Watching for Foxes
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Watching for Foxes

Grand Rapids, MI | Established. Jan 01, 2014 | SELF

Grand Rapids, MI | SELF
Established on Jan, 2014
Band Folk Rock

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Winter is universally known as the time for contemplative indie-folk rock. Here to warm the soul like those hot toddies that you keep throwing back is the new Michigan band Watching for Foxes. Their track “Young Blood, Old Bones” follows in the tradition of wintery music by combining subtle, poetic lyrics with guitars and strings that instantly feel comfortable. It’s the sonic equivalent of a night by the fire – comfortable but slightly melancholic. The band mixes in some lovely density to their classic American folk sound – it’s a solid formula that oozes familiar comfort. Watching for Foxes is set to tour behind their newest EP Until The Winter Comes around the East Coast soon. - The Wild Honey Pie


Arguably the band with the most buzz in the already buzzy local folk-rock scene, this five-piece has a lot in store for 2016. They’ll start by releasing their first full-length album, which they recorded last year with Ben Zito from GR’s own folk-rock favorites The Crane Wives. Then Watching for Foxes returns to the road where their dark indie-folk, filled with howling harmonies and lush instrumentation, will no doubt earn them even more eager eyes and ears. - Revue Magazine


The magnificent seven: Watching for Foxes
Some indie-folk flavours in our second exclusive of the week, coming to you courtesy of Michigan seven-piece Watching for Foxes

Our second exclusive of the week comes from Watching for Foxes, a seven-piece indie-folk outfit who hail from Grand Rapids, Michigan. The track is taken from the band’s forthcoming debut album Undone Bird, which is out on 10 June.

Watching for Foxes formed originally as a three-piece band, influenced heavily by “Mumford & Sons, and cats like that”. That starter line-up released a couple of EPs, but as the band has grown, so has their sound, which they now describe as having “elements of roots rock, folk-rock, and indie-rock”.

Of Two Lovers itself, lead singer Joey Frendo tells us: “Two Lovers is a song about the internal pull between polar opposites. When you’re trying to find a way to love someone, when you’re in a relationship, there are these two forces at odds with one another. One is the undying urge to give everything you have to that other person, the part of you that would do anything for them; on the other hand, is the apprehensive side of ourselves that is selfish and broken and wounded, and that will protect your own heart at all costs.

“I’ve found that, in the relationships that populate my life, these two dichotomous sides are often at war. Two Lovers is a chronicle of this tug-of-war in my own personal life, and how that strife often results in killing the thing that I set out to protect; we lose love and our own autonomy.” - Songwriting Magazine


FFS is delighted to bring you the premiere to Watching for Foxes’ new single ‘Undone Bird’.

With an album of the same name releasing just around the corner on June 10, the Grand Rapids-based quintet’s frontman, Joey Frendo, has this to say about the titular single:

“Undone Bird was inspired by two things: our strange journey as a band and the novel ‘On The Road’ by Jack Kerouac. The song title itself is actually pilfered from a line in the novel, one where Sal is romanticizing the kind of cosmic beauty Dean’s brokenness exudes. The latter has to do with the little family we have formed in Watching for Foxes.

We spend an exorbitant amount of time with each other, and through all those hours in our little rehearsal space or in our smelly van or playing gigs, we’ve forged a brotherhood. All of us have taken very different routes to get where we are now, but we’ve all ended up together. A lot of people have been supportive, some have not, but we’ve found a place to call our own through our music. No matter what we’ve been through, no matter what cards we’ve been dealt, we found something to be passionate about, something that is bigger than ourselves; a place to call home.

One moment in particular that sticks out as a touchstone to this bond was actually when we started writing the song. We were headlining a festival in Northern Michigan and having a ball when our van’s front suspension went out, leaving us stranded with very few options. In the searing heat on a Sunday, feverishly calling mechanics to no avail, we sat down and found comfort in playing our music together. We figured out how to fix the van, and then we started in on writing ‘Undone Bird’.

It’s a surreal moment to think about now, being hungover and hot but finding a way to write this song about how much we love playing music together and how we don’t want it to stop. That experience perfectly encapsulates the song though. No matter how broken down you are, or what is happening, everyone has a sanctuary, whatever it may be, and if you don’t, the song challenges you to find it.

