Foxygen’s Jonathan Rado: Law and Order
With your own music and with Foxygen, given in the last year you’ve had so much success, have you found that in a lot of ways your music is probably for younger fans? You’re kind of their first exposure to some more deeper kind of psychedelic and classic rock influenced music or have you found your own music could be a gateway for other people?
I think it’s possible. Sometimes I don’t like to give myself that much credit, you know? I don’t know, I feel like a lot of people listen to Foxygen and they’re like, “Oh, cool Foxygen they’re like a ‘60s band! Cool!” But you know, I like nothing more than to tell people about music. If that was a super power, I would love to have it. I would like to think for maybe a few people we are turning them on to a new type of music. I feel like it has become so much of a larger thing that I don’t know how many people like it because it’s popular and how many people like it because they actually like it. I think a lot of people actually really, really, really like Foxygen for what it is.
They like the live show and they like the weirder shit and I mean that’s the stuff me and Sam clearly like too. But I think a lot of the kids who like us are probably the people who sing that one song [“San Francisco”].
You know, just in talking to you for the last fifteen minutes I can tell you’re a true music geek like myself who really likes to go crate digging stuff. Do you think having an exuberant live show now takes away from the subtleties of the music, but kind of exists in a parallel world to it?
Yeah. I mean, what we’re trying to do with the live shows in a way, is not really angry, not even pretentious, but we try to weed out people who don’t like the live show. You know, because we don’t play “San Francisco” and it’s like a really intense thing that happens when we play live and I think the people who really love our band do respond to that live show and that’s like the test of do you Foxygen or do you like these songs.
Which I also love, I love “San Francisco.” I think it’s a great song but I think the people who are really into our live show are the people who will stick with us through all of the shit that’s going to come out. I think that’s sort of the most important thing right now is finding…Because we made that record with Swift and those were songs we did right and we really do love those songs and still do.
However, every single record we’ve made has been completely different so the next one is going to be really different and the one after that is going to be really different, and the one after that is going to be really different. So probably I think the next one isn’t going to be as huge and the next one after that…
I’d like to be a band that has a fan base that could just follow us through all of this stuff, not just top hits.
No, exactly. What you’re saying kind of reminds me kind of what MGMT did, we just interviewed them, it’s a similar vibe in that all their records are very different but it’s a collaboration basically between two songwriters and obviously they have other people who hop in and out, and whatever journey they go on together makes MGMT versus every song has to sound like his or every song has to sound like their newer more wilder sound, you know it’s kind of whatever you decide to do.
Yeah you know what, I love MGMT. We’re playing with them in Utah and I’m really excited. I’ve never met either of those guys before. Me and Sam really do love MGMT probably for the reason that they’re kind of similar to us, you know? I mean, me and Sam have been making music since we were fifteen—I sort of connect to that thing. Like they made the big one and then they made Congratulations which is, “What the fuck is that?” and they got a lot of slack for it. But they’re totally fine, you know? [Laughter.] They’re a giant band.
You mentioned that you and Sam have been playing together since you were fifteen which I don’t think people realize it’s been that long. You guys are what, like twenty-three now?
Yeah, so that’s a long time making music with someone. Have you felt that your musical tastes have evolved together or have they evolved differently and yet you can still bring that together and kind of create the sounds that become Foxygen?
Yeah, I mean they evolved together. They evolved really quickly in high school and they’re always changing. I think recently we found this sort of sound in these things that we like. But even still, I mean our next record is kind of going to be like a folk record because I think right now we’re really into that sort of Nick Drake kind of Fleetwood Mac-y, not the Fleetwood Mac folk music. It’s going to be our entrance, it’s going to be a little, it’s going to be a lot different. I think they’ve evolved together, or separately—it doesn’t really matter because we’re going to end up listening to different things but we can both use them to play in the song, you know?
I think that’s cool. I like the folk stuff, the Fleetwood Mac stuff too. Especially listening to your solo record which feels, in a lot of ways, the exact opposite side of that coin so it’s kind of cool that you can write in these different head-spaces.
Yeah, totally. Actually, my solo album just started with a nod to Lindsay Buckingham’s first album Law & Order.
Yeah, of course. That’s a great record!
Yeah but it’s like completely wack. So I was listening to it and I was like, “This is kind of like Buckingham’s first thing,” he had this big Fleetwood Mac band and then he made this total weirdo like every song is completely out of its own mind. That’s what I connect it to when I was making the tracklist of it. I just called it Law & Order in my iTunes, or whatever and that…stuck.
Yeah, it’s interesting you mentioned that too because Fleetwood Mac were one of the first bands who had this huge hit and then did a different direction too. Now they’re kind of respected in the artist community while back in the ‘70s they were more just like the disco mom crowd.
Oh yeah, totally. I mean Tusk is one of my favorite records. I always like those weirdo records. I like the ones after the big ones.
The second record in the series.
Yeah. The one right after the million-selling record.
How’s Sam feeling by the way? I know that he hurt himself recently.
Well, he’s alright. He’s healing but we still don’t know what’s going to happen with his leg or anything. We don’t really know what the fate of our next tour is. It sort of depends on how his body heals with the healing process. Like right now, there’s no way. Like if we had a show tomorrow, we could not play that show. It’s sort of a bummer. It’s weird not knowing whether he could just call us and say, “I don’t know if I’m going to make it.” ‘cause like touring, like sitting in a van for eight hours or longer than a day with a leg that’s broken is so intense.
No, it’s just not the best way to heal.
Yeah, if he’s still healing and if shit’s not better by like a few weeks from now, I think we probably need to not play the tour or rent a giant tour bus or something. We got to do something ‘cause I don’t want to cancel the show, I hate cancelling shows, I hate bailing on things but for actual health, physical reasons it might need to happen…I don’t know, we’ll see.
It seems like you guys are always busy whether recording, or touring, or healing or stuff like that. But do you have any other projects you’re working on?
Yeah, I just produced this album of this band called the Wolf Thompson. It’s a post-punk record. It sounds like The Fall and I’m really excited about that. We’re talking to a few labels about putting it out right now. It’s an amazing record. They just got out of high school and are really, really young.
They made this like classic punk record and it sounds incredible. I’m like really, really proud of it. That’s the only thing in the works is the punk Wolf Thompson. Yeah, and then I mean we’re going to do a new Foxygen record, hopefully soon too and that’s really where my heads at right now.
It must have been a pretty crazy year with all the album blowing up, being on the road, releasing a second album and everything.
The drama [Laughter]. Yeah, it’s been an insane year.