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Fox Pass: Press/Reviews

It’s kind of shocking to realize that one of the freshest, brightest sounding rock bands on the Boston scene today wrote finis to its first incarnation back at the end of 1978. But the quartet known as Fox Pass–-it’s a play on faux pas–delivers some of the most vivid, energetic, finely crafted pop anywhere, even all these years later and in reunion mode.

Friday night the foursome performed a sizzling 45 minute set at The Beachcomber before a blizzard-forecast-limited crowd of about 100 fans, with arrangements and vocal harmonies that were frankly, incredible. Founding members, songwriters and guitarists Jon Macey and Michael J. Roy always had a sort of Velvet Underground vibe to their work, but as Friday’s show proved they also write and arrange with a reverence for the kind of interwoven guitar textures and pinpoint vocal harmonies of bands like The Byrds or the Everly Brothers.

Macey and Roy first aimed for a blend of Bob Dylan’s sharp songwriting eye with Frank Zappa’s experimental rock, and you can hear echoes of that influence too. Later in their partnership the two guitarists added keyboards and flirted with ABBA-infuenced dance-pop, and that kind of soaring melodicism is evident too. It all makes for a heady brew: edgy rock, stiletto guitar leads, lush rhythms, tart lyrics, and the kind of smooth melodic hooks that made New Wavers fortunes back in the 1980s.

Today’s Fox Pass lineup includes Macey, a Waltham resident, Roy who lives in Brewster, Milton’s Steve Gilligan on bass, and Everett’s Tom Landers on drums. They all have day jobs now, and various other performing guises, but gig as Fox Pass two or three times a month. A video made for their tune “Hurry Cherie,” from last year’s album, has become a quick Youtube sensation, and the veteran musicians are hopeful it will lead to bigger things.


To summarize briefly, high school pals Macey and Roy started playing together in 1972, and their songwriting collaborations gradually evolved into Fox Pass, with Roy’s brother John Roy the first bassist. Along with their Dylan, Zappa, and Velvet Underground leanings, Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers were a huge influence. But the band’s poppy melodies put them somewhat at odds with the growing punk rock trend at the time, so a record deal was elusive. By the end of 1978, the frustrated then-22 year old musicians retired Fox Pass.

Macey and Michael Roy ended up in New York City, where they soon joined former Bostonian Tom Dickey. By 1980, Tom Dickey and the Desires, with all three men singing, was making waves as a New Wave antidote to the harder punk scene. Record exec Tommy Mottola took over their management, and tours opening for Hall & Oates and Cheap Trick raised their national profile. Their debut album at the end of 1980 contained the minor hits “Competition” and “Downtown Talk,” and Macey & Roy had the unusual treat of hearing their work on both rock’s WBCN and disco’s KISS-108. But by the time of the second Tom Dickey and the Desires album in 1982, problems had split that band apart, with Macey’s drug addiction a major cause.

Macey got himself clean by 1988, and began fronting his own band, Macey’s Parade, around Boston. He also earned his college degree in public health and counseling and began work at an area hospital, writing grants and helping structure addiction programs. The band work had drifted away, but Macey released his own solo album, “Actuality in Process” in 2003 to critical acclaim. Macey had worked with Stomper bassist Gilligan and Stompers leader Sal Baglio in a 90’s band called The Bittersweets, and also gone on to work as a duo with the Milton bassist. When they decided to put a band together to perform the latest Macey tunes, they contacted Roy, and the informal Fox Pass reunion was underway. Drummer Landers is the youngest recruit, a longtime Fox Pass fan who showed up at his audition knowing all their songs.

Macey and Gilligan released their own duo album in 2007, and that music is separate and distinct from their Fox Pass material. The duo’s music tends to be acoustic, folksy, even a little country-tinged. The re-formed Fox Pass, meanwhile released its eponymous debut in 2006. Last year’s “Intemporel” (French for timeless) is a 17-cut collection of both new material, and classic cuts the band had never recorded back in their first heyday.


Friday’s set consisted of lots of music from the latest CD, although it was tough to decided what was old and what was new, so captivating is the group’s sound. The rollicking verve of “You Don’T Know Me” was an early highlight, with Roy’s tangy guitar solo a harbinger of treats to come. His guitar leads are wonderfully melodic, yet striking for their cutting tone, and always economic in the best sense–a 30 second solo that grabs you.

The current video vehicle, “Hurry Cherie” is your basic frantic fellow in love, delivered with a blast of alternative rock fervor and jittery guitar lines. Macey told the crowd that “Here Comes the Karma” was inspired by the Tom Landers philosophy of life, and it was a bit darker, midtempo piece, whose guitar textures suggested a psychedelic version of The Wallflowers. (Which would be, after all, a contemporary distillation of that Dylan influence.)

“Hit or Miss” might have been the most quintessential Fox Pass number at the show, starting with Macey in stripped down Lou Reed mode, and bursting into full-blown chiming guitars and vocal harmonies, as if Reed had joined The Byrds. Macey, Gilligan and Roy are all more than capable singers, and the variety of lead and harmony vocals the threesome can achieve is really extraordinary.

Roy sang lead on “Front Page Girl,” a jaunty tune about the shock of seeing a past love in a tabloid headline, full of mordant wit. “Downtown Talk,” that biggest of minor hits for Tom Dickey and the Desires, was penned by Macey and has been a staple of his shows with whatever band he’s with. Friday’s rendition was superb, a careening, punky garage rocker with serrating guitars and a melody that snuck up on you.

