Interview: Billy Childs of Britny Fox at Hair Nation Festival

Britny Fox Band Photo - Mark Weiss
Photo by Mark Weiss. Left to right: Johnny Dee, Chris Sanders, Billy Childs, Tommy Paris

Britny Fox founding member Billy Childs has been the bassist of the band since its formation in 1985. After the release of four total studio albums over a number of years, the band went on a hiatus of sorts – Recently, they returned and hit the road, playing shows and festivals worldwide with a new guitarist in tow. The evening of the Hair Nation Festival, I was able to catch Billy for an interview, where we discussed the latest with Britny Fox, including the potential for a new album and some of Billy’s activities outside the band.

First off, awesome set from you guys earlier, it was really great to see you out there delivering a great show. How are you feeling after that?

Oh, it was great, man, I wish — we kind of got cut short, I think we only played like four tunes, right? Five or four? I think it was only four tunes.

I wasn’t keeping track since I was enjoying it so much, I’ll be honest. (laughs)

(laughs) Well, thank you. It was short and sweet, I guess.

There you go. So, I want to go back a little to the origins of this lineup, the four of you guys. You know, three originals from other lineups with a new addition to the band, Chris. Can you just tell me more about how you got here to this lineup as it is?

Well, this is essentially…I mean, it was me and Johnny, Michael and Dean started out, you know, then of course, Dean left and that’s when Tommy came in, that’s the Bite Down Hard lineup. Also, we did an album called Springhead Motorshark, which was actually pretty good, man, it was different for us, but it’s not bad, it’s grown on me. So, it was that lineup, and we got back together to do this, basically, and Michael didn’t want to be involved anymore. I mean, people move on, people get older, they have different interests and shit, so…I’d known Chris for about ten years and thought he wasn’t exactly the prototypical guitar player that you would imagine for a band like us, I mean, we’re basically a blues-based Hard Rock band, you know? And I thought it would be neat, I thought it would work out well, and I think it has. I think he fits in good with us, he puts up with our shit, ‘cause we’re fuckin’ crazy, you know?

But fuckin’ crazy can be fun.

It can be fun, it can be rather trying at times too.

True. So, there was some recent talk about a new album coming from you guys, that you’ve been spending time in studio – any further word, where do you stand with that now?

We’re working on stuff, we had offers, but…You know, we have to really want to do it, we’re trying to decide how to do it, like…at this point, doing an album for us? Yeah, it could turn into that, but the amount of work that would have to go in to putting out an album, I mean, we’re used to doing big studio albums, basically, so for us to just throw something together, I don’t think any of us want to do that. So we want to put the time in and make it as good as anything we ever did, we just don’t want it to be half as good as something we did before, quality-wise, production-wise, anything like that. So we’re kind of leaning more toward releasing one song at a time at this point, you know? But really we’re just more concerned with playing and just existing as well, you know, we’re kind of just feeling out what’s happening.

Well, whenever the album gets completed –

It’s an “if”, not a “when”. But we’ll see.

Got it. So the other guys in the band are also doubling in other bands, Johnny with Doro, Chris in Knight Fury, Tommy has Count’s 77, what do you have going on outside Britny Fox?

I mean, we were together for a little over two years before anybody knew about anything, because I was playing with a band called Get The Led Out, which is one of the highest-grossing rock bands in the country at the moment. And I really didn’t think I was going to do this, anytime I had a little bit of time, something got booked, you know? I was playing places like Red Rocks, Wolf Trap…So then, I had suffered an injury, actually, I hurt my back pretty bad. I kept doing Get The Led Out for another eight months after that and it just got to be where I had to shut down for about a year. And I’m getting better, I’m definitely getting better now, but let me tell you, don’t fuck up your back, man, it’s rough.

As long as you’re getting better, though, that’s good.

That’s what I’m hoping.

So there’s something coming up for you guys, The Monsters of Rock Cruise, “Monsterwood” it’s called…is this the first time Britny Fox has done a cruise ship show?

Yeah it is, actually, and it’s the first time I’ve been on a cruise ship show…I don’t like boats, man, I…don’t know.

First time you’ve been on a cruise ship show, or first time on a cruise ship at all?

I’ve never been on a cruise ship, but I’ve been on the big ferries in Europe when we tour over there, and people have always told me “Oh, you won’t get sick on these, dude, these are big like ships” and I’m like “Okay, cool” – I’ve been sick from the moment I got on ‘til the minute I walked off. Now, little boats don’t bother me, I was on the Good Ship Lollipop when I was a kid, you ever heard of the Good Ship Lollipop? That was down in Jersey! I was on that, and I was sick from the moment I got on ‘til the minute I got off. So, I don’t know what it is, I can be in speedboats, I can be fishing in like a bass boat or something, but when you put me in a big boat, man, I get sick. So I don’t know, I’m hoping this one’s different. I mean, this ship looks really big.

Yeah, I haven’t been on one myself, but…I don’t know, hopefully you’ll be all right for it! (laughs)

(laughs) Yeah, I’m kind of scared, I’m gonna have a pocketful of Dramamine, I can tell you that.

So here right now, at the Hair Nation Festival, there’s plenty of bands playing, and I’m sure you guys know a lot of them, was there anyone you were most looking forward to seeing today at this show?

Oh, man, I’ve been seeing these guys a lot for years doing these, I started with Rocklahoma in ’07, and I mean, some of these guys…I’ve known Chip Z’Nuff forever, I’ve done numerous tours with him. There’s so many of these guys, it’s a lot easier for me to list the ones I don’t know than the ones I do know.

Got you. Well, I won’t keep you for too much longer, so to wrap things up here, aside from the album we discussed earlier, can you give an idea of what’s coming up for Britny Fox?

Well, I mean, it’s really hard to say at this point. We want to exist and we want to keep playing shows, and we’d like to record, it just gets down to an issue of whether it’s fiscally possible to do that, you know? It gets to that for everybody. It’s the kind of thing where we’ll hope for the best, but prepare for the worst, you never know. It’s a funny business, man.

Well, I know you said the album was an “if”, so if the album does come about, I’m looking forward to hearing it, and otherwise, looking forward to seeing you guys perform again the future.

Well, thank you, it’s like I always say, the reason that we haven’t released anything is just because our standards are just really high. We don’t want to give up an inch from what we used to sound like. Guaranteed, if you hear something coming out from us, I think you’re probably going to want to hear it, because we’re not going to have it any other way. If it’s not that good, you’ll never hear it.

Awesome. Well, thank you for taking the time to sit down with me, this was great talking with you.

No problem, same here. Thank you.

More on Britny Fox can be found at their website and Facebook page.

Check out my review of the Hair Nation Festival here.

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