Fun in the chamber

An expanded lineup and sound for Oakland’s Foxtails Brigade

Foxtails Brigade, from left: Josh Pollock, Joe Lewis, Laura Weinbach, Anton Patzner and Dominic Mercurio.

Foxtails Brigade, from left: Josh Pollock, Joe Lewis, Laura Weinbach, Anton Patzner and Dominic Mercurio.

Photo courtesy of foxtails brigade

Foxtails Brigade performs Wednesday, June 24, 9 p.m., at The Maltese. Bunnymilk and Sisterhoods open.
Cost: $5
Maltese Bar & Tap Room
1600 Park Ave.

Chamber music may bring to mind stuffy concert halls and suit-clad performers listlessly running through a score written by some long-dead, white-wigged composer. But that isn’t necessarily always the case.

“In classical music, the word ‘chamber’ means a small number of players giving a badass concert in your living room,” said Anton Patzner, violinist and guitarist for Oakland’s Foxtails Brigade in a recent interview. “A string quartet is a good example; each instrument has an important role and a chance to shine.”

That same idea is the operative principle behind Foxtails Brigade, a band whose musical skill and eclectic mashup of styles and influences has often been categorized as chamber pop—a leaner, meaner version of the orchestral-pop sound popularized by bands like Arcade Fire.

“A band like Arcade Fire is ‘orchestral pop’ because they’ve got 10 people playing super epic songs with horns and strings and whatnot in a huge arena,” Patzner said. “We’re ‘chamber pop’ because we’ve got four people, a couple of whom are playing classical instruments in a nonclassical way, and we’re playing a badass concert at The Maltese.”

Foxtails Brigade has been through Chico in the past, with Patzner and vocalist/guitarist Laura Weinbach playing as a duo. But the band’s show June 24 at The Maltese Bar & Tap Room will mark the group’s first time through town as a full band, including bassist Joe Lewis and drummer Dominic Mercurio (a fifth member, percussionist and vibraphone player Josh Pollock, doesn’t join the band on the road).

Foxtails Brigade’s current tour dates (which also include a stop June 25 at The Roundup Saloon in Red Bluff) come on the heels of the band’s recently announced signing to Oakland-based label OIM Records. The label is a partnership between Oakland music promoter Sarah Sexton, musician Angelica Tavella (who, performing as Nyx, has also made Chico a regular destination in recent years) and producer/manager Jeff Saltzman, whose production credits include The Killers’ 2004 breakout album, Hot Fuss.

“We’re super excited to be working with OIM,” said Patzner. “Their first project was this compilation of Oakland bands, all produced by Jeff Saltzman. They asked us if we wanted to record a song with him for that and it turned out to be a great experience. Little did we know that they were actually using the process as a way of finding bands to sign to their label.”

In addition to signing to the label, the band also worked with Saltzman on its forthcoming, self-titled full-length, which will be the first to feature the band’s current, fleshed-out lineup. The album features both new songs and songs that have been featured in the band’s live repertoire for years. Although the album’s release date has yet to be announced, the band is releasing a video for the album’s first single, “Far Away and Long Ago,” later this month. The video was directed by drummer Mercurio, who, according to Patzner, is “a real film director.”

“The video is sooooo gangster,” Patzner said. “I wish I could tell you more, but I don’t want to give it away. Just … you’re gonna love it.” In the meantime, the band is excited to be taking the new material on the road. Patzner is particularly psyched to be coming back through Chico.

“Chico has always been one of my favorite tour stops,” he said. “My old band Judgement Day used to play crazy metal shows in Chico all the time and I met some of my favorite people ever back then.” And though Foxtails Brigade is decidedly un-metal, the band promises a live show that is anything but subdued.

“A lot of our songs were written just to be played live,” Patzner said. “As much as we love recording, I think we love playing live even more. Hopefully people will come ready to party.”