Joby Fox and the Lost Commandos
The singer-songwriter has turned his hand to film-making, but fans shouldn't despair – he is still making music
For one of Belfast’s original punks Joby Fox, former bassist with Energy Orchard, is surprisingly laid-back. The ginger-bearded songwriter grumbles sympathetically about traffic wardens and chats admiringly about Belfast musicians Silhouette, Mama Kaz and Window Seats.
Get him talking about his new project, though, though and it obvious that the old fires have just been banked. Lost Commandos is a 7-minute short that sees four armed, balaclava-wearing commandos careering around iconic Belfast locations on a mysterious secret mission. Only to wind up back where they started.
‘There’s a twist at the end, too, but I’m not telling you what that is,’ Fox says with a smile, before leaning forwards earnestly. ‘It’s a metaphor for people who are caught in that mindset.’
In an era where most artists are eager to brand their work ‘post-Troubles’, Fox is defiant about his refusal to ignore what he calls, ‘the elephant in the room’.
‘There is a drive to sanitise it, to push it all under the rug and not talk about it,’ he growls. ‘Well, maybe some people still want to talk about it? I’m a working class boy, that’s where I’m coming from. The MAC and the Titanic Centre are great and that’s all very well, but people in the working classes still aren’t living together in this city.
Film isn't Fox's usual art form, but after he left Energy Orchard he wanted to try something new.
'EMI signed me up when I just a kid. In some ways I think that inhibited me,' he explains. 'Well, not anymore. I will use any medium I can to get my ideas across.'
In case any of his fans are getting worried, that includes music. Along with Lost Commandos Fox is releasing the complementary album End of the War. It consists of seven tracks, 4 new compositions and 3 interludes. Fox cites The Beatles Magical Mystery Tour album as an inspiration, saying that he has always wanted to try to do something similar.
Whereas Lost Commandos is essentially pessimistic, depicting people caught in an unending rat-maze of their own making, End of the War takes a more positive outlook.
'The album provides an alternative to the mind-set in Lost Commandos,' Fox explains. 'It is journey from the world of the asylum to peace.'
A journey that took Fox four 'mad but great' years to put together and was entirely funded out of his own pocket. 'I couldn't have done it without my partner,' he says. 'Sophie [Rasmussen] is very cool and collected and produced Lost Commandos.' He didn't seek funding for the project because he didn't want it to be associated with anyone else's agenda.
'I think enlightenment can be found through sharing ideas,' Fox explains. 'I am speaking from my own personal experience, and I just hope that can help people move on.'
Lost Commandos and End of the War will be launched at the Long Gallery in Stormont on May 3, followed by a release gig at Culturlann on May 12.