The swirling, uplifting “Love for Love” that ended the set featured more of those exquisite vocal harmonies, delectable guitar textures and irresistible rock energy.

“We brought back some of the songs we wrote in the old days but never recorded,” Macey said afterwards. “And other songs were older ones fans had asked about on the internet. Some of the ones we do were only released as 45s in those days. Generally I think the more power pop tunes are the old ones, and our newer stuff tends to be a bit more esoteric. But we’ve been amazed at all the fans who found us on the internet, and we’re enjoying this second time around, and the brave new world of music today. Heck, we broke up when we were all 22–what did we know?“
"Intemporel" translates from French to mean "Timeless." The four gentlemen in Fox Pass carry with them a profound sense of rock history and a healthy dose of pop smarts that they bring to bear on this, their second release since reforming in the early part of this new century.
Your reviewer, having known these gents back in the NYC punk days, can attest that their love of the Velvet Undergound blended with a deep appreciation for the songwriting and production of ABBA is genuine, deeply felt and has now become a part of their collective DNA. Throw in some Byrds and Big Star and you get an idea what makes for a perfect day at Fox Pass headquarters. Show these guys a 12-string guitar and they all get inspired. Well-crafted tunes with sophisticated twists make this a deeply rewarding experience. It is an interesting twist how age and wisdom inform power pop with a muscularity and gravitas that, in all honesty, might have been the one thing missing in the genre’s halcyon days back in the ‘70s.
“Hey Rainbow,” with its majestic chorus harmonies, the pop perfection of “She Dreams of Me,” and the anthemic chime of “High On You” are among many of the standouts on Intemporel. In fact, every song is a keeper, save one (more on that later). Of course, these guys play and sing their hearts out on everything, but I would be remiss if I did not mention that the solo at the end of “Cool Dreamer” just brings it all home in a wave of melody and feeling.
It must’ve been hard to sequence a record like this with so many great songs. The only misstep, at least to this reviewer’s ears, is “It’s Rock” with its unsuccessful blend of Lou Reed and The Sweet. However, “Amtrak” being a successful homage to their love of the Velvets with a great Bowie cum Velvets chorus pile drives so hard that you realize: don’t make these guys angry. The cascading waves of melody and guitars on the epic “The Sacred Mountain Is Falling” bring it home that some of the creative and satisfying music being made today is happening out of the eye of the mainstream. And ya know what, the "hits" just keep coming.
Look, we could keep waxing euphorically, but it’s time you check this out for yourself.
It would be easy to believe that this is a disc of covers by a classic rock cover band. The truth is, though, this is original music. These guys just write songs that feel like classics you might have heard decades ago. The classic rock vibe runs the gamut in terms of musical styles, but everything feels like it fits. This is a band that would have been huge in the 1970s. There aren’t any weak tracks here, but some things are stronger than others. Anyone who has a strong taste for the mainstream pop rock of the 1970s should really dig this.

Track by Track Review

Hurry Cherie
This is very much a classic rock pop cut. It’s sort of part Beatles and part garage band. It’s fun. It’s got a tasty and tasteful classic rock guitar solo.


Fly Away (From Me)

The music on this makes me think of The Hollies, but the vocals are closer to early Rolling Stones. However you slice it, though, it’s another tasty slab of poppy classic rock. The guitar solo on the fade out brings in a bit of a Byrds vibe.


Front Page Girl

This occupies the common ground between old school hard edged pop rock and punk rock. There’s some tasty riff driven music and a fun vocal arrangement.


Cool Dreamer

A more balladic cut, somehow this makes me think of Tom Petty a bit. It’s got a lot of classic rock built into it and it’s tasty. There’s a fairly psychedelic movement later in the piece that feels a bit like the psychedelia period of the Rolling Stones. When it comes back out to the guitar solo segment it’s pure classic rock. There’s another killer guitar solo near the end of the piece. That one is both quite extended and very soaring.


She Dreams of Me

The intro on this calls to mind vintage David Bowie. It drops out to a more mainstream balladic piece, but there are still some minor hints of Bowie. In a lot of ways this calls to mind something from Roy Orbison, but with different vocals. It’s got a very old school classic rock sound. It does climb up beyond the balladic in terms of arrangement later, but that vibe continues throughout.


The Spark

Combine a Byrds like jingle jangle with vintage Stones and some Tom Petty and you’ll come pretty close to this piece. It’s bouncy and fun and at times makes me think of “19th Nervous Breakdown.”


It’s Rock

Percussion leads this off and the killer guitar riff that opens this feels like something you’d expect from Keith Richards. It’s a killer rock song that feels a bit like a punky Rolling Stones. This is catchy and cool. You might even hear hints of the Romantics on this.


Hey Rainbow

Combine The Rolling Stones with Tom Petty and you’ll have a good idea of what this ballad sounds like.


High On You

This is a bit less obvious in terms of specific references. Overall it’s a great classic rock tune. It’s sort of a combination of a ballad and a rocker. It still feels like it fits in the 1970s, but without any definite comparisons to be made.



Amtrak
There’s still some Stones on this, but the cut is very nearly punk rock. It’s a smoking hot rocker that’s a lot of fun. It’s definitely the most raw tune we’ve heard.

Song 91

Combining the Byrds with The Stones and a more raw roots rock approach, this is tasty, but perhaps not at the same level of some of the other music. There’s a cool mellow motif that ends the track.


