The Shins blare through the dingy old speakers and excitement erupts from a table of hipsters outside the Gypsy Den in Downtown Santa Ana. Stopping only to sing along with the chorus Johnny Higa, guitarist and lead vocals of the band FoxHollow, explains how the Shins and other bands have had an impact on his own.
“I want to be like them—the reaction I have when listening to The Shins is what we want our fans now and fans in the future to have. To be excited, so excited with our work that they wait to meet us after ” Higa said.
Jonathan Higa sat down for a one-on-one with the band.
Q. How did the band start?
We were all friends since preschool and knew each other through church. None of us knew how to play an instrument except Kristi (Shimazu) our drummer, who taught Shae (Matarazzo) how to play the bass. Timmy (Higa) and I just spent hours on You Tube mimicking everything people did. So we were really all self-taught.
Q. How has your songwriting ability grown since you started?
Well, we actually just did covers for our first show and that was really good for us. It gave us confidence. But our first songs were very typical for a 17-year-old. They were all about my relationship with my parents and like stuff that was going on in high school. Lyrically and instrumentally we have become way more confident and dynamic.
Q. Other than the music you listen to, what inspires you?
That’s a good question. I’m not quite sure because the way we approach everything, musically, is so broad. We grab from everything and everywhere. Like even when I am writing music, we use sound effects and a lot of hand movements instead of speaking in music vernacular.
Q. What would you say is unique about your music?
Because we don’t have a lead guitarist, everything really revolves around the bass. Shae isn’t your typical bass player who is just playing the same note over and over. And he isn’t playing off the drums. Kristi is playing the drums to whatever Shae is doing. There is just a lot of movement in the bass lines. We gotta keep him entertained.
Q. Timmy, what instruments do you play for the band?
I whistle, play the harmonica, synth, glockenspiel, melodica, calimba and I am in the works to get an accordion. I am always looking for more to play.
Q. What’s it like being a sucessful band at such a young age?
It’s really hard. Shae and Timmy are only 17 so it’s hard because they are always in school. Kristi is very serious about school so she is always studying. I am in school as well. And on top of all of that, none of us drive. So our parents have a huge impact when it comes to transportation and stuff. We call our truck the Higa bus.
Q. What is your goal for the band?
We want to play Coachella and FYF fest. We have stayed up many nights talking about that.
Q. If you could tell your fans one thing, what would it be?
We want them to love our music. We want them to have an emotional connection with our music, and more importantly, with us.