We'd been chasing Mark from Black Foxxes for ages to have a chat with us following the release of their second long player Reiði, we finally managed to grab 5 minutes with him ahead of their performance at Download Festival, here's how we got on.
Hi Mark, Steve from musicmuso sends his regards, he got me into your music and promotes you guys hugely.
Oh that’s sweet!
So DL2018 is here, how are you feeling?
Festival season is weeks on then weeks off. A surreal pattern but it’s good fun and Download is the first big one. We have a very busy Summer ahead of us promoting the album.
How much does having played Download in the past prepare you?
We played a small stage previously and have a better understanding of what the crowd will like and the vibe of the festival. We play loud rock music with no gimmicks so we think we’ll be ok!
Do you have a routine before gigs or any superstitions? Do they change for bigger gigs?
I don’t believe in superstitions. No real routines but 30 minutes before our performance we like our own space to zen out and drink breakfast tea, nothing too rock and roll!
Is performing at Download a draining experience?
Yes it is, especially with the lyrical content and how much we put into the performance.
How’s the set split across the albums?
We're playing one track from I’m not Well and the remainder are from Reidi which we feel will go down really well.
Was there a step change for Reidi?
We didn’t want to release the same album each time, we wanted to show that we can move it around.
How influential was Iceland for you?
It’s a magical place and feels like another planet. We hadn’t gone there to write but felt inspired to do so. We've been there five times now and it draws me back every time. I book a cabin with no phone signal, away from everything where I can immerse myself. At times it can be a dark experience with only four hours of daylight in 24 hours. The next step is to go in the Summer with the extended daylight!
Reidi - Were there any challenges with the creative process?
It went really smoothly compared to I’m not well, which was difficult as I didn’t want to record it or even be there. This was seamless and we had the time of our lives making music we were confident with. Sometimes you need the battle, but we worked long and hard on it. It was also different as it’s the first time we’ve used strings and brass and that adds extra complexity.
So it's you that creates the lyrics and music?
I put the lyrics together in Iceland then put music around them when I came back. Normally the music comes first and the lyrics follow. I tend to put music and lyrics together and then we come together as Black Foxxes to create the album tracks.
What are your ambitions for the band in 2018?
We’re realistic and want a career in music and keep developing and evolving as a band and we know that we don’t want to stagnate in a particular scene. As I’m healthy, we want to tour as much as possible and if we can double the audience size and music sales that would be what we want. We’re confident in our music and feel that will do it for us. We have no set timeline but want the feeling that we're growing.
Do you feel you are reaching out to different audiences? I ask as I see you're playing Boardmasters Festival this year?
Boardmasters is closest to our home and we want to do a ‘hometown’ festival. The beauty of writing new music is that we can now play to different audiences. We played All Points East (Victoria Park, London) recently and that’s the direction we want so that we can play to broader audience in the future.
You're playing with Billy Talent in Switzerland, how did that come about?
We are SO looking forward to that, It’s gonna be nuts! So random. It's our management company that arranged it for us. We've never met them before and hear they’re fans of Black Foxxes which is cool. We don’t often get to hang out at festivals as we tend to get in, perform and go but this will be different. It’s exciting.
Is it difficult breaking through when you're based in Exeter?
It was difficult to start with but it stands you in better stead down the line. I think there’s an aura of humbleness being brought up in the country as you’re not so caught up in 'industry life'. It's all too easy to turn into a dick once you’ve had smoke blown up your ass for years so we try to avoid that. We go to London when we need to but we’re focussed on bettering ourselves and avoiding the hype.
Making music from our base is great. With the people we know and the technology it’s easier to do and that’s something I want to get into more.
Do you receive much pressure from your record company?
There is massive pressure to reach numbers and you need a good management team to smooth it out for you. Unless you’re a breakaway act like Royal Blood (and that doesn’t happen often) it’s hard for labels to stick with bands. Biffy (Clyro) & Radiohead took a while to become huge successes and the record label needs to be on board with you on that. If they’re looking at it for the short term, then we’re the wrong band for them. Thankfully everyone is on board with the longevity of the Black Foxxes.
Who were your musical influences when growing up?
Dad played Neil Young, Hendix and Rory Gallagher. I missed Blink 182 and only got into Nirvana recently. These tend to influence our attitude more than our music.
What do you get up to when you’re away from music?
Travel. I'm into cycling. When you’re ill a lot you appreciate being healthy and want to make the most of it!
So we might see you on Dartmoor in your lycra and helmet!
Unfortunately for you yes. (laughs)....
We saw the latter part of the Black Foxxes show and it was everything that Mark said it would be: loud, intense and loved by the fans. Do yourselves a favour and check them out!
If you want to listen to the audio from the interview, press PLAY below;