Foxtrot & the Get Down: The Journey to Progress.
Foxtrot & the Get Down hopped into an RV, drove 15-plus hours south while listening to Kanye West, Otis Redding, Bruce Springsteen, G. Love, Elliott Smith, Sublime, John Mayer, Stevie Ray Vaughn… and forged their own luck. A plucky bunch.
“You have to leave here,” says South Philadelphia vocalist Erica Ruiz, 30. “This is kind of a safety blanket.”
Colin Budny, 24, the band’s lead vocalist and primary songwriter attests that Foxtrot’s desire to hone their artistry by any means necessary led to them leaving, if only briefly, their beloved hometown.
Foxtrot is the inverse of the country boys (and gals) who leave home to make it in the big city.
As the bandmates tell it, they had to leave their big “blue collar” city for the not-so-country-super-hip-southern-industry-town that is Nashville, Tennessee.
When asked how they went from singing in coffee shops around West Chester and Philly to being signed to a Nashville label, they unanimously quip, “Drive!”
Since the beginning of the year, the Foxtrot crew have road tripped to Nashville seven or eight times. They’ve lost track.
“I’m totally OK with flying more,“ says bassist Ken Bianco, 25, of Havertown.
“I’m okay with the drive,” Ruiz adds.
But it was Budny, Foxtrot’s passionate visionary, who reached out to multiple labels and ultimately got their mixtape in the right hands. Tres Sasser, of American Echo Records outside of Nashville, took the bait.
Sasser and his business partner Robyn Davis listened to Sold to Soul, Foxtrot’s first EP, and were drawn to its rawness. As a producer in Nashville, Sasser says he is surrounded by over-produced alternative bands that he laments are auto-tuned to high heaven. He and Wright found Foxtrot refreshing.
Sasser ended up producing Foxtrot’s latest EP, Black Coffee, and the band’s upcoming full-length, Roots Too Deep.
Sasser implemented his expertise and polish but ultimately retained what he admires most about the band – a from-the-streets, honest sound.
“They’re Philly kids who love the blues and whose love gets filtered through Springsteen,” Sasser says with a chuckle.
“I like to say a Black Keys bluesy-ness with a Springsteen kind of an energy,” Budny agrees, defining their sound as a mix of a lot of American music. “We’re red, white and blue. We love America. America is so lucky to have so many different cool forms of music. And to take that and mash it all together is just the way it’s worked. We didn’t choose to do this. We did what we love.”
“It sort of found itself,” adds guitarist Eric Berk, 24, from Northeast Philly.
Soulful Americana would best describe Black Coffee and its continuation, Roots Too Deep.
Both records chronicle the time period when the band had to journey to progress as artists. The EP and LP are about leaving Philly because you know you have to leave, realizing how much you miss it and coming home.
Frontman Budny resides in Manayunk but is from Northeast Philly, which certainly helped foster his “everyday man” charm.
“Obviously, he’s in love with Philadelphia,” says Sasser of Budny. “He is a Philly boy top to bottom. He kind of exudes that. He’s infectious when you talk to him.”
Sasser believes Foxtrot boasts a rare quality in the industry and that is what ultimately makes the band a special find. Foxtrot doesn’t try to be anything other than what they are.
That’s a sentiment the bandmates share.
“We’ll stay true to our Philly collective ideals,” Berk says. “But going to Nashville taught us there’s time to use the knife.”
“We’re all just so laid back,” Ruiz chimes in. “We’re not cool.”
“Well, I’ve always considered myself a male Patti La Belle,” Budny says with a smirk. “I wake up every day and I think that.”
Jokes aside, Budny doesn’t want Foxtrot to be the band flipping hair out of their face and wearing Wayfarers indoors, but rather the regular dudes buying concertgoers shots at the bar, just trying to hang out.
“And then we SLAY,” he says with a laugh.
A slayage that reverberates from Philly to Nashville and beyond.
“We get hounded constantly to move to Nashville but we’d rather drive the 15 hours when we need to…” says Budny.
“And be able to come back to Philly,” Berk adds.