Stop the Future (Fat)
An interview with singer “Roxie Epoxie”
By “Ewan Wadharmi”
photos by Chris Casella
Back in the day, punk and new wave went hand in hand, and were allied against disco and metal. In the divorce, punk was adopted by metal, and new wave went to disco and techno. Now the only shock left is reconciliation. The Epoxies have a bond with fellow Norwesters The Briefs, adhering to the punk-wave mixture so powerful, it could glue your head to an I-beam.
Is this Roxie?
If that is your real name…
Yes, well, no, but you’ve got the right person.
This is Ewan Wadharmi, if that is my real name… Now, the style of music you’re performing, are we going to have a fight about whether or not it’s New Wave?
Are you going to use the term New Wave? Do I have to explain that it doesn’t mean very much? I’m not going to deny that there’s an element of new wave there, but it’s not all pure New Wave. People are too quick to jump to conclusions.
I think people jump to conclusions with some of the acts you’ve been compared with. I think it’s pretty shortsighted to compare you to Blondie.
I would agree there. Again, there’s an element of that, and it’s an influence, but that’s not where it begins and ends by any means.
Blondie was disco, for the most part.
It depends on the song with them. “Detroit 442” is a much harder song than “Heart of Glass.” But people remember “Heart of Glass” much more quickly. In terms of the music, we were all born in the late ’70s, we just weren’t old enough to be active in what was going on. Blondie is an influence, and we hear the Devo comparison a lot, but we’re quicker to come up with more underground acts like The Rezillos and X-Ray Specs, like The Screamers and X, stuff not as readily obvious. I don’t think most people are very familiar with what was really going on then, and that’s why I find the term New Wave so inappropriate. People have a particular vision of what it is, when it’s much more widespread. Similar to the term alternative, it means jack shit.
Just accept it. If you deny it, I’ll call you Emo.
I don’t deny it. If someone thinks New Wave is Wham and Culture Club, then I’ll deny it.
When I was 12, the first record I bought was Adam and The Ants. Adam went around saying “We’re not punk, we’re not New Wave, we’re Ant Music.”
Which is fantastic.
I keep seeing comparisons to Souxie And The Banshees, but that’s just lazy people judging from the cover. I saw the cover of your record and immediately thought Lena Lovich. And your vocals bear that out as well.
Quite honestly, I was listening to Lena’s Stateless non-stop while we were recording. We certainly don’t sound much like Souxie And The Banshees.
I thought you sounded a lot like Chrissie Hynde, and a little like The Motels.
I love Chrissie Hynde, I think she’s amazing. The Pretenders are incredible.
The style of music does fit in with what we know as new wave, but doesn’t have the goofiness of Oingo Boingo and some of the things that were happening then.
It’s interesting, because it’s a matter of who we’re talking to. I read somewhere that we don’t take anything seriously whatsoever and we’re just some bopping party fun-for-all or whatnot. By some means, we don’t take ourselves seriously, but on the other end, the lyrics are very serious. A lot of what we’re talking about is completely overlooked. We certainly set out to have fun in performance and image, because so many people left that aspect behind. There was a lot of shoe-gazing going on, and darker rock’n’roll stuff, continuing with dramatic stuff. We really did want to do something that people would hate. No one was using synthesizers at the time, and it was uncool. We wanted to dress like jackasses and push the boundaries of what might be acceptable. So in that sense, we’re kind of goofy, but there’s some serious stuff that we get into as well. Some people absolutely loathe us right off. We recently toured with Against Me, The Soviettes, and Smoke or Fire, and some people immediately hated us and didn’t get it. We got flipped off a hell of a lot, and that’s fine. That was part of what we envisioned when we started the band. Other people thoroughly enjoyed it. They saw the underlying message, or just liked to bounce off the walls.
You fit right in with The Soviettes.
Oh God, yeah. We had a blast on the tour. But a lot of times, Against Me’s fans really didn’t get it. If we’d played before or after The Soviettes, it might’ve made a little more sense, but ultimately, Fat is just trying to get its newer bands out there, because these sounds are quite different than what the label is known for.
Fat Wreck makes sense to me, but to a lot of people, it must seem odd. And those are the sort of people you came across.
It was completely new to some people, and completely unacceptable. And that doesn’t bother us. We like exposing people to new things, and a lot of people don’t want that. They want to hear Lagwagon, and more traditional Fat bands. I really love Fat. I thought it was a great fit. Some people don’t want to hear anything outside of the box, and they certainly don’t want to know the influence of the band. For instance, after Against Me finished, they would put on Neil Diamond, and that’s what the crowd would filter out to. People would say, “What’s this crap? They’re putting this on to get us to leave.” And that was Against Me’s choice. The Epoxies and the other bands love Neil as well. When it comes down to it, music and art are far-reaching. I don’t expect everyone to love us, but appreciate it when they sit and listen and come up with their own definitions instead of immediately discarding whatever is put in front of them. That’s one reason I’m proud of Fat signing so many different bands that fall under this term “punk” and whatnot.
You’re from Portland?
I was just in Portland, did you see me?
When were you there?
Few months ago, remember?
We might’ve left on tour. Shit, we were on the East Coast already, I’m sorry we missed you.
I’ve always had a love affair with Portland. What I love most is it’s an entire town of Janeane Garofalos.
There are quite a few Janeanes there. It’s a fantastic thing, isn’t it? I love Portland. I’m actually from Boston. I love New England, and it’s my home, but Portland is a fantastic town.
What part of Boston are you from?
Wellesley, Westwood, all that Southwest stuff.
What bands were you listening to?
Tribe… Toxic Narcotic was just starting when I was in high school, and I’d go to their basement and watch them practice. It wasn’t even the type of music I was into then, but I used to hang out with them way back at the beginning. And now they’re classics.
Do you get a good response playing Boston?
Yeah, we do. We dropped off the Fat tour four dates early because the keyboardist and I both got Trachiitis and couldn’t continue. We played our last show in Boston, and I just couldn’t sing anymore. The crowd was still supportive, even though a horrible noise was happening. So much fun. I’m always grateful to come back home to Boston to play for my parents and cousins and grade school friends. Boston always makes me smile.