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Fox Pass: FP Story

THE FULL STORY

PART ONE: THE FIRST FOX PASS ERA
The first era of FOX PASS was from 1972 to 1978. Formed while Jon Macey and Michael Roy were still in high school, the original concept was Bob Dylan-styled folk music played with a Mothers of Invention influence (Freak Out, We're Only in it for the Money, etc.). The Mothers influence did set the stage for Fox Pass as Performance Art, most likely a confusing aspect of the band for the public and a confounding state of affairs for some of the band members. Clearly, even the name "Fox Pass" was designed to create an ironic distance and a deceptive veneer for the band to carry out various psychodramas. The first shows were as an acoustic duo in places like the infamous Cambridge Common Concert Series. By 1973, Michael's brother John Roy had joined on bass, and there was a series of local drummers. Early gigs were notable for the quick evolution towards the New York City sound of 2 swirling rhythm guitars, epitomized by the Velvet Underground. The chaotic pounding and 'Sister Ray' guitar jams drove most of the drummers away, as it was not the typical Boston night club thing. Finally, in 1974 Ricci LaCentra became the drummer, with an empathic understanding of this new sound, and the band started to take off with a solid line up. The sound grew into an art-pop Boston version of the Velvet Underground, but the actual main inspiration for the sound came from the Modern Lovers, who were role models for Fox Pass in the early days, especially for Jonathan Richman's heart-on-my-sleeve approach to rock music. Michael, Jon, and John all sang leads, giving them interesting stage interactions. FP wore black clothes, had a large gay and artsy cult following, and appeared to be punk before there was PUNK due to the influence of 1960s bands like Richard and the Young Lions and The Seeds along with the Reed/Dylan/Richman lyrical bent. The evidence shows that they had the NYC sound and look before many of the CBGB bands even existed. But, at that time in Boston, it was hard finding venues to perform in, as most clubs wanted cover bands or blues bands during this era. The much-worshipped music scene of the late 1970s was just beginning to flourish underground, but none of the bands had a central focus and there was no real sense of a common scene. The NYC new wave/punk thing started catching fire, and Boston began to really emulate it, around 1975. But by 1975, the band was discouraged and turning away from their formative influences, as it seemed that neither the general public nor the record industry was interested. The internal pressures of the struggle had eaten away at Fox Pass, and John Roy and Ricci LaCentra ended up leaving the band, which then got a professional manager, turned up the volume, and landed in the burgeoning 'punk rock' scene in Boston.
After the first breakup of the band, Fox Pass quickly regrouped in early 1975. They were joined by John Jules on drums and David Godbey on bass. These two musicians were well known locally and they brought a harder sound to the rhythms, which fit with Jon Macey and Michael Roy’s move towards Sidewinders meets the Who-influenced power pop. The band became flashier and theatrical, and Macey adopted a Bowie/Reed/Ferry Glam stage presence. Gone was the wistful, innocent Dylan Velvets 1960s veneer of the early line up. They also met Bruce Miner, a local businessman, who became their first real manager. Bruce brought a new level of professionalism to FP and soon bookings increased and their profile rose in the Boston music world. This coincided with the spotlight on New York and Boston due to the ‘Punk’ revival and FP was abruptly in the middle of it all. FP released their only 45 single in early 1976; "I Believed" b/w "Prized Possession". In those days, radio would play local tapes all the time (most bands had tapes rather than records), and FP had many songs on key radio stations in New England (sadly, none of these songs were pressed into records). Press followed airplay and the boys were packing houses around Massachusetts and playing regularly in NYC. Yet, FP and Miner felt alienated from the "Punk" tag, seeing it in a negative career light, and they made statements and gave interviews that distanced them from the scene. Major record companies flocked to the sold-out shows, but only smaller labels offered punk deals and FP turned them down, hoping for the big prize. To top it off, even though FP was one of the biggest of the ‘Rat bands’, band and management decided not to appear on the infamous "Live at the Rat" LP, which, history has proven, was a huge mistake. What happened was that, despite the fact that Fox Pass were Boston music scene pioneers, they missed out on the record deals because they were not lumped in with the rest of the Rat bands.
In early 1977, David Godbey left and they hired bassist Max Camfield and their first keyboard player, Steve Couch. Macey was an early lover of ABBA, and the new band could perform the more sophisticated Macey pop songs, and they reverted to the multiple lead singer format, with four part harmonies. The whole thing flew in the face of the punk new wave trend just as it finally was gleaning record deals for some of the bands that followed in Fox Pass' foot steps. The band still held a very high profile in the media, but this abrupt change confused their audience. What happened next was that FP lost its place in the urban race towards New Wave stardom, but at the same time they played even more New England gigs and actually were much more popular on the suburban college circuit. Airplay and NYC gigs continued as well, but they could see that they were being left behind, and that had they packaged themselves as PUNK, they would have rode the trend along with other East Coast bands. Feeling defeated, they fired manager Bruce Miner (mistake), hiring a manager with more lucrative agent connections. After a year or so, this line up fell apart, and Macey and Roy decided to pack it in and relocate to NYC. But before they did, they reunited with their original members, John Roy and Ricci LaCentra, adding Bob Toomey on piano, and played the last six months of 1978 in a series of final shows all over New England, reviving some of their early sound. Characteristic of their whole saga, these last shows may have been the most successful streak of gigs in the FP history. They packed the Inn Square Men’s Bar, sold out the first Boston Rock Revue at the Paradise, and the very last show was broadcast on WCOZ from The Club in Cambridge. They put the whole audience on the guest list for that show, 12/27/78. Soon after, Jon Macey and Michael Roy moved to New York City, joining Tom Dickie and the Desires. They finally got the big record contract and a couple of hit songs, but they were not identified with Boston any more. Many bands broke out of Boston after the first wave of “Rat” bands faded. The first Fox Pass era ended before the real explosion of Boston music that came in the early 1980s and therefore they are somewhat obscure in history, except for those who were there. They left behind many unissued studio and live recordings spanning their whole career.

