Joby  Fox
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Joby Fox

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"End of the War"

I’ll give away my age by saying I saw Fox with Energy Orchard at U.U.J. Freshers’ Week in 1989. I am not that young man anymore and neither is Fox and his music now is very much removed from the electrified Celtic Blues Rock of Energy Orchard. It is a mature brand of contemporary folk/blues. Fox is very much a Belfast boy and is not ashamed of his roots and it shows through in every song on this album in one way or another.

‘End of the War’ is a fine example of the singer/songwriter genre and more besides. The music itself is beautifully crafted and expertly produced. The production is crisp and clear with the mix between the instruments and Fox’s raspy ‘lived in’ voice is perfect. The album opens with a lilting simple contemporary folk song ‘Insane Asylum’, and has a lullaby feel to it despite the title. The next ‘proper’ song is ‘R and L’ (Republicans and Loyalists). This is the stand out track on the album featuring a backing track akin to ‘Thank You’ by Dido, a vocal delivery straight from the Fran Healey (Travis) school and a backing vocal that echoes Floyd’s ‘Great Gig In The Sky’. Sound like a strange mixture? It totally works. People are as divided about whether we should sing/write about the Troubles now as the division between ‘R and L’ itself, but this is not a song that goes over old ground or picks sides. It’s personal.

Next up is a simple love song, simply called ‘I Love You’. Simple yes, but very effective and, should it ever get the airing it deserves, it will become ‘Our Tune’ for any number of couples, no doubt with the bloke recalling how he finally got up the courage to ‘pop the question’. Again, you have to love the ‘Ulster-ness’ of it as Fox says ‘courting’ (curtin’) in the lyric. Fair play lad.

The album closes with the title track. This is a more ambitious jazz-infused track featuring a full band sound, including sax and organ. Being a Belfast boy we think Van The Man, but we could equally think Ray Lamontagne in his jazzier moments. It’s groovy and really well executed. I have to say, it caught me out after what had gone before but my surprise gave way to enjoyment.

My only criticism would be that there isn’t enough! 7 tracks with only 4 genuine songs interspersed with instrumental interludes seems a tad short. Temper this though with the fact that this is a dual project to be accompanied by a short film, ‘Los Commandos’, which Fox has ambitiously put together. If the film is as good as the album, the whole package will be very good indeed.

Stand out Track // R and L

For Fans of // Van Morrison - Ray Lamontague - Chordblossom.com


"Joby Fox and the lost commandos"

For one of Belfast’s original punks Joby Fox, former bassist with Energy Orchard, is surprisingly laid-back. The ginger-bearded songwriter grumbles sympathetically about traffic wardens and chats admiringly about Belfast musicians Silhouette, Mama Kaz and Window Seats.

Get him talking about his new project, though, though and it obvious that the old fires have just been banked. Lost Commandos is a 7-minute short that sees four armed, balaclava-wearing commandos careering around iconic Belfast locations on a mysterious secret mission. Only to wind up back where they started.

‘There’s a twist at the end, too, but I’m not telling you what that is,’ Fox says with a smile, before leaning forwards earnestly. ‘It’s a metaphor for people who are caught in that mindset.’

In an era where most artists are eager to brand their work ‘post-Troubles’, Fox is defiant about his refusal to ignore what he calls, ‘the elephant in the room’.

‘There is a drive to sanitise it, to push it all under the rug and not talk about it,’ he growls. ‘Well, maybe some people still want to talk about it? I’m a working class boy, that’s where I’m coming from. The MAC and the Titanic Centre are great and that’s all very well, but people in the working classes still aren’t living together in this city.

Film isn't Fox's usual art form, but after he left Energy Orchard he wanted to try something new.

'EMI signed me up when I just a kid. In some ways I think that inhibited me,' he explains. 'Well, not anymore. I will use any medium I can to get my ideas across.'

In case any of his fans are getting worried, that includes music. Along with Lost Commandos Fox is releasing the complementary album End of the War. It consists of seven tracks, 4 new compositions and 3 interludes. Fox cites The Beatles Magical Mystery Tour album as an inspiration, saying that he has always wanted to try to do something similar.

Whereas Lost Commandos is essentially pessimistic, depicting people caught in an unending rat-maze of their own making, End of the War takes a more positive outlook.

