Over the past five years, disco punk quartet Toxic Moxie have built a loyal following out of blood, sweat and lasers that’s crowd surfed them from playing basements and living rooms to touring across the country and headlining sold out shows all over Richmond.
There’s not really a more pure DIY success story than theirs: a band self-records three EPs over as many years, plays all of their gigs at 110% with equal parts showmanship and musicianship and in doing so hones their craft to the point that almost every song becomes a staple of their irresponsibly high energy performances.
Oh and I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention their knack for creating unforgettable music videos (co-produced with Joseph Weindl) like “Talking Hands,” which boasts the best zombie dance choreography this size of Thriller, and the larp-tastic “Blurry.”
But now the band is ready to take a giant step forward – recording and releasing their first full length LP. They are still in the process of tracking the as yet unnamed album, but we at Dust Up are lucky enough to premiere the first single from the record, “Nobody’s Baby.”
Moving from home recordings to a studio for the first time (The Ward on Broad St.), the band’s classic snyth-driven dance punk sounds full and dynamic thanks to mixing by Bryan Walthall and mastering from Dan Randal at Mammoth Sounds.
Accompanied by a wild new promo photo by Roman Meisenberg, its safe to say we’re stoked to hear what the band has planned for the rest of the record. And rest assured as soon as we have more details, we’ll keep you in the loop.
To learn more about the history of the band, get an update on their current tour and find out what they have planned for their homecoming show at The Camel on July 29th, we spoke vocalist Sera Stavroula, bassist Mitch Kordella, guitarist Justin Shear and drummer Danny Crawford collectively via email.
Hey! How is the tour going so far? Anything exciting to report?
We are coming to you from the public library in Athens, Ohio! Which happens to be a show we’re extremely excited about, a last minute addition at a DIY spot that highlights femme and queer artists. Many of these shows hold highly the values of community and the creation of safer and more diverse spaces. This includes even the venues we are playing, like the Back Door in Bloomington.
Audience reception is generally great! There’s not too many people like us! Which is why we end up playing with punks, EDM acts, jam bands and everyone in between. We love it, and we still try to table our shows and talk up Richmond to other folks.
In 2012 when the band first started playing out, what was the state of the DIY scene as your saw it? Who were the bands that inspired you, and who do you look at now as inspirational among your peers?
When we started playing out in 2012 Richmond was in an interesting time. Long standing places like The Bone Zone and Nara Sushi weren’t hosting shows anymore, and there was a lot happening to try and make up for those changes. Regardless, the DIY scene was monumental in our development and we’ve always maintained a close relationship with it in Richmond. Even now on the road, we’re touring for 10 days and many of the shows are through DIY connections and at DIY spots.
Back then we played a number of house and DIY venues including The Yerb and various places that came and went. We played in a Scott’s Addition warehouse for a Science Team movie fundraiser, a few houses in Jackson Ward that didn’t last very long and a couple of places in Church Hill, eventually we got to Sour Haus a few times.
We loved a lot of bands when we first started and still appreciate artists of all kinds that help further the DIY ethos and value the community working together so everyone can do what they love (for some kind of a living!). Since our beginning, I think many more people are working as a whole community rather than individually, meaning that DIY bands/spaces/recording folks/photographers/writers and journalists are creating a more cohesive narrative and helping each other thrive.
We played at house spaces and dive bars, which really taught us about DIY. A lot of the time we set up black lights, fog machines and lasers, and we brought lots of glitter and zines to our shows. (RIP the Emilio’s tree). We were playing with a lot of different bands, like we still do, and the audience has always been incredibly diverse and receptive. There’s nothing like a rowdy Richmond crowd. It was from that initial energy that we built what we have today.
In 2013 you released your first EP, Episode IV, followed by Episode V and VI. What has changed about your songwriting and recording process over that time? What aspects of the early recordings do you hope to preserve in your current work?
All three EPs were recorded and mixed by Danny Crawford, our drummer, in various practice spaces and houses. It’s clear that Danny’s skill improved over time, and we love the development of the EPs. The new album will still be DIY, but we will be bringing on a team of other people to help with sound, promotion and distribution to reach a larger audience.
With our new material, we’re focusing on a high energy, up-tempo feel after finding what connects best to a live audience. As far as the lyrical content, older material focused on a more general political sentiment, whereas much of the new material comes personal experiences.
Speaking of personal experiences, a few months back the band played a send-off show for OUR House, a DIY show space that obviously had a big influence on you over the years. Could you tell me about the relationship you all had with that space, and what it means to start a new chapter without OUR House to call home?
We’ll give you the short version. When The Yerb was being abandoned, Mitch (Kordella, the band’s bassist) and Sera decided to take over the building and the lease. We obtained the house as is, which was disgusting, and poured our blood, sweat and tears into re-imagining it as more of a community focused space. Thus OUR House (Our Union of Radicals) was born.
There are too many people to thank, but they know who they are. Sera did not live there, so Mitch ran more of the day to day, while an amazing collective of people helped with booking, running sound, doing door, defusing situations and the ever important clean up days. Toxic Moxie would not be where it is today without the numerous performances and the connections made with members of the local scene and across the country.
Fun fact: we did get sued for thousands of dollars, which just concluded in April, but it was worth it! We had an online fundraising campaign to offset this burden, and want to again say thank you to the numerous people that gave generous donations to help us. OUR House was a big family and Toxic Moxie was so grateful to be a part of that.
You’re returning to Richmond for a homecoming show at The Camel on July 29th. What is it like playing for your friends after being on tour? Are you planning anything special for that show?
Yes we are returning to The Camel! And it’s only $5!
It is wonderful to come home to your friends and community, even though you are smelly and tired. No matter what happens on the road, playing Richmond always gives us an energy we can’t find anywhere else.
This time we’re playing with some very good friends of ours too. We have former OUR House compatriot, Imaginary Sons (RIP) frontman and our BFFF Tommy Crisafulli, Tomato Dodgers, who have hosted us at their DIY venue in College Park, MD, multiple times, our friends from Brooklyn Manic Pixi and Murphy’s Kids, our longtime friends/inspirations who we don’t often get to play with!
Did I mention it’s $5?
On July 29th Toxic Moxie performs at The Camel with Tommy Crisafulli, Tomato Dodgers, Manic Pixi and Murphy’s Kids.
Tickets are $5 and available here.