Eric Nally is the frontman for Foxy Shazam, and what a frontman he is! With the band being around for a decade, Eric has proven to be one of the absolute best frontmen today with his unforgettable showmanship and spectacular live show. Before getting back on the road to start their tour at the end of the month, the band has released fifth album, Gonzo, online to download and listen to for free.
By interviewing Eric, I learned more about what it takes to be a frontman, developing a rock and roll look, the importance of a Foxy Shazam show, and much more!
Alex Obert: How did you develop your look?
Eric Nally: I’ve always felt like you can look a certain way and it goes a long way with the music. How people hear it is how you look. I think that’s the reason I developed a look at first. It’s interesting you ask me about it because I never really talked about the fact that for Gonzo, my hair isn’t black. I have brown hair. And my mustache is blonde. When Foxy Shazam started, I dyed my hair black and I put black mascara in my mustache. That was my look up until now with Gonzo. I don’t do that anymore, so I just went back to the way I normally look. The look, for me, still goes a long way. I think it can play a very important role with the band.
Alex Obert: Where do you get your clothes from?
Eric Nally: I haven’t bought new clothes for a long time. But I like Forever 21 and I like Gap and Banana Republic. I like going on eBay and searching for clothes. I like thrift store shopping, that’s one of my favorite things to do on the weekend. I used to work at a thrift store, so I have a soft spot for those. It’s really just whatever fits, man.
Alex Obert: In regards to you being one of the best modern day frontmen out there, what does it mean to you to be a frontman?
Eric Nally: Thanks man. I feel like I was put here on this Earth to be in a band, it’s all I ever wanted to do. Nobody’s made me feel that way. I feel a responsibility to be what people call a frontman. That’s how I can explain it. I feel like this is my passion and I know that it’s what I was put here to do. I’ve always felt like that was my job and that was my duty and responsibility. I’m happy to do it.
Alex Obert: When you’re up on stage, how do you come up with what you say on stage in between songs?
Eric Nally: It comes off the top of my head. I usually find that if I’m thinking about something too hard, then everything I say is just really stupid. But if I don’t think about what I’m gonna say, I just pride myself in getting to learn something. If I say something and I don’t think about it, I get the best things out in between songs. It’s all by opening my mouth.
Alex Obert: With your mannerisms and moving around on stage, how do you stay in shape?
Eric Nally: Well usually what I do is I go to the gym and I run on the treadmill to the album from the beginning to the end. When the album’s over, I stop. I do tons of push ups. I like to longboard around my neighborhood. I just try to remain in really good physical condition. I also train to mentally focus on stage, otherwise you blow your voice out. It’s just really a balance of that.
Alex Obert: Do you have any advice for aspiring frontmen?
Eric Nally: I have advice, but I couldn’t even begin to think about how to explain it. You’ve just gotta follow yourself and for everybody, it’s different. You’ve just gotta tap into that thing that makes you you and that makes you do that. You magnify that, you bring it out. You don’t even have to magnify it, you just get to know it. And it’ll show throughout your career with everything you do. That’s what you want people to see and hear.
Alex Obert: How important is it to include the members of your band during on-stage banter?
Eric Nally: I don’t usually include them with that banter. I don’t think they wanna be included. Sometimes our guitar player, but our bass player in Gonzo, he likes to goof around on stage. But for the most part, I think everybody just feels included all the time, no matter what’s going on.
Alex Obert: Do you feel there are any misconceptions about frontmen?
Eric Nally: The way that they’re portrayed in the movies, there’s always misconceptions. To me, the definition of a frontman is someone who has a duty that they were born with. It’s not like a job they had or something.
Alex Obert: Before we get into Gonzo, from your point of view, what is at the Church of Rock and Roll?
Eric Nally: I’ve thought about this before. The outside of it would be this house that was renovated into a used tire shop for cars. It would have red rope Christmas lighting around it everywhere. And you would go in thinking it’s a tire place, but you would say a secret password to the guy that worked there. And then the desk would spin around and open up, then you’d go down this stone stairwell and there would be everyone that you ever wanted to hang out with there, having a good time with a bunch of food and music.
Alex Obert: For the church part, who would lead the sermons?
Eric Nally: Me.
Alex Obert: And what would you talk about?
Eric Nally: That goes back to the same thing I talk about in between songs. I would just open my mouth and that’s what it would be.
Alex Obert: Getting into Gonzo, why did you select that as the album title?
Eric Nally: Well, the album to me was very personal. It’s me tapping into that spot I was telling you about, what makes me me. And I found that and that relates to my family and everything. I feel like my dad suffers with some mental issues and the word Gonzo means crazy. That’s what inspired me and that’s what I wrote about for the whole album. I wrote about experiences with my band and with my family and how it’s my outlet to write about that.
Alex Obert: Speaking of your family, you often mention your sons, have you bonded with them over music yet?
Eric Nally: Yeah, I think they know the difference between Gonzo and my other albums. They love everything we do, they’ve always loved it. They wanna be musicians when they get older. That’s all I can ask for is that they love music. That’s our bonding experience.
Alex Obert: What do you listen to outside of Foxy Shazam?