'The album provides an alternative to the mind-set in Lost Commandos,' Fox explains. 'It is journey from the world of the asylum to peace.'

A journey that took Fox four 'mad but great' years to put together and was entirely funded out of his own pocket. 'I couldn't have done it without my partner,' he says. 'Sophie [Rasmussen] is very cool and collected and produced Lost Commandos.' He didn't seek funding for the project because he didn't want it to be associated with anyone else's agenda.

'I think enlightenment can be found through sharing ideas,' Fox explains. 'I am speaking from my own personal experience, and I just hope that can help people move on.'

Lost Commandos and End of the War will be launched at the Long Gallery in Stormont on May 3, followed by a release gig at Culturlann on May 12. - Culture Northern Ireland


"Joby Fox and the lost commandos"

For one of Belfast’s original punks Joby Fox, former bassist with Energy Orchard, is surprisingly laid-back. The ginger-bearded songwriter grumbles sympathetically about traffic wardens and chats admiringly about Belfast musicians Silhouette, Mama Kaz and Window Seats.

Get him talking about his new project, though, though and it obvious that the old fires have just been banked. Lost Commandos is a 7-minute short that sees four armed, balaclava-wearing commandos careering around iconic Belfast locations on a mysterious secret mission. Only to wind up back where they started.

‘There’s a twist at the end, too, but I’m not telling you what that is,’ Fox says with a smile, before leaning forwards earnestly. ‘It’s a metaphor for people who are caught in that mindset.’

In an era where most artists are eager to brand their work ‘post-Troubles’, Fox is defiant about his refusal to ignore what he calls, ‘the elephant in the room’.

‘There is a drive to sanitise it, to push it all under the rug and not talk about it,’ he growls. ‘Well, maybe some people still want to talk about it? I’m a working class boy, that’s where I’m coming from. The MAC and the Titanic Centre are great and that’s all very well, but people in the working classes still aren’t living together in this city.

Film isn't Fox's usual art form, but after he left Energy Orchard he wanted to try something new.

'EMI signed me up when I just a kid. In some ways I think that inhibited me,' he explains. 'Well, not anymore. I will use any medium I can to get my ideas across.'

In case any of his fans are getting worried, that includes music. Along with Lost Commandos Fox is releasing the complementary album End of the War. It consists of seven tracks, 4 new compositions and 3 interludes. Fox cites The Beatles Magical Mystery Tour album as an inspiration, saying that he has always wanted to try to do something similar.

Whereas Lost Commandos is essentially pessimistic, depicting people caught in an unending rat-maze of their own making, End of the War takes a more positive outlook.

'The album provides an alternative to the mind-set in Lost Commandos,' Fox explains. 'It is journey from the world of the asylum to peace.'

A journey that took Fox four 'mad but great' years to put together and was entirely funded out of his own pocket. 'I couldn't have done it without my partner,' he says. 'Sophie [Rasmussen] is very cool and collected and produced Lost Commandos.' He didn't seek funding for the project because he didn't want it to be associated with anyone else's agenda.

'I think enlightenment can be found through sharing ideas,' Fox explains. 'I am speaking from my own personal experience, and I just hope that can help people move on.'

Lost Commandos and End of the War will be launched at the Long Gallery in Stormont on May 3, followed by a release gig at Culturlann on May 12. - Culture Northern Ireland


"Joby Fox - End of the War"

Four stars - “An underground Belfast figure for 30 years, Fox’s early Bankrobbers and Energy Orchard tunes shone. Those writing skills have advanced on this long-brewing solo debut – a deftly arranged, richly rewarding look at his hometown after the conflict.” - The Daily Mirror


"Fox News"

