Interview: Phoxjaw

Written by Maddy Howell

Having formed in 2016, Bristol-based noisemakers Phoxjaw have been taking things steady and calculated, with only a handful of recorded tracks to their name. However, having already landed support slots alongside the likes of Black Foxxes, Black Tusk and Avon, it's clear that an extensive back catalogue isn't necessarily the key to success. Following the release of their latest single, Lottery, we caught up with the five-piece to talk live shows, music scenes, and fireworks.

Burn After Writing: Although forming a while back, you waited a year to release your two debut singles. Why was this decision made?

Phoxjaw: We formed in June 2016 so it’s been just under a year and a half of being a band. We wanted to make sure our first release was representative of where we wanted to be going. When you start a band it takes a little while to find the songwriting formula and ‘Victorian Dolls / Spin Club’ was us realising ours.

BAW: Your guitarist, Josh, took on the role of producer for your debut release. How did the experience of working with your own creations differ to that of working with a client?

PJ: I think you are automatically more invested as it is your own project - but that also brings its own set of problems, sometimes you can feel too close to it to cast an impartial opinion. I do enjoy the process though and I feel like having the control means we can experiment more with sounds and really dial in what we all want. That being said, if the right person was involved we would be happy to work with other producers in order to expand the sound.

BAW: You recently released your latest single, Lottery. How has the response been so far?

PJ: Yeah, it's been great, it has gone further and done more than we first expected. We knew it would bring in a new audience to Phoxjaw, compared to our previous releases which were leaning more towards the grunge elements of our band. It’s a straight-up driving rock tune and we are super proud of it.

BAW: You played your debut show just over a year ago now. How have live proceedings changed since then for you?

PJ: It feels like we have really started to find where we want to be at our live shows. The first 6 months of gigging in a new band was us feeling around in the dark trying to find our feet, figuring out how we wanted to come across live. We have recently added Huw to the band playing keys/synth and in the few shows we have had him on board, it has brought a new energy to the show and really allowed us to experiment with more ideas that we previously couldn’t achieve between the four of us.

BAW: You’ve been out on the road playing some headline shows across the UK recently, how has that been?

PJ: We’ve had some great shows in the last few months, it has been great seeing people who have clearly picked up on what we’ve released and come to shows to sing along and party with us. It's also been pretty hectic on stage, from smashing porcelain dolls, to climbing PA speaker stacks, to wearing luchador masks and wrestling each other on stage. We like to mix it up a lot and keep it exciting for the people at the shows.

BAW: Being from Bristol, you’re operating in an extremely lively music scene. Do you think your location has done you any favours in terms of your career so far?

PJ: 100%, we love the fact we have been lucky enough to grow up somewhere that really nourishes new and local music. A lot of our fans have seen us all play in our previous separate bands and really stuck with us going into Phoxjaw. It has definitely allowed us to build our home town crowd to a point where we can sell out venues off of our own backs which is a great achievement. There are always new bands popping up and it is great to interact and share shows.

BAW: The alternative rock scene can be seen as bland and often too careful with its output. How are you planning to make yourselves stand out amongst that?

PJ: Just having a different angle of things helps us, as previously mentioned we always push for a very hectic, exciting and innovative live show. We are very much into lots of different styles of music within the band and we always push to bring new ideas into the writing formula. No two songs are written in the same way, we treat each one as it’s own entity, this helps us keep it fresh.

BAW: You’re going to be opening up for Cegvera at their EP launch show in Bristol next month, what can be expected from that set?

PJ: So Josh met the guys in Cegvera when he recorded their EP that they are releasing and got chatting about us opening the night. We’ll keep it typically Phoxjaw, it’ll be loud, it’ll be heavy, it’ll be noisy. We might buy some fireworks and set them off in the venue, who knows. (That was a joke, don’t worry you are safe for now.)

BAW: Often with independent bands in the alt-rock scene, there becomes a real struggle to pick up any traction or channel any money through their output. What gives you the motivation to keep pushing on?

PJ: We are all just huge fans of music, whether 10 people turn up to our show or 110 we are gonna keep playing music. If working hard, touring and writing great music takes us to the next level and we can push the music out further that would be a bonus. We just want to make the best music we can between the five of us.

BAW: With a year so packed as this one has been for you guys, what does 2018 hold?

PJ: We have just released our latest single which has worked wonders for stepping the band up to new opportunities and landing us bigger shows. We aim to follow this up in the spring of 2018 with our debut EP and a brand new music video for one of the tracks. This will be followed with dates all over the UK, appearances at music festivals in the summer and stripped back performances in record shops promoting the new release.