“I feel like I’ve had this New Year’s Eve convo before and the general consensus is that it’s kind of a bummer [laughs],” says Foyer Red drummer Marco Ocampo of the almost always overhyped holiday. Although vocalist and clarinetist (and Ocampo’s partner) Elana Riordan goes on to tell me about an unusually memorable NYE a couple years ago when she and Marco (along with most of the rest of the world) were sick at home and she cried not once, but twice, to When Harry Met Sally…: “Marco fell asleep before the movie was over, and definitely before midnight, but I watched the rest of it anyway and I cried so much when it got to the end. But then when we woke up the next morning, Marco wanted to finish it, so we started it where he left off, and when it got to the end, I cried again, even though I’d just seen it [laughs].”
Hopefully this year Foyer Red will have a more lively and classically memorable New Year’s Eve, because December 31st they will be playing our very own MilkBoy. The show will have the Brooklyn five-piece – who Sophie Kemp once described as “fuck-you crayon rock” for Pitchfork – providing direct support for Carpark Records labelmates Speedy Ortiz, with whom they have done several jaunts this year. We actually saw Foyer Red in the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection this March at Kung Fu Necktie, when they were on a run with our good buddies Why Bonnie. The band has done a lot of touring in 2023, which Elana tells me — during a recent phone chat with the group from the road — has been one of the highlights of the year, including an especially meaningful batch of shows with additional PHILTHY phriends, Deeper: “We did like three tours this year, so it was a really big year touring. The tour with Deeper felt like a turning point for us, getting to know ourselves as a touring band.”
Foyer Red has been touring behind Yarn the Hours Away, their debut LP, which dropped this May, following up 2021 EP Zigzag Wombat (the “fuck-you crayon rock” record). While Zigzag Wombat was self-recorded, Yarn the Hours Away had the band – which is rounded out by guitarists Kristina Moore and Mitch Myers, and bassist Eric Jaso — in Figure 8 Studios, working with Jonathan Schenke, who mixed, engineered, and produced the full-length. The album is a musical collection of surrealist short stories, whose sounds prompted Paste to say, “the whole record is a collage of avant-garde, off-kilter sweetness… Foyer Red gracefully tread the line between maximalist art-pop and baroque indie-rock.”
Since the release of Yarn the Hours Away, Foyer Red released dual single “Tallest Dogwood”/”Barkin’ Up a Knot,” which dropped last month. “These tracks are funny, because it’s kind of like something old and something new,” Elana tells me. The first track – which Elana explained to Our Culture Magazine is an homage to her childhood home – was something the band came up with during the YTHA sessions, Elana explains: “’Tallest Dogwood’ is an outtake from the album. We felt the album was a little long, and that song was a bit of an outlier.” The second track, however, is apparently something that’s been in the band’s repertoire for some time now: “’Barkin’ Up a Knot’ is a song that we made with the Zigzag Wombat record, and it’s always been near and dear to our heart. Jonathan [Schenke] kept pushing us to record it!”
Having recently found their comfort zones as a touring band, I’m curious if Foyer Red have decided on a favorite type of venue, and they tell me, “All ages venues rule! And they’re usually the best shows!” However, they admit that they certainly don’t mind the kinds of barrooms they’ve been playing in Philthy, saying that it’s not usually the space itself that defines how good a show will be: “It’s such a game changer when a venue actually takes care of a band… It’s less about the show room.” They also admit that enormous shows can be a ton of fun: “Hopscotch was a huge highlight! That’s the first big festival we’ve done.”
The band tells me that they’re hoping to continue spending a lot of time on the road next year, but Elana says they’re also hoping to be able to give fans some new music in the near future: “We’ve gotten into a really nice groove of writing, like with the first album… Every time we get into a room together, we just start playing something really cool, without any direction.” But at the moment, the group seems most focused on this last show of the year, which will also feature an opening set from locals Grocer, who we chatted with this July. In terms of what can be expected of their set, Foyer Red tells me, “We’re definitely playing a lot from the album these days. At this point, we know all the songs really well… Some cool dance moves onstage, some fun auxiliary percussion, and really cool pedal work between songs!” However, when I ask if anything special can be expected of the NYE gig, Elana emphatically says, “We can’t tell you that!”
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