Local garage indie rock ’n’ roll power trio Bantam Foxes is playing late on a Thursday night at Gasa Gasa, and despite its members having to work early the following day, it will not let up. The band tears from one ferocious guitar-driven burner to the next, gaining intensity—and volume—as the set progresses.
There are moments when the members of Bantam Foxes—twin brothers Sam McCabe on guitar and vocals and Collin McCabe on bass and vocals, along with drummer Jared Marcell—are locked into each other, making eye contact or facial gestures to determine their next move. It seems as though they are making some things up as they go along—precisely because they are.
“Sam and I have been playing together for 15 years,” says Collin. “We don’t have to say anything when we’re playing. I can tell that he’s going to go somewhere else pretty quickly. There’s a couple of songs that we just completely ad lib the bridge to now because we’ve been playing with Jared for four years so he’s getting to that level with us.”
The closeness between Bantam Foxes’ three members has allowed the band to work as fast as it plays. Over the course of its four years together, the band has released a string of singles, EPs and full-length albums. “We always come back to the idea of constant content,” says Marcell. “We want to make sure that if people like our band, we’re constantly giving them new things to like.”
However, finding the right balance between releasing too little and too much content came through trial and error. “When we started the band, we were originally going to just do singles,” says Collin. “It started off as releasing one every four to six weeks, then it became eight weeks, then we realized we couldn’t do it because we were also releasing a video and full artwork for each one, all while Sam and I were still in school and Jared had a full-time job. It got to the point where we couldn’t keep up with it, no matter how badly we wanted to.”
In light of the issues surrounding constant promotion, Bantam Foxes opted to release a full-length album, 2013’s Triumph. However, the more traditional approach to releasing music also provided a struggle to the young band. “Between singles we were also putting out acoustic versions of songs,” says Sam. “We were on a roll, but when Triumph came out, we didn’t release anything for a year and a half. We put all of our songs, money and resources into that one record, and then six weeks later nobody cared.”
After Bantam Foxes regrouped following Triumph’s release, its members decided to change their release schedule yet again, opting to record songs in batches of eight to ten and parsing them out over EPs released on a regular basis. “Releasing EPs gives it more of an impact when we put it out,” says Collin. “There’s more music to digest and the newness isn’t over in three minutes. With EPs, we can do lots of different things that are both more beneficial to people who like our band in that they get more music but also beneficial to us to get our stuff out there a little bit easier. So we are going to put out an EP every six to eight months.”
This approach proves to be paying off for the band’s 2015 output. After releasing the four-song EP Give Us a Raise in April, Bantam Foxes will release its second EP of the year, Loser, on Friday, October 30, the day of the band’s set at Voodoo Fest. “When we recorded these eight songs, it was pretty divisive right down the middle,” says Collin. “Four of them are pretty poppy, and four of them are darker and heavier. So we decided to just split them up that way. The four songs on Give Us a Raise are very melodic, and the four songs on Loser are, for the most part, a lot heavier.”
The EP release schedule suits the group, playing to their strength of short bursts of bluesy power pop that feel out of place in the long haul of an album. The eight tracks that comprise both Give Us a Raise and Loser snap with vitality, providing each EP with breakneck—though different in tone—listening experiences, which is reflected in the band’s blistering live show.
With Bantam Foxes finding the right fast and lean release method to mirror its music, the band is embracing its new process. The trio just recorded its next batch of EPs in early October and will tour around their Voodoo performance and Loser release. It may seem like an exhausting cycle, but the members of Bantam Foxes wouldn’t have it any other way. “We take pride in our ability to churn things out as quickly and efficiently as possible,” says Marcell. “Staying simple allows us to do that.”
Bantam Foxes plays the Voodoo Festival’s Carnival Stage on October 30 at 12:15 p.m.