PART TWO: THE MIDDLE YEARS
Tom Dickie and The Desires 1980
When Fox Pass passed from existence at the very end of 1978, the oldest member was only 24 years old. But they were weary veterans. The next stage of the story takes place in New York City, where both Macey and Roy moved in 1979.
Jon Macey and Tom Dickie had become friends during the peak of the Fox Pass at The Rat days. Tom Dickie was in a band called ‘Susan’ who had performed on the Live at The Rat album and were one of the top bands in Boston in those days. Fox Pass and Susan were very dissimilar bands, but Dickie and Macey had a lot in common: a love of songwriting craft, Bob Dylan, Lenny Bruce, and most importantly, ABBA. Susan relocated to NYC in the late 1970s and got a deal with RCA and released one album. In 1979, after the demise of both of their bands, Macey moved to NYC to form a songwriting partnership with Dickie. Michael Roy followed a few months later, and they auditioned a series of drummers, settling on Ronnie Ball, an early member of Twisted Sister. Macey switched to bass guitar during the gestation phase of the band, and he ended up staying with that instrument for the life of the band. The Dickie/Macey songwriting team modeled itself after Bjorn and Benny, Frey and Henley, Lennon and McCartney, and the 1960s bubblegum teams like Cordell and Gentry. POP was a huge undercurrent, but the actual sound of the band was NYC rock. The psychological edge from Fox Pass was transferred to these new songs. They had very strong vocals, as Dickie, Roy, and Macey were all accomplished singers, and they exploited this in song arrangements. This particular aspect set them apart from many of the bands they played with at Max's and CBGB's and allowed them to integrate the harmonic sensibilities of pop with the blasting city sounds. Tommy Mottola had managed Susan, and thus Mottola also managed the new band, initially called the Tom Dickie Combo. Tommy Mottola was a powerful and well-connected music figure, most known for managing Hall and Oates, and having the song ‘Native New Yorker’ from Saturday Night Fever written about him. With Mottola's clout, they were able to tour with many national acts of the time and, from their first NYC gigs, record scouts were coming to see the band, and soon Peter Lubin signed them to Mercury Records. During this time, they changed drummers again, getting Peter Charles of ‘Black Betty’ fame. They also added hotshot keyboardist Gary Corbett. Mottola’s people christened them Tom Dickie and the Desires, after the 50s tune ‘That’s My Desire’. Once the deal was inked, Lubin nixed Peter Charles, and brought in the then-unknown Mickey Curry on drums for the recoding sessions. Many producers were contacted (including Bjorn and Benny!!) and they hired British producer Martin Rushent, of Stranglers and Buzzcocks fame. They recorded their first album, "Competition," at Electric Lady studios in December 1980. Released in March of 1981, the LP yielded two radio hits across various US regions: 'Downtown Talk' and 'Competition', the latter actually released as a single in the US and England, as well as some Euro countries. Boston radio especially played both of these songs, with WBCN pushing 'Downtown Talk' and 'Competition' hitting number eight on KISS 108. The album charted in Record World and a promotional tour was scheduled. However, after a few big shows with Hall and Oates, Mickey Curry was promptly removed from the band by management and delivered to Hall and Oates, a gig that would pay off big time for him. Chuck Sabo was hired to do the tours and the videos for both songs featured him on drums. The band set off on their biggest tour, highlighted by huge dates in the Mid-West with Cheap Trick.
The band faced many stumbling blocks. One key issue was that they were being promoted as 'New Wave' by Mercury and subsequently viewed by the critical intelligentsia as latecomers to the party, aping Costello, Petty, and the Cars. This hurt because the truth was that Dickie, Macey, and Roy had all been doing this since the early 1970s, and were actually forerunners of some of those artists. Another big snafu was the relationship with the management, who were used to acts like Hall and Oates and a string of Adult Contemporary and Disco acts, and did not get the true soul of the band. They couldn't understand the ABBA meets Dylan meets the Clash vibe at all. And they did not empathize with the band's intense idealism. Tom Dickie especially took umbrage at this, and it soured his relationship with Mottola. But the biggest self-defeatng factor during the entire history of the band was the reckless drug abuse of some members. With all these forces bearing on the situation, the later tours were fraught with internal tensions. The band really had no support other than each other, and the strain on them made it impossible to remain a united front.
By the summer of 1981, it was time to plan another album and Martin Rushent was called in again, but he declined to proceed. Ed Sprigg, who had worked with John Lennon, became producer. The band was really becoming great in concerts but internally things were not so great. Macey and Dickie were becoming fractured as a team as they cooked up a new batch of songs and did pre-production with the band between tours. Throughout the first part of 1982, Roy and Dickie had to do most of the work overdubbing the basic tracks of the album because Macey was a ghost during the sessions. The aptly titled album, 'The Eleventh Hour,' was released in the summer of 1982, just as Macey abruptly quit the band. Tom Dickie and the Desires played more gigs and did some touring, but the label and management abandoned them quickly. The promise of the band at the beginning, to merge sharply crafted lyrics to the elusive power pop sound, lay in the dust of misfortune as the band dissolved. Their legacy is on the 2 released Mercury albums. There is enough material for a third Tom Dickie and the Desires album recorded and stored in boxes.
After that, Jon Macey and Michael Roy parted ways for quite a while. The pain of defeat for two very promising bands, after so much hard work, had worn them down. But, the real culprit was the advanced state of Macey’s drug addiction. Although this problem had been present all along, as is so characteristic of that issue, it just kept getting worse. By the end of the Desires, it was an overwhelming nightmare. Sadly, the two friends fell out over incidents related to the drug addiction and they rarely communicated for almost ten years. Michael was in a succession of NYC-based bands, including Prisoners of Beat (with Chuck Sabo from the Desires), Crash Conference (with Lee Crystal and Gary Ryan the rhythm section of Joan Jett & the Blackhearts), Secret Chiefs (with Michael Monroe of Hanoi Rocks) and AJAX. Jon moved back to Boston in the mid-1980s and formed the short-lived band The Score, but he struggled with the drug addiction until 1988. He managed to get back in the game and led Macey’s Parade well into the 1990s and then worked briefly with The Bittersweets (who included Steve Gilligan on bass).