Eric Nally: I used to hate Elvis for a while. I don’t know why, but I think it’s cause I was mad that I heard he took a lot of stuff from gospel. But then you think about it, everybody gets inspired by stuff. I’ve just had a change of heart about Elvis. I’ve been really digging him lately. I like the new Paramore record. I’ve never listened to Paramore before, but I’m really into their latest album from 2013. I search a lot of YouTube videos of actors getting interviewed. I like watching that, it’s inspiring to me.
Alex Obert: Regarding influential musicians, how do you respond to when people compare you to Freddie Mercury?
Eric Nally: If people need to compare to somebody in order to wrap their head around it, that’s fine for them. But to me, it’s no comparison. When I do something, that’s what I do. People comparing me to someone doesn’t have anything to do with me really. I would encourage people to not have to compare.
Alex Obert: With the upcoming tour, you’re playing the album in its entirety, but how are you going to determine the rest of the setlist?
Eric Nally: We’ll probably just stick a bunch of names in a hat and pull ’em out.
Alex Obert: Are you open to changing up the setlist nightly?
Eric Nally: Yeah, definitely. I’m gonna play anything that anybody would wanna hear.
Alex Obert: In the world of frontmen, who are some of your favorites?
Eric Nally: Michael Jackson. I like Paul McCartney. Van Morrison, I love him. The definition of a frontman is who we look up to.
Alex Obert: A frontman that you have toured with, do you have any memories with Myles Kennedy?
Eric Nally: Only that he was a phenomenal singer. Me, I don’t warm up before I play and I never have. I don’t know why I don’t do that. I’ve never felt the need to. But the level of professionalism as a vocalist that that guy has, I have a lot of respect for him on that level. He’s a professional vocalist, he knows how to work his voice. He’s awesome to hear.
Alex Obert: Did you watch his show from the side of the stage after your set was done?
Eric Nally: Oh yeah! Most nights we had really great views from our green room, up in the balcony or something. Or we’d just sneak on the side of the stage and check them out. But the whole band is great, great musicians.
Alex Obert: What do you prefer, playing a bigger venue or at small clubs?
Eric Nally: I prefer either one. I never really notice what’s beyond the stage. Every performance can be the same, no matter where I’m at. I like the feel, especially when it’s crowded. That’s why sometimes, the smaller clubs feel like they’re packed. That’s cool.
Alex Obert: Are you playing anywhere new on the upcoming tour?
Eric Nally: No, that’s the thing with our band, we’ve toured so much. We’ve been everywhere in this country. The number of new places we can play are a few, Wyoming or something. But we haven’t been out for a good amount of time, so I’m definitely anxious to get back to everywhere.
Alex Obert: Foxy Shazam show you wish you could relive?
Eric Nally: There was a Detroit show on one of our past tours, I can’t remember which, but it was the stupidest thing I had ever done that night. I climbed the electrical cable that was off the top of the ceiling and I just remember that moment, when I was on top of there upside down. There’s a picture of it, the bouncer’s shining the light on me. It just looks like a death trap. I often think of how stupid that was of me to do and how lucky I am to be alive. But I think if I could relive something, I would be okay with doing that again.
Alex Obert: Favorite band name?
Eric Nally: Beck! (laughs)
Alex Obert: Favorite one hit wonder?
Eric Nally: It’s not really a one hit wonder, but a hit regardless, Time After Time by Cyndi Lauper. The only one hit wonders I know are The Monkees. (laughs) I don’t really like them.
Alex Obert: If you could have dinner with any three musicians, living or dead, who would they be?
Eric Nally: I’d probably want to have dinner with Miles Davis because he wouldn’t say much. I’m not a big talker either. Weird Al, so he can lighten the mood. And Van Morrison.
Alex Obert: First concert you ever attended?
Eric Nally: Sugar Ray. That was a great show. I remember it was the first time I had ever been around a rock band.
Alex Obert: If you could listen to a band for the first time again, which would it be?
Eric Nally: Green Day.
Alex Obert: What is one album that changed your life forever?
Eric Nally: Antichrist Superstar by Marilyn Manson.
Alex Obert: In closing, do you have any social media plugs at the moment?
Eric Nally: I would like people to look forward to the video that we’re coming out with very shortly. We put a lot into it and I’m very proud of it. We’re representing the visual of Gonzo as we talked about before and how important that is.
Alex Obert: And how long is the tour?
Eric Nally: The tour is a month and a half on the East Coast and then we’re doing West Coast shortly after that.
Alex Obert: What do you have to say to readers going to see you for the first time?
Eric Nally: I think that’s just gonna be the ultimate experience. I would say that the people that have seen us before, they’re gonna see an all-new experience.
Alex Obert: Thank you so much for your time!
Eric Nally: Thanks man! Means a lot!
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Great interview overall, but just wondering how did Eric hate Elvis for being inspired by gospel?
The beginning of Introducing mirrors Ed sullivan’s speech before Elvis was on his show, and it seems like Foxy Shazam has taken lots of stuff from Gospel music too (Oh Lord and Church of Rock and Roll). Glas he’s changed his mind!