The Sacred Mountain Is Falling

At nearly nine and a half minutes in length, this is, by far, the longest cut on show here. It starts off with a mellow psychedelic motif that has a bit of a folk element to it. It grows gradually from there, turning to real space for a time. It’s about two minutes in before the cut moves out to the song proper. It still retains some of the folk and psychedelia, and the vocals again make me think of the psychedelic period of the Stones. This grows gradually and very slowly, but it certainly grows. It maintains its general musical roots throughout, just sort of intensifying. Although, it comes close to the realms of progressive rock at times, particularly when it drops back to a mellower reprise later for an extended instrumental movement.


Ticking of the Clock

Here’s another piece of modern and new classic rock. It’s a balladic tune and it’s quite cool, but kind of pales in comparison to the previous masterpiece.


Younger Than We Knew

The intro to this calls to mind some of the earliest music from Alice Cooper (the band). As it works out to the song proper, it’s perhaps along the lines of The Yardbirds, mixed with a more modern sound. The vocal arrangement on this is particularly cool. This is actually one of the strongest pieces on show and really works well.


We Will Be Free

Another cut that combines the balladic with the harder rocking, this is yet another killer classic rock sounding number. It’s actually quite strong, but doesn’t stand up to a lot of the other material. That’s more about how strong the rest of this is, than it is about any weakness in this piece.


One More Song

In many ways the sounds on this cut are more modern than anything else on the set. That doesn’t mean that all the classic rock stylings are gone, but the mix is just more on a modern end. It’s a catchy and rather intricately arranged piece that’s quite cool.


A Long Goodbye

At about six and a half minutes in length, this is the third longest piece on show. It’s an involved classic rock ballad that really calls to mind the Rolling Stones while wander precariously close to the progressive rock border.
Meticulously crafted and played, the songs on Intemporel are an amalgam of folk, pop, punk, rock and roots. Fox Pass uses their influences to create something truly original. These brilliant cuts of memorable pop-rock will bring a whole new legion of fans as well as satisfying folks that have believed in the group all these years. Bravo!
Brian Owens - Metronome Magazine (Apr 3, 2010)
In a live setting or the recording studio Fox Pass is emphatically comfortable in their own skin. Not that self-confidence is lacking from the myriad of musicians that have carved a piece of rock and roll pie; however for some that refuse to be pigeon-holed contentment is a more burdensome task.

The multifariousness styles that emanate from the concert venue and studio could have made Fox Pass a target for the critics. Story could have been written the group is a concoction of sounds thrown into a blender with savorless results.

Those words will never be penned because of the invaluable talent the four rockers from New England possess. With seamless kinetics Fox Pass can change from the Byrds, Keith Richards solo, Rockpile (Dave Edmunds/Nick Lowe), Joe, Jackson, into Tom Petty.

Intemporel’s seventeen tracks not only pay homage to the sonorousness of the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s but allow Fox Pass to showcase an aptitude when creating a three to four minute rock composition. From the instant the CD player raises the curtain on “Hurry Cherrie” to the eventual ending of “A Long Goodbye” you will be firmly engrossed in a recording that alienates none while an assemblage of rockers old and young tap along to the harmonious offerings.
Craig Fenton - TMR Zoo (Jan 23, 2011)
FOX PASS are old-school Boston rock’n’roll. The band, who originate from the pre-punk period of the mid-‘70s, still releases music that is enjoyable, such as with their latest, “Intemporel” (Actuality Records, c/o foxpassmusic.com). This is a full 72 minute CD, which, as they state, is “designed to be enjoyed as a 4-sided double album.” Whether vocalist/guitarist Jon Macey is writing with Michael J. Roy (back-up vocals and guitar), or with fellow bandmate Steve Gillian in their side project (Macey & Gilligan), the man can write a catchy song. And on this CD, there are 17 of them. It’s so hard to pick faves here, because they all have that Macey jinglesque pop that sticks in your head after the song plays, only to be replaced by the next song on the disk. Anyone from that period of Boston knows that Fox Pass is a band to enjoy both live and captured. And just think, a four-sided album for the price of one disk.
"Intemporel" is top of the line Fox Pass. We go back with
this outfit to 1970s vinyl, and I don't recall ever hearing the band play with
such kick. This is a very fine collection of FxP songs, and the disc gets off
to an especially strong start. Excellent idea to bring back the great "Cool
Dreamer" for a band treatment. The prior Fox Pass CD was also quite fine; but
this time, these guys delivered the album I have been waiting for. If
"Intemporel" does not get Fox Pass more bookings, the region needs new clubs.
On its website, a quote from the Arlington veteran group Fox Pass reads, "[t]he 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."
"There" was a special place in time for Arlington residents who had already witnessed a favorite son, 25-year-old Alan "Blind Owl" Wilson, performing at Woodstock with his group Canned Heat and singing on Top 40 hits "On The Road Again” and "Goin' Up The Country."
Boston proper had Barry & The Remains opening for The Beatles and Willie "Loco" Alexander joining The Velvet Underground, but Arlington, had other musical gifts to offer, including The Prince & The Paupers and, just a few years later, Fox Pass.
Fox Pass and a handful of other groups were that all-important bridge from the old guard to the New Wave in the early 1970s.
In 2010, the band released a new CD/download album “Intemporel” and has been seen around this neck of the woods again performing at Right Turn, an Arlington non-profit that promotes sobriety, as well as a planned event in the autumn of 2010 at the Regent Theater.

