Fox & the Bird Have a New Album: Here's What's Behind Dallas' Best Folk Band
Fresh off the January 14 release of their awaited sophomore album, Darkest Hours, Dallas' premier folk rock collective, Fox & the Bird, opened their melodic minds to the Dallas Observer about the band's collaborative Texas sound, juggling life as part-time musicians, and how shadowy realities can still shine with harmonious sun-rays of hope. Here's our conversation with three-fifths of Fox & the Bird: Dan Bowman, Paul Grass and Jacob Metcalf, who reminded us once again why they were voted "Best Folk Act" at our 2013 Music Awards.
For those who have not yet been introduced to Fox & the Bird, how would you all describe your sound?
Paul: I'll take a crack at this one. I'd say we have a very homegrown sound blurred with rowdy Americana folk rock. But then again I'm not the best sound identifier sometimes.
Dan: I'd agree with Paul. Since we've had so many great collaborators over the past several years, we have an alternating sound of rolling folk drums that get rocky but at any time can flip and sound a little like mariachi. Our sound is really driven on harmonies and melodies though. It's all about those harmonies.
Jacob: Our sound reflects how we like to shake things up. Fox & the Bird's goal are to keep our music and live performances full of surprises.
How far back does this collection of writers and musicians go back?
Dan: We came together in late 2008. Since then we've had 14 incredible writers, musicians, and just all-in-all lovers of music join Fox & the Bird like Wheeler Sparks and Travis Sparks. Some left and came back, but they all contribute through some kind of collaboration. I'm the only original member.
Who makes up the Fox & the Bird lineup these days?
Paul: There are five of us -- the Dan, Paul, Jacob combo we have going on right here, plus the talented Petra Kelly and Sarah Scott. We're all instrumentalists and vocalists, so we play more than just one instrument at any given time. Petra and Sarah are violinists and Petra also plays the glockenspiel.
Jacob: And Paul's a really talented percussionist, even though he plays the ukulele and banjos when he gets the urge to. We all play a part in wearing multiple hats.
How did you all come up with the name Fox & the Bird?
Dan: The title track from our first album, Floating Feathers, was a song the band wrote about relationships between two people that know they may be complete opposites but still choose to make those differences work to make something great. Just like the the birds and the bees or even a fox and a bird, we're a cast of characters that choose to make our differences work in harmony for the love of storytelling and music.
Well, I know your fans are excited about the release of your second album this week after a three year wait since Floating Feathers, so some congratulations are in order. Does this new album have an overall message you want listeners to catch?
Jacob: As a band, we've all been taken through trying times, the type of experiences everyone goes through, you know? But that doesn't mean you still can't have peeks of optimism too.
Dan: Exactly, from death to divorce, a lot of tough things have happened since our first album but hope should always be like a silver lining with every dark cloud. And all that goes for the album. Just because it's titled Darkest Hours and we're addressing some everyday real stuff, doesn't mean it can't upbeat at times.
You have a new music video for "Wreck of the Fallible" with a really unique concept. What led you all to that type of visual?
Dan: The guy who directed the video, Wheeler Sparks, is a past band member and a phenomenal writer, musician and director. The band sat down with him and we started with the raft imagery to represent the lost, downtrodden beggars and whores who respectable folks leave lost at sea. Wheeler had a challenge in conceptualizing brokenness and loss and ended up creating striking images that we're all proud of.