Monica Martin and Matthew Holmen of PHOX sat down with me during Eaux Claires ahead of their performance at The Dells stage to discuss Eaux Claires festival, their documentary, Amor Fati, and who they’d like to see play the festival next year. Read more of my interview with them below:


What were your initial thoughts when found out about the idea of the Eaux Claires Festival, and all the art and artist collaborations?

Monica Martin: I mean, wasn’t Justin talking about it at the studio while we were recording?

Matthew Holmen: Mmmmhmmm.

Monica Martin: I feel like it was in its infancy, or the way he talked about it was like “Oh, I’m starting to do this festival…” And then, I was kind of hearing little bits and pieces, and I was like “No way… you’re gonna do… WHAT?!” And then you start to hear the lineup…

Matthew Holmen: Yeah, I was completely blown away.


Have you gotten to see any of the collaborations so far?

MH: I saw the Blind Boys of Alabama sang with The Lone Bellow; that was amazing. But I missed The National, I’m sure that was awesome!

MM: I had to kind of fall back a little bit, in that it was so overwhelming. Let me explain, too many beautiful things were happening. Like I’m not even just saying that, it was.. I had like 4 happy cries, it was just like too many beautiful things happening simultaneously. Just seeing people that helped with your record, people that we’ve met in the last year and a half that have been encouraging us, I’m just sooooo overwhelmed. This festival is crazy! It’s this “home-y fest” and I’m kind of in a daze clearly.




Of all places I know I never imagined going to a festival in Eau Claire.

MM: Yeah! It’s ideal!


So your film premiered last night, I saw a bit of it as I was walking across the field, there were tons of people out there! Were there any parts that you’d say were difficult to film?

MM: Well some of the sketches were just caricatures of how we actually behave, so I think that was really funny. Matt and I bicker all the time, it’s repulsive. [laughs] But when you’re filming it, we were laughing the whole time. It was hard to try to think about what inflection and tone you have when you’re annoyed as hell as your best friend.

MH: Acting is hard.

MM: Acting is hard!

MH: Yeah, that’s what we discovered. So the film has two sides of it, one is a fictionalized version of the band travelling to the Eaux Claires festival, and the other side is just road tour diary stuff.

MM: Mostly just iphone video stuff.

MH: So acting turned out to be much harder than it looked, and it was really fun, really rewarding; we got a bunch of our friends to act in it as well and they played much more wild characters. You know, we played ourselves and they played actual characters. They actually were just way better at doing that.

MM: Oh my gosh, they were so good.. now that I’m thinking about it. I mean they’re absurd characters, so maybe that helped them a bit. I think when you’re playing a jerk off manager or something versus doing something… I dunno… what is it, Cate Blanchett in Blue Jasmine? Something like that, not to say there’s any part of us that is trying to reach.. and that I could have done easily (joking).

MH: I mean, playing yourself on a good day that’s tricky.

MM: It’s really hard on ourselves, looking at ourselves trying to be us in a film. [Glances at Matt] I think if you were to play an evil genie, I think you would have killed it. I think he’d be a great evil genie.




If you could handpick any artist to play Eaux Claires Festival next year, who would you pick?

MM: Oh!

MH: Oooohhhhhh…

MM: I feel like for the sake of, kind of nature of this one, keep it Wisconsin in a sense.

MH: We can’t exclude artists that weren’t born here… [laughs]

MM: No, no, no… I mean in the sense, to narrow it down! There’s so many fantastic artists.

MH: Well, we have to get J.E. Sunde, of course.

MM: That’s kind of where I went first in my mind.

MH: How about… get Stereolab to reunite.

MM: Ooooooohh that’s naughty, yeah.

MH: We could get We Are The Willows…

MM: Dolores. There’s a band that came out of Madison, it wasn’t even a year ago, let’s say 9 months ago, they put out this gorgeous EP, that someone gave to us while we were making a 20 hour drive home, and we heard it and it was so good, we all lost our brains, and went to 6 shows in a row, and we still go every time we can.

MH: Yeah, they playing their last show next week.

MM: Yeah, so their career was, you know, kind of like a firework.

MH: It’s fun to be like a crazy, obsessive fan, it’s very fun. We love doing that.

MM: So we’re waiting for the reunion tour, their reunion should be Eaux Claires next year.


Finally, I write for a site called Pancakes & Whiskey. Do you have a favorite brand of whiskey?

MM: [high pitched squeal] Oooooooohhhhh!! I probably drink the most Bulleit Rye or Bulleit Bourbon. I like the rye in cocktails, but I like the bourbon with some water. I like Jameson a lot too, it just tastes like caramel.


It does!

MM: it’s too easy to drink! That’s dangerous. I love pancakes. Do you mix whiskey in your pancakes?

You can make whiskey infused syrup that’s really great.

MM: Oooooooooohhhh!! That sounds great. I’ve done whiskey truffles before; I like truffles in the wintertime, that’s delicious. I’m sorry now I’m just thinking about food… [laughs]


[Everyone laughs]


Article: Lesley Keller





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