I caught country/rock artist Justin Cody Fox during the aftermath of a gig, right before hurricane Erma was to hit North Carolina. Having recently released his new single, “Popcorn Sutton”, from his latest album, “Go Down Swinging”, via Spectra Music Group, Justin spoke about the fact that music is all he’s ever done, and all he will ever do.
How was your gig?
It was pretty good. This was local’s night down in Caroline Beach, a beach pretty close to me, 15 minutes from my house.
When did you decide to play music?
It’s funny for me because I just turned 32, and this is my 17th year playing music professionally. It is the only thing I’ve ever done as a job for income. I’m kind of a unicorn at this point because I’ve managed to stay busy enough since I was 15. When I was 16 I was renting a house for my parents, because my dad was in my band. We were playing 5 nights a week. At the time I probably should have put some of that cash up. The economy was great, the gigs were great. We were leaving every night with a couple hundred dollars in our pocket. These days you have to play a festival or a sold out show to do that. Everywhere we went, everything was sold out. So for me I decided in those first couple of years that I was pretty good at it. It’s more so that it is my desire to live to play music. It’s become a weird thing for me because I have gone through so much in my life aside from it, it’s always there in all aspects. This newest album is my 7th album altogether, but it’s my first full length solo album. I did six records with Medusa Stone which is my other band, and I wrote and arranged all those songs as well. It was just a heavier project. I grew up doing that. I still have most of my guys from then. I went solo because my drummer from that project decided to retire. He’s been with me for a long time, he’s my cousin. It’s just a big family deal. Now that I’ve got two kids, and I’ve been married for 7 years, I have no other choice but to play music. I get cranky if I don’t
At least you’ve made a career out of something that you love to do. You must have started playing at an early age?
I grew up doing family jams at all holidays. I wanted to play guitar even from a very early age. I tried when I was five, but I kind of gave up on it because I was a really small kid. Then I had a growth spurt and I finally got big enough to play guitar when I was around 11 or 12. When I was 12 I won first place at the alternative competition in Raleigh. Two years after that I was telling my guidance counselor that I was leaving school to do homeschooling. I had to explain to her that I had too much work, I had too many gigs on the calendar and I can’t be here anymore. We were playing so much that I couldn’t make it to school on time. It just took off from there. It’s been up and down but it’s all I’ve really ever done.
Do you have a hero?
My heroes come from all sorts of places. I feel like the human race as a whole is filled with heroes everyday. Musically my heroes are North Carolina-based musicians. I look to Aubrey Freed. He plays with Cheryl Crow now, but originally he was in “A Cry Above”. When I discovered him I saw that he was from North Carolina and had some big hits. He got to play with Black Crows, and he did a tour with Jimmy Page. He also played with Dixie Chicks and Keith Urban, and the list goes on. He is one of my biggest influences and I’ve gotten to know him pretty well over the past couple of years. When you have someone that you can actually say ” hey, I know this person who influenced me”, it’s nice to have that. Jimi Hendrix is one of the guitar legends. We closed a show on Caroline Beach during the fireworks with “Voodoo Child”. It was the 50th anniversary of that song, and still to this day, 50 years later, if you play that, somebody in the audience will know that song. Jimi Hendrix was the turning factor for me where I thought I kind of knew where my allegiance lies in music. It’s always going to be in the vein of the guitar, and soulful music. I’ve been really into Stevie Wonder lately, trying to learn most of the songs in, “The Key of Life”. He needs to get some kind of lifetime achievement award. That whole record is just incredible. So it’s anybody that ever pushed the envelope. I wish that I could be an envelope pusher myself but unfortunately these days, all of the envelopes are open and the mail is flying everywhere. I love so much music, it’s just hard for me. In life my heroes have been my father and my two grandfathers, and more recently my father in law. I try to take a little bit from everyone.
If you could have a stage fantasy, what would you fantasize?
I could think about it in realistic terms. I’ve played for big crowds before, but I think my ultimate fantasy for me, is to step onto a stage where it’s an event that everyone in that area has anticipated and made a point to be there. When you walk out they are there for your show, and there’s not a disappointed person in the entire audience. There are people that know us and anticipate us, but I’m not quite to that level where I’d go into a new market and everyone that’s there is there because they knew I was coming. We opened up for the Marshall Tucker Band once, and it was sold out. We played a sold out show in front of these guys, everybody was really into what we were doing, but they were just at that moment hearing us. I would like to get to the point where we go somewhere and we don’t know anyone there, but they all know us. So that’s the fantasy for me. I wouldn’t even call it a fantasy, I’d call it a goal. I may be Willie Nelson’s age when I get there but……
Is there anything else that you would like to say or tell your fans?
I’ve been pushing this new record. If I could tell my friends anything to anticipate I would tell them that this record is out, it’s available, and I’m excited that it’s internationally available now through the Spectra Music Group.
Follow Justin Cody Fox on Twitter @justincodyfox