Singer Eric McNally climbs a narrow ladder up the side of the stage, just inches away from a lengthy fall.
He sings and screams to a cheering crowd as he hangs on to an overhang, 20 feet above the ground. Later, he eats a pile of cigarettes thrown from fans. Sky White, looking every bit the part of a werewolf, jams out on piano, as the other band members create a ruckus.
The crowd is stunned, but amazed. They have just witnessed Foxy Shazam’s one-of-a-kind performance.
The Cincinnati-based pop, rock and soul, band is the brain child of singer Eric McNally, a husband and father by day, stuntman and musician by night. The band cites influences as diverse as Elton John and Evel Knievel, and creates music much better experienced than explained.
In support of their latest self-titled album, the band toured as an opening act for Panic! At The Disco. The band played in Philly at the Trocadero on Thursday, Nov. 3, and had a pre-show phone chat with The Temple News.
The Temple News: Would you rather your fans know you for your live performance or for your music?
Sky White: For the music, but I’d like there to be a fear about the show. I’d like people to speak about our shows in back alleys [like we’re the] boogeyman of rock and roll. It would probably spread the word as people get their minds blown by a show that powerful, as well as being able to sit through a song and be moved, or feel whatever you’re supposed to feel from a song. [The performance and music] are both very important things in my life and I can’t say that one is more important than the other.
TTN: You each have unique personas on stage, which is a lot different than how you all act in real life. Are people ever surprised by how “normal” you are when they meet you in real life?
SW: Definitely. What we do on stage is what makes it so we can be normal and rational human beings in the real world. We get extreme emotions out on stage, and I’m pretty much a calm, happy person in real life. I don’t think I could be that without what I do on stage.
TTN: So, is it like therapy for you guys?
SW: Yeah, exactly. If you’re in front of a lot of people screaming because you’re doing a good job at entertaining them, it’s kind of hard to feel bad about anything.
TTN: Do your live shows ever get any negative reactions?
SW: Some people get afraid of us and sometimes they just don’t understand it. Sometimes [those people] become a fan after a day or two of sitting around and trying to figure out what they saw. We’ve almost gotten kicked off of tours because people think we’re crazy, but we’re not. It’s our job to make weird things happen on stage–we’re performers.
TTN: Have you ever gotten kicked off stage?
SW: In the U.K. stuff was getting crazy. [McNally] climbed up a cable up to a lighting rig, and I think I threw a keyboard across the stage. The stage manager was like, ‘You can never do that stuff again. The show was amazing and I love your band, but you can’t do that. But you did a really good job.” He was conflicted that it was his job to tell us not to do it. It was fun and he respected that we did it, but he had to tell us that. I think that’s how a lot of it is.
TTN: Panic! At The Disco and Patrick Stump are both so different, artistically, from Foxy Shazam. How has the crowd reaction been?
SW: It’s been cool. It’s a younger crowd than we’re used to, that’s mostly female. That’s a little bit of a different thing, walking on stage to almost all high-school-age-looking girls. You can get some good reactions out of high school girls when you’re throwing a keyboard or there’s body parts flying. But if they’re coming just to see Patrick or Panic! At The Disco, it’s hard to win somebody over. Sometimes it takes a few songs for them to warm up to us and see that we’re someone they really like. We’re not some dumb opening act.
TTN: What makes your performance at the Trocadero in Philly unique to other cities?
SW: Not to be stereotypical but, cheesesteaks.
TTN: If you had to sum up Foxy Shazam in one word, what would it be?
SW: I think it would have to be “foxy.”
Danielle Miess can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.