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INTERVIEW: Greg Fox on Guardian Alien, Ex Eye, and Roskilde

in Blog by
Fox Millions Duo live roskilde festival

Greg Fox (right) performing with Fox Millions Duo. Photo by Morten Krogh.

Drummer Greg Fox is the sort of performer whose name comes up in a variety of contexts. Though perhaps most often associated with Liturgy, the human drum machine is also currently playing with Guardian Alien — his one-time solo project, which is currently a duo including Alexandra Drewchin of Eartheater — and Ex Eye, a new band formed with Colin Stetson. He also has an ongoing pairing with fellow drummer Kid Millions of Oneida known as Fox Millions Duo.

It probably shouldn’t be surprising that Fox’s appearance at this year’s Roskilde Festival wasn’t limited to one set. But when you consider how exhausting a festival can be for a mere spectator, Fox’s three performances over as many days with as many bands is damn impressive. Unsurprisingly, Fox was difficult to track down between sets, but he answered a few questions for us via email after the festival.

How was your Roskilde experience?

I enjoyed Roskilde. It is a huge, overwhelming festival, so luckily the backstage area for artists was very hospitable. The food was great and it was easy to relax back there.

How do you prepare for three days of shows with three different projects?

Regarding preparation, there isn’t much to it, really. More than anything I try to prepare for presenting a full set for the audience. Seventy-five minutes is longer than most sets I tend to play, so there was some thought and planning given to what material to play and how to structure the sets. The nature of Fox / Millions duo and Guardian Alien involve more improvisation within a predesigned structure, so clearly outlining those structures was the main aspect of the preparation. For Ex Eye, it’s a matter of playing the material we have been writing, so not much to do before that set besides stretch!

How did you end up playing with Ex Eye?

Colin and I had been talking about doing a “heavy” project together for a while, both of us being fans of what you might consider various forms of extreme music. Shazhad [Ismaily] has been a longtime friend and collaborator, and one of my favorite people to play and travel with, so him being in the project was a no brainer, and Toby [Summerfield] is an old friend and collaborator many times over of Colin’s, so at his suggestion Toby came on board. That’s it really. We just wanted to start a new project, so we did!

Fox Millions Duo is a fairly unique set up. What inspired the project?

What inspired the duo is mainly just Kid and I really enjoying each others’ playing and company. We have a good time together. We were asked once to do a “drum off” as an opening act for a Lightning Bolt show, and instead we decided to come up with something collaborative. And it just went from there. I think we will definitely be making another record soon.

Guardian Alien has been through a few incarnations now. Is it going to continue to evolve?

I don’t know if i can speak to any kind of permanence regarding anything at all, so it’s hard to say – but I definitely enjoy the current duo lineup of Guardian Alien. Yes we have been working on new material, using new instruments and technologies, and we are very excited about what we have been creating together.

How is Guardian Alien different from your other work?

Guardian is different than other work that I do because Alex is my partner in the non-musical realm first and foremost, so the collaboration is obviously different than it is with other people. We know each other extremely well, for better and for worse, and we also love each other very much — and we share our lives with each other. So in many ways doing Guardian as a duo with her is really joyous and fun, and in other ways it can be very challenging. But I think that challenge makes for better creative outcomes.

PHOTOS: Roskilde Festival 2016, Day 4

in Photos by
Mø

Mø live at Roskilde Festival 2016
Mø – Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh
Mø live at Roskilde Festival 2016
Mø – Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh
Mø live at Roskilde Festival 2016
Mø – Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh
Mø live at Roskilde Festival 2016
Mø – Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh

New Order

new order live roskilde festival

New Order, Arena, by Tom Spray

Protomartyr

Protomartyr - Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh
Protomartyr – Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh
Protomartyr - Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh
Protomartyr – Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh
Protomartyr - Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh
Protomartyr – Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh

Gojira

Gojira- Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh
Gojira- Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh
Gojira- Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh
Gojira- Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh
Gojira - Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh
Gojira – Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh

Cate Le Bon

cate le bon live roskilde festival
Photo by Tom Spray

Guardian Alien

Guardian Alien - Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh
Guardian Alien – Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh
Guardian Alien - Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh
Guardian Alien – Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh
Guardian Alien - Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh
Guardian Alien – Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh
Guardian Alien - Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh
Guardian Alien – Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh

LCD Soundsystem

LCD Soundsystem - Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh
LCD Soundsystem – Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh
LCD Soundsystem - Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh
LCD Soundsystem – Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh

LIVE REVIEW: Roskilde Festival 2016, Day 4, 02.07.2016

in Live Reviews by

Guardian Alien — Pavilion

We didn’t know exactly what to expect from Guardian Alien as the band is constantly changing. Once the solo project of Greg Fox (of Friday’s Fox Millions Duo), the current incarnation has him paired with guitarist and vocalist Alexandra Drewchin with each of them queuing up tracks from laptops.

