Meet FOXTRAX: an alt-rock collective from New York now based in Los Angeles who are all about going against the grain.
The trio that makes up FOXTRAX consists of Ben Schneid on vocals and guitar and brothers Jared and Jon Stenz on bass and drums, respectively. FOXTRAX blends musical influences that span from 60s rock, and blues, to contemporary indie and alternative, creating an emotive sound that’s unique yet familiar. Ben was gracious enough to speak with us about FOXTRAX and tell us a little about who they are, where they came from, and where they’re going.
How FOXTRAX became the collective they are today has to be one of the most inspiring origin stories I’ve heard to date. Ben shared that personally he always had an affinity for music and knew he wanted to pursue it, but decided to go through the motions of going to school and getting a degree because he felt “that’s what you’re supposed to do.” It was after college in New York that him and his two friends Jon and Jared decided to do some artistic exploration. They spent six weeks in cabin in North Carolina and the juices started to flow, and thus FOXTRAX was born along with a five-track EP fittingly titled The Cabin released in 2016. Fast forward one year to this fall where the trio has released three singles: “Grey Morning,” “Nothing Lasts Forever,” and “Everything’s Changing.” Ultimately working towards a debut album, the guys of FOXTRAX have also just announced a west coast tour.
After their North Carolina awakening, FOXTRAX spontaneously neglected the New York music scene for something newer: Los Angeles. Ben said it was difficult to leave their hometown, but it was needed to happen for their musical aspirations to become a reality. The guys found their home in LA and made their dreams come true. “When you’re doing what you love, you don’t stop and start,” Ben said as he described the band’s work ethic and how their work is their life. But it was difficult to get where they are at now, Ben explained as he acknowledged the amount of rejection they faced when moving to LA. “Being a musician can seem veryfairytale-likee, from an outside perspective,” Ben said. “It is amazing to do what you love but you do get a lot of people talking down to you, being condescending, even just from the industry, people are always gonna tell you no.” But they persisted and it paid off. “If you really wanna get humbled, go look at the Beatles who were also rejected from every major label!”
Ben also shared the band’s musical inspirations, “right now we love Glass Animals, Cage the Elephant, The Strokes, we LOVE The Strokes, that’s the New York in us,” he laughed. FOXTRAX also look up to bigger names with a more mainstream following that were still able to go against the grain like The Beatles and also bands like Radiohead, Coldplay, who managed to remain interesting, creative, and individual despite their massive commercialized following. Ben seemed to have a great fixation with an unorthodox musical perspective, saying that he’d love to spend time with Bob Dylan and “pick his brain.” Ben said “he’s a really weird dude but everyone loves him and he makes music for everyone, that’s hard to do.”
Ben wants FOXTRAX’s image to stand out just as much as their music by including some very eclectic album art. Ben said they were instantly drawn to a piece of art by Kavan the Kid, which ultimately became the cover art used for their single “Grey Morning.” They commissioned him to design the art for the rest of their EP and kept a consistent a theme of animal heads on a seemingly average person’s body. The art is “provocative” according to Ben and is “entirely reflective of the EP’s sound.” When we asked Ben to liken the band’s sound to a specific flavor of ice cream he answered “chocolate cherry bone marrow” without hesitation. The abnormal flavor (which does not actually contain real bone marrow, Ben assured us) can be found at an LA ice cream shop called Salt & Straw known for it’s edgy and weird flavors reminiscent of “something you’d see in Harry Potter” according to Ben. “chocolate cherry is a pretty standard flavor” explained Ben, but the weird twist of bone marrow adds a twist in the same way they want to make music that is appealing to everyone but still has that alternative edge. “We want people to see themselves in our songs,” said Ben as emphasized their goal of relatability. Ben said he loves hearing songs that seem like they were written just for him, and he hopes he can make music like that for someone else to think “wow he wrote this track for me.”