Going back to Kerouac’s place in the song, that line just struck me as a microcosm of life. We live in this beautifully broken world, and if you look at it in the right light, there’s a kind of solace in that; a kind of solace that is present in the novel as well. The book itself was highly influential not only in the writing of the song and the album, but in my life, so it also feels a little bit like an ode to the road and to the people who inspire us to keep living this crazy dream and to never stop being a little unhinged as long as it is all in the pursuit of something beautiful and true and inspiring. - For Folk's Sake


I never get over to Grand Rapids as much as I should... And it's rare that our Detroit ears stretch over that far to check in on the local scene's latest releases. Watching For Foxes are quite distinct from other west-side-Mitten bands like Heaters, Greensky Bluegrass or The Go Rounds. There's this alluring fury to some of their folk-rock songs, this striding blaze and sharp churned stride, the guitars pealing with this elemental clangor, and the vocals intonated with this ineffable urgency, an arpeggio of all the heart's strings, while the drums and bass, the pianos and atmospheric pedals, effectively pull the listener in, pushes you forward...

Watching For Foxes make every song feel like it's that half-triumphant, half-weary, all-around cathartic march up the hilly knoll towards the unknowable-yet-still-hope-splashed horizon, as if every song were the build up to the closing credits of the indie-arthouse film of the story to your life. And Undone Bird is very much an aural anthology of soundtracks to a life, a life dented and sweetened by moments of soul-searching, of sacrifice and loss, of refreshed perspectives and outlook-altering questions...of, above all, resoluteness. The music, like the motives and moxie of the band, churns on, onward...

I also enjoy the ambient wooziness, the half-in-a-dream stagger, of some of the more atmospheric sounds captured on this production. I love how succinct and profound the percussive elements can be, providing just the right amount of propulsion. I love how the lead vocals and the guitars can be so uniquely expressive, and yet sound as though they were both comparable lost souls propping each other up in arms in this undeterred forging forth.

Blues and rootsy country vibes meet space-orbiting avant-garde shreds; heart-on-the-sleeve folk with the American Underground, nostalgic troubador ballads for the quiet twilight wanders and cinematic glides into the mind-blowing wide open empyrean. Be ready to have it pared back for some minimal banjo odes, or some slower-building tempos under some star lyrical fair. Be ready for, above all, emotion, the heavy evocations, the kinds of moments in your life that can't be put into words yet can be excellently encapsulated by a song, by its notes, by its tones, by its tempo. Watching For Foxes really forged something here; one can feel the fire. - Jeff Milo (writer for "Paste" and "Detroit Free Press")


Among the slew of rising Michigan artists in the music industry, Grand Rapids’ Watching for Foxes are the ones with the most to prove. Reworking their process as a band from the bottom-up over the past year, the seven-piece folk outlet revitalized and refreshed their music into a brand that they’ve called “flannel rock”, pulling from influences such as Arcade Fire, Father John Misty, and Mumford & Sons to craft an amalgam experience not quite exactly like either of the aforementioned.

They have met their respective local music scene with a verve that had not previously been detectable since this latest realization, which has naturally brought a lot of interest to their upcoming album, Undone Bird, due out June 10. The band is premiering Undone Bird ahead of its release exclusively to PopMatters.

About the album, frontman Joey Frendo says, “This project was really a labor of love for us. We spent a ton of time crafting this album, from track sequencing and album art, to rehashing old songs and creating new ones, and we hope that hard work and attention to detail really shines through. The band has a belief about how albums should be a sonic experience on their own, a cohesive piece of arts that impacts the listener.”

“Ben Zito, our engineer and producer for this album, really helped us drill down on what we wanted to highlight and how we would make this album unique. He did a fantastic job, and we really feel like the album has a moment-in-time feel. The album itself is polished enough but has a lot of takes that were live because we loved how raw it sounded. A lot of the first albums from bands we love have that feel, that aesthetic. You can tell that they poured everything into those albums and they recorded it in a way that toed this beautiful line between control and chaos, allowing them to capture not only a story within the songs, but an additional story behind the actual making of the album. That’s what we had in mind when creating Undone Bird.”