guardian alien live roskilde festival
Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh

Though Guardian Alien is nominally thought of as Fox’s project, Drewchin steals the show. It’s not just that as the guitarist she’s more mobile than the drummer — her vocals have a wacky range between her natural soprano and an evil vocal effect, her guitar playing uses effects that make it look like an optical illusion, and she’s twisting her body in an awe-inspiring way. When she bends over backwards and sings while facing the crowd upside-down it proves to be particular popular. When faced with addressing the crowd through heavily reverbed vocals or heavily distorted vocals, she often opts for the demonically distorted vocals. She’s fucking with us, she wants us to know it, and it’s hilarious.

There’s not much more that can be said about Fox’s drumming that we haven’t already said, but this current combination for Guardian Alien belies a playfulness that contrasts nicely with the weight of the music. It’s a little bit tribal, a little bit demonic, and perhaps the most concrete project he’s working on right now. — AF

Gojira – Arena

After touring their latest album, “Magma”, apparently French metallers Gojira have been on a bit of a break. “We’re really rusty” claims frontman Joe Duplantier, whose facial hair today makes him look remarkably like Alan Rickman playing the Sheriff of Nottingham in that shit Robin Hood movie. That’s not a diss, it’s a solid look. Either way, evidently Gojira’s definition of ‘rusty’ is brutally unforgiving. The 1/32-note kick-drum tears through the audience, driving the business-suited gentleman next to me to froth at the mouth with glee. The metal audience at Roskilde will always be a minority, but they definitely get their fill. And if nothing else, they did a solid job of drowning out the sound of Dizzy Miss Lizzy from the Orange Stage. And for that I shall be eternally grateful. – CC

gojira live roskilde festival
Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh

Cate Le Bon — Pavilion

Cate Le Bon plays whimsical pop songs that she delivers with a dry voice (think of “dry” in the same positive light as when it’s used to describe wines). Her vocals live are note-perfect to their recordings, which is precisely what we were hoping for. The only disappointment is that she doesn’t have more small talk between songs, because she speaks with the same delightful lilt as she sings.

cate le bon live roskilde festival
Photo by Tom Spray

Le Bon’s set is mostly comprised of songs from her latest album, Crab Day, which in addition to allowing her to hit the high notes also have her backing band shuffling around instruments. There are times when the bass is too high in the mix, and this drowns out the keyboard in particular, but there is plenty of ramshackle guitar to propel things forward.

And though the aforementioned dryness of Le Bon’s voice is a huge selling point, it is not without emotion. Highlights from the set included “What’s Not Mine” and “Are You With Me Now,” which, for all their forthrightness, leave us wandering back out into the cloudy Saturday in a slightly ruminative state. — AF

New Order — Arena

New Order were always going to be a bit of a wild card, the legacy band that doesn’t want to be a legacy band and doesn’t want to play by the rules. The obvious choice would be for them open their set with a hit, and instead they choose “Singularity” from last year’s album, Music Complete.

new order live roskilde festival
Photo by Tom Spray

While there were some reminders that the band do in fact have a new album, they were forthcoming with singles from throughout their back catalogue, with tracks new and old complemented by stunning short films. The vocals could have been louder, and it was a little difficult to understand Bernard Sumner’s lyrics and his between-song quips. Still, it’s hard to describe the collective euphoria of a packed tent of people singing and dancing along to “Blue Monday” — except for the band themselves, who played to the new wave parody of standing stock still despite the energy of the people in front of them.

After we walked away from the crowd, having been told that “Temptation” was all they had to offer and jabbering about how bands don’t play encores at festivals and anyway New Order had a reputation for not playing encores at all, we heard the cheers erupting from the tent and the opening bass line of “Love Will Tear Us Apart.” Needless to say, we made our way back to Arena very quickly. Several people told us afterward that they were moved to tears, and at least one of us feels no shame to count herself amongst them. — AF

LCD Soundsystem – Orange

It has been a day of highs and lows. Guardian Alien’s thrilling set in the early afternoon, friends in tears over New Order’s encore, and crucially, having to witness Italy lose to penalties against Germany. But all is not over: I am in the pit at Orange Stage, about to see LCD Soundsystem.

Five years ago the band had bid the world farewell with an already legendary three-hour show in Madison Square Garden. Their return this year was greeted both with enthusiasm and a fair bit of scepticism. After all, why invalidate such a brilliant swansong? But as soon as the band begin to trickle onto the stage to the beat of “Us V Them”, the answer seems self-evident: because it’s simply too fun to stop.