PART THREE: THE NEW FOX PASS ERA
By 1996, Macey had decided to go to school and was working in the Public Health field, and his music efforts were in building a professional home studio and playing the occasional fundraiser. By 1998, he was back in touch with Michael Roy (who had moved to Cape Cod) and John Jules, and they, among other musical friends, contributed to the recordings that became "Actuality in Process", a Macey solo comeback CD, which was released in 2003. Wanting to play as band again, Macey, Roy, and Jules enlisted Steve Gilligan on bass, and The Score name was revived. Jon Macey and The Score played a series of well-received shows around Boston, getting rave reviews. It soon became clear that this band was playing for keeps and needed to record. Since the core of the band was in Fox Pass (and Stephen Gilligan had kind of always wanted to be in Fox Pass) the decision was made to use that name for this band. After 30 years, Fox Pass recorded its debut album, with Barry Marshall (who always wanted to produce Fox Pass) as producer. It was released in November 2005.
Universal praise followed the release of the CD. Check out the reviews page on this website. Timing being everything, they finally got it all together just as the sale of recorded music plummeted and the market was flooded with myspaceflybynightamatuers and getting the attention of the general public was nearly impossible. Locally, Fox Pass had a good Boston following, playing the major clubs in town and always pulling big crowds. Jules, however, became disenchanted and resigned his drum stool in late 2006. Replacing such a key member proved difficult until Fate shined her light on the situation.
New drummer Tom Landers is the cousin of the late Ron Doty, who was an enigmatic associate of Macey and FP since the mid-1970s. Tom had been a huge fan of FP and Tom Dickie and the Desires, even performing 'Downtown Talk' in his bands. He contacted FP upon the Jules departure and walked into an audition knowing all the songs from the current CD. Tom played a few gigs and did some recording, and then joined the band. FP is newly invigorated with Tom's driving energy and they began to record a new CD. It was finally completed in near the end of 2009.

