Foxy Shazam Wants to Leave a Legacy

Categories: Q&A

Steven King/Foxy Shazam
Alex Nauth and I can't seem to make it work. The Foxy Shazam horn player and I have been attempting to link up for the better part of a month, barely missing the other's phone calls as the Cincinnati, Ohio-based glam rock band bounces between U.S. and Canadian tour dates. When we finally do land our eventual conversation, it revolves around the theme of what it means to be a rock band in 2014 -- something that holds much more weight than it implies.

If nothing else, that's exactly what Foxy Shazam is: They're an unapologetic, brash, over-the-top rock band in an era in which the term "rock band" alone is enough to cause niche-based, hyper-hyphenated genre splitting, at best. and elicit cringing at its worst. On their latest release, Gonzo, the band's scaled back their approach to a degree, letting songwriting show through rather than just showmanship. Having worked on the record with Steve Albini, of Big Black and Nirvana-producing fame, there's a new side of Foxy Shazam that Nauth and his bandmates have unearthed, yielding surprising results and a fresh future for the band.

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Q&A: Boris' Noise a Map to the Band's Sound

A capture from Boris' music video, "Vanilla"

Nailing down Boris is no easy task. The Japanese band has released 19 albums in its 22-year career, all with varying material that shifts from doom metal, to prog rock, screamo to power pop, space to thrash--sometimes on the same album.

That's part of the band's appeal, however, as the trio follows its whim to make what feels right. Boris' latest, Noise, is perhaps the band's strongest in years, a mixture of finely crafted songs full of melody, mood swings and catchy hooks interlaced with masterful guitars among an overall proggy transcendence.

""If there is a sound map of Boris, Noise will be the center of it," Boris drummer Atsuo says simply.

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Des Ark Has a Booking Agent, But Aimée Argote's Still DIY to the Bone

Categories: Q&A

Courtesy of Des Ark
Aimée Argote of Des Ark

The one time I saw Des Ark, singer Aimée Argote broke the ice with the audience by suggesting they move closer. "We probably smell weird," she said, "but this is a punk show, so you probably don't mind."

Most of Des Ark's music is marked by this kind of frankness, maybe less about punk must and more about insecurities, traumas, hopes, and desires, all set against music that oscillates liberally between minimal, singer/songwriter quaintness to loud and obtuse movements that sound like they continue the legacy of a lot of the weird and innovative trends in punk and hardcore that characterized the '90s D.I.Y. scene in America.

Up on the Sun talked to Argote recently about the band's current activities and her approach to songwriting.

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Blag Dahlia of the Dwarves: I Really Only Care About What Women Think

Categories: Interview, Punk, Q&A

The Dwarves

Blag Dahlia (birth name: Paul Cafaro) of the Dwarves is looking for women to come to the band's show tonight at Yucca Tap Room with the Queers, Masked Intruder, and the Atom Age buck-naked and ready for fun. He knows it gets hot in Phoenix, so "Why not be comfortable?" according to Blag. If the Dwarves singer has any hang-ups, nudity is definitely not one of them.

Talking to Blag Dahlia of the Dwarves is definitely enjoyable. The guy clearly knows how to have a good time, and what is even way more interesting is that he almost perfectly walks the fine line between brilliant and bullshit, evil genius and closet good guy. He seems to revel in any opportunity to playfully push buttons. In fact, he'll freely push his own buttons just to see (and enjoy) your reaction. That is, of course, if you don't react to his jabs at men, women, or....well, people, really. With the Dwarves, anyone and anything is fair game, especially if there is a way to work in quick hits of tits and ass on top of one f- bomb after another.

We sat down and had a nice, polite little chat on the phone with Blag a few nights ago. Here is how it played out.

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Tucson Band Animus Divine Thinks Future Is Bright for Arizona Metal

Categories: Metal!, Q&A

Promotional Photo

Heavy metal and hip-hop hybrid outfit Animus Divine (AD) is one of many low-profile and yet highly talented bands operating in the scorching deserts of Arizona. Based out of Tucson, the streetcore musicians have their eye on the prize to master the entertainment industry, but AD lead singer Chuck Clark acknowledges the hardships of pushing music professionally when he notes: "playing music is just what I do -- if I was in it for the money I would have quit a long time ago."

