Alex Nauth blows a hot trumpet with Foxy Shazam
There are the high-intensity vocals of Eric Nally, who has been compared to Freddie Mercury, and the scorching guitar licks of Loren Turner. Now, add in the rhythmic bass and drum beats by Daisy and Aaron McVeigh along with sleek keyboards by Schuyler White. It's a recipe for success.
There is one more gentleman though who masterfully adds a special ingredient to this potent potion of rock music. That's trumpet player Alex Nauth. While some hardcore rockers may scoff, "A trumpet player in a rock and roll band?" Nauth's horns add a very special spice to the sounds of Foxy Shazam. Nauth talked with EDGE on his feelings about the new material, life on the road and being the first band on the newly revived and classic I.R.S. label.
Foxy Shazam is currently doing a major spring/summer tour and as their hit song declares, "I like it... a lot."
EDGE: Were you born and raised in Ohio?
Alex Nauth: Yeah, actually I was born in up around the Cleveland area... a place called Berea, it’s just outside of Cleveland.
EDGE: I’m an Ohio native as well. I was born in Columbus and grew up in Ohio. Have you ever heard of Gahanna?
Alex Nauth: Yeah, wow... do you live in New York now?
EDGE: No. I live about twenty miles east of San Diego in the city of La Mesa. I read that you named the band Foxy Shazam and that’s based on an expression for cool shoes. Do all of you decide on that name?
Alex Nauth: To be honest, I was not in the band when Eric [Sean Nally] started it. But, it was a term that he got from his high school. It’s just a slang term that the kids used all the time. It kind of always stuck with him.
Band’s Harry James
EDGE: Inside your newest CD "The Church of Rock n’ Roll" booklet, there’s a beautiful painting of the six of you. I’m guessing, but are you the one wearing a hat in that painting?
Alex Nauth: Yeah. That was Sam Spratt who did that. He’s an incredible artist. I remember getting that and just thinking, how much like superheroes we felt. It was pretty weird.
EDGE: You are the "Harry James" of the band. You definitely are sensational. Are you familiar with him? (Note: Harry James was a popular trumpeter with a big band from the 1940s.)
Alex Nauth: Yes... oh, thank you.
EDGE: Specifically on the track, "Last Chance at Love." I hear your playing all over the place on this. "Too Late Baby" and "Wasted Feelings"...
Alex Nauth: When we start with a new record, it was important for me to find some things with the horn, specifically to push it a little bit forward in rock n’ roll... using the techniques of jazz and so forth. You know, Miles Davis started using pedals and stuff towards the end of his career? He played at the Monterey Pop Festival... he was taking things progressively a little bit forward.
EDGE: Oh, yeah. It’s not the first instrument you think of for a rock n’ roll band, oh, a trumpet? But it really adds to the sound a lot.
Alex Nauth: (laughter) Yeah, I know. I know it’s not common. Thank you.
EDGE: I wanted to talk about the song, "Forever Together." That song is fantastic and so personal. Who wrote it?
Alex Nauth: That one was Eric, actually. Obviously, it was very close to him and dear to his heart. I remember he wrote that when we were on a tour and I think we all were having a particularly tough time at that period. Just being away from home and we’d been on the road for a very long time. We were doing a lot of openings and slots on tours. We were kind of a little bit disheartened and I think that’s where that song came from.
EDGE: Eric almost sounds like John Travolta circa "Saturday Night Fever" when he’s talking in part of the song.
Alex Nauth: (laughter) I’ll tell him. He’ll get a kick out of that.
EDGE: I think it is so cool that Foxy Shazam is the first band on the advent of the I.R.S. label returning. How has it been working with this classic label?
Alex Nauth: It’s going great so far. The whole mindset behind I.R.S., where it’s freedom to the artist to express themselves the way they want to... even the power to do that. Their whole motto is something that we’ve always been behind too. We know exactly what we want and how we want to present ourselves and what to write, we just needed to find a partner that would help us do that. It’s perfect.
EDGE: Oh good.
Alex Nauth: Yeah, Oingo Boingo and R.E.M... like really weird bands have been on that label in the past. They let them do it their own way and they’ve had success. So, it’s great that the label has come back and they are still holding true to that. We couldn’t be happier, to be honest.
EDGE: I get so many flashbacks on "Church of Rock n’ Roll" to other classic artists and bands such as Billy Squire, Queen, Bon Jovi and others. It’s excellent to hear this style done so well again. How would you describe your personal joy in being part of the band?
Alex Nauth: It’s actually funny; I really appreciate what you say about it because after writing the songs and stuff like that, they all have different references or different things attached for me. It’s really cool to hear what you think. It is opposite of what I think of certain songs... that’s what makes it great. I just think it’s important that whatever it means to me is personal and whatever anybody else listening to the record, that it’s the same for them.
EDGE: What other artists do you listen to?
Alex Nauth: What we listen to as a band, the list between all six of us is just insane. It covers everything. I know that a lot of what I grew up on especially and I think Eric too... we grew up on older music. It’s what we consider "classic" now. I remember playing Boz Scaggs on the back patio on my Saturday mornings. I used to like Queen too and Hall and Oates. I was also in to big bands and all that kind of stuff. I also grew up on classical music.
EDGE: How has the touring been for the band? Has it been a blast or has there been any "housewives" drama?
Alex Nauth: (laughter) It’s going really well, actually. We’re all in really good spirits right now. It’s a pretty exciting time for us. We’re taking it in stride.
EDGE: The last two songs on this called "The Streets" and "Freedom," are beautifully done. They seem like instant "classics."
Alex Nauth: Thank you so very much. So good to hear, we put a lot of hard work and effort... especially in to those two songs. "Freedom" was a song that we worked on the lyrics a lot. Just to try and make sure that each word counts. "The Streets" was one of those easy songs in a certain way. Eric had had the lyrics for a long time and the song was just a blues-based song that met with some urban beats. It was meant to be.
EDGE: Thanks so much, Alex.
Alex Nauth: It was a pleasure talking to you.
Foxy Shazam’s newest CD "The Church of Rock and Roll" is available at Amazon.com
The group’s tour begins on May 16, 2012 at the Bowery Ballroom in New York City. Among the cities the group will be traveling to this summer are Baltimore, MD; Columbus OH; Nashville, TN; Orlando, FL; and Las Vegas, NV. For a complete list of the band’s tour dates, visit the Foxy Shazam website.