“On the content of the album, it’s a concept album that follows a really formative and somewhat tumultuous time in my personal life. This album is about transition, a lot of proverbial death and rebirth between the various cycles that my life was going though. A couple handful of albums really pushed me to write something undeniably personal, something that was so much about my own struggles, albums including Carry the Ghost by Noah Gundersen, Southeastern by Jason Isbell, HEAL by Strand of Oaks, I Love You, Honeybear by Father John Misty, and I Forget Where We Were by Ben Howard. Not only do these albums have things sonically that draw you in, they have honest, emotional storytelling that is hyper-personal; we aimed to achieve the same with Undone Bird.”

“Music and literature have really given me an outlet and an escape, especially during the particular time Undone Bird was being written, and I really used those albums as crutches through my own difficult time, and I hope that people can hear where we draw from those records. In that same way, my hope is that my stories and the stories the band as a whole is able to create through these songs can resonate with others and help in some way, shape, or form.” - Pop Matters


Few bands can replicate the lugubrious beauty of folk-rock’s Watching for Foxes. The mournful -yet-somehow-sanguine tracks constructed by frontman Joey Frendo and his Grand Rapids ensemble build to dynamic, emotion-infused crescendos marked by moody sound effects, gorgeous harmonies and rich, diverse instrumentation. As a result, there’s almost a cinematic quality to significant portions of “Undone Bird,” with the single-worthy, catchy crowd favorite “Two Lovers” balanced against epic-sounding gems such as “The Watchmen” and “The Hunt/The Kill.” – John Sinkevics - Local Spins


Discography

  • Debut EP "The Watchmen" was released on May 19th, 2014.
  • 2nd EP "Until the Winter Comes" was released on January 31st, 2015.

Photos

Bio

With the release of the upcoming full length album, Undone Bird, Watching For Foxes brings new elements to a classic genre. Lush with beautiful progressions, a roots folk feel, and big choruses, the album boasts the aesthetic of indie folk anthems. Although the songs are diverse from one and other, there is a glue that holds the record together much like a concept album. Most importantly, the band never loses sight of the emotional platform great songs are built from.

The first single and title track, Undone Bird, is a neo-folk track that, like the rest of the album, tells a story that comes from a very real place.

“Undone Bird is about the unity of our flawed design. Even though we are all imperfect, we all have people who love us and care about us and we are able to keep living and doing what we love. Everyone has a place to call their own, to call home; this song is about our journey in finding that on the road, as a band.”

Although the single speaks volumes for the album, to get a real understanding of the band, it should be heard in its entirety.

The group says this about their evolution: ”We started out playing sad, indie-folk songs. They were simple and definitely more derivative of neo-folk traditions; we drew a lot from contemporary folk artists like Mumford and Sons and cats like that. We still love that music, but as our line-up grew and solidified, we were able to included many more of our diverse influences and make a sound that we like to think is all our own. We have elements of roots rock, folk-rock, and indie-rock in our sound, and I think we’ve created a really cool little niche for ourselves that will serve us well in the future; more importantly, it reflects who we all are, and who inspires us, in a much more complete way.” 

Starting as a three piece band, Watching For Foxes consisted of friends that grew up together in Fremont, MI rehearsing in their now-vacant high school. The band started performing live in early 2014 and continued on touring the Midwest.  Wanting to create a bigger sound live, they soon began looking for additional players. After going through some line-up adjustments, the band finally locked in their current seven members and have been together ever since.

Watching for Foxes released two EP’s while they were still operating as a three piece band, and shortly after, released their single Two Lovers. The Undone Bird album will be the bands first actual release with their finalized, full-band line up. Undone Bird is set to be released in late April and the band continues to gig incessantly throughout Michigan and the Midwest in support of their upcoming album release.

Having shared the stage with the likes of Langhorne Slim, Larry and His Flask, Joseph, Saintseneca, Roadkill Ghost Choir, and Knox Hamilton, the band fell in love with the performing live  quickly and obviously feel comfortable putting themselves out there as story tellers to those who will listen. As the band themselves put it, “We love playing music together, and we want this to be our entrance into doing music for a living; we work really hard at what we do. Our songs yearn to be heard, to tell our stories, and inspire others to do the same!”

Band Members