Heart of Steel: Interviews

Britny Fox Interview with Billy Childs

Interview By Keith McDonald

For those who watched MTV in the late 80's and early 90's, Britny Fox was a household name. The Philadelphia based hard rock band exploded onto the music scene with the release of their self-titled album. Just when the band was getting ready to take it to the next level, lead singer and main songwriter Dizzy Dean Davidson left the band in the middle of their tour for their follow-up 'Boys in Heat'. The band regrouped with new singer Tommy Paris, releasing 'Bite Down Hard' in '91. But it was too little too late as the new 'alternative' era took over and bands like Britny Fox called it a day.

After releasing a live album in 2000, the band has followed that up with their first studio album in over 10 years. I had the opportunity to speak with Billy Childs who gave me the lowdown on the album.

Billy ChildsWhat's going on with the band right now?

We just released our first studio album in many years on Spitfire, and right now we're just hanging out waiting to see what kind of touring opportunities present themselves. I think were hoping to become much more active in that area in 2004.



Your new album is a great guitar record. It think it surprised a lot of 'hard-core' fans. Was that the idea or just what came naturally?

Well, we never really did "try" to make any of our albums sound or be a certain thing, even with Dean. We always just did what we did, although we always did have a pretty good idea how the band sounded good. A word Tommy and I use to describe our process, for lack of a better word, is "organic". I also think that's pretty ironic because I always got the feeling, especially in the beginning, that many people assumed that we were a bit pre-fab and had tapped into some hairband success formula that we were adhering to. Actually we didn't ever really think like that at all, we just played riffs that we liked and wrote songs, and if we liked them, and people that saw us liked them, they went on albums. We were always unbiz in that respect. The new one is very much like the others in that regard, but completely different in almost every other area. Different tech, a bit of a Frankenstein in some respects really, but overall I think with some of the handicaps we had to deal with it mostly comes out good in the end.



It seems being Britny Fox helps in regard to people knowing the band, yet also hurts with that stigma. Do you agree?

Absolutely. Have you actually listened to that first one lately?



How much has the band grown, musically and personally, since your heyday in the late 80's?

When Tommy joined it kicked us into a much higher quality band than we were with Dean. Dean wrote good riffs and screamed ALOT, but that was somewhat limiting, ya know? Bite Down Hard probably was the one time we did put a little thought into what we should try to be, etc. We were not only changing singers; we changed labels, and were also changing eras, even though we didn't have any idea how much. Eventually though, we ended up just using the best songs, but we didn't change as much as we could have then, because there was some pressure for us to be that certain thing that had done so well before. The thing I really like about the new one is about half of it are the kind of tunes I've always wanted us to do. Some people obviously wont dig it, but its pretty much where were at right now. I would love to do this one again under better circumstances, I think we all would, but all in all it's some of the best stuff we've ever done.



How much did Dizzy Dean leaving hurt the band? Why did he leave?

He left because he was on a huge ego trip and had a solo deal with a ton of cash. As far as it hurting us the timing couldn't have been worse. It destroyed us as a band that was on the verge of starting to do really good, and also took the last couple years of that Glam nonsense away from us, witch was our era, like it or not. As far as Dean leaving musically though, I think it helped the band immensely. Were much better with Tommy than we ever were with Dean. Not to slam Dean, it's just that Tommy is so fuckin good that to compare them really isn't fair. I think most people would have to agree.



Do you speak with him and would you ever consider working with him, in any capacity, again?

I saw Dean about 4-5 months ago in a club in Philly, we're friendly at this point, as much as we can be anyway, it was all a long time ago and given the choice, I mighta done the same fuckin shit he did, who knows? If I get paid upfront, I could probably work with him again, although on what I have no idea. I hope he does well and don't mean to sound like I'm slamming him; after all we did start out together.


Britny Fox
- Discography to 2003 -

Britny Fox (1988)

Boys In Heat (1989)

Bite Down Hard (1991)

Long Way to LIVE (2001)

Best of Britny Fox (2002)

Springhead Motorshark (2003)

Will we see Britny Fox on the road anytime soon promoting the new disc?

Hopefully a lot in 2004.



Do you consider Britny Fox a different band with Tommy the way Van Halen did with Sammy, a type of 'apples & oranges' situation?

As I said before, it really is like 2 different bands to me. The whole dynamic of the band situation couldn't be more different; witch isn't always as happy fun time as it sounds! Writing's different; EVERYTHING is completely different with the two versions.



Has Spitfire's recent problems affected the band as far as promotion and tour support?

I really don't know, maybe you could tell me. We never seem to get either one anyway.



How much has the music scene changed since you first came on?

As much as it should have changed in that amount of time, which is really a lot, and in many ways it really hasn't strayed very far from what the rock music biz ever was. The same premises are still in effect, I really think rock music is what it is and will never change much. I hear the same elements in Trust Co. and Finch that I heard in shit 5-10-15 years ago, and probably will hear in 5-10-15 years from now. Knowing how to write a good rock song hasn't changed very much and probably won't.



Do you think if the band came out with your new album today as a debut and not a Britny Fox album, do you think radio and MTV would be more receptive to the music?

Well, they really couldn't be any LESS receptive, so yes, but would it make us the next Linkin Park? I don't think were doing enough of what is big in rock bands right now to have any major success, so I don't think that would happen.



What lies ahead for Britny Fox?

Hopefully a lot of touring in 2004, another album at some point, but it really is hard to predict what will happen next week, let alone next year, so I guess we'll have to stay tuned and see what happens. Exciting, isn't it?

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