Local National Act
Zox, currently touring in support of ska heroes Streetlight Manifesto, has been an indefatigable touring concept for many years now, and everywhere they go — and they go many places — crowds are responding. “In fact,” says Eli Miller, who explains the band’s been out six weeks, “a kid came up to me last night, and said, ‘I never heard of you before but you’re the best opening band I’ve ever seen! I’m gonna go home right now and steal all your music off of Limewire!’ ”
Heady praise indeed, though it brings us to another subject germane to Zox: how to deal with a music industry that’s changing underfoot? “Well,” says Miller, “one good thing is that there’s not as much pressure to sell records. There’s more awareness of bands. They come and see us in numbers that wouldn’t have been possible to generate before MySpace. It makes for better audiences, bigger shows, and selling more merchandise, which is now more important than it’s ever been to support our touring.”
Is the change working in Zox’s favor? “There are positives and negatives to it,” he says. “In the past there was a set process for breaking a band. It had to do with spending money in the right places, getting a song on the radio, and putting videos on MTV. If you had a song and label willing to promote you, you could predict a certain amount of success. There was comfort and structure.”
Today, it ain’t so comfortable. Indeed, it’s about as unstructured as rock and roll has ever been, going back to the ’50s. “Now people can get a sense of you as an artist before you arrive in town, and both the fan and the artist get more out of the show, so playing live has become an essential part of things.
“The way I’ve heard it is, ‘The record business is dying and the music business is blooming,’ ” says Miller. Look for Zox to take advantage by playing big European festivals this summer. When they return in July they’ll play a WBRU concert series date. Check zoxband.com for updates.
— Bob Gulla