Certain bands have the remarkable ability to sound avant-garde and deeply nostalgic in the same breath. The jazz-influenced singer-songwriter stylings of Steely Dan or the retro-modern R&B of Bruno Mars are great examples.
Atlanta’s Toxic Foxtrot (vocalist/guitarist Bri Foxx, bassist Wilson Bass and keyboardist Hart Deer) are very much that rare breed, offering a sound that combines the doom-laden power chord crunch of Black Sabbath with the eclectic psychedelia of Jethro Tull and Black Widow.
ArtsATL recently spoke with lead vocalist and founder Bri Foxx to discuss the group’s debut EP, Everybody Knows, a surprisingly mature and intricate debut that sets a high bar for the band’s future output.
ArtsATL: How did the band’s diverse sound come together?
Bri Foxx: I come from a family that is very multicultural. I’m half German and half Panamanian. So I grew up listening to very different types of music, everything from jazz to R&B to salsa. I feel like when I write music I tend to look back a little toward my roots. Sometimes I’ll just play until something sounds good. Sometimes I’ll hear the music in my dreams, and then play it on the instrument I hear. Sometimes it’ll come out of nowhere or when I’m jamming with people. It’s like an “A-ha!” moment, and I roll with it.
Even though I have my own process, having the other musicians play their parts totally brings new meaning to the music. The music I’ve written has evolved tremendously with the help of my friends.
At the end of the day, the way I write music is very personal and usually stems from random impulsive thoughts or things that I go through at the time. I like to consider myself a story writer but at the same time I also feel like I live my life as a cartoon character. I just feel like I always have something strange happening to me, which is great because I’ll never run out of things to write about.
ArtsATL: What are the stories behind some of these songs?
Foxx: I wrote “Blind Eyes” about a woman I wanted to date but never could because at the time she was going through a lot and the stars never aligned. I saw her get clean and get her life together, but she ended up in the hospital last year due to COVID. I remember seeing how sad she was and I felt bad. I thought she was going to die and so I wrote the lyrics as a way of wanting to tell the world to wake up.
“Blacklisted” is a funny story. I already had the music written and needed lyrics. One day I went to a bar by myself in an attempt to make some friends. I saw on my phone that Aaron Carter got busted in Georgia for heroin possession and how he basically just lost his career. I told one lady who had been buzzed since I got there. She started crying in front of me over this. Then another woman asked her why she was crying, and once woman two found out about Aaron Carter from woman one, they both started crying together. Three, four, five women later, there’s a literal cry-baby circle in the middle of this bar. I was simply dumbfounded. “Blacklisted” is about musicians who make it big but slip up and get blacklisted from the industry, and the effects it has on their loyal supporters. Everything you do in life is a gamble, and the right choice isn’t always the easiest to make.
ArtsATL: How did the recording process for Everybody Knows go?
Foxx: We started at Standard Electric Recorders Co., and then we recorded a little bit with our keyboardist, Hart Deer. Eventually we made our way to the Afterdark Studio. The EP took two years to make just because we had a lot of hands touch the music and a few setbacks.
ArtsATL: How did you come up with such an unusual band name?
Foxx: I went to a band-name generator and I kept getting the word, “toxic.” I liked the ring to it simply because the word had the letter “X.” So I told Wilson and he kept adding random words to it. He then specifically remembered that he has a friend who served in the Air Force and he kept going over call names: whiskey, tango, foxtrot. Then once he said the word “Foxtrot” we both just had a good pause in life. Kind of one of those tire-screeching moments where you almost hit a deer, but you’re not mad because the deer is frolicking away majestically so all you can do is say, “Wow.” We both knew Toxic Foxtrot was going to stick.
ArtsATL: What’s next for the band?
We are looking for a permanent lead guitar player and drummer, so if anyone is interested they can message us on the Toxic Foxtrot Facebook page. Other than that we are focused on writing our future album, spreading the word on our EP and getting back out to play live shows again.