much about the song, I just want it to last longer in what it means to you.
WCT: I get it. Did you see American Idiot the Musical?
Alex Nauth: No, I haven't. Actually Aaron, our drummer, is a huge Green Day fan. We were just talking about it the other day. We were driving through L.A. and they have all the banners up about the show. We were wondering if they ever thought back in the day when they started that they would have a Broadway musical? It is a crazy progression.
WCT: I was impressed with it. Where did you learn to play the horns?
Alex Nauth: I learned about 18 years ago when I was in the third grade. My dad used to play. He was contracted through Warner Brothers and in the Marine Corp. He played for Tom & Jerry cartoons and all of that kind of stuff. He was in a motorcycle incident and in a way ruined his career but then met my mom and gave birth to me. He taught me what he knew, never forcing it on me but I learned it and found the love of it through him. I never looked back.
WCT: Are you from Cincinnati?
Alex Nauth: I grew up in the Cleveland area but live in the Cincinnati area. I went to college there so based there now.
WCT: When I was in college we would go on Vine Street to see bands play.
Alex Nauth: Oh, I love that area.
WCT: The song "Freedom" sounds very Freddie Mercury. Is he a big influence on your music?
Alex Nauth: We all grew up on Queen. We all love them and respect them so greatly. I don't know if that comes into play when we write but just like anything it is in there. It is in the crock pot of what gets mixed around when we write music like that. I think we are both inspired by the same things, Queen and us. We are very into musical theatre and performance, the grandiose arrangements of songs with strings and horns, so I think we gain our inspiration through the same sources.
WCT: It is great to get to know the band in this more personal way and see how different you are live and in concert.
Alex Nauth: When we go out on stage we talk about flipping a switch but we actually do. It is us onstage. If you read comics it is like the Bizarro World with Bizarro Superman. That is what it is for us. We are the Bizarro versions of ourselves. We allow our inner animals to be free.
WCT: I know what you mean because I met Eric after the last show and he is so tiny. I thought he would be bigger after seeing him onstage.
Alex Nauth: People don't know how to take us when we are offstage. We are very friendly people and love what we do. They look shocked and surprised sometimes which is weird to us. That is just who we are, I guess.
WCT: You have a song called "I'm In Love With a Boy." Is there a gay member in the band?
Alex Nauth: No, but there are no boundaries for us in anything, especially creatively. However, you want to take a song is part of what we talked about earlier. I want people to believe that song in whatever it means to them. That is so much greater than what it means to us.
That song, in general, may mean something different to other people but we don't want to crush that at all. That song is very important to us as well. You know this; people don't have to be gay or homosexual to be in love with a member of the same sex. There are different types of love. That is what we were exploring. You shouldn't be ashamed to talk about it.
WCT: This concert in Chicago is a headlining gig for you. That must be exciting.
Alex Nauth: Yes, it is a kind of release because we haven't done it in about two years and we have done a lot of support tours. We have a lot built up. It is almost like a built up sexual frustration. We have a lot pent up to get out in our headlining show. We have been doing a lot of planning so we are going to make this special. These are small venues and clubs, which we love so we are going to make each night a night to remember.
Foxy Shazam will be at Subterranean, 2011 W. North Ave., on Tuesday, May 1, with a sold-out show at 6:45 p.m. (The date has been changed from April 7.) More Shazam magic can be found at www.foxyshazam.com .