The beginning
Jon Macey, who was known back then as Jonathan Hall and eventually changed his name, was taken with music at a young age. According to his website, he began writing songs for the accordion at age 9 and then for the piano before he took up the guitar when he was 12 years old.
While a student at AHS in the early 1970s, Macey began developing folk songs in the style of Bob Dylan or Woody Guthrie. In 1971, Macey met another AHS student Michael Roy; together they formed an acoustic duo.
By age 17, Macey was doing his own version of the Velvet Underground/Modern Lovers brand of songwriting and singing. That became the early Fox Pass repertoire, perhaps the start of the musical evolution from when Hall and Roy performed on the Cambridge Commons Concerts, all original songs, precursors to what would become the early Fox Pass style.
By the time Macey and Roy graduated in 1973, they had already become a professional rock band. Other Arlington residents, including Michael's brother John, were the initial members of Fox Pass.

The build up
Music lovers began to take notice. Fox Pass was performing at Tufts University, The Club in Cambridge, The Paradise, Olivers (now the Cask 'n' Flagon), and many other venues. They also had a big plus, which was the envy of other groups in the region, a local businessman named Bruce Miner began managing them.
The band’s first 45 RPM recording, "I Believed" b/w "Prized Possession,” was released in 1976 and created a buzz.
That recording helped the group get into the pages of Playboy Magazine in 1978 as one of Boston's five best bands. The interest in the band began to spread beyond the fans and directly into the eyes of the media, specifically The Boston Globe, Boston Phoenix, Real Paper and other publications.
Macey and Roy's Fox Pass emerged from the Arlington and Cambridge circuit and went on to become a major draw in the New England area.
But the Fox Pass saga is one of the strangest in rock history. Shortly after being named one of Boston’s five best bands, Fox Pass disappeared.
"We broke up the first time because we realized we had missed the Punk Rock trend,” Macey said. “We were too ahead of it and too young to see that we could have easily rode the wave. So, instead we moved to New York City and reinvented ourselves."
In 1979, both Macey and Roy had moved to New York City. They joined up with RCA recording artist Tom Dickie and signed with Mercury Records for two albums as Tom Dickie & The Desires, culminating in a regional and semi-national hit "Downtown Talk” and openings for Hall & Oates and Cheap Trick.
While the band’s first single was released in 1976, it took another 29 years until a debut album was released, a self-titled CD appearing in 2005.

The return
The journey from Arlington to New York and back was long, intense and noteworthy on many levels.
Fox Pass took a hiatus of almost 30 years or so, but after the variety of projects, they have reconnected, creating a new era for the band.
"The second Fox Pass era began in 2002 when Mike Roy and I reunited while recording my solo project, the ‘Actuality in Process’ CD,” said Macey. “We began to write songs together which led to live performances and two CDs since then."
“Intemporel,” the bands follow-up to their self-titled “debut,” is a vibrant set of recordings, which succeeds in its simple mission statement: To entertain.
With cascading jangle guitars that The Flamin' Groovies and R.E.M. helped establish in the post-60s garage rock era, when garage got more sophisticated (but still stayed away from hotel lounges), Fox Pass comes up with some new material while also dipping into their back catalog.
The CD opens with "Hurry Cherie,” an older song from their repertoire. This is a hard-driving pop song where Macey finds himself "dreaming of you...hurry Cherie,” and though it is not the long-promised "first album" of material from when Fox Pass released its first single, these industry veterans are still "mining the vaults" and coming up with 17 tracks that show the band still has it, and is still evolving.
“Fly Away (From Me)" and "Front Page Girl" keep the party going while the stylish "Cool Dreamer" slinks in for almost eight minutes, followed by an almost five-minute piece "She Dreams Of Me.”
Earlier this spring, the group performed next door at Winchester's "Wincam" public access station and played material from across its career along with many selections from “Intemporel.” That performance showed Roy shouldering some of the lead vocals, sometimes co-singing harmonies with bassist Steve Gilligan and Macey as on the "The Spark.”
For those who have followed the band and its various spin-offs, the most recent music has continuity to projects from long ago, but Fox Pass isn't detouring "back to the future" as much as getting the music onto a familiar track.
"We still perform ‘Amtrak’ and ‘Wanda,’ both written in 1973," Macey said.
On the latest Fox Pass CD "The Sacred Mountain Is Falling" could be a Sgt. Pepper out-take. And the band is exploring longer titles a la early Mott The Hoople, this track going more than nine minutes, and "A Long Goodbye" clocking in at more than six minutes.
For Fox Pass fans, the latest disc provides short pop-bursts and extensive essays, perhaps a stream of-consciousness approach by industry veterans who continue to do what they love.
INTEMPOREL BY FOX PASS-TIMELESS IN ANY LANGUAGE

by Nancy Neon

INTEMPOREL, the second full length recording from Fox Pass is the sound of seasoned musicians who are at the top of their game. There is a strong sense of time being of the essence when it comes to matters of romance and creativity as well as spiritual matters. Songs run the gamut from the quintessential power pop of "Hurry Cherie" and "Front Page Girl" to deceptively primal rockers like "It's Rock" and "Amtrak". These lighter hearted songs are balanced by Jon Macey/Michael Roy epics like "Cool Dreamer", "Sacred Mountain Is Falling", and "A Long Goodbye". The first two possess a universality while the third song could not be more personal, exposing raw,naked emotion. On this song and the recording as a whole,Fox Pass takes a creative gamble that most artists would never risk. Pardon the mixed metaphor, but Fox Pass hasn't merely hit a homerun , creatively INTEMPOREL is their grand slam. Jon Macey took time to discuss his process of writing and recording with Nancy Neon and Gemmzine:

Nancy Neon: What made you decide to bring back "Hurry Cherie"?

