Multi-instrumentalist Greg Fox came into Airplay on March 9, and we were thrilled to get the chance to speak with him about the improvisational process, his involvement with Thrill Jockey and the Chicago scene, and plans for a new Guardian Alien record—to name only a few. The text of the interview follows after the jump.

Greg Fox (Zs, Guardian Alien, Liturgy)

You’re obviously involved with so many projects and collaborations. How do they come about?

It’s all kind of happened over the years, just by kind of going with things as they’ve come up. I had a college band, and that band toured with our friends’ band from Baltimore, I ended up joining that band, and then because I’m playing in that band, I joined another band, and a met a bunch of people that way, so it’s been playing and meeting people and playing with people. It seems like a pretty natural progression.

A lot of your stuff, just from what we’re hearing now, it’s from very intense drumming to electronic drone, how do you see the relationship between all the different things that you do?

When I’m playing music, I like when I realize that I’ve lost awareness of my body while I’m playing, you know? I like making music that has that effect on me while I’m doing it. So, ideally, if I’m drumming, I want to not remember where I am, not to the extent that you forget to play the part when the change comes. Or doing electronic stuff, I know it’s good for me when I stop realizing or stop being immediately conscious of the fact that I’m making music. I think that maybe speaks to whatever kind of similarity there might be.

So along those lines, going into a set, how much of it is planned? Do you have an overarching theme, or do you just go for it?

It depends. Since I started doing this solo drum performance stuff, usually when I play a show these days, I will either just play drums or maybe use the drone stuff with the drums. But besides that, I put it together while I’m doing it, I guess. And then sometimes, I do make composed music also. Some of that stuff is for my bands, and some of it just sort of lays in this ‘netherrealm’ until it either comes out as a solo record or something.

Like Zs?

Zs or Guardian Alien. Or a lot of other stuff. I’m now creatively involved in three or four different projects, and there’s some, I guess, stylistic overlap. I mean if I play electronic stuff, that stuff is planned, that stuff is written. I’m playing something that I wrote. Most of the time when I play live solo, I’m improvising. But I’m incorporating some of this new stuff.

With all these projects, how would you say your approach to drumming has evolved? Do you approach it differently with different projects?

I guess I don’t know if I think about it specifically as far as drumming, but I definitely think about it as far as just making music in general. I think that, in the different projects that I do, I think—and I don’t know if this just stops short of being a music thing—but in my experience, situations are good when there’s something you can learn from the situation or from the people that you’re working with. So I’m not thinking so much about the drumming as I’m thinking about growing as a musician in general, and to me a situation is especially fruitful when I feel like I’m learning or being challenged from or by the playing I’m playing with. So the drumming has changed a lot over the years, definitely, for me. I’m just concerned with learning and with continuing to grow as a musician and as a drummer and just really taking in as much as I can.

So, this is your third time in our studio in not so long. From following you on Twitter and just keeping up with your various projects, it seems like you guys have been touring sort of nonstop. What’s that like? Is that something you’ve done in the past, is it something new?

It’s relatively new that I’m so busy consistently. I’ve done long periods of touring before. I think the longest I’ve been out at a time is like three months or something. But I mean, I’ve been on tour almost consistently since October at this point, and that’s with Guardian, with Ben Frost and with Zs.

You guys have gone not just in America, but Japan also.

Yeah, Japan and I was in Europe with Ben, going back to Europe soon with Zs and then with Guardian again in May. Right now, it looks like I’m touring through the month of June, and then we’ll have like a month off or something, and then there’ll be a lot more stuff because new records will be coming out in the fall and in the new year.

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