Interview with vocalist Conor Murphy | By Renaldo Matadeen | Photo by Joe Calixto
Foxing are the indie rock pride of St. Louis, Missouri. The quartet blend together many styles, from alternative to lush post-rock landscapes, to create a truly beautiful and often entrancing sound.
Following the great reception of their debut LP The Albatross in 2013 and follow-up Dealer just two years later, the band are back with Triple Crown Records to release their third-full length, Nearer My God, on Aug. 10. This brings full-circle the painful and emotionally-charged journey they’ve endured as storytellers and continues their vulnerable essays on life as we know it.
“If there’s one thing my years of Catholic schooling instilled in me, it’s fear,” vocalist Conor Murphy explains regarding the album’s title. “Rather than speaking directly about that again, we decided to use that religious imagery as a vessel for fear itself. The world around us seems to be crumbling in on itself in a sociopolitical context. If you’re like me, you need to chase reading the news with a glass of wine. The more the world crumbles, the more I rely on other people who feel like me. With this record, we’re hoping everyone who listens relates and remembers to take deep breaths.”
Murphy is still speaking to the Catholic themes found in Foxing’s previous material, but he believes the band have grown by leaps and bounds—not just in narrative but also in musical direction. “I think the musical evolution of this band directly correlates with all of us growing,” he explains. “We’ve written songs that challenge us to be better at our instruments. We’re slowly learning to accept this as a full-time job. We’re learning to be more positive and supportive of each other, trying to remember that we deserve happiness. For an ex-Catholic, that’s a strange feeling, but we’re all getting the hang of it.”
When asked what shaped their melodic approach on Nearer My God, Murphy gives credit to Foxing guitarist and co-vocalist Eric Hudson, who produced the record alongside former Death Cab For Cutie guitarist and current super-producer Chris Walla. “We decided to let Eric take the reins and be our producer,” Murphy shares. “He and Chris really made an environment that was creatively conducive. This was the first time we really took our time and wrote with equal parts intention and experimentation. I feel like we really got a chance to expand on small ideas that may have gone completely unnoticed if we didn’t have three years of endless reviews.”
“Because of that, you really get a reflection of our best efforts from start to finish,” he adds, citing how fresh their approach was in the studio.
As for the new album’s songs, which Murphy thinks will have a big impact, he reveals, “My favorite song is ‘Heartbeats.’ I think it’s my favorite song we’ve written. As far as live performance [goes], I don’t think I’ve ever had more fun than when we play ‘Grand Paradise’ live. That may be the rowdiest live song we’ve written.”
When asked what the latter track is about, Murphy coyly divulges, “‘Grand Paradise’ is all about lack of control. Even though we can hear and see everything happening wrong around us, sometimes, you just can’t do anything about it. It’s about anxiety and sleep and drinking and giving up.”
One thing’s for sure: as resilient and triumphant as the band believe mankind can be, Foxing are as musically dark as ever, clearly intent on exposing humanity for what it truly is: helpless and afraid.