Belfast musical maestro Joby Fox has delivered a seriously striking EP called End of the War. Joby has been a respected figure on both the local and international music scene for years now and thankfully still possesses the same lyrical pasion and musical edge that made him pick up a guitar or indeed a pen in the first place.
The EP contains a trio of original (and I mean original) songs that incorporate everything from beautifully delicate piano and jazzy brass arrangements to sampled dialogue and exquisite double baselines. The songs on offer are high on melody and fuelled with human emotion, resulting in each one carrying a powerful, social and political message while at the same time being beautifully wrapped up for mass consumption like an iron fist in a velvet glove.
The lyrical calm between two storms however, is the unashamedly romantic I Love You which is one of those perfectly simple and direct songs that refuse to hide their sentiments like Lennon's Oh My Love or Marley's Waiting in Vain and stand tall because of it.
There is a richness to the songs also in terms of creativity - they haven't been written to conform to a three minute pop radio formula - istead they have been crafted in a very organic and natural fashion.
I'm hearing echoes of a few other musical luminaries in here which is no bad thing. Van Morrison, Matt Johnson's best The The moments, Costello on a good day and here comes the big compliment... The Velvet Underground.
This EP is a total triumph - long runs the Fox. - The Irish News


"Joby Makes the system go his way"

Joby Fox has had a life-long love/hate relationship with the music business.

The music bit was easy. The business bit was always a hassle.
Joby will be playing at The Black Box on Wednesday as part of Feile an Phobail.
He has a long career in music starting 30 years ago as a bass player in The Bankrobbers.
Later he moved on to form Energy Orchard and wrote their only significant UK hit 'Belfast'.
By the time the Energy Orchard thing went pear-shaped Joby was long gone.
He had returned home to Belfast from London to get his head straight. He found out it suited him.
He spent time raising his family, all the while writing songs. This experience also allowed time for reflection and made him decide to give something back.

He decided to put together rehearsal rooms and a small studio in an unfashionable area of downtown Belfast.
"I knew there were loads of bands out there with nowhere to develop their material," says Joby.
"I was able to provide somewhere and also tell them about my experiences in the music business".
Having been there and got the tee-shirt Joby could explain to the young musicians who came to him that it was a jungle out there.
Having removed their rose-tinted spectacles he was able to prepare them for life as working musicians.
As they worked on their songs hoping for that big record deal, Joby worked on his and wanted the exact opposite.
"If one person hears one of my songs and likes then that's great," he says with typical forthrightness.
"I don't care where this takes me, I just want to play - I'll come to your house if you want," laughs Joby.
These days, as you will probably have gathered, he has gone full circle where music is about enjoyment. Not fame and fortune.
"I do it for myself because it makes me happy.
"I don;t take orders from anybody and I do the things I do because I love it.
"If it's commercially successful - great. If not, I'm having fun."
If you want to hear some of Joby's new songs find them on www.jobyfox.com or on Myspace.
Or better still just wander along to The Black Box on Wednesday evening and hear a man who has a great way to work through his hang-ups.
He puts them in a song and smiles at the memory. While the rest of us the bitter and twisted. Or worse still go to the gym. - Sunday World


"Perfect Stranger"

Press Release

Joby Fox: Perfect Stranger

Available via on-line retail from: Monday 22 February

Belfast Nashville Songwriters Fest, Kings Street Arts @ 7pm: Thurs 25 Feb (free)

Belfast Nashville Songwriters Fest, King Head (Midge Ure): Sun 28 Feb

The debut single, Perfect Stranger, will be launched at Kings Street Arts centre on Thursday 25 February, as part of the Nashville Songwriter Festival. There will be a very special live performance from Joby to be filmed for DVD, to be released later this year. Joby Fox will also perform at the Belfast Nashville Songwriters Festival’s 6th Birthday Concert at the Kings Head on Sunday 28 February with the legendary Ultravox front man, Midge Ure.

Joby Fox was a founding member of the iconic Belfast rock band Energy Orchard. The band released their classic, self titled and critically acclaimed UK Top 50 album back in 1990. Energy Orchard where famously championed by then MCA record label mate, Steve Earle. They toured the world and, reputation has it, properly enjoyed a true rock n’ roll experience!

Whilst the majority of the songs were written by front man Bap Kennedy, it was Joby Fox that wrote the bands breakthrough single, Belfast. This debut single made the official UK singles chart and was an Irish number 1.

Brought up in Catholic tradition, though now a practicing agnostic, writing has always been a vehicle for Joby to purge his emotions and relieve his emotional tensions. This debut single, Perfect Stranger, explores the period in his life which was ruled by alcohol and hedonism.

