Concert preview: Tricky-to-pin Foxgen hits Skully's in the midst of its "Farewell Tour"

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Though Foxygen has labeled this current round of shows a “Farewell Tour,” the band has no plans to call it quits.

Rather the designation refers to the end of the group’s nine-person touring alter-ego Star Power, a self-described “parody of a rock band” that has grown in size and scope since the songwriting duo of Sam France and Jonathan Rado released its third full-length …And Star Power in October 2014.

“I think when we started the album we had this idea of being these characters, and it became more and more important over time,” said Rado, 25, reached by phone amid rehearsal’s for the “last” tour, which swings by Skully’s Music-Diner on Monday, April 6. “But I'm pretty ready to walk away from it … because financially it's a bad idea and mentally it's just exhausting.”

Since surfacing with its 2012 debut Take the Kids Off Broadway, Foxygen has remained as difficult to pin down as a professional wrestler. According to Rado, the band “dies at the end of every album,” only to be born again in some new, wildly mutated form. On Star Power, for instance, the musicians race to the psychedelic fringes, packing in 82-minutes of sonic mayhem interrupted by brief fragments of fractured beauty.

“I don't think Foxygen has ever really been un-polarizing. You kind of have to take it or not,” Rado said. “I mean, it definitely gives me panic attacks all the time, but … I still think it's more interesting than being universally loved where no one can ever question what you're doing.”

This is certainly the case on songs like “Cold Winter/Freedom,” a buzzing menace that approximates the feel of traversing the corroded arteries of some steam-powered ghost ship as it coughs gradually back to life.

“It's something so fucked up that it's like, ‘Why would that even be on a record?’ And that's why it's on there,” said Rado, who started playing guitar at 10 years old after becoming obsessed with the video for Blink-182’s “All the Small Things.” “The synthesizer sounds like shit, and we recorded it using just one mike over the drums so everything bleeds. It's all so fucked, and I'm just completely in love with it.”

It’s a love-us-or-hate-us ethos unlikely to change following word the band is currently working on a pair of new albums simultaneously, including a more audience-friendly orchestral-pop recording and a second informed by the musicians’ appreciation for hip-hop, of all things.

“It'd be cool to get Snoop Dogg on it. Have you heard of him? Mr. Dogg?” Rado said, and laughed. “It can be pretty stressful to reinvent … but we don't want to let anything get stale. That's the whole point of this thing.”

Skully's Music-Diner

6:30 p.m. Monday, April 6

1151 N. High St., Short North

ALSO PLAYING: Alex Cameron