Raising the bar

Zox take it to the next level on Line in the Sand
By BOB GULLA  |  January 16, 2008
“METTLESOME NEUROTICS”: Dan Edinberg, John Zox, Eli Miller, and Spencer Swain are ready to

Zox, "Goodnight" (mp3)
This week, Zox releases its first album for premier indie label Side One Dummy, home to bands such as Flogging Molly and Bedouin Soundclash. The band’s third disc, Line In the Sand, is way beyond anything Zox has done, with pure, stripped-down melodies and better crafted, mature songs. Now together five years, we caught up with the city’s own touring monsters to get a gauge on their expectations and find out what the hell’s been up lately. The band’s frontman and lyricist Eli Miller picked up the phone.

What’s the best part about not being on the road?
Being home lets us become real people again. It’s nice not moving every day, though it took us a while to lose our sea legs. I do a lot of wandering around aimlessly. I’ve been doing some volunteer work in politics and smart city planning, too. One of the good things about being a touring musician is that when you’re away you’re gone for long stretches and when you’re home you don’t have any commitments at all.

Spencer [Swain] and Dan [Edinberg] even got a side project going.
Yeah, they’re in an awesome band called Cowgirl. It’s sort of heavy instrumental, progressive metal, intricate, fast, complex, and intense. They play out a couple times a month.

Do you feel that this is a critical time for Zox?
Yes, it’s a significant time for us. We’ve been doing it for five years full-time and we all feel this one needs to break us into the national scene. We’ve had an amazing run, but we haven’t broken in a way that we’ve liked to, which was the dream from the beginning. At each stage we’re grateful and amazed. I remember saying when we first started that if we could once play Lupo’s . . . But once you attain your goal, you keep raising the bar. We want this album to get us further into the national consciousness and I think it can. This the first time we’ve released an album with this many people involved. That’s a big change for us, with all these cooks in the kitchen.

Was it hard to relinquish control of the things you’ve grown accustomed to handling?
It’s a change and sometimes it can be hard. We’re used to being the decision-makers and we’ve enjoyed that role, but I think it’s valuable for us to get a sense of learning to play nice with others. Obviously, working with people that have experience and have done all the things we’re trying to do is really valuable. They understand we’re mettlesome neurotics and we need to have our hands in everything, which drives them nuts. But it’s good for us to let some of this stuff go.

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