FEA, Chicana Feminist Punk Rock
16 October 2016
Barry Montgomery, Music and Film Editor
FEA burst onto the music scene six months ago as a band with big issues to tackle and plenty of riot grrrl roar to do it with. This brand new San Antonio-based group immediately leapt onto the national stage with an EP and then a full album on Joan Jett’s Blackheart label, profiles on NPR and other major media outlets, and a tour that has taken them across the country and back.
FEA is spearheaded by bassist Jenn Alva and drummer Phanie Diaz, previously known as two thirds of Girl in a Coma, a trio that have released three successful albums and logged many miles on the concert circuit over the past decade. FEA’s lineup is completed by vocalist Letty Martinez and guitarist Aaron Magana. (Girl in a Coma is currently on hiatus, with its third member, Phanie’s sister Nina, also recently issuing a solo album.)
FEA labels itself “chicana punk rock,” and while the feminine ending of chicana isn’t a perfect fit for Aaron, all four members do share Hispanic backgrounds. They are certainly proud to wear that heritage on their sleeves, singing some of their lyrics in Spanish and writing songs that fight back against the kind of xenophobia Donald Trump has been whipping up on the campaign trail over the past year.
The band pulls no punches on its self-titled debut album, which comes loaded with critiques of many of the darker aspects of American life, including rape culture, misogyny, homophobia, and racism. And although punk forms the bedrock of their sound, the band throws in elements of other genres to add variety to its musical palette. The album’s lead single, “Feminazis,” for example, mixes punk and rockabilly to memorably convey its uplifting feminist message. Another of the album’s catchiest songs, “Stuck Like You,” suggests a marriage of Sleater Kinney and the Go Gos.
One of the many stops on FEA’s tour was the Sky Bar in Tucson. This gave us a chance to see the band in action and briefly meet them. The following short interview with Phanie was conducted via email in the week following that show.
Since you and Jenn are two-thirds of Girl in a Coma, you’re the best known members of FEA. I understand that lead singer Lettie is a relative newcomer to the music scene, at least at this level of notoriety, and I’m pretty unclear on Aaron’s background. So can you tell us a little bit about Lettie and Aaron’s musical pasts, and how the four of you came together to form this new group?
Sure thing. Letty comes from the valley of Texas. She was in a band called Angela and the X’s. Her band would open for Girl In A Coma and that’s how we met her. Later, when Jenn posted a craigslist ad looking for a lead singer, Letty responded not realizing it was us. We heard her demo and she was in!
As for Aaron we met him at an open mic night my sister was hosting in San Antonio. He and his sister showed up and I really liked their voices. They were a duo and would sing covers. Aaron plays around town as a guitar player for hire, so he’s really fast at learning songs. When our original guitarist left the band we called on Aaron as a temporary fill-in, because we had a gig coming up, but we ended up keeping him.
Like Girl in a Coma, FEA is on Joan Jett’s Blackheart label. What’s it like to have a Joan as your “boss”?
She’s absolutely amazing. She even bought our record off of iTunes. She’s so humble , smart and sweet. We couldn’t have asked for a better boss 🙂
I saw an old Girl in a Coma interview where you said that you didn’t want to label yourselves as a chicana band or a lesbian band or a girl band because you didn’t want to be put in a box. With FEA, on the other hand, it seems like you’ve dropped any such reservations. Was this change in your thinking prompted by the current political climate, or is it more just a product of this being a different band with a different set of goals?
Girl in a Coma taught Jenn and I a lot and also gave us a lot of our first life experiences, good and bad. One being that we were constantly put into a box being an all female band and we just got sick of it. We just didn’t want to be put anywhere because we wanted to be respected musicians first and foremost. Not just that girl band, queer band, or whatever. But in reality we love our roots, being Chicana and female. With Fea we fully embraced it and wear it proudly. It’s kinda like getting older and starting to appreciate your parents’ taste in music. You probably really like it, but you just don’t want to admit it because you wanna be stubborn like that. We grew up.
