Tony Cummings reports on Spartan Records rock team YOUNG FOX
The release last month of the album 'Sky Beats Gold' by Pittsburgh-based alternative rock band Young Fox is exciting news to all those who admired this exceptionally gifted four-piece since their emergence in 2012. Spartan Records skilfully nailed the diverse stylistic influences of the band's full-length debut: "'Sky Beats Gold' is a big rock record that combines the drive of Thrice and the complexity of Sunny Day Real Estate with the accessibility of Foo Fighters and the emotion of Manchester Orchestra. The album also features a cameo of Stephen Christian of Anberlin on the track 'Slow Burn'."
Young Fox began when, in 2012, Martin Lunn, the bass playing member of revered metal band Zao, Luke Cypher (vocals, guitar, keys) and Chris Lehberger (drums) went for a drink in a Pittsburgh bar. After an evening of music talk the three began writing and rehearsing together eventually bringing in guitarist Brian Schultz to complete Young Fox's lineup. The group signed with Spartan Records. Said Lehberger, "Knowing that we are working with people who truly believe in the music we want to make made signing with Spartan a no-brainer." The resulting five-song EP 'Predecessors' was released in July 2014. It was favourably received. Read one fan's review, "I purchased this EP after seeing this band live multiple times. Their sound is reminiscent of '90s alternative and resembles bands like Silverchair in terms of instrument tones. The songs themselves are extremely well written and accurately display feelings of desperation, struggle, realisation and hope."
Speaking to JesusFreakHideout, Luke Cypher spoke about the band's full-length debut. "It's a huge accomplishment to see everything we wrote and worked toward released. 'Predecessors' was like the training ground for 'Sky Beats Gold'." Luke feels that the theme of 'Sky Beats Gold' is pretty simple. He commented, "We all have lived through tough things. The key to surviving is allowing yourself to ask questions. Love, spirituality, religion and relationships all can be strengthened by not just agreeing but by starting a conversation."
Speaking about the album's retro influences new band member Callan Carnahan commented, "We all identified the best of the '90s influences that we enjoyed and let that shine through. Marty truly lived through the '90s while the rest of us were just kids, and he really put it all on the table with the '90s vibe for songwriting in the best way possible. For all of us, the influences on our sound come from all over - Incubus, Nirvana, Failure, Radiohead, Quicksand, Foo Fighters. Marty used a baritone guitar on the album. It changed and molded everything, really. We play in Drop D, but a full step down just isn't as heavy as Drop A, which is what the baritone is tuned to. It made sense to coordinate the baritone with Drop D (and vice versa) to add the lower, heavier timbre. If we were to re-track everything in only Drop D and not with the baritone, half of the songs wouldn't sound a quarter as heavy as they do. The timbre of the lower octave resonates through the mix - literally. Fun fact: I also built the baritone that we recorded with. It was built with the intention to add 'oomph' to the songs and nothing else. The baritone matches lower registers with the bass and higher registers with Luke's playing, and it was the best of both worlds in terms of added heaviness. We wouldn't have the same record or the sound that we have whatsoever without the baritone. It is, and will continue to be, a staple of Young Fox's sound."
Callan explained how a rock luminary like Anberlin's Stephen Christian came to guest on 'Sky Beats Gold'. "We owe any and all thanks to John Frazier of Spartan Records. He and Stephen have been longtime friends and when the conversation arose, we were all ecstatic and fangirling hard. We are all heavily influenced by Anberlin, so to have him be a guest on the album is truly humbling and a great experience. Super, super stoked that he was willing to lend his voice to our production!"
Callan went on to explain how he became a member of Young Fox. "I have known Luke and Chris for the better part of a decade now, and Marty since about 2010 - I was actually the one to record the very, very, very first Young Fox songs in a bedroom in Luke's old house in Pittsburgh, and then in my old bedroom in a house in another part of Pittsburgh - good times! In the summer of 2014, they let me know that they were perhaps going to be looking for a replacement bassist, as Marty, who was on bass, had migrated to playing guitar after the departure of ''Predecessors' guitarist, Brian. We began playing together and I played a handful of shows with the band throughout the fall and winter of 2014 and 2015 (including a show with Spartan Record label-mates Mae). They asked me one night in the winter of 2015 to officially join and be a part of the band and the writing process of the full-length, and the rest is history. Wouldn't trade being in a band with these guys for anything. It has helped me to grow as a person, a musician, a friend and a Christian."
Young Fox are adamant that their Christian faith is a key element in their music making. Said Callan, "We're all four Christian men and aim to reflect that in our lives; our lives are reflected in the music that we listen to and write, and this album is a reflection of our lives (to a degree), and is, thus, a reflection of our faith. Our goals aren't to get massively famous and blowout every amphitheatre across the globe; we want to write music with depth and feeling and drive and motivation, and lyrics that are enjoyable, relatable, meaningful, insightful and hopeful."The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.