An Interview with Tommy Paris of Britny Fox

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Today I chat with longtime Britny Fox vocalist Tommy Paris. We dig into his new music with Count 77, his time in Britny Fox, the effect of Grunge on the Hair Metal scene, the band’s reunion, and much more. If you would like to learn more about Tommy Paris, head over to his website here. Once you’ve done that, check out this interview. Cheers.

Andrew:
Tommy, I really appreciate you taking the time to chat with us. How have you been holding up over the course of the tumultuous events of this last year or so?

Tommy:
It was an odd year but I had precious time with my family during the lockdown. Although we lost a loved one, 2020 had many blessings.

Andrew:
Before we dive into your professional career, I wanted to go back a bit and touch on your early days. What got you hooked on music?

Tommy:
My father died when I was young and music became my escape.

Andrew:
More on your origins,
so to speak, where, when, and how did the guitar and singing enter the picture for you? Who were some of your biggest influences? One’s who perhaps you owe your style the most to.

Tommy:
I started singing by default in the high school years. Our singer wouldn’t show up to rehearsal, so I would fill in. I started to enjoy it, so I kept on. I started guitar in my teens but developed more in my 20s. My influences vary due to the music my family played around the house: Glenn Yarbrough, Scott Joplin, All the classical composers, Elvis, Sinatra, Big band, Beatles, etc.

Andrew:
First, I want to dig into some of your new music that’s in the works. Tell us what you’ve got on your docket for 2021.

Tommy:
I’ve been working on a new solo album since before the lockdown. I’m currently finishing the vocals and will start mixing soon. 17 songs were recorded. 10 or 12 of the best will be chosen from those. Vinyl is on my mind as a first release before CDs and streaming. We’ll see how that goes. I’m greatly looking forward to completing it and having it out there. Following will be a new live band for shows. Very excited about that!

Andrew:
How about Count’s 77? Anything new happening on that front? It’s been a bit of time since you guys released some new music, right? With all this downtime, is there anything in the works?

Tommy:
Count’s 77 just played our first show since the lockdown this weekend at Count’s Vamp’d in Las Vegas, March 20th, 2021. Our last show was a year ago with Billy Gibbons (ZZ Top) and Artimus Pyle (Lynyrd Skynyrd). It’s great to be back out there live after so long!

Andrew:
Let’s go all the way back now. Today, you’re known as the longtime vocalist for the Rock band Britny Fox, but many people don’t know much about your origins before your days in Britny Fox. With that said, tell us a bit about your time leading up to joining Britny Fox.

Tommy:
I was shopping for a record deal with a 12 song album called Jillson, and a friend told me about the Britny Fox auditions.

Andrew:
On the subject of Britny Fox, you joined the band at a pretty critical and difficult time in the band. Dean had just left, and you were thrust into a pretty tough situation. Looking back, what was it like assuming the role as frontman or Britny Fox during that time?

Tommy:
It was a great opportunity for me to join an established band and I went headlong into it

Andrew:
Your first record with Britny Fox was Bite Down Hard, which is incredibly underrated. It, unfortunately, was sort of dropped right into the era of Grunge, in the same year as Nirvana’s Nevermind and Pearl Jam’s Ten, just to name a couple. Do you feel that the emergence of Grunge led to the album’s reception? Looking back, was the album given a fair shake initially?


Tommy:
Yes. Grunge drastically changed the record industry for many artists.

Andrew:
I believe it was last summer that you released a couple of albums worth of demos from the Bite Down Hard sessions. I know you’ve been asked about those demos and unreleased tracks in the past, and you said the time wasn’t right, or that band put the best recordings they had out there. With that said, what led you to want to put these recordings out now? Do you feel that Bite Down Hard is finally getting its due retrospectively?

Tommy:
I’m not enthusiastic for people to hear demos, but these had already been heard online long ago. The project and concept were the labels. I added liner notes which go into detail about each song and when they were written. Bite Down Hard was a few years too late. It would have done better if it came out in 1988, but many people really like it.

