Recently I had the chance to listen to FOXTRAX’s debut EP, “The Cabin,” and sit down with the band to learn a little more about it—and found that it was quite an interesting story. Amicable and articulate, the three-part group consists of Ben Schneid (guitar, keyboard, organ, vocals), Jared Stenz (bass), and Jon Stenz (drums/percussion). Home base: Long Island, New York; current location: Los Angeles, California. Their song “Underwater” was #1 on Apple’s “New Artist Spotlight” in July, and the music video is slated for release August 16th. Read on to learn more about secluded cabins in North Carolina, bags of rice and quinoa, and the inspiration that can be found from living in nature.
Claire Batchelder (NT): Thanks so much for taking the time to talk to me! To start, I’m interested in hearing about why you decided to work on this EP where you did. Most bands tend to hole themselves up when they’re writing—the first one that comes to mind is My Chemical Romance at a haunted mansion somewhere in LA [which influenced The Black Parade]. Why did you choose a cabin, and why North Carolina?
FOXTRAX (Ben Schneid, Jared Stenz, Jon Stenz):Well, for starters, we’re definitely not anything like My Chemical Romance. We just needed to get out of New York and nature is a big inspiration. There are more animals than people, you know? We had panoramic windows and it felt like we were playing outside. We could do whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted. It’s 3am and you’re in the mood to play? Put on a pot of coffee and let’s do it. Stuff was just everywhere. All those things come into play and it’s a breeding ground for inspiration.
Speaking of animals, you guys followed fox tracks in the woods when you were spending time in the cabin, right? That’s so cool.
Yeah, we did! We weren’t looking for anything, we just kind of walked. We ended up in parts of the forest that had never been explored before. We realized we could use that as a metaphor to our musical journey, like following the fox tracks of life wherever they lead you. It’s part of the adventure of going out there.
That makes sense. I can definitely hear in your lyrics how being out there influenced you.
Yeah. We started completely from scratch—we didn’t even have a band name and that’s one of the things we were looking for. We had so many ideas, like, ‘Mountain View.’ That’s one of the worst band names I’ve ever heard.
What kind of music did you put on out there?
A lot of dark stuff, disco pop on repeat. U2’s ‘Joshua Tree’—that shit is righteous.
This writing process was completely about isolation and being away from everything. What would happen if you were to write in a public space, rather than a secluded one?
Oh, we have! And we want do more. The Cabin was introspective, when we were looking inward, but then there’s observational, like Paul Simon for example, where you’re looking outward. Playing shows and looking out at the audience, all those perspectives are part of a whole.
You guys graduated from pretty good schools [Cornell, Syracuse]. Why, of all things, did you decide to pursue music?
You’re born to do something. You just know it. When something terrible happens, music is there for you. We want FOXTRAX to be what you’re listening to in your headphones at night. We play a lot of shows in East LA, which we later found out is a less well-off area, and we have a fan named Eric [from East LA] who comes to pretty much every show. One night afterward, he came up to us and said ‘This music makes me feel like it’s okay to be myself. Thank you.’ And that was so cool. That’s what keeps us going.
Anything else you want to add?
Fun fact: We used to play as a four piece. We had a bag of brown rice we would put on the keyboard to play one continuous note the entire song. It didn’t sound too great though and we wanted the quinoa, but it was a drug addict. Too many issues. So we got rid of it altogether.
The band are playing in Southern California this summer and are working towards larger tours in the fall. Be sure to check out their calendar as well as “The Cabin” on Spotify and the music video for “Underwater” on August 16th!
Press Contact: Ed Bunker / Ed@NoProblemMarketing.com
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