There’s a famous uncredited quote in rock history that goes like this: “Rock ’n’ roll is not a democracy, it’s a dictatorship.” Some historians say it comes from Frank Zappa and his recording style. Some say it’s from Neil Young about his recording relationship with Crosby, Stills and Nash. Maybe it comes from Joan Baez. Anyway, it’s a quote that still sometimes rings true for Regina’s indie baroque rock prince Andy Shauf.
“I like making records the way that I do—on my own—when I have control of everything,” Shauf admits.
Yet when working on his latest more collaborative project Foxwarren—a band that formed over a decade ago, comprising of his childhood friends Dallas Bryson, and brothers Darryl and Avery Kissick—Shauf took a step back and let go of his total control.
“I wasn’t forcing my will on the players, which was kind of nice,” Shauf says.
Shauf may handle all of the vocal duties on the band’s self-titled record, but each member put their two cents in on the lyrical side.
“It was a lot of passing around the notepad and adding on each others ideas,” he says. “For me, writing my stuff, I always tend to be really direct and do more of a strong narrative flow. With this one, it was nice to have that freedom of making a song about whatever it ended up being. It was like playing with words in a different way.”
The music, subtle and warm, draws many parallels to Shauf’s solo work. It still rings solitary and individual thanks to the harmonic—and sometimes chaotic—guitar work, spacious piano, distinctive drum lines, tasty bass, and Shauf’s honey-laced vocals.
“Music always comes first. Foxwarren has a really bad habit of writing the music of a song and not coming up with lyrics or vocal parts until it’s almost impossible to do it,” Shauf says in a sarcastic tone, with a laugh. “We got to that point with pretty much every song on this album. I was like ‘Guys we need to rearrange these so that they’re actually songs and not just a series of 40 riffs.’”
And the vocals still have that trademarked style of holding onto specific syllables and pronunciation that only comes from Shauf’s voice.
“I guess the way I hear things in my head is probably different than the way it translates to someone else’s ears,” he says. “My voice is pretty quiet so that’s kind of my way of projecting maybe, but I’m not sure. But people always bring that up.”
Foxwarren was actually finished around the same time as Shauf’s concept album epic The Party—which initiated a vast amount of touring opportunities Shauf couldn’t pass on. He actually just came back from Japan and has been in the studio off and on working on The Party’s follow up.
“Most of the band is pretty busy with having real lives, careers and mortgages. So there was a question of how much touring we were going to do to promote this one,” Shauf says. “But now we’re about to go on tour, so it’s pretty exciting. This is kind of our first attempt of putting a show together and we don’t have many songs so it should be an adventure.”
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