Jon Macey: I always liked "Hurry Cherie". I wrote it at a point, as you know, when I was so enamoured of finding that elusive power pop sound.

Nancy: It comes off great live. It's a good CD opener. The sound of the drums is explosive.

Macey: Mike and I sang all the two part harmonies live in the studio. It's not me singing,then him singing. It's the two of us singing together. It's the Lennon/McCartney thing. Sometimes we're on the same microphone.

Nancy: You get a chemistry that way that you don't from overdubbing. When did you write "Fly Away(From Me)"?

Macey: I started the song about 8 years ago. It was just an acoustic song. I never thought it would be a Fox Pass song. I brought it to Mike and we added a bridge and made it into a Macey/Roy song. It was originally much slower and very folky. It's probably my favorite song on the record.

Nancy: It's so poetic,so poignant...what is the first line?

Macey: (Laughs)Everyone is going to ask that,aren't they? "The fabric of existence opens for an instant." The second verse is the reality of the situation-how it happened and the fear that it would end i.e. "so afraid that you would fly away from me". And the last verse is a projection of the future-"If I should disappoint you/If I should encumber you." It describes what happens when a beautiful love is ending.

Nancy: It's a very poetic way of describing unconditional love where you would rather walk out into the darkness alone than to have your loved one disappointed or encumbered.

Macey: It goes back to the first verse where it's completely idealized love. I'm tremendously proud of those lyrics and that song.

Nancy:This is quite a change of tone,but "Front Page Girl" is a Fox Pass classic. What made you decide to bring that one back? And when did you add the cool spy theme?

Macey: I found "Front Page Girl" from middle period Fox Pass, but I didn't like the way we did it. In the middle of the that early version, the spy theme was there,but it wasn't as out front. That was us doing The Sidewinders meets the early Who.(Nancy Neon note:The Sidewinders are a legendary, early 70's Boston band featuring future stars Andy Paley and Billy Squier.)

Neon Nancy: "Front Page Girl" is a great addition because a lot of your songs are so serious. This is light hearted,giving us some much needed comedic relief.

Macey: But I have to go back thirty years to find songs like that!

Nancy Neon:"Cool Dreamer" has come back again. What did you not do before that made you want to revisit it?

Macey:That was a Macey's Parade song from 1993 which we recorded and never put it out. It's the only song on this album that is cowritten by Tom Hostage. ACTUALITY IN PROCESS , my first solo abum is not produced as well as I wish it was. It was my first attempt at engineering and producing a record on my own. Obvisiously I've gotten much better at it. "Cool Dreamer" has become a popular live song for Fox Pass. I think the version on ACTUALITY is good,but it's very different.

Nancy:"She Dreams Of Me" is a new song for me.

Macey: Mike originally came up with that. As you probably noticed,no verse repeats itself. That was a stylistic experiment. That has a big Beatles influence. It has the acoustic guitars,but it rocks.

Nancy: This CD is an embarrassment of riches. "The Spark" is another new one.

Macey: The chorus is based on one of my oldest melodies. It has a message that a lot of my newer songs have about life and death.

Nancy: The ephemeral quality of life,love,and inspiration.
Macey: The idea that you'd better do it. And the idea that we are all part of one huge force.

Nancy: Although some of the newer songs can be seen as romantic on a man/woman level,some of the newer songs have a feeling of universality.

Macey: Over and over,we are talking about mystical forces. "Cool Dreamer" is clearly about that-a hymn to the great mind.

Nancy:"It's Rock" and "Amtrak" have to be two of the best crowd pleasers live.
Macey: "It's Rock" is an extremely sarcastic song. It's essentially live in the studio.We banged it out;you can't make it too polished.

Nancy: We're back to serious subject matter with "Hey Rainbow". I'm usually good at deciphering your songs,but I can't get a grip on this one intellectually.

Macey:This song is about about someone pretending to be okay,but they are falling into a deadly trap. I'm talking about heroin addiction. I say "hey rainbow" because the person is pretending to be happy. I'm being brutally sarcastic.

Nancy:This is a bitter message to swallow,disguised in a deceptively sweet package. On to "Amtrak", I can especially relate to that line "Living in Boston/And loving New York."

Macey: "Amtrak" was one of the first song that I wrote . It goes back to the beginning of Fox Pass.

Nancy: "High On You" is immediately appealing,one of my very favorites.It's so sexy, but why do I get an endorphin rush from it?

Macey:It's because it's the perfect release because of the dynamics from the verse to the chorus-the bass is pedaling on the E chord. It doesn't change chords like guitars do until the chorus. That builds a tension that is released in the chorus.

Neon Nancy:"Song 91"?
Macey: It was written directly from Psalm 91 and I was not feeling too good at the time. It leads right into "Sacred Mountain Is Falling" which are the purported last words of Confuscius. The bridge is right out of the writings of Buddah-"It's time to cross the river/And reach the other shore." I took the Bible, Buddah,and Confuscius and rolled them all into one.

Nancy Gemmzine:"Ticking Of The Clock" was on one of your BEDROOM TAPES(Note: This was Macey's wave to Dylan's BASEMENT TAPES.)...

Macey: It was Mike's idea to bring it back. I employ the same lyrical technique here as in "Sacred Mountain". I say something,then contradict it.

Nancy: "Younger Than We Knew"...you said this came from a conversation that Mike and you had about how your relative youth contributed to your inexperience about the music business compared to people like David Bryne, Ric O'Casek, Chris Stein,etc...

