Artist Of The Month: Harvey Fox

Name: Harvey Fox, comprised of – Colin Fox (guitar and vocals), Tom Garvey (bass), Dario Velazquez (drums), Drake Morey (keys, percussion)
Hometown: Based in Chicago
Genre: Psychadelic rock, “a punk band that discovered jazz chords”
For Fans Of: Wallows, Hunny, The Walters
Why You Should Care: Well for starters, it’s important to support local music scenes! Not only is Harvey Fox making the Chicago scene better, but their music is great. Obviously, I wouldn’t be including them on the blog if I thought otherwise. Second, according to an interview with Anchr Magazine, the group have been friends since they were in middle school. I think there’s something to say about groups who have been lifelong friends that’s different than bands who made not have a bond that deep.

Check out my Q&A with Colin Fox, lead guitar and vocals:

Chicago Haze: After taking a break from music after feeling a bit of burnout, the band returned to work on your second album. Can you elaborate a bit more on the creative process and how/if it differs from the first time around?

Harvey Fox: By the end of the summer last year, I was totally overworked and unable to enjoy anything I was doing. There’s a lot of things about being a band that are less than enjoyable, but I was so burnt out that I couldn’t even find joy in the things that are supposed to be expressive and fun.

I was working 40 hours a week, freelancing as a graphic designer, and using all of my free time to work on the album while averaging about 4 hours of sleep a night. That’s no way to live. I think I went into it with the mentality of: this is going to be a hard week, but I can tough it out. A week turned into a month that turned into a year and then there was no end in sight, and I seemed to lose my grip on any reason why I was making music in the first place. 

After coming to this realization, I decided to take a step back from music and find myself again. I was tired of trying to ride waves of “success” towards “greater success”. I needed to reassess what success meant to me. Rather than trying to make as many people as possible hear the best music I could possibly make, which was my goal at the beginning, I now set out to live a happy and healthy life with fulfilling creative projects and experiences.

I took time away to take better care of my health and manage my time, and when I came back to work on the record, it was a completely different process. Rather than trying to muscle through the project, we were just letting it flow. This allowed for some more experimentation in the studio, some more improvisation, and it gave a lot more depth to the record. What started as a white-knuckled rock album turned into something a lot more nuanced and beautiful, sort of mirror the process of how it was made.

Chicago Haze: What was the most important takeaway from taking a break for yourself?

Harvey Fox: It’s important to remove yourself from your work and your success. It gets pretty overwhelming when you’re in the midst of working on a huge project. It’s easy to lose yourself. I had so much emotional and creative energy invested into this project that it felt like my self-worth was completely intertwined with the success of the project.

I’ve always felt like the art I made never reached its full potential. Like I put in a good effort, but if I had tried harder or had more resources I could have done better. I placed a lot of importance on making sure that this album was my full effort – that it was the best thing I could possibly make and nothing was left on the table. And I feel like I achieved that – I don’t think I could have done it better. But I only came to that place after letting go of that stress I was putting on myself. When I had the mindset of “this needs to be perfect”, it was nothing but drudgery to work on the record.

It to my mindset changing to a sense of “I am going to do my best, and whatever happens will happen” to allow myself to do my best work.

Chicago Haze: The music scene in Chicago is interesting, considering the city is so large, but it feels like it’s such a tight community of artists. Do you think that you would see the band sticking around here long term or do you envision ever going somewhere else?

Harvey Fox: I don’t really see us ever leaving Chicago. We all have different careers outside of the band that might lead us elsewhere, but we have discussed this as a band and have no plans of letting geography come in the way of our musical expression. Our community is here, our home is here. We’ve been shown a lot of love by this city and I’d like to do a lot more to give back. One of the great things about being in the band this long is the slow accumulation of gear from years of playing has led us to point where we now have a sizable home studio to work with other artists and help them record their own music.

I’m having a couple bands over this weekend to record—friends I’ve made from the music scene that have always been a great support to my music career, and I’m so happy to be able to invite them into our studio and give them opportunities that we’ve been given in the past. Those are the types of relationships that really make all the hard work worthwhile. I feel like Chicago is a breeding ground for DIYers.

There’s definitely an emphasis on supporting your local community and supporting artists in their creative endeavors and I’d like to do my part to keep that spirit alive.

Chicago Haze: Are there any artists, past or present, that influence your sound or inspired you to create music growing up?

Harvey Fox: My mom got me into a lot of the music that I still love today. Lots of classic rock. She introduced me to the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, and Pink Floyd at an early age. I remember being mesmerized by the album cover for Wish You Were Here. I remember Pink Floyd really stood out to me because the music felt like another world. It’s one thing to write a love song, it’s another thing entirely to create an atmosphere and a soundscape that the listener can explore.

How do you take guitars and synths and drums and turn that into a whole universe? That idea really fascinated me and gave me a taste for music that felt like it was more than just songs. On the other end of the spectrum, I remember watching MTV as a kid and seeing the videos for the White Stripes’ “Fell in Love With a Girl” and Weezer’s “Hash Pipe” and that stuff really connected with me. The lead singer of Weezer just looks like some nerd and the music is very simple and melodic. It stuck out to me that both those songs were really heavy and really pretty at the same time. I love the mix of “ugly” and “pretty” sounds. That garage rock revival got me more into writing my own songs, and the classic rock stuff got me into expanding simple ideas into another dimension.

Chicago Haze: Lullabies For The Restless was just released this past month. What’s next? What are you looking forward to most in 2020?

Harvey Fox: I now have my own home studio set up, which is something we didn’t have before. We have a lot of material we’ve put on the back burner because of trying to finish what’s in front of us – whether that was the album or the next show we had to play. I’m excited to get back to a place of exploration, where we are getting into some new territory in the studio and flesh out some of our more complex ideas on our own time. We’ve also been working on a lot more improvisation, and I think we’re at a point where we can start implementing that a lot more heavily into our live sets.

 Apart from that, we’ve also been working on some music videos for Lullabies we’re planning to release in 2020. I’ve been studying traditional animation for the past couple years and I’m finally at a point where I can take on a 4-5 minute animation project in my free time. It’s a slow process but really fulfilling work to do. Across the board, I’m excited about this new chapter for the band. I think we’re in a really good place as artists and I’m excited to see how we grow and flourish over this next year.

Chicago Haze: Anywhere specific in Chicago you like to perform the most or where you’d like to perform?

Harvey Fox: I’d really like to play some more festivals! We played DZ Fest a couple of times now and that’s just about our favorite place to play. I feel like we really thrive in that environment on stage. I think we’ve had the pleasure of playing every venue we’ve aspired to playing in Chicago over the past few years… I’d love to get back to the Empty Bottle, play some more shows at Cole’s, and definitely some more DIY spots. I’ve found those small, intimate shows are really impactful, both from an audience and a performing perspective, so I’d love to put some more small shows together. It’s going to be a great year.

Chicago Haze: Anything else you’d like to add?

Thanks for interviewing us! You can grab our album on vinyl, cassette, or CD at harveyfox.bandcamp.com. Special thank you to Midwest Action and Smashed Plastic for pressing our record and Caleb Harris at Son Waves Recording for producing.

Follow Harvey Fox on Facebook and Instagram.

Do you have anyone in mind that I should feature in 2020? Let me know!
Click here to read all of my AOTM posts.
 

 – Kristin

 

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