The band PHOX is definitely ‘phoxy,’ but they’re also funny, entertaining, and all around cool. Their backstory goes like this: six high school friends came together and formed the band PHOX. They hail from the small town of Baraboo, Wisconsin aka “Circus City.” It was the former headquarters of Ringling Brothers Circus. (Definitely not a good place to grow up if you’re scared of clowns.) Monica Martin is the lead vocalist and the rest of the band is comprised of super talented multi-instrumentalists: Matt Holmen, Dave Roberts, Matteo Roberts, Jason Krunnfusz, and Zach Johnston.
Their self-titled folk-pop debut record came out just last week and it definitely has people talking. Their song “Slow Motion” was even Starbucks’ Pick Of The Week. I’m so happy because I dig their music and I think you guys will too.
The record is a beautiful chaos of harmonies and an array of different instruments from the clarinet to the banjo to the trumpet. Each band member adds a special something to the sound and Monica, who writes all the songs and melodies, tops it off with her sultry, soulful vocals.
I was lucky enough to chat with Monica over the phone, and grill her about everything from being a woman in a band full of dudes to binge-watching on addictive TV. Here’s what she had to say:
Hello Giggles: Hey Monica! How’s your day going?
Monica Martin: It’s good! I started making some pies. I spend my free time making pies because if I do something stupid, I tell people, “I owe you a pie.”
HG: That’s awesome! Way better than, “I owe you a drink.” I guess we’ll jump right into some questions. Being in a band with a bunch of guys must be pretty entertaining. How is it living and working together?
MM: I mean, as a whole I think they’re more sensitive than other people I’ve known in the past. They’re not huge troublemakers or always pulling pranks. Those are sort of classic gender ideas. I’m a hairdresser, so there are parts of me that are like, really interested in femininity. It’s fun for me to explore that, so my biggest thing for me is just not being able to vocalize the things I get excited about. Like I’ll get new lipstick and I’ll be like “Guys, look at this new lipstick! It’s the coolest thing I’ve ever seen because it doesn’t wipe off!” and they’re like, “I don’t care at all.”
HG: I feel like your music would be cool for a TV show or movie soundtrack. Do you guys take a break from music and have TV show marathons or movie nights?
MM: Yes! We don’t have cable. I go on serious bingeing like just binge through a series. What’s funny is that I just fell in love with New Girl! Like FELL IN LOVE. I went through all of New Girl. Went through Girls. I really love True Detective and Family Guy. I personally am all over the place. The boys like Breaking Bad. We’re all at different places in Mad Men, so that’s hard to sync that up. We all have different circadian rhythms. Sometimes we’ll all be watching the same movie. We watched Mary Poppins a few months ago. . .We all have different tastes. We are definitely aligned when it comes to Mad Men, Breaking Bad, and Disney movies.
HG: Yeah, everyone loves Disney movies and so cool that you just finished up New Girl! So, years ago when I saw bands live, each band would play a set and then they’d all come back together on stage for the encore and jam. If you could choose your dream tour, what bands/artists would you want on it to jam with at the end?
MM: Oh my gosh. What I love the most is harmonizing with other people. If I could be the support harmony for Brandi Carlile or Feist, that would make my life. Those are two of my favorite voices. Oh and Fiona Apple. That’s my super dream team. I’d totally feel so uncomfortable because I admire them so much. Fiona Apple, Brandi Carlile, and Feist – if we could a song with a 4-part harmony together, I would cry. There are probably many bands that I would wanna dance around and have an end-of-tour jam with, but I’m going to stick with that.
HG: Good choices! If someone hasn’t heard of your band before, which song would you want him/her to check out?
MM: From the new record, I would say “1936.” “Slow Motion” is fun, but not super representative of stories I generally tell. I think “1936” best represents what we do. I really like how that one ended up.
HG: Anything you want to tell the HelloGiggles’ readers about the band or the new record?
MM: I guess I would say that this is a collection of the first songs I’ve pretty much ever written. I’m a new songwriter and this is a really cool opportunity with six people from the same small hometown. We got to record it in Madison, Wisconsin and had a good time making it. I guess my only hope is that people would enjoy it.
It’s really crazy. I didn’t think that this is what I’d be doing. Like, what?! So often I’m like, “What am I doing right now? This is so weird. I was a hairdresser.” I love hairdressing, but then a good friend [band mate, Matt Holmen] encouraged me and now playing in a band is my life. It’s been a weird ride. I have no expectations, so everything that’s happened has been a great surprise. I don’t really know what to say to people. I hope they enjoy it!
HG: I think they will! It’s funny how life works sometimes. Well, thanks so much for talking with me! See you guys when you come to New York!
MM: Yes, thanks for chatting! See you there. Take care!