Sheridan Fox of His Mischief talks tonight's show, Midwest vs. East Coast, and jungle juice
Photo courtesy of His Mischief
As singer/guitarist for the slyly under-the-radar and wildly under-appreciated His Mischief, Sheridan Fox's trademark Merge Records-meets-Sunset Strip howl and smart, simple riffing is the framework for some distinctively crafted, multilayered pop songs. Fox is a veteran of both the Twin Cities and Boston music scenes, which might be why His Mischief's rock seems so effortless, but he doesn't go it alone. The Mischief trio is rounded out by "The Jeffs": a rhythm section featuring Jeff Quin and Jeff Brown, both vets of numerous local indie bands as well as occasionally backing a certain LA based R&B artist named after a local mall. The band plays rarely--their set tonight at the 501 is their only show until the fall--but when they do, they're guaranteed to play as tightly as any band that's just put in 90 days of touring. Sheridan took a few minutes away from a birthday party to talk with me about picking and choosing shows, staying busy constantly, and going Greek (the tv show).
What are three things no one knows about His Mischief?
I think we should turn this question into a game called "Let's see if people (what-ever-blog-this-is-ending-up-in's-readers) even know three things about His Mischief". Rules are: no rules. Put your answers in the comment section below. Obviously, you can't use info that has already been disseminated in this interview. I'll start:
1) I am trying to change my name to Jeff so we can be known as Jeff-cubed.
2) Our name has nothing to do with the devil, higher powers that be, or anything else vaguely religious.
3) Milk was a bad choice.
You've been in bands here and on the East Coast--how do you think the music scenes differ between here and there?
Dude, this is like the Rocky Road of questions, so many sweet and salty layers. Some times you love the peanuts, sometimes you love the caramel, sometimes you don't like either of 'em and just the thought of 'em makes your stomach churn. Anyway, both places have awesome music and some not so awesome music. Both places have awesome people and some not so awesome people. I'm not just trying to be diplomatic and dodge the question here. But like any dynamic relationship, It's the subtle nuances that make all the difference. Sometimes, I feel like musicians on the East Coast are a bit more ambitious and business minded, but there's a lot of things that contribute to that- people move there explicitly for music and the established networking, there is richer history (music and other wise) on the East Coast, people live in closer vicinity to each other on a whole, etc etc. And with that said, sometimes people cared more about the business than the music, so I'd leave a lot of shows with a terrible tin taste in my mouth.
People in the Midwest seem quite a bit more in touch with reality, and the music reflects that honesty. I feel like there are more communal projects here, people helping each other out. Every "scene" has it's rough spots: both can be insular and wary or outsiders, hype bands happen, and the musicians in both can become defeatist and complacent in the dreary winter months. I could go back and forth for hours. But I do feel like more people here are truly interested in music and more excited about supporting new ideas. Sure not as many people move here just for the music scene, but we're really good at nourishing what we've got. It is a definite fact that the people in bands in Minnesota have way cuter kids than the people-in-band's kids on the East Coast. Sayin'.
You guys play a lot less frequently than a lot of local bands--you're only doing one show all summer. Is that a conscious choice? Would you prefer to play more often? Is there such a thing as playing too much?
Yes, the decision to only play one show this summer was made while we were all conscious. Our playing schedule is also based on a lot of other things we all have going on in our lives. Music is definitely the most important thing in all our lives, but it's not a one
dimensional focus on His Mischief. Quin has been touring a good amount with Har Mar and spreading the good word. Brown has been holding things down in The Dynamiters and coaching his brother Mr. Spirits on how to play Delta drums in The Bombay Sweets. I have been working on some solo stuff and tour managing for band called Bang Bang Eche, who are awesome 20-year-old kids from New Zealand. Hilariously enough, BBE are in the running for best new band in the world against our very own Solid Gold. Solid Gold is ruing that I know about this. We also missed out on some shows last summer and fall when I met face to face with the Greenway and shattered my collarbone. We attempted a couple shows with my guitar strapped around my waist [Steve] Albini style, but it wasn't exactly Rock and Roll ideal.
All that said, yes, obviously, we'd love to play more shows together and more often, especially on the road again, which is brutal with the economy right now, and we don't have a band paypal set up to accept donations yet. Holy shit, yes there is definitely such a thing as playing too much, and it's been something we're been really thoughtful about. We don't want to become another band that plays so much that when someone sees our name in the paper, or their email inbox, or a blog interview, the first thing that pops in their mind is "They play all the time, I'll just go see them next time". You have to get out there so people know you exist, and I think it's important to play as many shows in front of as many different people as possible, but it shouldn't be at the same bar every week. I could go back and forth for hours too. In any case, His Mischief won't play in town again til at least the fall, so you should come hang out with us this Friday at the 501.
You guys do a lot more than play shows--you have three videos, and the TV show Greek has used a couple of your songs. How did those opportunities come about? Was this something you went looking for, or were you approached?
We hang out with all kinds of people: clowns, painters, mimes, directors, cooks, etc. Sometimes after a long night of hanging out and drinking, instead of saying "we should totally start a band together" we say "we should totally make a video together." And it actually happened a couple times. We are also a big fan of teen dramedies. Nike and Greek both approached us wanting to use the same song, but Nike is way more evil than the Collegiate Hellenic Association. And they gave us a free trashcan full of jungle juice.
What's your all-time stupidest tour story?
Well, it's nice to know that you think we only have one stupidest tour story. I will say, every time we end up in Kansas City, I do something pretty not smart. One night we were hanging out at some random girl's house that we met that night. I don't know what people were talking about in the living room, but I was getting bored and my hands and mind were wandering. I was playing with this girl's keys, and there was this mysterious black tube on it, which I figured was a little flashlight. But when I pressed the button, it sprayed mist. Turns out it was mace, and I managed to fill this girl's living room with a nice, burning miasma that forced everyone outside for about an hour while the girl and her roommate floundered around the house with teeshirts wrapped over their heads while they searched for fans to put in the windows.
For more dumb tour stories: http://hismischief.blogspot.com/
His Mischief play their only show until the fall tonight @ the 501 Club with The Millionth Word and Hello Blue. 21+. Free. 9 p.m.
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