Combining influences from Gospel (singer/guitarist Amy Combs grew up singing it, and Dad is a Pentecostal minister) to Delta Blues (Reuben Glaser of Pearlene is one of their guitarists) to Hip Hop ("That's a huge influence on our bass lines," says bassist/singer Danielle Bell) to groups like Wire and Scratch Acid (two of drummer Blaine Fisher's favorites), local femme-fronted act Viva La Foxx have created what they call "new phonetic sex punk rock." And they have folks all over town talking about their powerful music and bombastic stage presence.
"As long as somebody's feeling something one way or another, I'm good with that," Combs says when asked about her band's reputation for intense live shows. Everyone who's experienced the band's performances has definitely felt something, and it's been overwhelmingly positive. People are already throwing around the phrase "best band in town."
"I think it's pretty raw and gutsy," Combs says of the group's performance, "and I think that makes some people uncomfortable. But it's not all about sexuality. I think it's just really powerful and honest. But it's really vulnerable in a lot of ways, too. I think Danielle has a really great stage presence and Blaine just pounds it out and Reuben is an awesome guitar player.
"I want to put a show on for people. A lot of times I feel so bored when I go to Rock shows. I'm like, 'Why am I even here? You're up there to entertain me.' I'm a painter ... so I feel people need to see something. They need to feel something."
The band formed in November 2002, the "spawn of Zussa and Heevahava," says Bell. "Zussa ... went through a bunch of member changes. Then we (Bell and another of Zussa's original members) brought Blaine in from Heevahava. Then Amy and I became good friends, so I asked her to come in and we did a couple of shows like that. Then we decided it wasn't what we wanted."
"I was basically the catch-all," Bell continues. "I got to play tambourine and maracas, and I actually played a trombone, which I really don't have any idea how to play, and screamed a lot. It didn't work. It was all new people. We all had really new ideas for what we wanted."
So Zussa disbanded. The remaining members (Bell, Combs and Fisher) needed a guitarist.
"We had a couple of shows booked, so we turned to Reuben," Bell says. "We had known him for a long time. He'd been a very good friend of mine and Amy's."
When asked where the band's catchy moniker, Viva La Foxx, came from, Combs says, "The strip club (in Covington)."
"We used to practice right next to it," Fisher adds. Combs laughs, saying, "Yeah, we used to practice down on Scott Street with all the strip clubs and liquor. We were sitting actually in the strip club. So we were like, 'Why not?' "
So Viva La Foxx was born. The band has been hard at work since, playing locally and doing a small Midwestern tour. "We're playing out of town a lot, which I think is really important," Combs says. "It's really great to get out and play in other cities."
"Plus, when we get those nice, big chunks of time where we're 'stuck' with each other," Fisher adds, "spending time with each other, getting in tune, just playing night after night — that's really valuable."
The band does have plenty of love for their home turf. "I think it (the Cincinnati music scene) got a shot in the arm about a year or two ago and focused around this establishment (Northside Tavern, where we conducted our interview) and the Northside area," Fisher says.
Bell agrees: "As of late, there are so many bands poppin' up I can't even keep track of them, and I know there are quite a few that I really enjoy."
The band has a CD in the works and no plans to slow down. "For us it's just about ... being able to express ourselves," Bell says. "As long as we're doing that and having fun on a positive level, wherever it goes, we'll take the ride."
"As long as we have a good, healthy project going on," Fisher adds, "we'll take it as far as it can possibly go."
VIVA LA FOXX play Sudsy Malone's Nov. 6 with CrankBox and Nov. 22 at York St. Café with Morals Galore and Gazelles!