Macey: These people were actually a bit older and knew their way around the music business much better than us. We took the song title and made it into a generational anthem about the 70's.

Nancy: "We Will Be Free" started out as "I Will Be Free" ,describing your struggle with inner demons...
Macey: "I Will Be Free" was much more brutal. We toned it down and it became a much better song.

Nancy:"One More Song"-this is Michael asking his Muse for inspiration...

Macey: It's a return to the Velvet Underground as far as the guitar sounds with all the echoing guitars and feedback.

Nancy: The last song on INTEMPOREL is "A Long Goodbye". I have heard hundreds of your songs over the years and I've never heard you sounding so raw, exposed ,and vulnerable. It's frankly hard to listen to,particularly when you breakdown emotionally in the final verse. What does this verse mean-"The lure of youth/Teases and increases/The missile of truth/Is gonna blow me to pieces"?

Macey: It's about the failure of a relationship.

Nancy: So is the youthful quality of the woman which is the genesis of the relationship also its downfall?

Macey: Yes, it's the seed of destruction. There's the idea that her innocence was going to make me happy or bring back my innocence and youth. It has the raw quality that you mention because this is the one and only time that I sang that vocal. And I never expect to sing it again!


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You can see Fox Pass perform for the prestigious, INTERNATIONAL POP OVERTHROW at Church, 69 Kilmarnock St,in Boston on Friday, November 20. For more information, check http://foxpassmusic.com
Nancy Neon - GemmZine (Nov 3, 2009)
FOX PASS CD
30 years into this game of Boston Punk Survivor and Fox Pass Outlasts, Outplays, and Outwrites the competition. 2006 and we finally get the first Fox Pass album and it is a sweet success. They have released a generous heaping of pop tunes; ringing 12 strings throughout.
Punk you can power-house through and come off just fine, pop music however, requires a few tricks. Macey and crew have the chest of chords, lyrics and musical twists that good pop needs. At alternate times during a song. I'm captured by a melody, a guitar riff, a lyric or the sound of the instruments: it's an embarrassment of riches
Child's Play is so good I keep playing it over and over and never getting to the rest of the CD. The song signals the CD's strengths: group vocals, clean ringing guitar tones, strong melody, and solidly written material.
Hit or Miss has this over the top lyric treat.:
The twist
Is like this,
The cold kiss
From your lips
Always is,
Hit or miss.
Michael Roy tops of Hit or Miss with an ending solo with a gritty tone that almost steals the song.
If you can resist the 12 sting intro to Saturday Girl you're a better person than I. I get pulled in and pine for that Saturday girl myself. The song is a real highlight both here and played live.
Other favorites are Here Comes the Karma and You Don't' Know Me.
It is gratifying to see the CD getting attention from places like Kool Kat Musik an outlet for current pop. It proves that Fox Pass fit in just fine in 2006. How amazing is that? Full of talent and a real work ethic it's going to be fun to see where they are going.
FOX PASS
Fox Pass
Actuality Records (MAT 123)

