Offering an album for free isn’t really the norm in the music business. But Foxy Shazam frontman Eric Sean Nally says there was no better way than that to distribute Gonzo, his band’s fifth album and his “pride and joy.”
“We wanted to make sure we left money out of the equation this time,” Nally says. “We wanted to give everything and take nothing. I wanted to make the statement of, ‘Bring music to people, not to make money’—even though this is a career and we need to make money in order to support our families. That’s still important. I wanted people to see the real reason why we do it. I wanted to put my whole heart in something and ask for nothing in return.”
Nally explains that Gonzo is everything to Foxy Shazam because it was a DIY project, for the most part, for the Cincinnati-bred band.
“Basically, we took a year and we wrote the record in our practice space,” Nally says.
“The record was finished before we stepped foot in the studio. Once we had it down, we brought it to (producer) Steve Albini in Chicago and we basically sat in the room with him. He put microphones on our gear and he recorded it. We did it all at once. It’s an organic way of doing it.”
Nally calls Gonzo Foxy Shazam’s first concept record, although it’s a bit vague.
“It’s conceptual to me,” he says, with the stress on “me.” “It’s the first time I found something inside of myself that was very personal. It tells the story as far as who I am.
“I think artists strive to find something inside themselves that they feel compelled to write about. Sometimes going to that place inside yourself isn’t always happy. There might be certain things that don’t make you happy to think about. To write about it is what makes me happy. The lyrics are a little sad, but I’m so happy to have the opportunity to express it artistically as opposed to in some kind of destructive way.”
Foxy Shazam is almost as well known for its music as it is for Nally’s concert monologues in between songs. Nally laughs when he hears, from an audience member’s perspective, a take on his rants.
“I’m just effortlessly speaking when I’m on stage,” Nally says matter of factly. “I try not to think about things too hard. When I do, it comes across as goofy. The best way to do that stuff is just not to think about it. It’s very refreshing just to be able to whatever comes to mind when I’m on stage.”
Speaking of the stage, Nally is excited about coming back to Phoenix, where he has opened for the likes of Slash and The Darkness.
“We haven’t been out West since those tours you mentioned,” he says. “I’m very excited to get back. I feel like the desert is calling my name.”
This tour is special for Foxy Shazam, who are planning to perform Gonzo in its entirety, take a break, and then return to the stage for a second, retrospective set.
“I can only picture Gonzo as a whole,” he says. “The whole album is one song to me. It’s like of like a book, you go page to page.
“It was important to us that we kept it together and when we present it, people hear it in its entirety. We play it from front to back, and then we come back and play older songs. We’re playing two sets—the new album and the classics that people have heard before. It brings a new energy to the stage. I think it’s cool that people can see Gonzo and our previous work in contrast back to back with each other.”
Foxy Shazam w/Stop Light Observations, Captain Squeegee, Crescent Ballroom, 308 N. Second Avenue, Phoenix, 602.716.2222, crescentphx.com, Monday, July 28, 8 p.m., $15