Eric Nally measures his words carefully as he describes his excitement over the impending release of the fifth Foxy Shazam album. Nally and the rest of the Foxy crew — guitarist Loren Turner, keyboardist Sky White, bassist Daisy Caplan, trumpeter/back-up vocalist Alex Nauth, minus drummer Aaron McVeigh, who was unavoidably absent for our interview — are all jacked about the results of their latest recording sessions but have adopted a leak-conscious attitude about everything but the sparest details surrounding the album that they've spawned.
"We're getting it mastered and we're getting the artwork together," Nally says in the living room of Caplan's Northside home (where my wife and I had the upstairs apartment for nine years back in the '80s, a story for another time). "As far as when we'll have a release date, we're not quite sure yet. There's a lot of really cool stuff revolving around the record and it's important that we do it all at the same time. We're in that transition period before a new record and it's all going according to plan and it's really exciting."
The shroud of secrecy that cloaks Foxy's new album doesn't impact the two hometown performances scheduled this weekend — Friday's scaled back show at Mayday in Northside and Saturday's full-blown production at Corryville's Bogart's. These two performances will not feature any new material from Foxy's recent sessions, but will serve as the conclusion to the touring cycle for 2012’s The Church of Rock and Roll as well as a hometown celebration of the band’s entire history.
The tidbits that Nally and the band do share regarding the new album reveal a slightly different creative path for Foxy Shazam this time around. With the demise of its most recent label home, IRS Records, the band wrote and recorded the new album with no input from a corporate source, a freedom they welcomed.
"Literally through various companies being acquisitioned, we've been on every major label that's existed in the past 10 years," Caplan says.
"And we snuck off of them every single time," White adds, “before they got into horrible legal problems."
After wrapping up its last tour cycle of 2012 and taking a slight break, the band rented a rehearsal room and spent four hours a day writing and demoing new songs. Without an audience to road test the new material or label drones to second guess it, the sextet took its time.
"We spent a whole year, literally every day, and wrote our album," Nally says. "We got all the producing out of the way there, in the room, so when we went to record it, we were ready to go. We didn't need to figure anything out in the studio."
Once they had amassed a solid set of songs, Foxy’s members headed to Electrical Audio in Chicago, the studio owned and operated by iconic producer Steve Albini. Although the band self-produced the new album, Albini's acclaimed engineering expertise and mere presence proved to be better than advertised.
"He's one of the only people that are famous, or whatever you call it, where everything good you've heard about them turns out to be true," Caplan says. "He's just an all-around impressive man and a good person."
It's usual for Rock bands to trumpet their latest album as their best. It's also clear that Foxy's members are feeling driven by pride and excitement to discuss their new work; only their faith in their plan is preventing them from divulging too much about it.
"It's definitely a lot different," White says. "There are little technique differences. We've all gone through personal transitions in the ways we create music."
"It's almost like we're releasing our first album," Turner observes.
"It's definitely what we've always been," Nally says. "This record helped me to see the forest for the trees as far as Foxy Shazam."
One part of the blueprint Foxy doesn't mind revealing is its intention to launch the band’s next tour in Cincinnati as soon as the album is released. Foxy’s vision for the upcoming set is to perform the new album in its entirety and then flesh out the second part of the show with fan faves and maybe a few obscurities.
While the first two Foxy albums, The Flamingo Trigger and Introducing, represented the band's shifting lineup, the new album will be the third release with its current, stable lineup. The personal dynamic between all six members over the past four years has facilitated that stability and their musical progress to this point.
"We know each other so well, from touring the country and the world and making music together," Nally says. "It's been such a wild ride, especially over the past three albums.
"A lot of bands aren't really friends, but we all hang out when we're not playing. That goes a long way. We make hard decisions together and it gets pretty heavy when you're talking about all this, then you go and make a baby with six guys."
"We've been to everyone's wedding, we've been broke together, we got a little money together," Turner says.
"We get along, we have a decent amount of things in common, we enjoy being around each other," White adds. "We've almost died on tour a hundred times together."
With the new album on its way to being mastered and completed, the next phase is to finish planning the Mayday and Bogart's shows and close the book on 2013 in anticipation of 2014 and the new album. Both shows will be a catalog-spanning experience that will delight new and longstanding fans.
"We're putting together the epic Foxy Shazam set list that encapsulates the year," Nally says. "I've put together a few playlists and it's a lot of songs spanning our whole career."
"I just hope we get enough people there to vote for us," Nauth deadpans, a reference to Foxy's early high school “battle of the bands” days.
The conversation continually vacillates between the twin shows, which the members openly discusses, and the launch plans for the new album, which they desperately want to talk about but are trying to keep under wraps. It builds to a point where, in the spirit of the story of how Foxy Shazam was named, they begin to make things up.
"We can tell you about the guest farts," Caplan says.
Nally picks up the thread. "We got The Rock to guest fart on our record," he embellishes.
Now that's a leak with a Foxy twist.
FOXY SHAZAM plays Friday at Mayday with Evolve and Saturday at Bogart’s with Electric Citizen and Honeyspiders. The Mayday show is sold out; click here for ticket info for the Bogart's show.