Joby’s confidence in song writing has developed over recent years. This has helped him import some of the subjects that he feels are important to write and sing about. Although his sound is more contemporary pop than folk, telling stories and dealing with particular issues, social, political or otherwise, is what defines him as a song writer today.

“I've grown up with a folk tradition of storytelling through songs,” says Joby, “My mother would often launch into a ballad at any given point in the day, and my father would tell stories that were at times horrifying and others like parables and useful for life.”

Joby Fox is also a well known member of Belfast local arts community. He works day to day with various community groups and regeneration projects, and runs the independent arts organization King Street Arts in Belfast’s Castle Quarter area.

For more information about Joby Fox or for live show information etc, then please visit:

www.jobyfox.com
www.myspace.com/jobyfoxfree

For more information on this current release, then please contact:

James Rollins
07967 584573
james@jamesrollins.co.uk - James Rollins PR


"Joby Fox"

Former bassist with Energy Orchard, the curious Mr Fox tells tales of Belfast's punk era - the spitting, the record deals gone wrong, the stage-bound Japanese throwing star


Few people can claim to know what it feels like to be chewed up and spat out by the music industry and come back for more, but ex-punk Joby Fox knows all about it and he's got the stained t-shirt to prove it.

Not that he's bitter. The now sober musician fondly recalls his adventures as a wild young man, telling it as it was, back when 'explosive' wasn't a phrase casually bantered around Belfast - although, for a brief period, it perfectly described the city's vibrant punk scene.

'That's what it was, it was a social explosion, a real action against mediocrity and all of that. I'm proud to have been part of that,' says Fox as he takes his guitar from its case in Madden's bar in Belfast.

Setting his green flat cap down on the table Fox starts strumming a couple tunes unprompted, ahead of the release of his debut single 'Perfect Stranger'.

Occasionally the songsmith strums a chord while talking, as if the music itself is part of the conversation. The movement draws attention to the faded love/hate tattoos across his knuckles, hinting at a past as colourful as the scruffy scarf wrapped below his bushy ginger beard.

One of the city's unsung rock 'n' rollers, Fox started his music career with 1980s punks The Bank Robbers, releasing records under Terri Hooley’s Good Vibrations label. The band became infamous for publicity stunts like printing £50 notes with the band logo on it, a prank which later had them arrested on charges of counterfeiting and forgery.

As a youngster, Fox's exposure to music occured mainly through his parents, but it was only when the curious 14-year-old stumbled into a Rory Gallagher gig at the Ulster Hall that music took on new meaning. Three years later, mentored by Gallagher’s bass player, Fox found himself up on stage performing in the same venue with The Bank Robbers.

Fox recalls a particularly anarchic Ulster Hall gig alongside one of the earliest street punk bands, U.K. Subs. 'We went on slightly earlier [than scheduled] to this totally outrageous crowd. They were going bonkers and it was like, the [height of the] punk era – they were spitting and throwing things at us and everything!

'We got through a song-and-a-half when someone threw a Japanese throwing star at us and it got stuck in the back [of the stage] in the wood at eye-level, where the orchestra usually plays. So we knew kind of instinctively, it was like telepathy, we all looked at eachother – 'right, get off'!''

After an appearance on Channel 4's weekly live music programme The Tube (see video above), Fox moved to London in 1983 with the band signing to EMI and releasing two singles – 'Jenny' and 'Dear Miss Problem Page' – before being dropped just one year later. The band moved back to Belfast and eventually split up.

As a founding member of Bap Kennedy's 1990s outfit, Energy Orchard, Fox penned the rock group's most successful single, entering the British charts and reaching the number one position in Ireland, with a song called 'Belfast'. It wasn't all plain sailing in the beginning, but it turned out to be one of the most enjoyable tenures of Fox's career.

'Bap Kennedy was my roadie at one stage, and Brian Kennedy was originally the vocalist. After a year or so of silly arguments, we weren't going anywhere', Fox says. 'Brian was going to go his own way and we thought that was a good thing. But then Bap decided he was going to take the vocals. I just thought to myself, "Oh no, that's the end of the band", but as it happened it was one of the most amazing things I've laid witness to.'

Songwriting has always been a vehicle to purge emotional tensions for Fox. His debut single, 'Perfect Stranger', written during the mid-1990s, explores the period in his life that, he says, was ruled by alcohol.