The central theme of the songs on your new album seems to be something along these lines: Be fiercely proud of who you are and where you came from, and fight back against all forces that would treat you unequally or suppress any aspect of who you are. Was that theme planned from the outset, or did it emerge more organically over the course of writing the album?
It actually came organically. Whatever we felt like talking about we did. The band just grew into itself.
Your video for the album’s first single, “Feminazis” shows images of Donald Trump alongside some of the most offensive comments he’s made about women. You also released it on the day that Trump came to your hometown of San Antonio for a rally. It’s not hard to imagine some of Trump’s supporters branding you militant “feminazis”, but of course the point of the song is that you are far from that, asking only for a “meeting in the middle” where all parties are treated with equal respect and dignity. What kind of reactions have you received on this song and its video?
Exactly that. We got people who just saw the word “Feminazi” and immediately thought that’s what we were, without even giving it a chance. And then we got a lot of people finally speak up and say, “Hell, yes!” Joan loves the song. It’s currently her walk-on music on her tour right now.
You worked with three different producers on your album, each one a legendary figure from a different era of punk music. The first of these you worked with was Lori Barbero, drummer for one of the original riot grrrl bands, Babes in Toyland. What was it like working with Lori in the studio? I understand the tracks you worked on together were the first ones she had ever produced?
Yup, they were and she was amazing! Very calm and open to ideas. She produced one of our favorite tracks, “Stuck Like You.” She absolutely loved that song. She opened the door and prepared us for the next producers to come.
You also worked with Alice Bag, co-founder of one of the earliest LA punk bands, the Bags. How was it working with her in the studio? She’s certainly the earliest example of a chicana punk; have their been any others between her and you that you are aware of?
She really challenged Letty on her vocals and helped arrange songs. She also sang on some tracks. She has even stated that the session she did with us inspired her to want to make her own new record, and she did! Totally amazing. She’s definitely a pioneer in punk and one of the first for sure.
Finally, Laura Jane Grace produced half a dozen tracks on your album. Can you tell us about any of your most memorable moments in the studio with the Against Me! frontwoman?
Every moment was memorable, from Laura singing on “Sister K” and “You Can’t Change Me” to shooting aarows with her. All three producers were amazing and we learned from each one.
I’m sure it was a thrill having all three of these women as your producers, and although I want to ask which one of them you felt was overall the best producer for you, I will spare you that awkwardness. But if you record a second album, are there any other musical icons out there you’d really love to work with?
Our goal is Kathleen Hanna, or even Kim Deal or Kim Gordon.
You’ve been touring a lot this past month, mainly in the Southwest in the early part of the month and now you’re working your way up the East Coast. What kinds of reactions are you getting from audiences, and do you have any plans to tour other parts of the country?
Every crowd so far has been loving us. It’s been amazing. We are heading west in the fall! Keep informed at fea210.com and you can find all our social media sites by searching for fea210.
For more information on FEA, including clips of their music and their music videos for “Feminazi” and “Mujer Moderna,” tour dates, and more, check out their home page, their Facebook page, or follow them on Twitter @fea210. FEA is currently on tour. To see if they are coming to a venue near you check the listed dates in the image below.
Foxx Bodies: When Chaos Reigns
Robert Mateo Keegan Burbano, SlashnBurn Managing Editor
Photographs courtesy of Lisa Roden and Julius Schlosberg.
15 August 2016
Foxx Bodies, from left to right: Matt Vanek, Bailey Moses, Bella Vanek, and Adam Bucholz. Photo courtesy of Lisa Roden.
I rolled into Club Congress on a hot, humid, Tucson monsoon day. Most of University of Arizona’s students were gone for the summer break, and those others who could had fled the city’s slow crawl toward apocalyptic heat. There were forty or so people in Club Congress for the Casa Libre benefit show. A good number for a sweltering, midweek night.
