“I am a surgical nurse and help surgeons in the operating room during the day and I write songs first thing in the morning when I wake up @ 5 am. I met Vanny, my drummer, in Chicago at a MELVINS show.” With these words, Nee, the vocalist an guitarist of Eugene based 3 piece noise rock / art metal band FOX MEDICINE, got my immediate attention. I decided to dig deeper and find out more about their work, and talk about bridging to new perspectives, new connections, ideas, and creating upstream daily habits. The following interview is the result of my investigation.
FOX MEDICINE just released their new demos and b-sides compilation “Noise Nurse”, a follow up to their debut EP “Based on Need”, premiered in September 2016.
Hey guys! Thanks so much for reaching out. Who are you? What’s FOX MEDICINE?
Hi we are Neezy Dynamite (guitar + vocals) and Vanny Keeps (drums + vocals) and we like to make tasty sludge/noise rock as a way of dealing with reality.. We are big fans of creating your own world and living in it. Our name comes from Native American mythology, which believes that animals bring a certain wisdom and messages for us humans. Fox Medicine means you are elusive and can easily disguise yourself to trick an enemy.
How did you get hooked on this theme? Can you expound more on the idea of the camouflage?
The theme of avoiding reality? Well, Nietzsche says “No artist can tolerate reality” and I think that is true for most people too. That is why drugs and alcohol are so popular, but also people like to binge-watch TV shows and get immersed into worlds. If you think about it, people don’t even like leaving the house anymore, because they have such a safe little bubble in front of the TV or the internet. It’s probably not that healthy though. As for FOX MEDICINE, I think Vanny has it, he can blend in anywhere, almost like a super power of invisibility or not sticking out and I have the opposite effect.. I stick out like a crooked tooth out of line and I don’t even realize it. So some of us have more FOX MEDICINE than others.. . For me the concept is more psychological.
You seem to have a good reason for going out and experiencing reality. You met Vanny at a MELVINS show in Chicago, yet you’re based in Eugene, Oregon, right? What were you doing over there? Drop us more details on how it happened. How do you form a band with a stranger met on a show in a distant city?
Well that is a very good question. I myself am a bit of a gypsy. I grew up in Canada and was living in Toronto at the time. Me and my friends drove to Chicago on a road trip to see THE MELVINS and I met Vanny outside of the club. I flew out to Chicago frequently and we would jam and record. It’s a really cool place. For a while I was working and going to school in super cold northern Canada, surrounded by Rocky Mountains and that is where I wrote Based on Need and Vanny would visit me and we practiced and recorded it in a little cabin in the woods. So our paths crossed many times and now we are both living in Eugene, OR. Life is very mysterious and magical that way!
Compared to all the places you’ve visited, how’s Eugene? What do you miss when you’re out of the city?
It’s the smallest place I’ve ever lived, but it’s very cool and unique. Courtney Love actually grew up here. There are a lot of interesting characters so if you are a bit strange yourself, you feel right at home! There’s a lot of hippies, environmentalists, activists, organic markets, great local beer and it doesn’t feel stressful like most places. Also, people here don’t really care for small talk, if you want something you better get to the point fast… I love that… If I crave a big city I just drive up to Portland or Seattle. We actually just added a new band member and are getting ready to play shows all over the west coast.
And record more tracks?
Absolutely! We are currently making a new batch of songs that will be released on Vinyl ! Super excited about that! People in Eugene still release stuff on Cassette tapes too, so that might be an additional format. But I’m also very stoked about playing live, because we have a super intense live set that is just very fun.
Compared to your duo setup, what’s going to change with the additional member?
It definitley excites me as a songwriter, because it brings more freedom and possibilities. Now when I’m writing new tunes I can think about adding extra parts that I wouldn’t have been able to pull off before.. and giving myself even more room to play with different layers. I’m also excited about not always being tied to my guitar as the only source of noise/sound/melody and can maybe take a break to crowd surf or run around the stage. We are already super tight in our set up, so adding someone else really just solidifies everything even more, plus adds some juicy low end frequencies.
Apart from running this band, how do you feed your creative soul?
Oh I love this question. I had to just revel in it for a moment. Creativity is super important for me, and if I don’t have an outlet for it, I really go crazy. For a few years I was so busy with school and work that I had to put songwriting on hold and it really just tortured me. I had to shut off that side of me, because when the ideas and concepts arrive, it can feel like a hurricane and I just didn’t have time to deal with it. But I couldn’t handle life that way and it became unbearable. After a while and with some major discipline I decided I can’t repress my creativity anymore and forced myself to get up an hour earlier and wrote songs every day before work just to balance my mind out and feel some kind of release. As soon as I started doing that, everything made more sense and I was much more at peace with myself. That’s where “Based on Need” came from, but the name also comes from the fact that I couldn’t find a lot of music that I can relate to, not just in the mainstream, but outside of it also. I thought, well if I’m craving something more dangerous and loud, maybe others are too. I became so annoyed with the music I was forced to listen to at work. Things are just so over-produced and deliberately designed to be as harmless and thoughtless as possible. I think people are forced to ignore any darker side of themselves or any deeper contemplation and are given music that is easily digested so that they wouldn’t question their reality or confront anything else in themselves…. and ultimately just keep slaving away at their job. I guess that is what radio is for- to pacify people.
Ok woops I got side tracked! As for nourishing creativity, I have a whole bunch of other creative outlets aside from songwriting. I usually follow impulses that drive me to do certain things like sew and make clothes (mostly stage clothes), make some piece of art or a collage, cut my own hair or write. A lot of my inspiration just comes from the way I process the world around me and the things that happen to me.