'It's about kind of going out to a bar, and you meet a girl, glance across the room – bingo! You just know that the pair of you are leaving together. It's kind of hedonistic in a sense. It's about waking up not knowing the girl that you've been with the night before. It's talking about a one-night-stand type of thing, but maybe just the very thing that you need at the time, let's put it that way.'

Check out a free download of Fox's debut single 'Perfect Stranger' from JobyFox.com.

Joby Fox plays a free gig as part of the Belfast Nashville Songwriters Festival at Kings Street Arts on February 25, 7pm (contact King Street Arts on 02890 327297 for tickets) and also as part of In-The-Round Concert at the Kings Head, February 28 with the legendary Ultravox front man, Midge Ure, JJ Gilmour, Colin McGrath and more - tickets £8 from Belfast Welcome Centre.

Eddie Mullan - Culture Northern Ireland


Discography

The Bankrobbers - On My Mind (single, EMI and Good Vibrations)
The Bankrobbers - Jenny (single, EMI)
Energy Orchard - Energy Orchard (LP, MCA Records)
Energy Orchard - Belfast (single, MCA Records)
Energy Orchard - Sailortown (single, MCA Records)
Energy Orchard - Somebody's Brother (single, MCA Records)
Energy Orchard - King of Love (single, MCA Records)
The Sound of the Irish Underground (Sony)
Joby Fox - Perfect Stranger (single, SOJO)

Photos

Bio

JOBY FOX - BIOGRAPHY

"The songs on offer are high on melody and fuelled with human emotion, resulting in each one carrying a powerful, social and political message while at the same time being beautifully wrapped up for mass consumption like an iron fist in a velvet glove." (The Irish News)

Post-conflict artist and singer/songwriter Joby Fox in partnership with SOJO Music & Film has launched their "End of the War" project. The album comprises beautifully interwoven tracks and soundscapes, and the show which premiered at Belfast's most prestigious festival - Belfast Festival at Queen's - uses visuals and their short film "Lost Commandos" - a visual statement on post-conflict Belfast.

Having written and co-produced the album and directed the short film "Lost Commandos" it is an interesting turn in his career. In the past Joby has worked with a variety of artist from Steve Earle to Lee “Scratch” Perry, along with a number of top producers like Mick Glossop and John Brand. He is also a trained studio engineer and has produced dance tracks for Sony.

Belfast's no. 1

When at the age 14 he accidentally saw Rory Gallagher perform in the Ulster Hall his life was set off in an unforseen direction. Three years later Joby was himself performing in the Ulster Hall, having been mentored by Gerry McAvoy the bass player in Rory Gallagher's band. Now 30 years on he is the mentor of many young artists.

Belfast, one of the first songs Joby wrote as a teenager growing up in the war-torn city would later make it to UK Top 50 Charts and number 1 in Ireland.

The Bankrobbers arrested

Joby started his career in a punky band called The Bankrobbers, under Terri Hooley's Good Vibrations label. The band was well-known for their publicity stunts at a time when music promotions was almost non-existent in Northern Ireland. Most (in)famously, The Bankrobbers printed £50 notes with their logo on, which would later have them airlifted and flown to court in London on charges of counterfeiting and forgery. The band was eventually signed to EMI in 1983 and released two singles – Jenny and Dear Miss Problem Page.

Energy Orchard

After The Bankrobbers in 1985 Joby went to London again to focus on his musical career. He joined Energy Orchard and managed to land a record deal with MCA in 1988.
It was Energy Orchard's first single Belfast, written by Fox that really kicked off the band's career. They worked hard and toured the first album Energy Orchard extensively in UK, Europe and North America over a period of 3 years till Joby eventually left the band in 1991.

In the time since Energy Ochard Joby has never stopped writing songs, and it is on strength of this enormous amount of material that End of the War has come to fruition. However, in the past few years he has had to balance his creative work with working in the local community in the Belfast city centre. As one of the founders of the Folktown area, in which his rehearsal studio is situated, he has become increasingly more involved in social enterprise. Combining his expertise in music with social enterprise he is now working to re-invigorate this neglected area of the city through music, arts and culture.