When Foxx Bodies took the stage I heard the evolution in their sound from their premier live performance, which took place only a few months back. Songs were less rushed. Songs had room to breathe and build. Foxx Bodies had found the perfect way to combine their raw, rough edges with a more confident, assured, and experienced stage presence and performance. They were a band that had grown and learned, not to roll with the punches, but to duck and swerve so no punch ever landed.
Foxx Bodies performing at the Casa Libre benefit, Club Congress. Photograph courtesy of Julius Schlosburg.
Case in point: approaching the end of the show, the lights went out and Bella, the singer, lost all sound from her mic, mid-song. Instead of stopping and stomping their feet in consternation, the band continued to play on, with Bella screaming at the top of her lungs. Foxx Bodies finished the song, and then guitarist Bailey Moses , bassist Matt Vanek, and drummer Adam Bucholz jammed as Congress’s sound guy ran frantically back and forth from his sound board to the stage, seemingly clueless how to reestablish the stage’s lights and Bella’s vocals.
Bella performing at the Casa Libre benefit, Club Congress. Photograph courtesy of Julius Schlosburg.
The crowd might have been small, not surprising for a rainy Tucson summer day but, given the smiles on their faces and the hollers of support, they were obviously fans and friends of this scrappy, upcoming band. Due to the band’s energy, earnestness, and stagecraft, it was easy to see how they had built up such a strong following in only a few months.
Bella performing at the Casa Libre benefit, Club Congress. Photograph courtesy of Julius Schlosburg.
Offstage, Bella was kind, spoke with a measured tone, and was genuinely funny. On stage, the audience saw another side of Bella. Despite her diminutive 5’3” height, she dominated the space at the front of the stage. Her performance rivaled any front person, male or female, with a physicality that reminded me of Iggy Pop and Courtney Love, as she crouched, leant forward, collapsed on the floor, jumped up and down, and kicked her feet. There was a hint of Artaud’s Theatre of Cruelty in her performance. Bella didn’t hold back emotionally when performing. Most of the songs contained autobiographical elements, some dealing with issues like abuse and rape. She often screamed the lyrics at such a level you worried about her vocal chords, and her screams, anger, and frustration struck an obvious chord in many of Foxx Bodies’ fans.
Bailey, the guitarist, stood to the right and slightly behind Bella. Her guitar style is strongly rooted in surf rock sensibilities. Bailey was more firmly planted in space, a counterpoint to Bella’s chaos. In every performance I’d seen, Bailey always appears like she’s where she’s always been meant to be, on the stage. She smiled openly at the audience and her bandmates, made jokes with them and laughed loudly. She was also very comfortable with the business side of being in a band, speaking to the audience about merchandise they had for sale and about upcoming events.
Bailey performing at the Casa Libre benefit, Club Congress. Photograph courtesy of Julius Schlosburg.
The drummer, Adam, whose dark, curly beard hangs past his collar bone, looked like he’d recently crawled out of a cave where he’d spent the past year communing with bears and living off of wild mushrooms and insects he’d coaxed out of the dirt with a stick. His drumming style is equally wild and raw. His frenetic playing pushed the songs to a point of near collapse and gave them a feeling of anxiety that complimented the songs’ raw and painful subject matter.
Adam performing at the Casa Libre benefit, Club Congress. Photograph courtesy of Julius Schlosburg.
Matt, the bassist, is tall and lanky. When off stage, he could be working at a Staples or, to be kinder, some mom and pop bookstore. His playing style was more aligned with Bailey’s than Adam and Bella’s. This made sense when I later learned that Bailey and Matt began playing together on another project. Matt’s steady, reliable basslines grounded the rest of band and brought the disparate styles of the other three together into a cohesive sound.
Matt performing at the Casa Libre benefit, Club Congress. Photograph courtesy of Julius Schlosburg.
