Interview with Billy Childs (Britny Fox)

 

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Britny Fox are one of the bands to come out of the South Jersey/Philadelphia scene along with John Corabi and Cinderella. The band released their debut album in 1988 that went gold and went on a massive tour. The band reformed again recently. I had a chance to talk to Billy Childs about the band’s early days and the latest on Britny Fox

 

Angel Alamo: How is the new album coming along?

Billy Childs: Sadly, it’s not.

AA: Any details you can give that to the release date title of the album songs etc.

BC: We got offers to do an album but had to turn them down. There just wasn’t enough money there to make doing it feasible, so unless it was a labor of love doing it didn’t make sense. If we were going all in on britnyit would have made sense to do it, but the whole project was really very splintered from the start. Seemed like everyone had a different agenda for what they wanted to accomplish, and that created a lot of problems, so that’s off the table for now. I think we could have been successful, but it would have required a greater commitment in general, and we didn’t all have that.

AA: How was it like playing at the galaxy in Somerdale, NJ with John Corabi and Cinderella?(The galaxy in Somerdale, NJ is now an aquarium store).

BC: It was a gay club for awhile too, right? And a couple other things also?

AA: Yes it later became a gay club then an aquarium store.

BC: That club was a blast, I have a lot of good memories from that place. That was the first club in the area that started the original rock scene in Philly/south Jersey, so it drew everybody. All the bands recorded there, some, like us, practiced and stored our gear there, we all hung out there, just really a great vibe in those days. Philly was always a huge cover band region, but the Galaxy’s owner Bill Hauge thought they were way overpriced (they were), and thought he could do just as well, or better, with original bands that would just be happy to have a reputable venue to call home. It actually worked and started a whole scene, with bands getting deals,clubs being packed as they started to imitate the success Bill had, and just ushered in the ’80’s rock era. Bill should be better known, he was Philly’s Gazzarri, nobody gets out of Philly without him doing what he did. Put it this way: the guy sued Britny and I was glad he won. We both knew it was management shit that I didn’t know anything about, and we still got along during and after. Crazy, good guy. RIP, Bill, and thanks for all you did.

AA: With a lot of bands being discovered and signed in LA did the band ever talked about or considered moving to LA to get discovered and signed?

BC: No, we never thought about it, Saw others do it and have no luck, in Philly bands were getting deals so why move? Didn’t make sense to us, and we were east coast guys anyway, none of us had that desire to move to L.A. Once we started we were always on the road somewhere anyway.
AA:  Does the band have unreleased material from previous albums?

BC: Not much. We never wrote 40 songs and picked 10, like some do, so there was never much left over.  We just went with the best 10 we had and worked on those. There were a couple tho, and they ended up on soundtracks and video games. But there was a lot of stuff from BDH that came out, most of it not good at all. I never did figure out who put that out or who got the money, and I never liked when bands did that. If the songs were good enough to be on an album, they would be. There’s a reason why some things never get past demo stage, ya know?

AA: What band treated you the best on the road?

BC: Ah, they were all good to different degrees. We got lucky in that aspect.

AA: What band treated you the worst on the road?

BC: We treated ourselves far worse than anybody else could, believe me. Never a shortage of issues with that band.

AA: Changing vocalist back then there was always considered the death of a band was the band concerned after the split from your vocalist about if the band would be able to continue?

BC: Without a doubt. We were on top then bam, Diz rolls. That sucked, as you can well imagine. I always knew that we were much more of a group effort than we were made out to be tho, so I thought we could pull it off. That wasn’t what killed us as it turns out, that would be the genre change. BDH was pretty good, couple years earlier we probably do very well with that. Lotta good tunes on that album.

AA: Why has the band worked with a different producer on each record that you have recorded?

BC: Really a matter of who’s available in a specific time frame. Who’s available that’s good for the band. For a band at our level that’s how it worked. First album, Jon Janson just ended up with us. We were new and he was available, worked out great. Jon knew to just record us and not fuck with things too much. Very cool guy to hang with for a few months also, that’s pretty important too. Second album was Neil Kernon, an odd choice, but in the end I thought we did a really good sounding album with him. He brought out the best in Michael, I think his playing is great on that one. We did have to back Neil off some from going too far with our sound, tho. We were pretty heavy for him, and he initially wanted to pretty us up a good deal, three part harmonies, chick singers, lighten us up over all, etc. It just wasn’t working, so once we got on the same page it was good. I like that album a lot. Third album was John Purdell and Duane Barron, who had just finished “No More Tears”. Those guys were perfect for BDH album, really cool guys professionally and personally, and we got along great. We also did a tune with Howard Benson around that time, and he was another good producer who went on to have an amazing career. As good as John and Duane were, I think Howard would have done a great job also. We worked with others as well, but those are the guys we liked. Our other albums were self produced, and I’m happy with those also. Maybe I’m just easy to please, but I think we got lucky with who we worked with, and also secure enough to not let any of them change us very much. Bands can fall into a trap of letting producers have too much power and as a result they sometimes lose their identity. We were always careful to avoid that.

AA: What is it about playing Japan that seems to be one of the best places for rock acts to perform?

BC: I don’t know exactly. We didn’t seem to do very well there, I thought, not with all the hype. We played Tokyo Dome with Bon Jovi on new years eve, first time Japan had ever done that, broke tradition, huge press, etc, played that one show, turned around and came home. I’ll never understand that business strategy. Seemed like doing the whole country would have been the way to go, as that’s what the other bands did. As usual withBritny tho, we left money on the table and probably fucked up what would have been a good market for us. Our organization made some pretty strange calls, in retrospect.

AA: Will the band be doing any touring this year?

BC:  Don’t think so. May be doing something but too soon to know.

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