I’ve read somewhere that today’s fast moving times and the overwhelming flood of the incentives and stimulus coming from all around us have wrecked our health, resulting in more and more people being constantly tired and apathetic. Given that, I’d say that maybe it’s easier to get inspired if you simply turn off all your digital devices and try to go to a place that is quiet and away from people, music and other stuff that might distract you or interrupt your time in contemplating nature or even your self. Woud you agree? What’s your take on that?
I agree 100% ! I don’t even have a smart phone, I refuse to get one! When I tell people that, they don’t believe me or look at me with bewilderment, and ask HOW DOES THAT EVEN WORK…? Vanny refused to get one for the longest time, but now his work made him get one… eeek. I have a grandpa flip phone that I never use, but people around me seem to insist that I have it. People are just way too distracted from themselves and their world with the little mobile devices. I can’t tell you how many people I almost ran over on my bicycle, they just don’t look up ever.. they just crawl around like zombies with their head to the ground!! I have to yell LOOK UUUUUP constantly!!! It’s also a form of escapism, I get it .. or a need for constant stimulation but you are absolutely right that getting away from all of that is pure bliss. I was at a restaurant last night and there were so many giant flat screen TV’s just pointed at me from every angle, all I could hear is this constant buzzing of the bees. I couldn’t wait to leave. As if people shouldn’t even try to go out and eat without the comforts of entertainment all around them, and why even bother trying to talk to EACH OTHER….. It’s gone too far, I dunno.. I just can’t hang. I mean in some ways its great that it connects people and also recording technology got easier and all this stuff, but at the end of the day talking to someone face to face or recording on tape is still the superior method…. I actually did a research paper on the health hazards of cell phones and its really not good news for humanity, I mean that stuff is radiating cancer causing beams in every direction. People need to be more careful. Put that shit on airplane mode or just get rid of it… Telepathy and old school laptops work for me just fine..
Technology will never feed the deep hunger you feel inside.. one day people will realize that.. hopefully…. haha
Ha! So you do know what airplane mode is!
I know a thing about a thing!! … It was actually legit research that made those suggestions, because when the phone is in that mode it cannot transmit or receive signals, which also means its not bombarding you with its death rays. ha!!
Yeah, but LED screens are deadly as hell, too!
Alright, speaking of guilty pleasures, you mentioned beer as one of your favorite food and that’s really nice, cause I happen to be a dedicated aficionado, too. How do you feel about today’s craft beer revolution?
Oooooh! Well I lived in the land of beer for some time when I was younger (Bavaria/Germany), so I have very high standards. Actually kind of a beer snob… and now I live in a region that is full of the most incredible beer ever! America is really redefining beer and its gone very far in the opposite direction from Budweiser!! My fave’s are Milk Stouts, Porters, Lagers and due to the amount of hops in this area, I’ve even learned to appreciate great IPA’s. Deschutes makes one called “Fresh Squeezed IPA” and its heaven!! Speaking of beer, we have a very good friend in Chicago who is a brewer and will be working with us to create a FOX MEDICINE beer! What!! You didn’t expect that, did you!! ? Shout out to Martin Coad @ Greenstar Brewery Chicago! The beer will be dark, organic and delicious!! What’s your favorite?
Oh hell, now you’ll have to ship me one! Baltic Porters, IPAs and APAs have been gracing my palate in 2016. You have no idea how many amazing local breweries we have here in Poland. Honestly, German beers in the vein of Octoberfest’s standard offerings are soooo boring. Come to Warsaw, we have another edition of this festival (http://warszawskifestiwalpiwa.pl/en/) coming up, you’ll be able to dive into some serious, heavenly pleasures.
OK, so you’re joining Iron Maiden, Deftones, Clutch, Behemoth, Mastodon, Municipal Waste, and more icons in signature beers rally, huh? How many barrels do you plan on brewing?
Yeah, why not!! Bands really don’t make much money from music anymore, so why not branch out. The logistics of our beer project are still in the brainstorming/dreaming stage, but I will keep you updated! Sounds like fun, we would love to come to Poland! If you can suggest some Festivals for a band like us, we’ll look into it for sure!!
There’s a plethora of interesting art/music gatherings here. I guess OFF Festival would be a great fit for you guys.
Alright, so what’s up next for FOX MEDICINE? Any resolutions for 2017?
We’re already working on our next album and we want to put it out on Vinyl! We want to perfect our skills in producing, mixing, mastering and recording everything ourselves, (as we have been doing…), but we wouldn’t turn down Rick Rubin if he wanted to help us! We’ll make a bunch more videos, play as many shows as possible, make our FOX MEDICINE beer come true and travel a lot. After we conquer the west coast… we’d really like to go to Europe and Japan.
What are your first associations when you think of these destinations?
Europe – cozy, delicious, happy place…. and lovely people.. oh and lots of elegance.
Japan – amazing food and exotic magical weirdness. I think of all my fave Japanese films like Itchi The Killer and bands like BORIS and MELT BANANA. and some Japanese cartoons I used to watch as a child, but mostly I think about the awesome culture and food and super intriguing mentality.
Sounds like Japan is a lot more than Europe, haha!
I didn’t mean to make Europe sound not as fun , I love Europe. It’s the number 1 place in the world for me. I love everything about it!!!!!
I sincerely hope you’ll make it here.
Alright, so I guess that’s about it. Thanks a lot for your time. It was a lot of fun. Feel free to add your last words and take care! Cheers from freezing cold Warsaw (this coming weekend with a temperature of minus 20° Celsius will be insane).
Thank YOU Karol, for doing what you do!! So amazing that you are helping Bands get heard! Hope to see you in Poland! Dress warm and listen to FOX MEDICINE ! xoxoxo