Anyone who appreciates the sound of ringing guitars, vocal harmonies and smart pop songs must listen to the debut album by Fox Pass. The idea of a Fox Pass "debut" will seem curious to fans in Boston; after all, the group helped found the original music/punk rock scene in the Beantown during the mid-1970s. The quartet never released an album during that period, and members scattered to other bands and solo projects during the intervening years. The re-grouped foursome, centered on the gifted songwriting team of Jon Macey and Michael Roy, does not disappoint longtime fans, while calibrating its rock 'n' roll for the 21st Century.
From the light-as-air a cappella opening to the disc on "Child's Play," Fox Pass creates a swirling concoction of melodic hooks, jangly guitars and clever lyrics. Macey and Roy write and sing such irresistible upbeat songs as the folk rocking "Love For Love," the high-spirited "Wanda" and the neo-Mod "You Don't Know Me," an anthem to alienation powered by a galvanizing guitar riff. All their power pop sentiments converge on the radiant "Sometime Saturday Girl," a surefire smash in a perfect radio world.
Fox Pass benefits from the empathetic production of pop maestro Barry Marshall, who also toiled in Boston's New Wave scene, before concentrating on film soundtracks and producing for LaVern Baker and many others. Seemingly inspired by Bob Dylan, Lou Reed, the Byrds and the Beau Brummels, Fox Pass shows a lyrical, at times rootsy, side on "In A Dream," "Here Comes The Karma," the six-minute guitar-dueling "Hit Or Miss" and "Heavy As A Heartache," a mournful expression of country rock connecting to urban soul. With its hook-filled guitar/vocal interplay, "The Wonder" boasts an imaginative arrangement anchored to the inventive rhythm section of drummer John Jules and bassist Steve Gilligan. Having left a distinctive imprint on 1970s music, Fox Pass bounds into the present with an album that's worth the wait.
Fox Pass - the self-titled disc by Fox Pass. Although this was a late 2005 release, this disc will land in my Top Ten for the year, and the song "Sometime Saturday Girl" is a contender for Song of the Month honors. Fox Pass is a Boston band led by the talented Jon Macey. This time around, Macey and his bandmates have embellished their repertoire with plenty of ringing Rickenbacker riffs. "Here Comes The Karma" sounds eerily like Sid Griffin (Long Ryders, Coal Porters, Western Electric); several tunes sound like classic Tommy Keene songs; and "Sometime Saturday Girl" reminds me of Blue Rodeo with 12-string accompaniment. This is top-notch pop! Long may you run, Sir Jon and Fox Pass!
Eric Sorensen - Fufkin (Jan 22, 2006)
FOX PASS
Actuality Records
Fox Pass
13 songs
The CD opens with the droning, psychedelic guitar laden “Child’s Play.” This is an invitation to a journey of love marked by lush, multilayered harmonies. It evokes the romanticism of The Zombies’ “Time Of The Season.” On “Hit Or Miss,” Jon Macey laments something that haunts him as he channels Dylan perfectly on the line “You would agree that freedom could be stripped right away from me!” “The Wonder of Tomorrow” continues the Beatlesque, Revolver reminiscent, free-floating sensation of “Child’s Play.” ”Saving Grace,” sung by Mike Roy, burns with palpable heat-a “Sexual Healing” for the millennium. “Love For Love” is power pop that never goes soft due to the rock-solid rhythm section of Steve Gilligan (bass, vocals) and John Jules (drums). “Dream Inside Your Heart” speaks poetically about the power of the unseen-”shadows in the dark/diamonds in the water.” “Sometime Saturday Girl” is Americana rock ’n’ roll personified---a 12-string Rickenbacker and a 12-string Danelectro blasting through Vox AC 30 speakers. There’s not a musical misstep among these roots rock gems which are given just the right sheen by Fox Pass kindred spirit, producer, Barry Marshall.(Nancy Foster)
Nancy Foster - The Noise (Feb 1, 2006)
CD Review
The mark of craftsmanship on songs like "Hit Or Miss", "Saving Grace" and "Dream Inside Your Heart" would be hard to find on many "debut" albums, and 32 years after their 1972 formation in Arlington, Massachusetts, Fox Pass bring insightful lyrics and strong melodies to the world on their first full album. Of course having released a classic indy single with "I Believed" in 1976 - a year that saw them opening for Roxy Music in Boston - with the duo of Mike Roy and Jon Macey heading off to Mercury Records to record two albums with Tom Dickie & The Desires in the early 1980s, well, this debut is actually more like a diamond hewn from decades in a business rife with uncertainty. Barry Marshall's production crystallizes the performances - taking a "Sometime Saturday Girl" to bring that Tommy Boyce/Bobby Hart vibe into the new millennium. Marshall has known the group almost since its inception and truly understands the work of Jon Macey and Mike Roy better than Ed Sprigg and Martin Rushent did for the Tom Dickie albums - all due respect to the highly competent Sprigg and Rushent. The chemistry between the artist and the producers on those Desires albums just wasn't there. And with no label pressures the band is free to come up with fine pop tunes like "The Easy Way", material that effortlessly flows from their repertoire. Roy sounds like Ben Orr of The Cars singing the exquisite "Heavy As A Heartache" with neo doo-wop vocals from Macey and bassist Steve Gilligan, he from The Stompers debut album also from the 1980s. While the group's influences are very well disguised on this set - you'll hear pieces of sounds you just can't place - the key is that the music seems more original because the band is plagiarizing their own riffs from years past. Some of the ambiance of the Jon Macey/Barry Marshall tune "Comical" from 1993's Too Much Perspective disc is reinvented on "Dream Inside Your Heart" - a terrific hook over a gliding and airy bed of pop riffs and chord changes. Its complexities are vast compared to "Wanda", the closing song that the band has performed since it was written back in 1973. "Hit Or Miss" might come in at close to six minutes, but it has the groove and guitars suspended in space to be radio friendly, playing perfectly on an album where songs like "In A Dream" come in from out of nowhere, sparkling pop created by a band that was doing it years before R.E.M. formed and brought this style into vogue.
FOX PASS
The Middle East, Cambridge MA
7/7/07
Fox Pass sounds rejuvenated with their new drummer, Tom Landers, who hits as hard as John Jules but has a more nuanced style. The band opens in high gear with the long time fave “Wanda.” It’s not hard to see that their original inspiration was The Modern Lovers. “Child’s Play” and “Love For Love” have a more Brit-pop feel. “One More Song,” a brand new number written and sung by lead guitarist Mike Roy, is about imploring one’s muse for inspiration. The lyrics pique my interest. “Amtrak” rocks like fuck, and proves these guys don’t belong on the nostalgia circuit. “Front Page Girl” is revamped with a sexy sounding spy theme intro. Fox Pass has shimmering vocal arrangements and they play off each other with camaraderie like you don’t often see today. “Downtown Talk” calls up Macey’s and Roy’s NYC days with Tom Dickie & the Desires. The closer, “Hit or Miss” metaphorically covers the subject of addiction.
Nancy Neon - The Noise (Sep 8, 2007)
Fox Pass - "Fox Pass"
In 1973, Fox Pass was one of the first generation of bands that were bringing a new vitality to Boston rock, centering their activities in Kenmore Square and away from the beach clubs and more local night spots. Along with Reddy Teddy, Willie Loco Alexander, Richard Nolan's Third Rail, the Real Kids, and a handful of other pioneering acts, Fox Pass helped to break an entirely new type of scene, one centered squarely in the small clubs, which flourished outside the rarified atmosphere of the major labels. Well, the legendary rockers are back! Fronted by original members Jon Macey, John Jules, and Michael Roy (along with ex-Stompers bassist Steve Gilligan) - the music is heavily influenced, directly or indirectly, by 60's pop-rock. "They put their individual stamp on this tuneful material. The arrangements feature enough twists to keep the music interesting and the songwriting, which is solid from the start, gets better as the album plays on!" - New England Music Scrapbook Vocally, there are just so many cool reference points - Dreams So Real, The Byrds, Tommy Keene, The Byrds - all very good things! Has a real roots pop charm to it! Plenty of 6 + 12-string guitars throughout too! Very, very catchy! EXCELLENT
- Kool Kat Musik (Jan 25, 2006)
Fox Pass
Now on Compact Disc

A new album by a somewhat new version of a not-so-new band has been playing here at the New England Music Scrapbook international headquarters. The CD is called Fox Pass; and through an amazing coincidence, so is the band. Many of our readers already know about Fox Pass or related groups such as The Score, Macey's Parade, and Jon Macey and the Score. What they may not know is that the present lineup of Fox Pass includes an ex-Stomper, bassist Stephen L. Gilligan.

