Wisconsin sextet PHOX are another one of those charmingly clever acts that are blending Americana with something quite a bit more soothing, soulful, and uplifting. While you might be initially inclined to characterize them as a folk band of some sort, they’re really more of a stripped brand of indie pop, as calmly reassuring as it is whimsically playful and action inducing (It would be perfect for summer barbecuing.) Last month PHOX released their self-titled debut on Partisan Records and they are currently on a US tour that will have them making an appearance at Boot & Saddle on July 21st. I recently got a chance to chat with PHOX’s Matt Holmen about the band’s career thus far and what we can expect of them in the near future.
I’m curious, based on the plethora of comparisons the band has drawn (from outlets such as NPR and The New York Times), what is their particular process of writing and if there’s anything that they find to be especially influential to their sound. Matt tells me that while there isn’t one particular process behind the creation of their music, there are certain concepts that they hold dear.
“It constantly changes, but the one constant is Monica [Martin, lead vocalist] will write a melody. It’s always a melody first. We all really like Feist. She’s very melody-centric and she’ll have genre-shifts in the middle of the record, which we can really relate to.”
I ask Matt about what have been the highlights of PHOX and he seems to really most enjoy getting to perform their songs live: “I guess I would say my biggest highlight would probably be a show. Probably the biggest show we’ve played was the iTunes Festival in London, where there were six cameras following us around and sweaty lights, melting our faces off and it just felt like such a big deal, while we were playing a 100-person bar the night before.” However, he also tells me that he’s very happy about the band’s current string of headlining dates: “We’ve done opening tours and it’s nice to get to make new fans, but it’s really nice to have people who are there to see you, who are fully attentive.” When I ask him what can be expected of the show, Matt tells me that the band really tries to display the breadth of their sound at every performance: “We try to mix it up a lot and show the full range of our songs. It’s not just like all of the big songs. We like to mix in some different sounds.”
In addition to PHOX getting their debut out and getting themselves out on the road as much as possible, according to Matt, the band are in the middle of doing some general re-settling and, as far as he’s concerned, it could have him happily landing almost anywhere.
“We have two more trips back to Europe and we’re hoping to do some more touring of the states. We just moved out of our house in Wisconsin and relocated to our suitcases and the corner of our parents’ basements. We lived there for three years together, so that was a pretty big deal, but we keep going to cities now, where I’m like, ‘I could live here.’ Part of touring is just seen new places that we might want to explore.”