The audience watched and listened to the performance less like they were at a show and more like they were attending an academic conference on gender politics. A small group danced near the front of the stage, but most of the audience stood, eyes wide open as they soaked in the band’s political treatise: that there are grave injustices in this world and, chief among them are how young women and girls are treated, expected to conform to specific gender roles, and raised in a society that objectifies them and encourages predatory behavior toward them.
Foxx Bodies performing at the Casa Libre benefit, Club Congress. Photograph courtesy of Julius Schlosburg.
Foxx Bodies ended their show with a new song. They stumbled a bit and had to restart the song. While their sound had evolved and tightened up since their debut performance, they still retained a rough edge that was a large part of their charm and fit their youthful energy. The new song contained themes of sexual abuse and assault similar to their older material, but this song had a more playful tone, including Bella’s gleeful vocal hook, “May all of our husbands have monster cocks!”
I met with Foxx Bodies one early evening out on the back patio of Che’s Lounge. Although summer, it wasn’t too hot a day. Bella was even nice enough to buy me a drink.
Foxx Bodies, from left to right: Adam, Matt, Bella, and Bailey. Promotional photograph courtesy of Lisa Roden.
Adam and Bella knew each other from working together at the Loft Theater, and they soon started exchanging song ideas.
Bella: We traded notebooks. We had the passion but were not equipped.
(To Bailey and Matt) And the two of you were in a band together?
Bailey: Matt, Bella, and I all lived together. The band grew organically.
Matt: I was the last person to formally join the band and you were all practicing in my room.
Adam: We were in your room, and you came home from work and, we were like, “Matt, hurry in here.”
Bella: “Throw down some bass.”
The band name, Foxx Bodies, and your album title and band slogan, “Chaos Reigns,” comes from Lars Von Trier’s Anti-Christ. What about that film inspired you?
Bella: (They) did not come from that at all.
Adam: It’s funny because, I’ve always employed chaos in my daily life. It’s been my catchphrase.
Bella: Foxes come from me, chaos comes from Adam; we hadn’t even seen the film yet.
Adam: Chaos reigns. Change is the only constant. It’s kind of how I conduct myself.
Bailey: The song (“Chaos Reigns”) was written beefing up that connection to Anti-Christ.
Bella: I wrote the song for Adam…I made an anthem for Adam, and it’s also a little plus with our buttons.
Adam: The fact that chaos reigns, the fact that Foxx Bodies, and the fact that Lars Von Trier (in the film) already had a fox saying “Chaos Reigns,” that is a perfect example of what chaos is. Everything is intertwined.
Bailey: Sometimes Adam makes us do Chaos Magick before shows.
That’s some Alan Moore shit.
Bella: He draws symbols on paper and makes us eat them.
Did you find anything potentially problematic in how female nature is portrayed in Von Trier’s film?
Bella: The movie does portray women as chaos and men as…
Bailey: And nature eventually ruins mankind. I don’t find that offensive at all. I love that. From my perspective, that movie is very feminist. It’s a woman taking charge of her sexuality and life. She’s going crazy but, she’s doing what she wants and her husband is supporting her.
Adam: Nature reigns, chaos reigns, femininity reigns.
Matt and Bella are siblings. Matt, Bella, and Bailey all grew up in Peoria, Arizona, and Bailey and Bella went to the same high school.
Bailey: We weren’t friends in high school.
Bella: She heard from some people that I was a little crazy.
Bailey: Then I met you and learned it was true.
Bella: I am a little bit crazy. I have my reasons.
What kind of place is Peoria to grow up in?
Bailey: It’s a shithole.
Bella: It’s a lot of rich white people hiding a lot of things.
Bailey recently graduated with a BA in business, and Bella with a BA in psychology. Bella is planning on getting her start by working with a local agency that runs youth group homes. I asked them how they felt about entering the still recovering job market.