After disbanding for several years, AD chose to regroup and make the grown-up decision to hire a publicist and assembling a behind the scenes crew to tailor and push their music into more ears for the release of their upcoming album NOVO.

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The Darkness and Light in Thus Owls

Categories: Interview, Q&A

Courtesy of Thus Owls
Thus Owls

Thus Owls' is the result of the marriage of two people, but also the two countries they hail from. Husband and wife team of Simon and Erika Angell, from Canada and Sweden, respectively, each forged careers -- he on guitar, she as a vocalist -- that would one day intersect causing an immediate and undeniable attraction. Simon's dark folk sensibilities proved to be the perfect foil for Erika's breathy, atmospheric vocals -- a sort of dark meets light--and the results are explosive. With Erika's deeply charged and personal lyrics creating powerful settings burning with emotion, the music appropriately swirls, bends and wavers around that haunting voice, trying to keep pace, yet succeeds better in pushing that tension further onward. Thus Owls is a wild ride, a rollercoaster -- the kind worth taking over and over again.

Up on the Sun caught up with Erika for an email chat about meeting Simon, the creation of Turning Rocks, the band's latest album, sharing her grandmother's stories as lyrics, and taking these complex songs to the stage.

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Ted Nugent: Animals Have No Rights and PETA Is a Criminal Scam

Categories: Interview, Q&A

Ted Nugent Promotional

History has proven that Ted Nugent is one of the most polarizing and controversial figures in the entertainment industry. It's hard to discuss him as just a musician with the bevy of racially charged, political and extremely in-your-face opinionated tirades he has gone on throughout the years. And yet, as such, Nugent still remains the entertainment anomaly. People have come to expect the answers he will give whenever he is questioned, but are still thrown for a loop when he begins communicating in similes and wildly vivid imagery; partly related to the topic at hand and partly addressing far-off thoughts in his own mind.

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The World Meets the Midwest in PHOX's Music

Categories: Interview, Q&A

Jade Ehlers

When reached by phone, Matt Holmen immediately tells Up on the Sun that he's super busy.

"I'm here for 36 hours. I'm trying to put my life in a box," he says.

The PHOX guitarist is in his adopted hometown of Madison, Wisconsin, gearing up for the band's biggest tour "by a long shot" to date. Riding a surprising wave of popular acclaim behind the orchestral pop of "Slow Motion" from the band's just-released self-titled debut, and the associated video featuring sultry frontwoman Monica Martin, the six-piece band is leaving the farmland for the greener pastures of bigger locales.

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The Dark Noise of Phoenix Musician Gog

Categories: Interview, Q&A

Adam Garcia
Gog is the project of Michael Bjella.

Over the course of Phoenix's rich musical history there are certain bands that have cemented themselves as ambassadors for their craft. Gog is a band comfortably in this category. The creative entity of Mike Bjella, Gog is a presence in music that eludes classification to an almost frustrating extent. It's relevant to throw out signifiers like doom, drone, and noise, but realistically there is only one word that is relevant in this context: listen. We touched base with Bjella to discuss vision, process and execution. Gog's self-titled album will be released Sunday, June 29, at Crescent Ballroom.
See also: 4 Locally Released Tapes of 2014 You Should Hear

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The Menzingers' Greg Barnett On His Really Serious Internet Beef

Categories: Interview, Q&A

Connor Descheemaker
The Menzingers return to Phoenix this Monday, June 23 at Pub Rock Live in Scottsdale

The Menzingers are breaking out. Long known as an essential member of the "orgcore" punk scene based around the website and the annual Gainesville, Florida music festival The Fest, with a Billboard-charting new album Rented World, it is clear the band has transcended the scene.

This Monday, the band returns to Phoenix at Pub Rock Live with fellow Fest stalwarts Lemuria, PUP, and Cayetana. We chatted with guitarist and co-vocalist Greg Barnett last week to learn about the band's tour thus far and increased success, personal lyrics, and unexpected influences.

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