Recent transplants from New York, Foxtrax, have made the move to Los Angeles and are ready for the next chapter with their latest release, The Cabin. Their first EP has an incredible collection of carefully crafted and ferocious rock music, which makes instant fans of all listeners. Lead vocalist and guitarist, Ben Scheid united with bothers Jon and Jared Stenz in New York in early 2015 and have accomplished so much in such a short time. This band does not have a pause button and continues to grow and develop their style with each release.
We caught up with the band do chat about their origins, their dedication to their music and the future with exciting upcoming live shows.
Can you tell us about the origins of the Foxtrax? Where did the musical adventure begin?
John Stenz: We all grew up in Oceanside, New York and we decided to start perusing music about a year ago. Took a trip to a cabin in the woods of North Carolina and spent six weeks there writing music. Came up with the band name and wrote the five songs that are in The Cabin EP.
So all those were done in that cabin?
Ben Schneid: Some of the songs were either raw ideas or existed in some form or another. We wrote a lot of songs in the cabin and also a couple that we started to mess around with really honed in the cabin. I think we found to the basic denominator what Foxtrax is and what it can be. That was kind of our launch pad. How we grew the band is all based on that work.
There are a lot of songs on YouTube that are not on this EP. Is that for a future release?
Jared: We’re always writing and we’re really stoked for whatever the next release is going to be. We’re really proud of The Cabin and we’re happy to let that out in the ether and breathe for a minute. We hope to be able to record a full-length record or another EP pretty soon.
What was the hardest thing about making the latest EP, The Cabin?
Jon: Picking the songs was one of the hardest things to do. Even when you’re there and it’s very creative and artistically liberating in many ways, it’s just a lot of creative things and songs—energies are flying out the wall. Limiting down the 12 or 15 or so ideas we had then five finished works that flowed together, I think was the hardest part for me.
Jared: I think the limitations of being unbound with no real studio and doing all DIY and stuff like that was definitely a hard part but by the same token, I think that lead to our development. We learned some of the finer points of actual arrangement, recording yourself and going back meticulously figuring out parts and what sounds good here and why. I think the limitations and hardships helped us along the way.
What is the most touristy thing you’ve done while in L.A.?
John: we took a photo in front of the Venice sign. I feel that’s pretty touristy.
Ben: It was really fun. We popped out in the middle of the road and were ‘quickly, quickly, quickly’ we hold our arms up and were like, ‘Dude, you, this looks like Californication.’
The song “Dark of the Night” is a beautiful and powerful song. What is this song about?
Ben: I think the theme that crosses the whole record is about love that can go bad. We’re in a place in which you don’t have the answers and you’re trying to find them and something’s wrong and there’s a tension that’s built and everyone wants to break it and everyone wants to figure out to say but there’s really nothing to say. Like ‘Say, should I leave?’ If you think about the first lines of the songs, someone is really breaking down but there’s really nothing to say about it. It’s just kind of known and there’s this unspoken tension.
They say being in a band is like a being in a family. How do you handle disagreements with the direction of a song, an album or the band?
Jon: I think with any partnership be it in business, music or a relationship, you’re going to have disagreements and that’s just part of being in a healthy group. I think that the most important thing about being in a band is something that I think we do pretty well overall, is that we trust each other and we have pretty thick skins about it. No matter what anyone says, we don’t take it personally and we know that we’re all playing for the same team and trying to make the best music possible.
What one album would you take with you on a deserted island?
John: The album I would take just because as I slowly slip into insanity, I’d really like to be listening to Beach Boy’s Pet Sounds.
Ben: For me, it would probably have to be Let It Be by The Beatles.
Jared: When you ask a musician about who their favorite musician is or their favorite singer, or favorite song, it’s the most difficult question you can get. I think it would be probably Bookends by Simon and Garfunkel.
Are there any new bands that you are listening to right now?
Ben: I think we’re all into this artist name called Kaleo, from Iceland. They’re pretty amazing, pretty bluesy and rock and roll. We’re also listening a lot to Barns Courtney. We’re actually fortunate enough to be opening up for him in San Francisco and in L.A. in September.
