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    Zox

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    Albums:3
    Songs:38

    Most Popular Songs (more)

    1Thirsty lyrics
    2Homebody lyrics
    3Starry Night lyrics
    4When The Rain Comes Down Again lyrics
    5I Miss You lyrics
    6Anything But Fine lyrics
    7Fallen lyrics
    8I Am Only Waiting lyrics
    9Spectacle Girl lyrics
    10Line In The Sand lyrics

    Most Popular Albums (more)

    1Line in the Sand [2008]
    2Take me Home [2003]
    3The Wait [2005]

    Biography

    ZOX might just be one of the hardest working bands in America. For the last four years the band has been turning heads and catching ears in their Northeastern stomping grounds with their incendiary live shows and cult-inspiring recordings. The foursome has also emerged as a model of independence in the internet age; until recently they've managed themselves, booked their own tours, designed their own merchandise, run their own record label, and achieved that rare pinnacle of indie band success: making a living playing rock 'n' roll. "We've had a lot of long days and late nights," says singer/songwriter Eli Miller. "But we've been willing to put in the hours because we believe in our sound."

    The band has an uncanny ability to blend rock - from new wave to progressive - with ska, punk balladry, and a bit of baroque into something highly original. Miller's direct and personal songwriting derives from an unquestionable pop sensibility, while the band's sophisticated arrangements and intricate instrumentals give their songs an expansive, psychedelic edge. The band further distinguishes itself by using the electric violin as a lead instrument, though not as you've heard it before. Described by The Village Voice as "a cross between Eddie Van Halen and Papa John Creach," violinist Spencer Swain adds swirling textures and searing melodies that range from the pretty to the profane.

    The Wait, their second album - and the first to get national distribution thanks to an upcoming release with SideOneDummy Records (Flogging Molly, Gogol Bordello, Bedouin Soundclash, MxPx) - gives listeners a good idea of what to expect from this outstanding young band. Since its local release on the band's own Armo label late last summer, The Wait has sold close to 10,000 units. The album's lead radio track, "Can't Look Down," received early radio play at influential commercial stations like WEQX (Albany, NY) and WBRU (Providence, RI), and in January both stations included ZOX singles in their lists of the top 50 songs of the year. The Wait also generated a considerable reaction at college radio, where ZOX got more spins than any other unsigned artist and rose to #106 on the CMJ charts.

    ZOX's music has that rare capacity to genuinely span across the boundaries of genre. "We take a little bit from a lot of different sounds and try to make it our own." explains Miller. "We play in front of indie rock crowds, jam band crowds, college rock crowds, punk rock crowds, and different fans react to different elements in our music." In a live setting (they've logged more than 400 shows in the last two years) they match twists and turns that showcase their impressive arranging ability with free-flying improvisational flights and sweat-soaked catharses that just plain rock. Their vocal harmonies bring a bit of sunshine to even their most introspective songs, while the band's instrumental prowess compliments the pop-based song structures, delivering music that's a perfect balance of pop sincerity and intricate musicianship. Think of their songs as mini-symphonies.

    "Our first album [Take Me Home] had more of a college rock meets reggae vibe," explains Miller. "It was a bit sunnier musically and lyrically. The Wait, (which debuted at #7 on the Billboard Internet Album chart), is heavier, more emotional, more rock based. We're older, I guess; we've spent more time being a band and listened to a lot more music."

    The Wait captures the dynamic compositions and passionate performances of a band on the brink of bigger things. Mixed by underground legend Mitch Easter (REM, Wilco, Pavement) and produced by Ted Comerford, the album's 13 tracks delve into life's tragedies and triumphs with rare insight. "Can't Look Down," tips its hat to Joy Division/New Order with a stuttering bass line, shimmering acoustic guitar, Miller's angst-ridden vocal and a distorted electric violin that sounds, at times, like a synthesizer shrieking in distress.

    "Thirsty" bounces along on a galloping punk/ska beat that underscores the song's desperate, anxious lyrics. "Fallen" is a Spaghetti Western meets one-drop reggae jam. "Carolyn" paints a vivid picture of fleeting love in the Midwest over a groove that sounds like the Cure doing Paul Simon's "Graceland." "I Am Only Waiting" has some obvious U2 references, putting delay and reverb on the violin to give it an ethereal, droning sound to contrast the driving bass line, while the band plays a simple propulsive beat beneath it.

    "It's a song about dealing with life on the road," Miller explained. "The lyric 'I've got these words that I've been saving for a song that I can't start/I am only waiting for someone to break my heart' describes this monotony, you know, where you want to feel anything. Even a broken heart is better than nothing."

    There's also the modern rock-meets-Motown of "Bridge Burning;" the achingly simple ballad "Anything But Fine" a duet for Miller's voice and Swain's violin and "Spades," a mid-tempo bit of reggae rock that builds to a rousing finale. Its climactic ending makes it a natural set closer for the band's live gigs.

    ZOX owes their singular style partly to circumstance. Miller, who grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, went east to attend Brown University in Providence, RI. There he met drummer John Zox through a mutual friend. The two shared a love of reggae, new wave, and distinctive songwriters like Paul Simon and Elliott Smith, and soon started playing together.

    "At that time my roommate, was a classically trained violinist," Miller recalls. "He was this conservative Boston-bred guy - he'd played around the world and sat in with Itzhak Perlman - and we'd invite him to jam with us once in a while at the campus bar. We did a raucous punk arrangement of Pachelbel's 'Canon in D' and people went crazy." By senior year, Miller and Zox decided to make the band a priority. Inspired by the potential of the violin but unable to convince Miller's former roommate to take music more seriously, they put an ad in the Providence weekly for a violinist interested in classical music, punk, rock and reggae. "We didn't get many responses," laughs Miller. But they did get one.

    Swain had been attending the prestigious music conservatory at Purchase College in New York. He was a stellar student, but by the end of his second year he'd become fed up with the rigid confines of the classical music world he'd known since childhood. He left school and moved to Rhode Island, where a line in a classified ad caught his eye. "Punk rock violinist?" deadpans Swain. "It sounded like fun." With Swain in place, ZOX started rehearsing and writing new songs. In the summer of 2002, after Zox and Miller graduated, they retired to a basement studio with a computer and a microphone and started recording Take Me Home.

    After its release in early 2003, Take Me Home became an indie success story. It received national college radio play and was heralded by the local press as one of the best independent albums of the year. As their tour schedule intensified, the band replaced bassist Eli Batalion with former Brown classmate Dan Edinberg, a Boston-based jazz player whose inspired performances and inspiring work ethic helped take ZOX to the next level. Take Me Home ultimately sold more than 13,000 copies without any distribution, driven largely by the band's fierce live following and the hard work they put into every aspect of their career.

    "We emphasized that DIY ethic from the beginning," says Miller. "We're all committed to working hard and taking our business as seriously as our art. It's kind of a dysfunctional democracy--everyone's involved in every decision from where to put the merchandise table at shows to how to negotiate a marketing budget with our label, and nothing gets done without a debate. That seriousness has defined us; it can be exhausting sometimes, but it's made us the band we are now."

    And as for the band's catchy moniker, it was another case of serendipity. "When we were looking for names, we'd all bring these horrendous ideas to rehearsal," Miller says. "One day John is wearing one of those 'Hello My Name is John Zox' nametags from some meeting he was at. Someone said: 'What about ZOX?' John didn't like it; it put him too much in the spotlight and he's kind of a private person, but we were all so excited by it we just went ahead with it anyways. We promised we'd use it for a poster and come up with a better name for our next show. We never did."

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