Fox Parlor’s Andrew Berry is talking about the mixed blessing that is being a musician here in Houston, and it all comes down to you...people.
“By far the No. 1 pro of being in a working band in Houston is just getting to meet all the cool people you meet along the way," he says. "We have met so many cool people doing different things — studio engineers, photographers, other bands, journalists, people at venues, people at shows. Houston is so diverse with people doing so many different creative things. It is cool to be able to know and work with some of those people. A con maybe is just that we are a big, fast-moving city with a lot going on all the time, so it may be hard to stand out and grab attention. Also our unpredictable weather can be a bummer.”
While they can’t do much about heat waves and hurricanes, Fox Parlor is doing what it can to emerge from the masses of creative Houstonians. They’re recording an album and play as many gigs as they can pencil in, like tonight’s show at Walters. When they do conquer their fair share of the limelight, Berry says it’ll be because of the band’s commitment to the music it cherishes.
“We are all about bringing Houston blues-based rock ‘n roll with attitude, a la Keith Richards and Nikki Sixx," says Berry, Fox Parlor's lead singer and guitarist. "No flashing lights or gimmicks, just piss and vinegar.”
Berry and his bandmates, brothers Justin and Michael LaTouche, all hail from Pearland, where they grew up together. Berry said they went their separate ways after high school, but all three played in bands while in college, which helped them learn to be “as professional as we know how to be.” After graduating, they decided to bring those experiences together as a band. In December 2013 they played their first Fox Parlor show at Continental Club, which remains a favorite Fox den.
“Locally, we have played Continental Club, House of Blues, Scout Bar, Firehouse Saloon, Notsouh, and recently we put on a run of free shows at Fitzgerald’s, which turned out great," recounts Berry. "We really love playing the Continental Club since we played our first show together there, and the atmosphere and that strip of Main Street are just so awesomely cool,” observed Berry. “Notsouh has something unique to it as well, and it has really been there for us as band. We feel we have really seen that place come along way. But the energy and turnouts we get at Fitzgerald’s has to make it our favorite place to book a show.”
What’s a Fox Parlor show like? Maybe it’s because it’s the season, or maybe it’s because they’re from Pearland (Go Oilers!), but Berry likens it to watching football.
“A Fox Parlor show might be like a football huddle — loud, sweaty, aggressive, rambunctious and ready to pounce," he reckons. "We like to play as loud as we can get away with and we like beer and partying and chicks,” he said. “All that energy coming together during our live set makes for a great sweaty rock and roll party.”
We’ve seen the guys in action recently at Notsuoh. If they were a football team, they’d be the 1972 Miami Dolphins. Berry is Bob Greise, the team's hard-working, play-calling quarterback. Justin LaTouche is Mercury Morris, flashy as he needs to be on lead guitar, but always workmanlike. Michael, the band’s bassist, is Larry Csonka, the punishing running back who drives the music hard song after song.
“We are definitely a blue-collar band and respect the business side of things and the dues that need to be paid,” Berry says. “Luckily, our close relationships make it easy for us to find our roles and work things out among ourselves as bros.”
A standout song from that Notsuoh set was “Alligator,” a guitar barrage that’s also entirely danceable. That’s kind of what Fox Parlor specializes in, and on that night they ran it to perfection. I know because it got the cheerleaders up and moving from the sidelines. That’s what rock stars and football heroes do, after all.
“We have been working on our next release over at SugarHill Studios, which is going to be a four song EP entitled West Dallas Rodeo," confides Berry. "We have been working with honky-tonker John Evans and engineer Steve Christensen, who has worked with Steve Earle and Band of Heathens. John’s eclectic take on our songs has really made for rocking tones and unique structures. We are really excited with what we have so far.”
Berry says the EP has a “kind of Queens of the Stone Age/Cage the Elephant type vibe,” and that the title references the band’s Fourth Ward neighborhood.
“We are still learning the ins-and outs of recording, but we have come a long way since our first release, which we kind of threw together in 2013. Having Steve and John there has really helped us grow in that aspect of being a band, showing us what to do and what not to do. They are really mentoring us in a lot of ways, and since we have gotten to work with them the recording process has become less strenuous and a lot more fun. They are awesome.”
The band hopes to gain some new followers from Friday’s show, a Fox Parlor first.
“This will be our first time playing Walter’s, so we are super excited. The guys from Houligan Collective really put together an awesome bill with Lowin, Bantam Foxes and Deep Cuts. We feel Walter’s will really fit our spirit well and we hope to play there more in the future,” Berry said.
In the end, Berry said the best way Fox Parlor can stand out from the crowd is just by being itself. Unbelievably, in this day and age, that still works.
“Yes, you do have to be connected somewhat, but it’s just a matter of getting out, playing shows, and meeting the players of the game," he says. "We feel like it might be a little different for us since we do have some country and Southern twang, which isn’t really the hip, electronic-pop/synth, indie-rock scene that seems to be the popular thing these days. But we are proud of that. We are recording original music that is true to us and playing the bigger venues in town that we book ourselves. We don’t know if that is worthy of press, but we do appreciate any recognition and praise we can get.”
Fox Parlor joins Austin’s Lowin, New Orleans’ Bantam Foxes and Houston’s Deep Cuts Friday night at Walters Downtown, 1120 Naylor. Doors open at 8 p.m.