Music News

Phoenix Pop-Punk Band Foxera Is Back With New Music — And a New Singer

Foxera is finally a quartet.
Foxera is finally a quartet. Tony Aguilera
For two years, Foxera was a punk band without a lead singer. The Phoenix band put Craigslist ads in almost every major U.S. city and auditioned over 200 singers.

And then, former Myka Relocate frontman Michael Swank sent a tweet that changed everything.

Swank, whose vocal influences are as rooted in R&B and pop as they are punk, tweeted “Y’all I really miss singing in a band for real” in October 2019. It prompted Foxera to reach out and schedule an audition.

They ultimately sold Swank on the idea and in December of that same year, he met Foxera for the first time in a weekend-long tryout. At the time, it was unclear which side was more anxious.

“For me, the reason maybe why I was so nervous was because I just wanted to make it work,” Swank recalls. “It's this or I don't know if I'm (singing) again. Like, I have no idea if I'm gonna put myself back out there.”

He met with the rest of the band at The Grand in downtown Phoenix to hear the result of the audition. The other members of Foxera (Julian Witt and Erick Cuellar on guitar, Michael Cuellar on the drums) had all reached the same verdict: Swank was the missing link.

As Erick Cuellar tells it, he had always wondered what it was going to feel like when Foxera finally found their singer. When the band finally informed Swank of their decision on the audition, all Cuellar could say was, “Well, what’s going to happen next?”

In December 2019, Foxera officially became a quartet.

The year and a half that followed wasn’t ideal for a group trying to build musical and band chemistry. Swank still lives in Austin,​ Texas, so he’s only been with his new bandmates a few times in the last two years; Foxera had to write music virtually. Despite the inconvenience, he wouldn’t have it any other way.

“Without the pandemic, we would have probably put things out a little sooner. But we had time to regroup and really figure out the sound,” Swank says. “And I wouldn't change anything. I'm really proud of how these came out.”

The first release of 2021 with Swank on the vocals was “Picture Perfect,” a track about the dangers of social media. Witt says that the track is a call back to his nostalgia for his '90s childhood and a time when we weren’t so plugged in.

“I think some of that song even touched on just missing that feeling of simpler times,” he says. “But at the same time, in moderation, social media can do beautiful, wonderful things and help society. It's all just about how you individually experience it.”

One notable positive aspect of social media: It connected Foxera with their most impressive feature yet, Kellin Quinn of Sleeping With Sirens. Quinn appeared on their second single of the year, August's “Away From Me,” thanks to a tweet of his asking for feature opportunities.

While Quinn’s co-sign spoke volumes, Foxera truly hit their stride with September’s “Way Out,” their third and most recent single of the year. The song is the band’s most vulnerable work yet, and Witt says the track was a bonding experience for he and Swank as the two opened up to one another about common experiences with toxic relationships.

“I hope that when people hear it, it will give them, you know, hope or something to identify with if they're in that situation,” he says. “It just is a very meaningful song, I think, probably the most meaningful out of the three singles for me just on a lyrical level.”

Almost two years after that meeting at The Grand, Foxera will continue trying to bond 1,000 miles apart.

“Without the pandemic, we would have probably put things out a little sooner. But we had time to regroup and really figure out the sound,” Swank says. “And I wouldn't change anything."
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Gannon Hanevold is the Phoenix New Times editorial intern.
Contact: Gannon Hanevold