Bailey: It’s hilarious having such a serious degree, and everyone’s like, “I’m working for Raytheon,” and I’m…trying to work in the music business. I have Hocus Bogus (a local music zine and record label) and Lathe Cuts (a lathe-record cutting business), and I’m trying to run an online business…
Bella: She got a degree and she’s immediately slaying it.
Bailey: We’re all like: we have other jobs and (we’re) doing these other things but, let’s try this music thing. It’s kind of where we’re putting all our focus. Try it, to fall on our faces, but, if you don’t try, you don’t succeed.
Foxx Bodies first live performance, Club Congress, March 2016.
Your first show was at Club Congress, opening for Lando Chill’s (a Tucson-based hip hop artist) album release party. How was that experience?
Bella: Fucking mind-blowing.
Bailey: We were barely a band. We didn’t even have a set, yet.
Bella: We (wrote) two songs the week of the show.
Adam: We played third. The first band, (the venue) was pretty empty so, I was like, “Okay, this is going to be cool.” Then we go on, and it is packed. We play and, holy shit, that really happened. Our spot, in that show, really helped us take off.
Bailey: How many people get to play their first show in front of two hundred people?
Bella: We’re really thankful for Lando. He gave us the best start we could have imagined.
Since then, Foxx Bodies have grown in popularity. You’re on the shortlist for Tucson’s Weekly’s Reader Poll of best Tucson bands, alongside long established Tucson bands, like Calexico and Ladies and Gentleman, among others. What about your band has resonated with your fans that has allowed you to grow in popularity so quickly?
Adam: I think part of it is the struggle for feminine equality that Bella projects. I’ve heard people comparing us to Sleater Kinney and Bikini Kill.
I next asked the band about their various musical influences and how their different playing styles came together to make the band’s sound.
Adam: I come from a solely punk rock background. My drums reflect that. Bailey’s really into surf, 50s sound.
Bailey: You (Adam) and Matt seem polar extremes. Matt is more 50s music, beautiful shit. You are more raw. Bella and I branch out more.
Matt: (On his influences). Chicano Rock ‘n Roll, World music, rhythm stuff. Lots of African music.
(To Bailey) There’s obviously a surf sensibility to your guitar style.
Bailey: I love surf. Matt and I, on our other project, The Desert Mambas, it was 50’s surf stuff. I love punk too. When you (Bella and Adam) slowly started (Foxx Bodies) and I came on board for the first song we all liked, I was like, let me think of Sleater Kinney/Nirvana/Bikini Kill influences but, when we got our show with Lando Chill, we didn’t have enough stuff. I was like, “Oh, shit! Okay, this is overwhelming.” Instead of Matt and I trying to do (Desert Mambas) and us (Adam, Bailey and Bella) trying to do (Foxx Bodies), what if we combined them? So, that’s how we got our punk/surf sound. Matt and I already have these songs down, and they are super 50s. They’re good songs but, what if we combined them with Bella screaming over it and Adam adding these aggressive, cool fills? These songs morphed, and the surf tones came out in the punk songs, the surf songs became punk, and everything became more cohesive. We found a sound that worked for all our styles rather than try to emulate something.
(To Bella). In another interview, you discussed being drawn to music to be able to discuss instances of abuse in your life. What drew you to music versus some other mode of expression to confront those past abuses?
Bella: I threw myself at everything. I began writing a book. I wrote poetry that is in Bailey’s zine, Hocus Bogus. I started to write my own music but, I know like, four chords. So, for months, I tried writing my own songs, but all these songs sounded the same. It wasn’t that, “Oh, my God! I need music to help me through this.” I was throwing myself at everything, and then I was, “Oh, shit, this really helps.” I get to scream a lot and throw things.
So, it was the rawness of it that made music more suitable for tackling that pain and anger from the abuse?
Bella: Yeah, you can scribble down a lot but, writing didn’t end up being as cathartic. It was performing and screaming. Screaming really helps a lot. Everyone should have a place where they can scream.
