Baker's Dozen

Artists discuss the 13 records that shaped their lives

About The Heart: Greg Fox Of Guardian Alien’s Favourite Albums

Before he takes part in no fewer than three performances at Roskilde festival next week, the Guardian Alien drummer, Liturgy man and prolific collaborator guides Tristan Bath through his top 13 records

Unstoppable is too timid a way to describe Greg Fox. The rate at which the New York-based musician releases new projects and takes on new collaborations is starting to rival that of those infamous blast beats brought to fame via his role as the drummer in America’s most divisive black metal group, Liturgy. He’s become one of the most in-demand drummers going, supplying percussion on Hieroglyphic Being’s space-jazz opus We Are Not The First, drumming on Colin Stetson’s colossal tribute to Gorecki’s Symphony No. 3, duelling with Oneida’s Kid Millions and playing live dates with Brooklynite brutal prog trio Zs, and all that’s just the last 12 months. Fox’s manic freak-out project Guardian Alien – now reduced to a duo with his partner Alexandra Drewchin (aka Eartheater) – also continues to exist, taking him to Roskilde this weekend. Before guiding me through his stellar Baker’s Dozen, Fox tried to fill me in on his current schedule.

"I got hit up by Roskilde festival and basically they wanted me to perform with three of my projects, and do a drum clinic. So I’m gonna be up there doing Guardian Alien, I’m also gonna be doing the new band I started with Colin Stetson, then also me and Kid Millions from Oneida are gonna do our duo." This brand new project with Stetson barely jumps out as such, seemingly such an obvious and predestined meeting between two instrumentalists at the very outlying edges of their instrument’s possibilities. "Colin and I have been doing a lot of playing together pretty much ever since we met a year or two ago," explains Fox. "The [new] project is called Ex Eye and it’s me and Colin with Shahzad Ismaily and a guitarist named Toby Summerfield. It’s all stuff we’ve been writing together."

The list of Greg Fox’s live improvisation collaborators, including cellist Okkyung Lee, guitarist Tashi Dorji and Oren Ambarchi (with whom he hints there may be a more full-on collaboration in the works soon), also seems to grow faster than bamboo. Recently one such meet-up – an explosive duo with modular synth player Ryan Soper – was released on cassette tape by NNA Tapes, and to my suggestion that it’s "the modular synth Lightning Bolt", Fox giggles. "I’m pleased to say Brian [Chippendale, LB drummer] is a friend now, but when I was younger he was a huge influence on me. He changed the course of all kinds of things for me."

As if that weren’t all enough, 2016’s edition of Moogfest saw Fox undertake a mysteriously vaguely described "durational sound installation". "Basically, it’s a four-hour-long performance," he blithely explains. "A friend of mine developed this technology called Sensory Percussion, which I’ve been using. I’m making a solo record right now and I’ve been using it for that, plus some other projects too. Basically Sensory Percussion turns the kit into a very versatile MIDI controller." Rigging up his kit to some synths via Sensory Percussion, Fox drummed for four hours, while an array of guests jumped on stage to fiddle with modular patches within the set-up. "Physically [the drumming] wasn’t actually that challenging, but sitting for four hours was hard. Your butt really starts to hurt."

How does he keep up? "It’s what I like doing, so that makes it easy. The hard thing is just keeping up with my own schedule."

Greg Fox performs at Roskilde festival this weekend as part of Guardian Alien, Fox Millions Duo and Ex Eye; for full details and tickets, head here. Click on Greg’s image below to begin scrolling through his choices

First Record

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