The new CD is titled INTEMPOREL. The CD features many new songs plus a selection of immortal FOX PASS hits from long ago to answer the requests of their fans. The release date for INTEMPOREL, their long awaited double LP on CD, was calculated for world wide release on the palindrome date of 01/02/2010.


INTEMPOREL is French for 'timeless, not of this world.' It also translates as ATEMPORAL in English 'independent of time.' FOX PASS has consciously created a classic double album: four distinct sides of music. Seventeen songs take the listener from the power pop opener HURRY CHERIE through 12-string heaven in COOL DREAMER to rootsy 70s rock of AMTRAK to the elegiac closer A LONG GOODBYE. In between are soaring melodies and harmonies, driving drums, pop hooks, jangly and rocking guitars, and multiple singers. The songs also possess clever word play and, in some songs, address serious themes about existence and dimension. Mostly, though, INTEMPOREL is the sound of a band at the top of its game, sending out sounds that need to be heard, unaffected by trends, technologies, or temporary culture.

Please buy this and tell everyone, so this music can continue.

Come see Fox Pass while you can. They really don't make 'em like this anymore.


Fox Pass: Intemporel

FOX PASS is a veteran Boston pop/rock band who are carrying on the tradition of their influences. Their music is a blend of rootsy Americana and Power Pop, with multiple lead singers, 3 part harmonies, upbeat inspiring songs and clever lyrics, jingle jangle airy guitars over driving rhythms. FOX PASS is a band with an enigmatic name and fortuitous mystique, having been known in several arcane circles as foreshadowing certain Boston music scenes, and currently having the historical credibility to match their contemporary sound.

They have received great press reviews and are appearing all over the town. If John Lennon sat in with The Byrds trying to emulate The Modern Lovers mixed by early Eno while playing Buffalo Springfield, it would give you some idea of the classic FOX PASS sound.

They just released a new CD is titled INTEMPOREL. The CD features many new songs plus a selection of immortal FOX PASS hits from long ago to answer the requests of their fans. The release date for INTEMPOREL was calculated for world wide release on the palindrome date of 01/02/2010.

