Eric Nally artwork image for the single 'Ruby'

The life and times of Eric Nally

From post-hardcore wailing and arena rock prowess, to creating hits with Macklemore, Eric Nally has led a roller coaster life that has culminated in his first upcoming solo album.

Words: Eric Nally & J.Scott Stratton
Published: September 10, 2017
Artist Link: Eric Nally web

For most people, there are only a handful of times within their lives where they serendipitously stumble upon a band or a singer that fills a musical void in their lives.

For myself I can only recall a few: Hearing Morrisey’s ‘Sing your life’ on KCMU (now KEXP) in the summer 1991 after a heartbreaking teen break-up, listening to The Darkness’ ‘Permission to Land’ in 2003 on heavy rotation after what seemed like a never-ending era of terrible rap-rock, and then stumbling upon the charming, yet quirky, vocal musings of, former front-man of Foxy Shazam, Eric Nally.

If you look back at Nally’s oeuvre of music during his time with Foxy Shazam, his vocal talent evolved drastically with the stylings of the band. I discovered Nally (and or Foxy Shazam) around the time of their 3rd ‘self-titled’ album, where Nally’s vocal stylings most closely resembled those of legendary vocal-tiger Freddie Mercury–a comparison that I’m sure Nally has heard a million times.

What drew the comparison closer for me, and what also drew me to him as a singer and songwriter, was the content of his lyrics. They weren’t the standard “chasing chicks” or “drinking booze” rock and roll clichés that could have come easily to that particular genre of rock. Nally’s lyrics had a satirical honesty to them–not camp, but simply a true reflection of his nature. He wrote about his son and being away from his family on the road. He wrote about insecurity. He wrote about all the things that were contrary to what you were “supposed to write about” as a rock and roll singer.

In interviews, he would talk how he loved to cry as a form of catharsis. He composed staged acapella songs about how Jack Nicholson kicked his ass. But then on the flipside of this charming, approachable persona, he was an absolute wild man on stage that would eat packs of cigarettes and tell long-winded stories.

Every anecdote, song and story that seemed to come out about Nally only worked to enhance my budding fascination with this man that appeared to be more “eccentric artist” than standard “frontman in a band.”

Eric Nally screen capture from the video

Fast forward to the summer of last year when Macklemore’s “Downtown” was blasting through nearly every speaker on the planet, and the mainstream world got a small taste of who Eric Nally was, and just what he could do.

The internet went abuzz with the “who is this guy?”, “10 things you need to know about Eric Nally”, and so on. It was a beautiful, albeit long and drawn out, journey to follow what would be the next step for the singer after putting Foxy Shazam on hiatus and following Macklemore around the globe for 18 months.

It was a wait that more than paid off when Nally’s first single off his upcoming solo album hit the interwebs in July of this year. Moving in a completely different direction from that of his previous ventures in Foxy Shazam, the new single ‘Ruby’ harkens back to the better days of mid-80’s Michael Jackson tunes–while the video itself is still reminiscent of the eccentric whiling that one could expect coming from Nally’s brain.

Upon learning that Nally had torn a page out of the Macklemore’s book, and was completely self-producing this album, I immediately hastened to reach out to find out more his whirlwind adventures over the last few years, and how they affected the outcome of this new album–working from the assumption that if he was self-producing, I wouldn’t have to wade through an endless sea of music industry horse shit to get to him.

After diving through only a couple of different managers and publicists, both incredibly helpful even to a modest publication such as this, I was able to get to the man himself. Unfortunately, he didn’t have the time to answer my questions as thoroughly as I would have liked, it was still interesting to get some incites into his working mind.

So after years working inside the dynamic of a band, how has the songwriting process been for you working solo?

Nally: “It’s been very liberating. Spending 10 years with six guys and always collaborating within that circle was amazing – that’s what has created that Foxy sound. I value it so much, but it’s nice for me now to break out and bring everything I’ve learned through my career so far to new tables.”

Was it difficult to devote time to your own pursuits, in lieu of the marathon world tour supporting Macklemore & Ryan Lewis?

“Not really difficult. It’s actually an ideal situation there is always a lot of downtime on tour and I was able to use that time to focus on my solo material while still spreading my name across the world and melting people’s faces off every night.”

You’re quite a devoted family man, was that hard being away from your wife and son for that long?

“It’s always hard to physically be away from my family but everything I do, I do for them, and we are always together–no matter how far apart.”

I’ve alway admired your ability to write songs from a place of personal storytelling, rather than falling into the rock n’ roll clichés. What are some of the stories and themes that you’ve written about for the upcoming album?

“I like to write about anything that inspires me. There are these subtle moments in my life when I am inspired by something I experienced, when it happens I remember it, and try to hold it in my mind and in my heart when I write a song.”

I want to talk about your recent singles, ‘Ruby’ and ‘Believe’, because they are quite varied in tone. Do you feel it’s easier to tap into your full range as a singer, now that you are not locked into one particular musical genre?

“I just like fearlessly creating. Ever since the very beginning of my career I’ve followed a vision. The vision grows and changes over time but it’s always me. I can bring the vision to anyone’s table and do my thing.”

Alongside your musical work, you’ve also been quite active on social at sharing your paintings and sketches. Can you tell me a little more about this creative practice?

“I love making art, my paintings and drawings are a way for me to create outside of my music career. I just keep it free and let go whatever comes. It’s so relaxing and helps me hone my mind’s eye.”

After borrowing some cues from Macklemore and self-producing your upcoming album, what do you have in store for the rest of the year—touring, etc?

“I’m a natural born performer. I live for that “live” stage, dancing in front of the camera. I will most definitely be playing shows and bringing it to my people! All over the world!”

And in conclusion, do you have any famous (or infamous) last words?

“MADVILLE!”


According to his publicist, Nally’s solo record is due to come out in the later parts of this year. And judging by the juxtaposition of the music styles from the two single released so far, ‘Ruby’ and ‘Believe’, the collaboration and mix of various producers throughout the album will make it something wholly unique.

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