Saskatchewan

Sask. band Foxwarren proves patience is a Juno-worthy virtue

Regina band Foxwarren waited years for its JUNO-nominated album to reach your ears. Junos winners will be revealed June 29 in a virtual ceremony, after the awards were cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Foxwarren are a story of friendship, persistence and perfection

Regina band Foxwarren are (left to right) Darryl Kissick, Andy Shauf, Avery Kissick, and Dallas Bryson. (Chris Graham Photo)

This story was originally published on March 12, 2020.

Music fans are never satisfied. They always want more.

When new tunes come out, fans pop in their headphones without knowing the tiny details and countless hours that went into flooding their ears with melody.

Every artist is different. Some slam out single after single. Some take years between releases.

For Regina band Foxwarren, getting a Juno-nominated album to your ears was a long road, even if it never seemed overly stressful or convoluted. 

Several months after Juno organizers pulled the plug on festivities that were set for Saskatoon due to COVID-19, they've announced June 29 as the night trophies will be handed out in all 42 categories.The virtual presentation will include some of March's previously scheduled entertainment, but on a much smaller scale.

Friendship first

Avery and Darryl Kissick are as laid back as anyone you'll ever meet. They're also brothers, two-fourths of Foxwarren, and where this Juno journey starts.

They were both born in Winnipeg and grew up in the community of Foxwarren, Man.

(Left to right) Darryl Kissick, Dallas Bryson, Avery Kissick, and Andy Shauf are members of Saskatchewan band Foxwarren. (Chris Graham Photo)

Foxwarren — the band — singer Andy Shauf was born in Estevan, Sask., but he also grew up in Bienfait, Sask. and Caronport, Sask. It was in Caronport he met Dallas Bryson, the final piece of the band puzzle.

Like so many friendships on the prairies, they all came together naturally over time. There was never a wild 'What are the odds?' union.

In high school, Shauf and Bryson started a duo called "Andy and Dallas." They wrote some songs and won a talent show at their school.

Around the same time, Avery also went to high school in Caronport. He played drums in a heavy metal band. That's when he linked up with Andy and Dallas.

A few years later, they migrated to the big city of Regina. Darryl joined the circle and Foxwarren was born.

Finding themselves

Foxwarren | Sunset Canyon | First Play Live

Music

2 years ago
3:54
Foxwarren performs 'Sunset Canyon' for First Play Live 3:54

All young musicians have to find their voice. It takes time. Foxwarren sounds much different on the 2011 album Has Been Defeated — which isn't widely known or recognized by the band.

"I really have nothing against that album or anything I've done, other than it being a little bit embarrassing just because it's not who I am now," Darryl Kissick said. "But I guess I always resent a little bit when artists do that, like so kind of over their past work."

"It meant something to me at the time," Avery Kissick said, adding with a laugh, "[But] we're not going to promote it."

Shauf, remembers it as an early period when they were stylistically discovering themselves. 

"We decided that we wanted to start a rock band, like a heavy rock band. So we tried to do that for a little while," Shauf said with a chuckle. "Eventually we kind of realized both me and Darryl were not very good at rock music. It wasn't really our thing so we decided to just stick to what we knew and write some more mellow songs."

A very long engagement

Foxwarren's self-titled album was released in November 2018. It is nominated for alternative album of the year at the 2020 Juno Awards. (Killbeat Music)

Foxwarren went right back at it, working on some of the songs that would eventually find their way onto the self-titled album, but it certainly didn't happen overnight. The album Foxwarren wasn't released until November 2018.

The ball really got rolling when the four friends spent a week recording at the Kissick family farm in Foxwarren, Man.

They eventually came back to their Cathedral-area home in Regina and continued putting down the album in their basement. Yes, a Juno-nominated album was recorded in a basement.

"That's what we were going for," Darryl said. "We didn't want it to sound lo-fi. We wanted it to sound good ... I'll give a lot of credit to all the others guys, I feel like everybody really cares about their craft. Andy had been doing it for so long as well so he really knew."

They were committed to the album, but they also had other commitments. Some of them worked days, some worked nights. Darryl was establishing a teaching career and eventually a family. Andy was working as a janitor when he wasn't also working on his own Juno-nominated album, 2016's The Party.

Shauf said all of that made it a unique recording experience.

"It took us forever to finish the album," Shauf said. "The three of us were roommates in Darryl's house and I'd kind of tinker away all day on stuff. Then Darryl would get home from work or Avery would get home from work and they'd come to the basement and try to figure out if what we were doing was good."

Foxwarren | To Be | First Play Live

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2 years ago
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Foxwarren performs for First Play Live 2:41

Shauf said the long process was a benefit to the music.

"We focused a lot on really small details at a time," he said. "We'd be working on the arrangement for the verse of a song for like a week straight ... There wasn't a deadline or anything. We could take our time and do things carefully. I think that added to how happy we were at the end of the recording."

Looking back at how they made this album, Darryl said it's a bit surreal.

"When you do that — working with limited gear and things like that — you're never thinking on the scale of the Junos," Darryl said. "It just seems like a separate world where people go into big studios."

Reunited and it feels so good

Earning a Juno nomination for alternative album of the year was fantastic for Foxwarren. Reuniting as friends and bandmates to finally share their music and perform it live across the world was even better.

"It was really exciting," Avery said. "Last summer, going on tour for me was just such a good time. I just really enjoyed playing with you guys, with the band, and travelling around. I really like the album and I'm proud of it and so I was happy to see it released."

One of the reasons Foxwarren took so long to come out was the success of Andy Shauf. The Party earned Shauf three Juno nominations and was short-listed for the Polaris Music Prize. He started touring like crazy between 2016 and 2018 and even performed on The Late Late Show with James Corden.

For his part, Shauf said it was weird to sit on the Foxwarren album for so long because he was really proud of it.

"We got together and it was just like old times," Shauf said. "It was a real pleasure to get to tour with your three best friends for a few months."

The Kissick brothers both gushed — in their own mellow way — about how proud they are of Shauf and what he's done with his solo career. They also said it made Foxwarren's long-awaited debut tour far more enjoyable.

"For a first tour — because Andy had already established himself a bit and because we had good label support — I thought that the shows were really great. I think for a lot of people when they go out for a first tour it's really a grind."

Shauf recently released a new solo album, The Neon Skyline. He was scheduled to be touring in France when the Junos were to be handed out in March. His tour dates are being rescheduled for this fall. 

Foxwarren, an NHL star, and a Hollywood actress

Avery and Darryl Kissick also talked about how their hometown of Foxwarren feels about Foxwarren, getting a famous actress to star in their music video, and much more:


The Juno Awards were supposed to take place on March 15, but the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered the in-person Saskatoon weekend of events. On June 29 at 7 p.m. ET, the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS) and CBC will reveal the winners in a special, virtual celebration via CBC Music and CBC Gem.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Peter Mills is an associate producer at CBC Saskatchewan and the host of the Meet The Riders podcast. Follow him on Twitter @TweeterMillsCBC. Do you have a story idea? Email peter.mills@cbc.ca.

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