The Fox Pass album is not expecially close to what I would have expected. If you have an idea of what this disc will sound like, our suggestion is to forget it if you can.
I couldn't do a capsule Fox Pass history from memory; but as I recall, this was an increasingly pop-rock-like band at just the time that Boston's punk club scene was getting strong. Fox Pass, nonetheless, in some ways was part of that punk community, as were groups such as The Marshalls, The Atlantics, and, yes, The Stompers. All of those bands could be very energetic, and it made a difference.

The music is heavily influenced, directly or indirectly, by 1960s pop-rock. Such a sound has been done countless times with varying degrees of success. Fox Pass goes down the same road but manages to put its individual stamp on this tuneful material. The arrangements feature just enough twists to keep the music interesting. Whenever it seems as though this stuff may get a little too soft, the guitarist, rhythm section, or both give it an extra kick. And the songwriting, which is solid from the start, gets better as the album plays on. Several of the best cuts are near the end, and I am a real sucker, in particular, for "You Don't Know Me." It's the one I would pick for a radio single. I haven't listened enough to be at all sure of the lyrics just yet, but one line that ought to interest many of our readers starts with

"They don't know me in Boston
And they won't take my calls . . ."
I tried to get the volume just so on my CD player and thought I had it right, but I realized a few tracks in that the volume was set too low. If you can get away with it, my suggestion would be to err on the side of playing it a little too loud. If they can crank the volume a bit, I think a lot of our readers are going to like this disc.
First off, fans of Tommy Keene check this one out. Not only does lead singer/guitarist Jon Macey(check out his solo album!) sound like the perfect combination of Tommy Keene and Robyn Hitchcock, much of the material on this 13 songs sound uncannily like Keene and even Hitchock`s Egyptians. A very difficult feat to pull off. While this is a 2005 release and recently recorded, Fox Pass was, originally, a semi-legendary band on the Boston music scene from 1972-1978, always on verge, cusp of big things. Now, years later they get together and this eponymously titled debut bring us a healthy, happy dose of pure pop jangle, warm, familiar melodies and excellent beat and performances throughout! This version of Fox Pass has Stephen Gilligan, who those familiar with Boston Music Lore of yesterday will recognize him as original bassist in The Stompers.
It`s a complete success with only a few tracks falling short of pop glory. A very high batting average in the area of .900. Bottom Line: The songs here are full of haunting, catchy chord changes, flowing harmonies and great melodies. There are wonderful layered vocals, solid melodic, inventive arrangements and sincere passion for classic pop sounds. Extremely Highly Recommended!!
Fox Pass
Through the years Jon Macey has evolved, releasing two
albums on Mercury with Tom Dickie & The Desires in
1981 and 1982, putting a push behind Macey's Parade in
the 1990s, returning thirty years later with the album
debut of a band who had released a single in 1976 - "I
Believed" and "Prized Possession". Unlike Willie
Loco, the band opted to go with all new material
(saving the old classics for an upcoming live album),
but like The Boom Boom Band, this group is superb
onstage. Produced by Barry Marshall (with LaVern
Baker and the Dick Tracy and Shag soundtracks to his
credit), Mike Roy, John Jules and Jon Macey's power
pop has never sounded better on record. Veteran Steve
Gilligan (who appeared on Stompers' Boardwalk album)
replaces David Godbey on bass. 13 tracks of their
Byrds meets R.E.M. style - just keep in mind - this
band was opening for Roxy Music at The Orpheum years
before R.E.M. released their first single.
Excellent. Grade A
FOX PASS
Abbey Lounge, Somerville, MA
6/24/05

Fox Pass is Jon Macey (vocals/ guitar), Michael Roy (guitar/ vocals), John Jules (drums), and Steve Gilligan (bass/ vocals). It’s interesting that the band bookends their newer material with classic Fox Pass faves like “Wanda” and “Amtrak.” “Wanda” now sounds like a Modern Lovers rave up. On “Kaleigh,” Macey waves to Hank Williams, an important but not as discernible influence overall as Bob Dylan, John Lennon, and Lou Reed with a good measure of Byrdsian jangle. The band combines expert musicianship, perfectly blended harmonies, and intelligent songwriting with a versatility that allows them to shift smoothly from the country tinged “Kaleigh” to the sexy funk of “Saving Grace” to the immediately appealing power pop of “Love To Love.” “Where You Been” and the unreleased “Dream Inside Your Heart” are stunning and dig deep emotionally. The closer “Amtrak,” like “Wanda,” is trademark Fox Pass in the way it engages the mind while it rocks the body. (Nancy Neon)
Nancy Neon - The Noise (Sep 1, 2005)
New York Times mention of Fox Pass in national 9/11 memorial shows.
- New York Times (Sep 4, 2005)