Phox: A Q&A With Wisconsin’s Rising Indie Music Stars


Bon Iver and Garbage may have to make room at the top for another band from Wisconsin. Seven musicians from Baraboo, who call themselves Phox, are having a big year in 2013 – they were featured on NPR’s “All Songs Considered” and played the South by Southwest music festival in Austin, Texas.

Four members of Phox – Matt and Dave Roberts, Matt Holmen, and Monica Martin – recently sat down with me for some conversation, and a lot of laughs.

Matt Roberts: The reason why we all ended up coming together was because we sort of all failed on personal projects. So we all ended up living in our parents’ basements the same summer in Baraboo. So that’s how that all came together. And then when we moved to Madison, my mom gave us this challenge: ‘All right you guys, for the year, [while living] in Madison, try to crank out a full-length album.” So we did it.

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Stephen Thompson is NPR’s music editor. He met the band at South by Southwest, and says he thinks they have what it takes to get pretty far.

Stephen Thompson: Phox just kind of had “it”. It was a mixture of very nice songcraft, a kind of warmth to the sound, and that singer is extraordinarily charismatic, and seems to me like a star in the making.

TB: It’s really hard to put a label on you guys. ‘Indie rock’ is one that gets thrown around a lot. Is that a label you embrace, or does it make you cringe?

Matt Holmen: Oh, it’s great. I mean, indie has kind of gone from meaning how something sounds, to meaning how you do something.

TB: Was it your first EP where you played all the tracks live, one after another, there was no mixing, no anything like that?

MH: There was just one take. So I mean, of course we did the standard mixing and mastering…

TB: But it was one take?

MH: Yeah, you only got one take to play your part. So like, once we did drums, if the drums were messed up, and we felt like we wanted to add a percussive element there, we did it separately, like through tambourine or claps, or something like that to fill in the holes.

TB: It’s too bad this is radio, because we can’t get a look at Monica’s socks right now, but they have Green Bay Packers helmets on them. And I’ve seen a lot of your videos, and this is a recurring theme. There seems to be a Packer logo or a Packer helmet somewhere in the foreground or in the background – is this intentional?

MH: It’s just what our house looks like.

MR: None of it’s planted, or anything like that.

MH: Like the forest, like the trees, and the smoking machines are running twenty-four hours a day.

Dave Roberts: A big part of our budget is keeping is keeping those smoke machines going.

Phox’s new EP is called “Confetti”. It’s available for free on their website.

Check out some of their music videos below: