As a music fan, it isn’t often you come across an independently produced and unsigned group with near studio-quality, recording a unique sound that is wholly original yet firmly adherent to their genre…especially when that band plays disco-punk.
Toxic Moxie is a Richmond based outfit who have just recently jumped onto the scene. Harley Kordella (bass) and Danny Crawford (drums), former members of Apache Radio, got together with Justin Shear (guitarist formerly of The Dream Machine) and started playing some shows about a year ago.
They played as a mostly instrumental three piece, with Kordella providing occasional vocals, while searching for a sufficient singer. As it turns out, they were able to find a vocalist who can be described as much more than ‘sufficient’.
Sera Stavroula’s vocals are not only subtly elegant, but slightly operatic and imposing. Comparable stylistically to Grace Slick (Of Jefferson Airplane), Stavroula’s addition forced the band to give a bit more structure to their sound, and according to Kordella, Stavroula’s vocals gave the group “a whole other layer to work with.”
Toxic Moxie combines spacey, sometimes ambient, electronic melodies with funky, dance driven, rhythms that still come out sounding incredibly punk rock. The most impressive aspect of the band’s sound is the unity with which they combine all of these elements. Kordella, Crawford, and Shear sound like they have been writing music together for much longer than one short year.
When I asked the band what they thought was the biggest difference between this project and Apache Radio, Kordella said “the group mentality.”
“Apache radio, a lot of it was the writing style and directions, one person would kind of take the reins and sometimes that worked out really well when everyone else kind of fell in line, other times it kinda caused people to butt heads… [Toxic Moxie] is definitely more communal,” said Kordella.
Crawford said Apache Radio didn’t really have a cohesive sonic goal. “We wanted to sound like, the scope of things we would do was so broad, but through that was when I figured out that I wanted to do something like [Toxic Moxie],” said Crawford. “I’d rather make one sound and be that.”
The band is currently prepping for the release of their first EP, Episode IV, which drops on August 31st. The Camel will be hosting a release party for the group that day at 9pm which will feature performances from Toxic Moxie, as well as several other local acts Bandrew, Machine Gun Mustache, and Legion of Doom.
They also have a music video coming out for the first track on the EP, “Talking Hands”, which is being screened at the restaurant Pie, on Lombardy Street, on August 28th.
While Episode 4 is the band’s first solo recording venture and was entirely self-recorded in the basement of Metro Sound and Music, it reflects a maturity of sound and technique that far surpasses what would be expected of a band with such a short history. For any fan of Blondie, Jefferson Airplane, or Gang of Four, Toxic Moxie is definitely worth a listen.