Your performance style is very physical. Do you have specific performers that influenced your style or did it develop naturally?
Bella: I started listening to Sleater Kinney because Bailey (said), “Dude, you have to listen to Sleater Kinney; I’m serious.” I was like, “You always tell me to listen to some band. I can’t do it all.” Then, in February 2015, I started listening to (them) and, then, I didn’t listen to anything else until February of 2016 (laughs). I started listening to them and watching videos of their live performances. Then, Bailey and I went to their concert in April 2015 and I was like, “I want to do that. I want to be a Riot Grrl.” Then I watched The Punk Singer (documentary about Kathleen Hannah, lead artist of bands Bikini Kill, Le Tigre, and the Julie Ruin, and considered one of the founding figures of the Riot Grrl Movement) and listening to Bikini Kill. Those were my big influences. But my answer is (essentially) the same as the last one. I’m fucking mad, and Carrie Brownstein and Corin Tucker (from Sleater Kinney), and Kathleen Hannah, and Kim Gordon (from Sonic Youth, Free Kitten, and Body/Head) brought (that anger) out of me.
Bailey: You also have a strong acting background.
Bella (continuing): I was like, “I’m not good. I’m not happy, and I’m going to throw a fit on stage because I feel I’m not allowed to in my regular life.”
The stage gives you a space to express things you can’t elsewhere?
Bella: Yeah, absolutely.
Bailey: For me…we had never performed, obviously and, after our first performance, everyone was asking, “Has your frontwoman done all this shit before?” We watched videos of that performance, and I was like, “Duh, (she’s) acting.” Not in a fake way. Of course she’s an excellent frontwoman, she’s an excellent actress.
Bella: I really do enjoy acting. It’s one of my favorite things that I want to do with my life. Although, it’s really cool hearing that from people, I don’t associate them (acting and performing on stage) in my head, which is funny to me. People (say) I was acting up there, and I don’t remember anything that happened. We get off-stage and, I’m like, “Did we do good?” Then we watch videos (of their performance) and I’m like, “Yeah!”
Bailey: It isn’t so much acting. When you think acting, you think fake, almost like you’re putting on a show.
Bella: I go into a different world.
Bailey: When I watch clips, it isn’t that she’s acting, pretending to feel these things. She knows how to convey her emotions, how to work a stage, and be a physical presence rather than (just) be audience pleasing.
Foxx Bodies, from left to right: Adam, Bailey, Bella, and Matt. Promotional photograph courtesy of Lisa Roden.
Going back to how a number of your songs deal with sexual abuse, did you (Bella) feel any hesitancy exposing those private experiences to the world? I mean, it seems very personal, the stuff you write in your songs.
Bella: (responding with sarcasm) No. I don’t know if everyone who’s gone through sexual abuse would agree with what I’m saying but, I kept it a secret for so long that when I decided not to keep it a secret anymore, I was like, “I am done.” It isn’t like a halfway, I’ll tell some people but keep my reservations. This person ruined my life and I am done keeping it a secret. It’s not about me.
Was your family aware of what had happened to you?
Bella: (laughing) They learned about it a month before we became a band, including Matt (her brother and bandmate). We’re all just processing it.
Adam: I think it was a perfect storm, that we started a band at the same time you were like, “Fuck all this.”
Bella: Adam and I became close friends because I was like, “I need to tell you this thing that happened to me because it’s starting to affect my life and can we make music together because I need to start dealing with this in some way?” The more I talked about it and had an open dialogue with Adam, Bailey, and Matt, I was like, yep, I’m done. I’m screaming it from the rooftops.
Bailey: That whole first album feels that way. We’re not the ones screaming this, and we’re not the ones saying the words because, it isn’t our experience, but in the same way, we’re playing the music to your words, we’ve got your back. We’re mad, too.
What do you feel you’ve gained from expressing what happened to you and being able to scream about it on stage?
