210121ind Swain

Spencer Swain, a Richmond resident and co-vocalist for the previously-defunct Providence-based band Zox, said the group decided during the pandemic to put together its first album in 12 years with the recently-released “Lost and Found: B-sides.”

During the 2000s, Zox was the biggest band coming out of Providence. The quartet of guitarist and co-vocalist Eli Miller, violinist and co-vocalist Spencer Swain, bassist Dan Edinberg and drummer John Zox combined alternative rock, folk, classical and even a bit of reggae to create a stunningly original sound that garnered a dedicated fan base that still exists to this day. After their initial breakup in 2009, the band has had a few reunion shows, but on Jan. 11 Zox put out its first release in 12 years with Lost and Found: B-sides. The album is currently available to stream on YouTube, Spotify, Pandora, Tidal and Deezer while also being made available to purchase on Apple & Amazon Music. After the madness that 2020 brought upon us, the announcement – made by the band via Facebook – was a welcome surprise.

Spencer currently lives in the small town of Richmond and we recently had a talk about using an old radio as the album cover to pay homage to a certain former alt-rock radio station, looking through the archives, his career as a roadie and touring musician being put on hold because of the pandemic and whether or not the new album is the only release to expect from Zox in 2021.

Rob Duguay: For Lost and Found, who discovered all of the old tracks and who came up with the idea for the album cover with the vintage radio on the 95.5 dial in tribute to WBRU?

Spencer Swain: Oh, you noticed that, huh?

RD: I did.

SS: Well, obviously we’ve all been bored from doing nothing and we had been talking about doing a reunion show before all of the pandemic mess happened. We’ve obviously been unable to do one, and then John came up with the idea of putting out another record. We were like, “Yeah, let’s do it,” since we weren’t doing anything else. We all have archived stuff and he kind of collected everything over time, which is around 20 years now. Of course, none of it is new.

Like the title says, it’s all b-sides and lost and found stuff we had archived. That’s how it happened after many conversations through Zoom calls and we decided to do it. For the album cover, I found an old radio at a garage sale and I refurbished it with the dials and everything. I then tuned it to 95.5 and I repainted it. It’s actually currently in my living room.

RD: Wow, that’s wicked cool.

SS: Yeah.

RD: The last track on the album is a studio rendition of The Pixies’ “Where Is My Mind?” with you on vocals, which fans of Zox know as a staple of the band’s live set. Where was it recorded and which session was that a part of?

SS: None of us actually really know where each track was recorded except for the first few, which were done during the sessions for our last record, Line In The Sand, that came out in 2008. For whatever reason, we decided that those didn’t make the cut, but I’m really glad that they’re out now because I really like them. It’s a funny question because none of us could actually remember where or when some of these things were recorded (laughs). It’s kind of the charm of it, actually. We’re just finding stuff out of the attic and out of the basement.

RD: It’s awesome that these old tracks are finally coming to life. Now if it weren’t for COVID-19, you would most likely be on the road with either Flogging Molly, The Devil Makes Three or another band doing either roadie & tech work, performing with them or both. With live music being nonexistent due to the pandemic, what have you been doing to pass the time and adapt to this crazy situation we’re all in? Have you been laying low and working on other projects?

SS: I’ve been doing a lot of housework.

RD: That’s good.

SS: I’ve been trying to do some more writing. You gotta have some discipline to get up in the morning and do music stuff every day, which is not what I do every day by far. I just love to be writing and playing music, definitely live, but that’s just not possible currently.

RD: Being a music industry professional, what are your feelings on the new year? Are you cautiously optimistic that with the vaccine being rolled out, live music can return by the spring or summer or are you skeptical about the whole thing while also being patient?

SS: Flogging Molly currently has tour dates in Europe booked for the beginning of June, and as far as I know the European Union has not said no. So I think we’re going to do that. I’m not totally sure, but I really hope we’re going to get back to playing live shows. There’ll probably be some weird restrictions that none of us have ever seen before. I know that Red Rocks in Colorado has opened up for April, but that’s an outside venue, so I don’t know the ins and outs of that. Hopefully things can open back up, I know I want to go to a show.

RD: Yeah, I miss live music myself. I managed to go to a few at a couple drive-ins and a couple socially-distanced ones during the summer and fall last year, and they were kind of weird but they were fun. It was better than nothing. I do miss genuine live music.

SS: Yeah, this whole thing has been super weird, but hopefully we get back to having real shows soon. I wish I could tell you more.

RD: I totally understand; there’s so much uncertainty that there’s only so much you know before you start asking yourself questions. Is the new b-sides album from Zox the first in a series where you, Eli, Dan & John will periodically look through the archives to pick out tracks to put out something else? If so, how do you envision it happening?

SS: I hope that it is the first of a series, because there’s definitely a lot more to be unveiled. The original idea was to put out a few volumes of b-sides because there’s so much that we have found. It’s not just music; there’s videos and all sorts of archived stuff that we sort of pushed to the side and have now found again. I hope that we’ll put out a couple more volumes, it’s sort of how we set it up in the first place, so let’s look forward to the next thing I guess.

Rob Duguay is a Rhode Island-based music writer. Send him email at rob.c.duguay@gmail.com.

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