The debut full-length from Ted C. Fox will be released on June 24 through Villain Place / Rock Ridge Music. Stay tuned for more announcements and news!
Check out this video of the song “Drapetomania” from my new album “A Gospel of Dirt”
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durante vita video
new full length album
Contact info@VillainPlace.com for booking inquiries.
Ted C Fox does just this when he combines seemingly disparate genres into an entirely new sound. His debut full-length, A Gospel of Dirt (Villain Place/Rock Ridge) spans musical tastes from early Delta fingerpicking all the way to the most current sounds in post-rock and shoegaze.
“I’m just trying to exorcise my own personal grief and the weight of my past,” says Fox, “and I found that difficult to do without combining all the different genres that I listen to, each of which moves me in importantly unique ways.”
In a single song of A Gospel of Dirt expect to hear Mississippi John Hurt-inspired fingerpicking and the deep sadness of Elliot Smith style vocals, then add in the haunting wail of the fiddle and mandolin with their demonic tones of a dark Appalachian past, the otherworldly ambience of the latest post-rock, shoegaze and soundwave, and finally punctuate it with the epic distortion riffs of metal and early ’90s grunge and punk. A Gospel of Dirt has been influenced by everyone from Mogwai, Smashing Pumpkins, Tool, Hank Williams Sr., Johnny Cash, and Russian Circles, to This Will Destroy You. This incredible list of musical ideologies spans a century, and, when joined together, can be described as “Apocolyptic Gospel.”
The sadness that Fox captures in AGOD tells a story that begins in college where he studied literature and philosophy at prestigious music college, Belmont University. He received a wellspring of informal music training during marathon jam sessions which oftentimes were influenced by illicit drug consumption. He began experimenting not only with all the different genres of music, but heavy drug use as well. Fox fell into the hands of a crippling drug addiction and diagnosis of bipolar II with major depressive disorder. Although he still managed multiple awards and publications in his work, his life fell apart as he suffered numerous institutionalizations and incarcerations. This troubled past and subsequent rebirth would become a major theme of A Gospel of Dirt.
After his rough early twenties, Ted C Fox lived off and on in China for the next five years. Living mostly in an obscure countryside in a province called Guangxi, he drifted all over the country from sprawling megacities to countryside villages. Fox explains these years as, “a kind of pagan purgatory, both beautiful and harsh, into which I could escape what had been my life. It was a world of unfathomably huge, dense cities, surrounded by a countryside of mystical beauty. It was peopled by other foreigners equally disenchanted with their first life, and kind and tolerant Chinese, often whose manner of living had not changed in 1000 years.” During this time Fox worked in solitude and isolation, creating haunting and lonely soundscapes that are unlike anything he had done previously. However, his personal life was a perpetual chaos and AGOD could never come to fruition when “living mostly in a perpetual substance induced haze.”
By 2012, Fox found a blossoming recovery community in Nashville, where he was able to begin again as he gained years of sobriety. Around this time, Fox met local music industry savant, Lloyd Aur Norman, owner of Villain Place. Upon hearing Ted’s demos, Norman immediately set out to finance, produce and market this one-of-a-kind album. “When I first heard Ted, I was amazed at the amount of self-expression and truth in his music,” says Norman. “Ted gives it everything he’s got, which is a complex personal history told by someone with an amazing amount of literary and philosophical knowledge.”
While musically interesting, AGOD cannot be talked about without also mentioning Fox’s uniquely dark and rich lyrics. Inspired heavily by the works of author Cormac McCarthy, AGOD is primarily about grief, death, and rebirth. It’s intentionally written so as to never be certain whether the narrator is speaking of death or of rebirth, as the two are so often indistinguishable in life. AGOD is about trying to move forward against the current of an ever-present and overwhelming past, written to explore the great weight and deep sadness that only grief holds. Neither about the hopelessness of being lost nor the triumph of moving on, it’s about both.
While working on AGOD with Villain Place, Fox teamed back up with old friends to create a musical super group compiled of Nashville musicians who have been impacting the Nashville scene for the last two decades. The songs evolved, as Fox relied on Nashville’s rich musical heritage for a wide variety of instrumentation and the Nashville players who bring so much passion to their musical endeavors. This culminated in a five-piece live band, now playing throughout the region.
AGOD is an album with extremely deep layering. You will hear multiple threads of intricate guitars, wailing strings, vocals as eerie as the grave, percussion that is barely there, to sternum-thumping war drums and bass that sounds part sub-oceanic tranquility and part chainsaw. Highlights include “Durante Vita,” “I Love My Dead Wife” and “Ruins.” Fox says, “My music is a direct result of my own tastes. For me, if I create from some idea I have of other people’s tastes, I’m lost. It’s like trying to create from the standpoint of fictional characters I made up but for whom I have not bothered to create any real depth, complexity, or personal history. The only access I have to real depth is that of my own history and character. So I have to create from there, because if I start with nothing, I end up with nothing.”
The first video release for Fox, “Durante Vita,” is an unbelievable journey through sounds. The song captures the sound of Japan’s haunted forest, while blending an Appalachian darkness and post-rock production with an ever-escalating intensity into a gut-wrenching climax. On “I Love My Dead Wife,” the ethereal element of Ted’s writing takes center stage with the guitars channeling utter sadness while dancing with breathtaking violins. While much of the album is complexly layered, on the straightforward and hooky “Ruins,” Fox writes straightforward fingerstyle picking with a catchy but lonesome hook, coupled with a tasteful but impassioned vocal melody and a stellar fiddle performance.
Up next, Fox will be releasing the aforementioned video for “Durante Vita,” filmed by the award-winning crew at Villain Place, while taking the songs from A Gospel of Dirt on a regional tour of the Southeast throughout the end of 2016.