Bella: It’s pretty life-changing. It changes the way your brain works. I was never the type of person who had secrets; this was the only secret I had. Now, I feel like I’m myself again. I took a five year hiatus from being who I was supposed to be and now I’m pressing play on my life again.
Do you feel you’ve lost anything, like your privacy, by exposing yourself in this way, or has it been mostly rewarding?
Bella: I’ve lost the dark pit in my gut, which is nice.
How has the audience responded?
Bella: More people have been sexually abused than people think. I’ve had a lot of people who are grateful. People are just grateful that we are yelling, that we’re mad. There are people who don’t approach me, they approach (the other members of the band) and say, “Your style spoke to me. Don’t stop what you’re doing because it made me feel something.” And that’s whether it’s about sexual abuse, or anger, or chaos, or feeling good, or feeling like, “Holy, shit! I like what this band makes me feel.” We evoke a real emotion in people, somehow. Everyone’s been used. Even men and women who haven’t been sexually abused can get onboard. Some songs are just like, “I’m really happy I haven’t seen you in a really long time.” Everyone can feel something about that.
Bailey: I think when you expose so much about yourself, your songs have more authenticity because there’s so much rawness to it and it’s like you can connect to it (the music) better than, “Yeah, women kick ass!” It’s really delving into the meat of it and not being afraid.
Adam: Since starting this band, I’ve paid more attention to the content of people’s music and ours is, definitely, talking about something as opposed to making music and filling in the music with lyrics that aren’t necessarily super-meaningful. I’m not bashing on anybody’s songs, but ours has a content that needs to be talked about as opposed to, “Let’s have fun. Let’s play music.”
Bailey: Every time we write a song, usually the (writer) will come and say, “Here, I wrote this, and this is why I wrote this.” We build on that emotion, and then everything we do is trying to at least have (that) specific intent.
Bella: And, also, I’m not a musician. I don’t have that, “What’s going to sound good right here?” I’m like, (raising her voice) “I’m uncomfortable! I don’t like myself!”
Do you feel like there aren’t enough bands putting out meaningful content and tackling important topics?
Adam: No, not necessarily. There’s definitely a good amount of bands talking about things that need to be talked about but, I think…
Bailey: Katterwaul’s (another Tucson-based band) “Give me Head.” (Laughs)
Adam: (continuing) I feel our content is very contemporary for issues that are coming out of the masses and we’re tapping into that because feminism, in general, is on the up rise. People are trying to speak out about their experiences in life and trying to get justice…actual justice.
Are there Tucson bands with whom you feel you share a similar aesthetic?
Bailey: Yeah, Katterwaul, who I mentioned earlier. Katterwaul is one of those older sibling kind of bands I started to see when I first moved to town and I was, “This is so bad ass!” Acorn Bcorn are another band we really love. There are some bad ass women here (in Tucson).
Do you feel you’ve been welcomed into Tucson’s music community?
Bella: Tucson is one of the best places to be a new band. Everyone is so nurturing. Everyone was like, “Oh my, god, come here. Come play for us.”
Bailey: Ben Schneider (a drummer who plays in a number of Tucson bands) came and recorded our whole album for free because he liked what we were doing. Lots of bands have been giving us shout-outs. Britney’s (from Katterwaul) been throwing shows our way. Everyone immediately wanted to help what we were doing, and I feel like that’s the Tucson way.
Have you had any pushback or negative feedback, particularly from hostile or aggressive audience members, either during the show or approaching you afterward? I’m thinking of men who might, for whatever reason, feel threatened or angered by some of your songs.
Adam: I haven’t heard anything.
Bailey: The only thing I ever heard was…we used to announce, “This song is about rape, be careful” (as a trigger warning). The only thing I heard was, “Don’t warn them. You’ve got nothing to apologize for.”
Bella: Yeah, you don’t get warned when you’re being raped. But no, everyone’s been really supportive.