LCD Soundsystem - Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh
Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh

The set itself flawlessly balances material from all periods of the band’s existence, including a personal favourite, the caustic and hilarious “Losing My Edge”. There is a triumphal, assured quality to everything James Murphy and his merry companions do on stage. From this vantage point you can see his expression as he grins and gurns at the band with his back to the audience. They’re all drinking champagne, playing some of the best dance music made in the last twenty years. For the first few songs it looks like they are playing more for each other than anyone out in the fields of Roskilde. But eventually Murphy looks to the audience and professes his surprise and gratitude that so many people have stayed on in spite of the cold and the mud. Suddenly what looked like arrogance begins to resemble more a genuine joy for the music.

Perhaps LCD Soundsystem’s greatest legacy will be their ability to both narrate and enact the pleasure of music as a shared experience. The ability to be both incisive and fun. But to me, they shall forever more be remembered as the band that gave birth to the first ever Here Today editorial dance party. – CC

OFF Festival 2013, Katowice, Poland

in Photos by

Photos by Tom Spray (www.tom-spray.com)

OFF Festival (Photo by Tom Spray)

OFF Festival (Photo by Tom Spray)

Teenagers

Teenagers, OFF Festival (Photo by Tom Spray)

Teenagers, OFF Festival (Photo by Tom Spray)

Drekoty

Drekoty, OFF Festival (Photo by Tom Spray)

Stara Rzeka

Stara Rzeka, OFF Festival (Photo by Tom Spray)

OFF Festival (Photo by Tom Spray)

Hokei

Hokei, OFF Festival (Photo by Tom Spray)

Mikal Cronin

Mikal Cronin, OFF Festival (Photo by Tom Spray)

OFF Festival (Photo by Tom Spray)

Dope Body

Dope Body, OFF Festival (Photo by Tom Spray)

Cloud Nothing

Cloud Nothing, OFF Festival (Photo by Tom Spray)

The Soft Moon

The Soft Moon, OFF Festival (Photo by Tom Spray)

Girls Against Boys

Girls Against Boys, OFF Festival (Photo by Tom Spray)

Guardian Alien

Guardian Alien, OFF Festival (Photo by Tom Spray)

The Smashing Pumpkins

The Smashing Pumpkins, OFF Festival (Photo by Tom Spray)

AlunaGeorge

AlunaGeorge, OFF Festival (Photo by Tom Spray)

Piotr Kurek

Piotr Kurek, OFF Festival (Photo by Tom Spray)

Piotr Kurek, OFF Festival (Photo by Tom Spray)

Scenes, OFF Festival (Photo by Tom Spray)

Metz

Metz, OFF Festival (Photo by Tom Spray)

Metz, OFF Festival (Photo by Tom Spray)

Merchandise

Merchandise, OFF Festival (Photo by Tom Spray)

The Paradise Bangkok Molam International Band

The Paradise Bangkok Molam International Band, OFF Festival (Photo by Tom Spray)

The Paradise Bangkok Molam International Band, OFF Festival (Photo by Tom Spray)

KTL

KTL, OFF Festival (Photo by Tom Spray)

Julia Holter

Julia Holter, OFF Festival (Photo by Tom Spray)

Scenes, OFF Festival (Photo by Tom Spray)

The Walkmen

The Walkmen, OFF Festival (Photo by Tom Spray)

Godspeed You! Black Emperor

God Speed You Black Emperor, OFF Festival (Photo by Tom Spray)

God Speed You Black Emperor, OFF Festival (Photo by Tom Spray)

Zeni Geva

Zeni Geva, OFF Festival (Photo by Tom Spray)

We draw A

We draw A, OFF Festival (Photo by Tom Spray)

Autre Ne Veut

Autre Ne Veut, OFF Festival (Photo by Tom Spray)

Autre Ne Veut, OFF Festival (Photo by Tom Spray)

Japandroids

Japandroids, OFF Festival (Photo by Tom Spray)

Japandroids, OFF Festival (Photo by Tom Spray)

Japandroids, OFF Festival (Photo by Tom Spray)

Fucked Up

Fucked Up, OFF Festival (Photo by Tom Spray)

Thee Oh Sees

Thee Oh Sees, OFF Festival (Photo by Tom Spray)

Thee Oh Sees, OFF Festival (Photo by Tom Spray)

Scenes, OFF Festival (Photo by Tom Spray)

Deerhunter

Deerhunter, OFF Festival (Photo by Tom Spray)

Goat

Goat, OFF Festival (Photo by Tom Spray)

My Bloody Valentine

My Bloody Valentine, OFF Festival (Photo by Tom Spray)

John Talabot

John Talabot, OFF Festival (Photo by Tom Spray)

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