INTEMPOREL is French for 'timeless, not of this world.' It also translates as ATEMPORAL in English 'independent of time.' FOX PASS has consciously created a classic double album: four distinct sides of music. Seventeen songs take the listener from the power pop opener HURRY CHERIE through 12-string heaven in COOL DREAMER to rootsy 70s rock of AMTRAK to the elegiac closer A LONG GOODBYE. In between are soaring melodies and harmonies, driving drums, pop hooks, jangly and rocking guitars, and multiple singers. The songs also possess clever word play and, in some songs, address serious themes about existence and dimension. Mostly, though, INTEMPOREL is the sound of a band at the top of its game, sending out sounds that need to be heard, unaffected by trends, technologies, or temporary culture.

"Fox Pass," bien sûr, est dérivé d'une phrase française commune, "Faux Pas." This was not commonly known in the original incarnation of the band.
Obscure bits of folklore do preceed them in this new era. Please visit the Links page and check out many versions of history.
The most important thing to do is to get the CDs and hear the music....


_______________________________
One day in the early 1970s, a poster was nailed to a tree in the Cambridge Commons, scene of many outdoor concerts.


Another day in the late 1970s, a fizzle fazzle during the Punk explosion....


Another day comes and they have 'reformed'



Time is all now to see if you do...
Quoi que l'Impair est arrivé a été rectifié.

JON MACEY - GUITAR AND VOCALS

Jon Macey is co-founder of Fox Pass with Michael J Roy. Macey has been involved in performing music since he appeared in accordion orchestras at age nine. He began writing songs on the accordion and then the piano before he took up guitar at age 12. He still considers himself somewhat of a primitive on musical instruments but it allows him to find things he would not otherwise find if he had been trained. Besides his FP singing career, he has been in bands such as Tom Dickie and the Desires, Macey’s Parade, The Score, and The Bittersweets. He is also a solo acoustic performer and works in a duo with Steve Gilligan. He is a prolific song writer whose main inspirations are Bob Dylan, John Lennon, Hank Williams, Jeff Barry, Bjorn and Benny, Merle Haggard, and early Lou Reed.

Photo by Tom Struzziero

MICHAEL J. ROY - GUITAR AND VOCALS

Michael J Roy, co-founder of Fox Pass with Jon Macey, started out with the usual unplayable acoustic guitar. Got his first electric, a Harmony Stratotone, at age 14.
Fell in with Jon in high school and Fox Pass was born.
Considered a “feel” player as opposed to a technician, he has lent his playing and songwriting to many situations. Other than Fox Pass, he has recorded and performed with Tom Dickie & the Desires, Prisoners of Beat, Crash Conference (with Lee Crystal and Gary Ryan the rhythm section of Joan Jett & the Blackhearts), Secret Chiefs (with Michael Monroe of Hanoi Rocks) and AJAX to name a few. Influences from ABBA to Zappa. "Music is everything!"

STEPHEN L. GILLIGAN - BASS AND VOCALS

Stephen L. Gilligan has been around.
He first came to Boston in 1974 to attend Berklee. Following a year with the acoustic based Open Road band he became a founding member in 1977 of one of New England’s best loved bands, The Stompers. In the early 1990s, Steve, along with Sal and Lenny from The Stompers, joined up with guitarist Jon Macey to form The Bittersweets, a short lived but powerfully felt band. Then in 1997,after having spent a couple of years in the backup band for Ray Gipson of the G-Clefs, Steve became a founding member of the acoustic trio City of Roses, coffee house favorites and a featured act at the 2006 Boston Folk Festival. Steve joined the resurrected Fox Pass in January of 2004, lending his melodic bass lines and vocal talents to compliment the impressive song writing of Jon Macey and Michael Roy. In 2007 Jon and Steve, while still concentrating on the music of Fox Pass, followed a country road and found themselves recording an all original acoustic CD as the duo Jon Macey & Steve Gilligan. Steve was able to branch out from his accustomed role as a bass player and contribute mandolin, mandocello, guitar, dobro, and harmonica. He continues to actively perform and record with Fox Pass, City of Roses, Jon Macey & Steve Gilligan, as a solo artist, and even an occasional reunion with The Stompers. His imprint has been heard and felt on the Boston Music scene for 30+ years and another 30 is certainly not out of the question.

Lenny Shea - DRUMS

Lenny is well known as the long term drummer of the Stompers. He also was a member of the notorious BitterSweets. More to come...