Andrew:
Circling back around to my earlier question regarding your early days fronting the band. In terms of the early reception as the band’s new frontman, did you find it tough to replace Dean? What was the reception like then? Sub question: how would you compare your style to Dean’s? What singular qualities did you bring to the classic tracks that made them unique and your own?

Tommy:
Our voices are quite different, but I didn’t give it much thought. I was focused on writing Bite Down Hard with the band and just covered the older songs as close to the albums as possible.

Andrew:
The early 90s was such an unfortunate time for Rock and Metal. Here you have all of these incredible bands and players who were at the time of their game, and they were all seemingly told to go home? That always seemed so crazy that you guys played too well. Can you expand on that at all? What are your thoughts on the downfall of Rock and Heavy Metal in the 90s?

Tommy:
It happens in the music industry. People’s tastes change. The Glam Metal thing had run its course. People grew tired of the formula though it worked for a long time. I was just in on the last wave of popularity for that style of music.

Image Credit: PRS Rocktography



Andrew:
In 1992, Britny Fox decided to hang it up. What led to that decision? Was it difficult?

Tommy:
No. There was no more business for bands like us at that time.

Andrew:
What led to the first reformation in 2000? What had changed in the 8 years away from the band that led to you guys regrouping?

Tommy:
We got a new record deal with Spiqire/Eagle Rock Records after they saw us on a tv show from VH-1 called “Where Are They Now?.”

Andrew:
In 2003, Britny Fox recorded Springhead Motoshark, which really is another excellent and underrated record. Tell us about how that all went down. Any chance we see a reissue? I think a lot of Britny Fox fans would love that.

Tommy:
We owed Spiqire another record after they released our live album, Long Way To Live. Not sure if it will be re-issued. Springhead is still for sale on Amazon.

Andrew:
After another break, the band regrouped again in 2015, without Michael Kelly Smith. Why didn’t Michael sign on again? What’s the band’s relationship with Michael like these days? Any chance we see him on stage with Britny Fox again? How did Chris Sanders come into the picture as his replacement?

Tommy:
Michael didn’t want to tour. I still wanted to tour, and being contracted to fulfill live concert dates, we found ourselves over a barrel to fill his spot with different players over the years. He is a great person and irreplaceable as a guitarist in Britny Fox.



Andrew:
Now that the hard ones are out of the way let’s talk about vinyl. Are you into it? Tapes? CDs? Or are you all digital?

Tommy:
They all have their place. I love vinyl for the size of the artwork and text. I miss that from the days when it was standard. I remember going to the music store every week and buying at least 1 new record. At home, I would lie on the floor listening while I looked at the artwork and lyrics, liner notes, credits. It was a great time! I also liked having two sides, with the running order being an important consideration. That has an emotional component for me. Sometimes when I hear a song from the vinyl days, I can hear what song comes next. It’s a whole different scene now though vinyl is becoming more popular.

Andrew:
What other passions do you have outside of music?


Tommy:
I’m an aviation enthusiast, and I love creative thriller/horror movies.

Andrew:
Last one. You’ve had a long and multilayered career in music. As a veteran of the scene, what advice would you have for young artists looking to dive headfirst into music?


Tommy:
Love what you do and play what you love. The rest will follow.

Interested in learning more about the work of Britny Fox? Check out the link below:

Dig this interview? Check out the full archives of Vinyl Writer Interviews, by Andrew Daly, here: www.vinylwritermusic.com/interview

About Post Author

Andrew Daly

Andrew has always felt himself to be a "jack of all trades, master of none" type of person. With an immense passion for music, a disposition for writing, and an eagerness to teach and share both, Andrew decided to found Vinyl Writer in 2019 as a freelance column under the column Stories from the Stacks. Over time, the column grew into a website which now features contributors who further the cause of sharing both a love of music and the art of journalism with the world through articles and interviews. While Andrew enjoys running the website, his real passion lies in teaching and facilitating others to do what they do best, and giving them the opportunity to explore their passions in the process.
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