Bailey: I know that’s kind of why I want to go on tour. Tucson is very awesome, nurturing. It’ll be interesting to see how like, playing Salt Lake City goes, for example. It’ll be exciting to get out of our bubble. We’ve never played for less than twenty people.
Bella: Yeah, we’ve really been in the sweet, sweet arms of Tucson’s forward thinking.
Bailey: I’m excited to get almost a taste of reality, you know?
Bella: I am not.
Bailey: I feel like this is going to be a learning opportunity for our baby band.
Bella: There are so many Trump supporters in this world right now. We’re going to run into some shitheads.
Besides the tour, what do you see as next for the band? What’s the next evolution?
Bella: Album #2.
Bailey: Lady Gas Masks is a split single series run by some local people. We’re doing that; we’re going to be on vinyl.
Bella: It’s a new song. Never released but we have played it at our shows.
Bailey: I think, short term, we’re trying to get involved in a lot of cool projects. Tapes, and try and get out and do as much as possible and slowly scale ourselves up. Getting our album out there and touring.
Do you hear any change in your sound?
Bailey: On the next (album), we’ve talked about Matt and Bella’s upbringing and their growing up Mormon.
Matt: Yeah. Growing-up-too-sheltered-woes kind of thing.
Are your parents still in the church?
Matt: Our dad is still an elder. Our mom became one of those cool yoga moms. Technically, we’re still in the registry.
Bailey: We’ve been writing a new batch of songs that are different, obviously, but, I think it’s too soon to say where it’s going. We’re more aware of our songwriting and trying to expand on our songs. They’ve been getting longer. We’re pickier. We scrap a lot more stuff.
Bella: We work a lot harder on our songs. Before, we were like, “This is done!” Also, the songs seem less erratic. They are less of me losing my God damn mind on stage and more of a sarcastic, condescending tone. Our first album is like, “Fuck you. Fuck you, fuck you, fuck you!” And the second album is more like ha-ha (snickers). There’s more snarkiness.
Bailey: I really want to make a shirt that goes with our next album that goes, “Finger in my Butt: Foxx Bodies.”
Bella: I want one that says, “Sex Only with Girls,” that only women are allowed to buy.
In discussing what influences outside of music the individual members bring to the band, Matt struggled to come up with an answer. Matt had remained largely quiet throughout the interview, aside from the rustling of the bag holding the baguette he’s been munching on. The other band members egg him on and say there are influences he brings to the band, such as his love of history and sense of spirituality.
Bailey: We always joke that, thank God, Matt is so Zen and calm because it’s the only way the band wouldn’t turn into confusion. You’re the glue that combines this chaos.
Matt: I’m the glue.
Bella: We need our fucking glue.
We closed out the interview by discussing when Bella’s family came to see one of their shows.
Bella: Our parents and our grandparents came to a show. Our dad walked out of our set. He came back because I started screaming so he could hear me outside.
You chased him with your voice.
Bella: Yeah, (our music) definitely makes some people uncomfortable. People who’ve been sexually abused should be heard because, we had to go through it. You can listen to it. Deal.
A more playful chaos reigns. From left to right: Adam, Bailey, Bella, and Matt. Promotional photograph courtesy of Lisa Roden.
On August 12th, Foxx Bodies returned to Club Congress to play a show commemorating the release of their self-titled album. It had been six months since they’d debuted live. This time, Lando Chill opened for them as opposed to the other way around. During Foxx Bodies’ set, the club was packed. The band’s performance was as chaotic as ever. Bella screamed and bounced around the stage with the same measure of anger but, there was also a joy in her performance, a sense of pride and confidence that had not been there during their first performance. The entire band performed with the joyful abandon of having found the place they belonged, on stage and in the welcoming embrace of Tucson’s music scene.
Foxx Bodies are currently on a sixteen date national tour (see image below for shows near you). They will return to Tucson, August 31st, and cap off their tour with a performance at the Flycatcher, with support from The Shondes and Katterwaul.