At a strip mall just outside the San Fernando Valley sits a Jewish restaurant named Agoura's Famous Deli. This is where singer Sam France and guitarist Jonathan Rado of the L.A. psychedelic rock band Foxygen would hang out in high school and where the band essentially got its start.
With the release of the band's double album, "...And Star Power," we spoke with France and Rado about how suburban life influenced their music and developed their taste for '60s and '70s folk rock and, later, Blink 182 and Limp Bizkit.
Where Jonathan Rado bought his first guitar and jammed to Blink 182:
Actually, right next to Agoura Deli is where I got my first guitar. It’s not there anymore but it used to be a place called Agoura Music. Literally four steps from where we’re standing I bought my first guitar. They had a thing where it was like you get a free guitar if you [buy] 10 lessons or something.
I wanted to play guitar because of Blink 182. I just really wanted to have a guitar and wear it really low and hold it in front of the mirror and look at myself holding it. And my parents were like, “Alright, we’ll get you this guitar if you take the 10 lessons.” [The instructor] would teach me some things and I wouldn’t practice and would get frustrated. And then the eighth or ninth lesson, I sort of got into playing the guitar rather than, like, looking at it.
Sam France on learning to play the piano:
When I started making music with Rado and we started making songs, I just learned piano was kind of a vehicle for songwriting for me. And I’m still not very good at playing instruments.
The music France listened to as a kid:
I was raised on classic rock stuff – you know, Beatles, stuff like that. Not too hip, but [it] kind of laid the foundation for what I listen to now.
The music Rado listened to as a kid (yes... Limp Bizkit):
My parents were really into, like, Heart and Fleetwood Mac and stuff. And mid-'70s Steely Dan. And that’s the stuff I remember listening to as a kid. So I also had an appreciation for that but then I also liked Limp Bizkit. When you’re 13 or 12 and there’s people saying, “Man, your parents don’t know what they’re talking about,” that’s just the vibe of the music. That sort of speaks to an adolescent kid.
How Agoura Hills inspired Foxygen's songwriting:
When we were younger, all the songs were influenced by our surroundings. We would write about "County Line," which is the liquor store where we would get candy or write about walking to the Westlake Twin movie theater. Whereas people who grew up in big cities have so much to be inspired by, it’s almost overwhelming. We had our [own] surroundings.