“I was a little weirded out by the whole LA scene,” admits Ben Schneid (vox/guitar/keys) of the Los Angeles-by-way-of New York City alt-rock trio, Foxtrax.
But let’s not harshly judge Schneid for a sentiment that most LA transplants have felt at some point before (during and after) committing to calling the City of Angels “home.” After all, transitions can be unsettling and in the case of Schneid and his brother bandmates Jared Stenz (bass) and Jon Stenz (drums), they didn’t even realize they would actually need a car in their new environment. A perfect example of how NYC conditions/spoils one on the luxury of 24-hour public transportation that can and will take you practically anywhere within the city that you need to go.
Here is what’s important: a little over two years ago Foxtrax felt the need to uproot themselves. Since doing so, they’ve been on the road with Barnes Courtney, played South By Southwest, released a stream of connective singles from their Nothing Lasts Forever EP, made themselves comfortable in Los Angeles (cars included), are weaving themselves into its community fabric and have plans for their music and the future. And framing Foxtrax’s intentions is best done in their own words…
Ben: “We came out here, we needed a car: we didn’t know that. We went to Rancho Cucamonga to some back alley, disgusting car place. This guy was like a recent divorcee, he was venting about all his life’s problems. This was the second day we got here. Every day was like hot, the highest highs and lows. I’m so happy and I’m really sad, and that experience is just an epitome of how bizarre it was when we moved out here.”
Jon: “We weren’t really doing much thinking when we moved to LA. We were just kind of reacting. It was like, we’re going to LA, and whatever happens, happens. We might be there for two weeks, we might be there for six months, might be there for two years, might be there for the rest of our lives.”
Jared: “I definitely agree with that; that we were reacting. One thing that Foxtrax does not do, is backup plans. We barely plan, but backup plan is just not a thing. I don’t think we believe in it. It’s not part of our ethos. Burn the boats, go out there and do what you’re gonna do to the fullest you can do it, and then figure it out.”
Ben: “The reason we left New York was because all of our friends and our families were there, and we just realized we’re not gonna a make music career because our friends like us. We can sell 100 tickets – that’s really cool – but those are like your family. That’s not gonna make you a successful band. You need to feel that hunger and the burn, and so we moved to LA.”
Jared: “I think somehow, our norm is chaos. Our norm is confusion, and our norm is just finding the beautiful scattered pieces, and putting them together in something that’s creative, and unique, and totally us, that no one else can do.”
Jon: “I think music, in many ways, is like a giant puzzle piece. You’re just constantly trying to find the right pieces that go together. I think the lack of organization – which is definitely a fault to ourselves – at points, it’s a big negative. I think it’s also keeping us always creatively hungry…our minds are constantly staying creative, and constantly trying to find which pieces can go together the best way possible.”
The Power of Three = A Moment in Time:
Ben: “I think that the past two years moving to LA are encapsulated by the three first songs that were released [“Grey Morning,” “Nothing Lasts Forever” and “Everything’s Changing”]. The experience of the grey morning, and how daunting and overwhelming things were. Into a feeling of – wow -we’re really in this position, and it’s a grind, and it’s really difficult, it’s really challenging. But that doesn’t last forever. Finally, I think we’re just getting to the last phase of that, which is that everything’s feeling like it’s starting to change for us in a positive way.
That feels really great, because we’ve worked really hard to get here, but life’s really short, and it’s not really necessarily about the destination, as much as it is the journey.
Even if we eventually were to headline Glastonbury, this is cool. We’ll never recreate this: this moment of innocence in our band. We’re really young…headlining the Roxy for the first time,…that’ll never happen again. We might play here again…but it’ll never be our first. It’ll never be that early moment in our career where things were really uncertain. That’s really special and you can’t mock that, no matter what. That’s important to appreciate.”
Ben: “I go out in LA any night, I see a million bands I know, a million people I know. Anywhere I go I bump into people; any music event, any show, anywhere. I know I can go by myself because I know for sure there’s gonna be 10 people I know, and they’re gonna introduce me to their people. I never did that once in New York. We played a billion shows [in New York], I don’t think we ever played a show with the same band once.”
Ben: “I think we’d like to play some festivals. I think we’d like to do Bonnaroo, the Firefly. We actually saw Twenty-One Pilots play…I think we were a little bit haters in the beginning. Then we saw them play live and they blew our minds which was awesome. They’re a great brand and I think we just want to be that kind of band that can convey incredible energy live…so that you can go out and play live, and blow people’s minds from all the expectations that they have of what your recorded sound is.”
Jared: “I’d love to release some more music, and hopefully in a form that’s as expressive, if not more expressive, than what we just did. Got a bunch of songs in the pipeline, and a lot better still yet to be written. I think the best is only in front of us, in terms of our creativity and our outlet. Releasing new music in 2018, we get back in the studio, and really hunker down and make something, another beautiful cohesive piece of art.”
Jon: “I think 2018, for me, is gonna be a lot about personal development as well. As a musician especially, to help the band achieve the level of musicality and creativity that we want to get to, and I think my big goal in 2018 is just to get a ton better as a musician, as a drummer, as a creator. I think that’s gonna be what really helps our band a great deal is, the more we develop. Ben, has developed so much as a singer in the last two years, Jared, has developed so much as a bass player. I think that the more each of us individually develops it, the more we’re gonna be able to hone our craft, and really create anything.”
Am I Missing Something?
Jared: “They covered it. Fall, I miss fall. Fall’s cool.”
Ben: “The people. Miss our friends and family.”