This year Exeter band Black Foxxes made their return to Download Festival, delivering a stunning performance on the festival’s Avalanche stage. While we were there, we had a chat to frontman Mark Holley, who spoke to us about bringing the gap to Download’s heavy band stereotype, the importance of dynamism and achieving longevity in their career.
MOSH: How does it feel to be playing Download again this year?
MH: Really good, we’re up to the next stage size so it’s just growing in the right way. It’s always funny to be at Download, because as a kid it’s always been a heavy metal festival so for us to fit in, we tailor our set a little bit but we tend to find the reactions almost best at festivals like this. People are super open minded to new music. It’s just about gaining new fans and growing further.
MOSH: As you said, it was slightly heavier back in the day, was it a festival you grew up attending as well?
MH: I was always a Reading guy, if I’m perfectly honest. As a kid, Download was almost intimidating but in a cool way. It was like “If we got to play that then obviously we’re doing something right to be able to bridge that gap. It does seem to have become a lot more diverse, which I don’t think is a bad thing at all.
MOSH: Is there anyone you’re particularly excited to see? I’m assuming there are a lot of mates playing too.
MH: Lots of mates playing, today is a really good day actually. Annoyingly, we live so far away so we tend to just be up and then back, but I think today we’re going to make an exception for The Hives. They’re a band I’ve always wanted to see, I absolutely love thim.
MOSH: Growing up, were there any particular gigs you saw that you think shaped you into the musician you have become today?
MH: I can’t think of one specific one, but just growing up on the local punk scene and watching all the bands that were doing quite well back in the day. Because we live so far away (in Exeter), you really look up to those bands that can breakthrough. Obviously bands like Muse, because they’re literally came from the village over, that is a big deal. It was just stuff like that and knowing that stuff can happen if the music is good enough.
MOSH: For people who haven’t seen Black Foxxes before, what would you say your set has to offer?
MH: It’s just going to be honest, I think. You can see us ten times and we’d be completely different every time just depending on how we feel, with the emotions and stuff. It’s going to be raw, it’s going to be fuckin loud, but there’s going to be no gimmicks involved at all.
MOSH: You recently released your second album Reiði, how was that experience different to releasing a debut? Was there more pressure?
MH: Yeah a little bit before the record came out, more just like business label stuff. This record has been so easy though compared to the first one – personally for the first, I didn’t even want to record the album because I was in such a bad headspace. I didn’t want to tour, I didn’t want to do any of that, but you just end up thinking bigger picture. I just trusted in the music and had faith in it. This album, my head is in a much better place so it was really a breath of fresh air, they’re really complete polar opposites. It was really important for us to do a really diverse album and something completely different sonically. We don’t want to be the band that churns out the same album five times in a row.
MOSH: Could you explain the infleunce Iceland had on it?
MH: Yeah, it’s just a place I’ve been to on holiday. It’s impossible to not fall in love with it, it feels like you’re on another planet and I didn’t have any intentions to necessarily write most of the album out there, but whilst I was there it was impossible not to. I just ended up writing a majority of the lyrics and it shaped the sound, big soundscapes sort of stuff.
MOSH: Like you said, the record is a lot more dynamic musically. Moving forward, is there anything you want to experiment on musically?
MH: More of the same to be honest, just more big strings sections, more brass. I don’t think there should be any limitations, I don’t think you should be scared of genres. At the end of the day, as long as it’s natural and honest for us to write that way, we shouldn’t limit ourselves to one thing. I think we just want to be confident and brash and to get stuck in wild stuff.
MOSH: I know you have a busy summer touring but from what I hear you guys are also working on album 3, how is that going in terms of new material?
MH: Yeah, we’ve got around ten songs already. As long as the music is good enough and we’re writing naturally, w just want to make sure we put as much content out as much as possible. We want to be really active as a band, and we want to tour all the time. I think it’s really imperative at this stage and crucial, because this is the sort of stage where we’re still a new band and growing. People could switch off if we don’t have new stuff out there. Like I said, as long as it’s not shit, we will get stuff out pretty quickly I imagine.
MOSH: If there was anyone you would collaborate with, that you think would be a perfect fit for Black Foxxes whou would it be? It doesn’t necessarily just have to be a musician.
MH:I’m struggling to think of anyone that isn’t a musician to be honest. There’s a band called Idles at the moment that are doing incredibly well. I really respect everything they stand for, that would be really good to work with them in some way. As well as producers, I guess and record engineers would be more of a bigger deal, like CJ Marks, who’s done Wolf Alice and Foals records. She would be huge to work with, I think. There’s people at the moment that are sculpting the future of sounds, and she’s definitely one of them.
MOSH: As a band, what are some things you would like to achieve throughout your career?
MH: I think you just said the word – the one thing we want is a career in music. We want to be able to have eigth albums and be able to live off it, have a big fanbase across the world. We’re not saying we want to be the biggest band, because we’re being realistic, but we do trust in the music and we trust that if people give us the opportunity it’ll grow to a stage where we have a career in music. I feel that we’re one of those bands as well that people get invested the longer it goes on. As long as we’re honest to ourselves, then happy days.