John: Another band that I like that aren’t that new is Tame Impala. That’s the band I was really jazzed about when I heard them. They have this classic energy mixed with this new sound that they definitely aspire to be.
Ben: I think on a completely different wavelength of artists more of this R&B. We’re really into The Internet and Thundercat. This whole collective that has been involved with Kendrick Lamar. All these groups are tenuously connected and there’s this old-school R&B-like jazz in their music. We played this show at Brandeis University with The Internet and watching them play was just like ‘holy crap’. It’s so tight, it was just so together. Their band was a unit. They were amazing. The way they conducted themselves. They were so casual. They looked like kids from 1994 where they’re wearing these fake jumpers.
John: It was a little bit ‘Fresh Prince of Bel Air.’
Ben: It was fun. They’re a great group of people.
What has been your greatest rock star moment, so far?
Ben: We just played a sold out show at the Mercury Lounge and it was such a bizzare experience because he hadn’t really been home since we came to L.A. We flew home with our instruments and we stepped out into New York City that day for that show and we saw the line shoot up in front of the venue. It was a special thing for a young band. I just remember walking out onto that stage. From the back room, no one really knew that we were coming out. The lights are down, we pick up our instrument and everyone’s cheering on, that was a real moment for me personally, I’m sure the band as well. That was just like, ‘Wow, I hope I get a ba-gillion chances to recreate this feeling again’ because I’ve never quite felt that exalted, that liberated, that free. That was something special.
Jon: Another real moment from a tour, we got flown out to Boston to play Brandeis’ year-end festival and that sort of energy on campus. We were the young band that not too many people knew but some students knew, so there really kind of like, cool, edgy and hip when we arrive on campus. Getting flown out to college across country for T-Pain and The Internet was a really, really great experience.
Jared: We got there a day or two before the show and we walked around campus and went to check out the stage and were hanging out and there and all of a sudden a group of kids were honking their car horn and open their window and yell, ‘Hey Foxtrax!’ That was a really cool moment to realize that people recognized us and that was very humbling and very flattering, definitely.
Ben: Going off that story, we got to Brandeis and started to walk around the campus and would stop kids and ask them, ‘Hey, are you going to Spring Fest?’ They would say, ‘Yeah, I think it’s T-Pain, The Internet…’ I would say, ‘I heard there’s this band called Foxtrax. Have you heard any of their stuff?’ A couple kids would realize that after we talked to them they’re walking and way, ‘Oh, that’s actually the band.’ We were trying to play it supercool. We wanted their genuine response.
Is there any advice you have for new bands just starting out?
Jared: If you really want to be in a serious band, you have to realize that you’re going to work really hard. Nothing is ever going to come to you. You have to go out there and make your own opportunities. You’re going to have to have thick skin and also it’s really important to trust and love people that you work with, be it your bandmates, which is the most important part, management, it’s all about trust and creating that community. I think that to me is definitely the most important thing when you’re really getting it going.
Ben: Also playing a lot. I was talking to this songwriter the other day and he was like, ‘Yeah, I’ve just been working on my songs and I haven’t really played live much at all. I’ll wait to do that after.’ I think that’s just a huge mistake. However bad the songs are, until you play for people and they tell you that this song sucks that you thought was a hit. I can’t tell you the amount of songs that we were wrong about. It’s been both directions. I think that’s the key to the kingdom when you’re a young artist and you’re a young band, get out there and play your music live for people. See how they react. See how good you are at playing off the crowd. That’s the only way you’re going to be a great band.
What is next for Foxtrax?
John: Next for Foxtrax is continuing to write new songs and working on some songs that need fine-tuning. Then we have that that little bit of a tour with Barns Courtney up in San Francisco. Then we’re playing the Troubadour on September 8th. We’re working our way towards that. Also, we’re going to release our music video for “Underwater,” off of The Cabin, on August 1st. We’re really excited about that. We worked on the video with Frank Borden, an incredible director and producer. Frank has worked with the Red Hot Chili Peppers and some really big acts so it’s definitely for us a legitimizing factor to see that video come together. Also, just I think we’re going to try to make out shows that much better and get ourselves ready for a big tour in the coming months.