Written by Rebecca Herpin
We're all guilty of using music to isolate ourselves. We keep our headphones in on full volume to drown out the outside world. People pass, and we remain unfazed. It might be that we're missing the opportunity to share interests, or worse, wasting the chance to create. Many great bands happen by chance - that is the beauty of musical collaboration.
Josh Willems and Nicole Wigginton attended the same Texas high school, both in their own garage bands. They saw each other enough at various showcases and events, but it wasn't until a “few years after graduation”, Josh and Nicole decided to team up to create a new sound and a new band, Redbear Sunfish.
“We really have our friend Kyle Gray, who played lead and keys, to thank. If it wasn’t for him Josh and I may never have joined forces musically [...] What started as a not so serious instrumental four piece crammed into my small bedroom at my parent’s house, where we’d frequently break for ‘Monday spaghetti night’ each week, started to grow. Redbear Sunfish was mostly instrumental and definitely on the experimental side. Eventually we started craving a more uniform sound. Something that people would catch on to, want to turn up and jam in their cars to and sing along with. The type of songs we love listening to." –Fox & Cats
After the disassembly of Redbear Sunfish, Fox & Cats sprang from the ashes. It’s clear that Josh and Nicole never stopped trying to write music that was fun, meaningful and radio-worthy.
Their current EP, This is your brain on love, has “lots of feels” in it. Nicole put it well when she said that the album feels like it takes you through the stages of a relationship––the good, bad, lovely and licentious. They each gave a their individual description of what one awe-struck lover might feel while listening to their music, and what their influences were:
"‘Terrible Things’, which focuses on self-loathing and heartbreak. ‘Fair Share’, about being confident in your ways of moving on and not being scared to vocalize them. ‘Broken Glass’, about finally putting it all behind you and letting go. It’s hard to pick a favorite off of this EP because each song portrays such a relatable theme, but ‘Thoughts’ has always been special to me. It’s one of the first songs Josh wrote while we’ve been a duo and started as a slow acoustic song. It’s badass to hear it big and full now, how you hear it on the EP. " –Nicole
"Almost every song on TIYBOL is inspired by what I was going through at the time with Nicole. We’ve known each other for a long time now and over the years we’ve had our fair share of ups and downs. So far our journey has been complicated and at times confusing, but mostly beautiful. It’s one that inspires me to write more than anything else I’ve ever known. All of those songs are special to me, but if I had to pick a favorite, Terrible Things is really fun to play at shows. I always get super into it. If I feel like I’m about to pass out on stage after it ends then I know we played it right. " -Josh
Personally, I love female lead drummers. When I asked her to comment on her artistic process, and collaboration with Josh, she had this to say,
"I’ve always been a fan of straight forward rock beats. Nothing too fancy but still using unique fills. I like my hits to be hard and powerful. I want to make sure your head is bobbing to the beat. Music is about energy and chemistry. Josh can start playing a random riff and we’ll just vibe off each other. One riff can naturally turn into a verse and chorus just by feel. That’s what it’s about for me. Feeling. [..] The music I listen to changes with the seasons" –Nicole
For those of you who are either in Houston or are heading south for the winter, Fox & Cats has a few recommendations,
"If you want to catch a good show or a popular touring band, Fitzgeralds is the place to go. All the big acts play there, and it’s been there for almost 40 years. The Suffers is a local favorite and they are blowing up, recently packing the house for an acoustic set at Cactus Music and later playing a sold out show at Fitz. Our friends over in Sunrise and Ammunition are really solid musicians, each talented and each fun to watch live... Catch Fever and We Were Wolves are both well worth catching live. There are a bunch of really amazing bands in Houston. –Fox & Cats
One of the best ways to find new music is to see what your favorite artists listen to in their spare time, it’s like going back to the original source of inspiration, the truer essence. Josh, for example, is a fanboy for Bright Eyes and the Rolling Stones, but also provided me this list of favorite jams:
Nicole, on the other hand, rocks with bands like Snowmine, Into it. Over it (good drummer), Major League, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr., and Microwave (newest album, Stovall, is highly recommended). It’s clear that these bands have influenced the pop-punk sound of Fox & Cats, but Josh and Nicole have created their own unique new-rock groove. Indie rock is a great field to explore but when it comes to pop, the duo gives all credit to Justin Timberlake, the kind of triple threat pop culture is programmed to idolize.
Be on the lookout for Fox & Cat's new twelve-song album; set to come out in April. Josh recorded nearly all of the guitar parts on his Telecaster with VOX and Orange amps for a nice tonal range. Nicole drummed on a custom kit made at a friends local shop, Spada Drums. It's obvious that Fox & Cats support the local Houston music scene well.
I'm looking forward to listening to the bands newest creative endeavor as an expression of what Houston Indie-rock is, was, and can become.
Listen and buy Fox & Cats' music on their bandcamp.