Interview with Billy Childs of Britny Fox; October 2003

Remember watching MTV in '88 and seeing those now classic videos on their top 10 countdown… you could almost guarantee to see 'Girlschool' or 'Long Way To Love' by Britny Fox.

So please join us as we travel back through time with Billy Child and read of how Britny Fox first came about, to talk of the tragedies, the triumphs, grunge, and finally a new label, a new release and hopefully a new tour.

Q1. How and when did you start playing bass, and what are your main influences?

A1. About 14 I suppose, mainly Sabbath and Zep w. a million other things in there as well.

Q2. How did you first hook up with the rest of the guys?

A2. I had met Dean before, and heard he was getting something together. I was very locked in to the Philly original scene at that point and had my shit well together, so when anything came up I was usually one of the first guys to hear about it, and that just happened to be the best option for me at that time.

Q3. Did you initially feel that Britny Fox were Cinderella clones? What are your feelings on being compared to them?

A3. There were a lot of similarities, some just coincidence. Dean was in many ways a Kiefer clone at that point, not all by design, but comparison was inevitable especially when you figure that MKS and our first drummer Tony were just out of that band. And both bass players had long blonde hair and did most of the harmonies, so... As for the sound of the band, that WAS the Philly rock sound at that point, due to Cinderella's success. It was just that we were better at it than the others, so you've heard of us but not most of the others. As far as my feelings on comparisons, it didn't bother me because I assumed that would happen, but once Tommy joined I think any comparison to them is bullshit as we've obviously became very different. Songs like LA and Sri Lanka more than prove that point, while they have maintained a more blues based trip. Sometimes they talk a little shit, not a lot, just a little, and if I were them, I would consider what we did as flattering because at that time they did set the standard, in Philly at least. Hope that didn't sound weird, because I have the highest respect for that band and their accomplishments, and consider the 2 bands to be on very good terms, and really always have been. Honestly, they helped us get our first deal and I thank them for that.

Q4. You guys were getting great reactions from your 'live' gigs and your independent release "In America". What were yours and the bands feelings at that time?

A4. It was pretty amazing to watch your dreams come true right in front of your eyes like that, I think we were, at least I was, a bit surprised by it happening like it did, but once again seeing Cinderella lay the blueprint made us realize that it not only could be done, but already had been. That fact removed a bit of the unreal aspect from it, but certainly not the magic, and also the confidence we had in our manager Brian Kushner to get us there. Nothing would have happened without Brian, who, moved mountains to make that happen. Brian still lives in NJ, and deserves most, if not all the credit for us ever doing anything. He made that miracle happen.

Q5. As Britny started out with its success story; tragedy struck (Tony Destra's tragic accident). Did the band ever consider packing the whole thing in?

A5. One of the saddest nights of my life. Tony died not more than 2 hours after a great gig where we showcased, and one of the last things I ever heard him say was that he " played every gig like it might be his last". Still gives me chills. We knew that Tony wouldn't have wanted us to quit.
There was never any thought of that. We were too focused and too close. That may sound a bit cold to those who don't understand what guys like us are all about, but if it was anyone of us besides Tony, I KNOW that anyone of us would have wanted, and I don't think "wanted" is a strong enough word, for the others to continue and complete the goal. Tony was so innovative, and such a good drummer that to replace what he brought to the band was virtually impossible. To this day I see people from this area doing things that Tony invented. That one man could have the influence that he did is almost unheard of, and with JD we REALLY lucked out. I see so much of Tony in him that not only would Tony be proud of us, but proud of John as well. John has always acknowledged Tony's influence on him, and when I see John play, and how great HE is, its almost as if Tony's spirit is alive in him. Really, I think John is the only man that Tony would've accepted being with us. So fucking sad I have to stop now.

Q6. After Tony's tragic accident, the band briefly added Adam West to the line-up before making Johnny Dee a permanent member. How did you find both drummers, and why was there a change from Adam to Johnny?

A6. Adam is also a very good drummer who didn't seem to grasp the image we knew we had to have. Adam, John and I all are from the same hood and to this day were all friendly with each other. Officially, Adams departure was a label decision that had to be made. Since we had already been turned down by EVERY label, some twice, fuck, some 3 times, it was 2 outs, bottom of the 9th for us and it had to be done. Officially a label move, but with Tony, sometimes I wonder...

Q7. Did you encounter any problems whilst recording the debut album? Did it take longer then expected, anything interesting happen?

A7. No story here, all went smoothly, basically our live show recorded.

Q8. After recording the debut, the band set out on the road. Any good stories you can share with us?

A8. What's the statute of limitations in your state? Same old rock band shit.

Q9. How important was MTV in helping the success of the band?

A9. Essential, as we received almost zero radio, plus, as everyone knows, our look is what broke us.

Q10. "Boys in Heat" didn't do as well as the debut, sales wise. Did this lead to problems within the band or were there other problems (i.e. Dean)?

A10. Really, Dean leaving caused album problems, as opposed to the other way around. Actually a very good album, being re-released by Perris records, I think. Check it out.

Q11. Shortly afterwards, Dean parted company from Britny Fox and we all know that his departure was a little far from amicable. Did you find there was fighting between all four members, or was it just Dean against the others?

A11. Simple really, bad case of leadsingeritis

Q12. How did Tommy Paris become the new singer for Britny Fox?

A12. Many, many tapes sent to us, 2-3 were any good, Over and Out was written, deal was sealed.

Q13. Britny went into the studio for the third time, and recorded "Bite Down Hard" which, again didn't do as well as its predecessors, but yet, people always said great things about it so what lead to the bands break up?

A13. Well, lets set the record straight. The band has never officially broken up, not yet, anyway. Tommy joined and immediately proved he was one of the most talented singer songwriters of that era. Unfortunately, everyone else was now into the NEXT era, i.e. grunge.

Q14. What did you do after Britny broke up, look for other bands, try to start something new, or did you enter the working world?

A14. WORK?? He can't even WALK!! At that time a glam guy couldn't even get arrested. Well, that's not EXACTLY true, I did manage that a few times, but we came off the BDH tour in 92 with no prospects whatsoever (I was a glam guy remember), the only avenue open to me was this bullshit cover band work. That shit is huge in Philly, tells ya a lot about this town, huh? Paid decent, though.

Q15. A few years back you were playing with one of the top cover bands in the Philadelphia area (LeCompt). How did this come about?

A15. Read 14.

Q16. How come you left LeCompt?

A16. Britny signed with Spitfire, LeCompt got jealous, things got ugly.

Q17. Britny Fox reformed in the year 2000, with Tommy Paris back on vocals. Was there ever any chance of Dean taking over the vocals again?

A17. Will you please stop this "breaking up", "reforming" stuff? Thank you. When times are welcome, we exist, when times are not, we take a break. Were not stupid. No Dean, please. I just said were not stupid.

Q18. All the other band members have some type of side project (Johnny's playing with Doro, Michael's with Razamanaz and Tommy has his Solo stuff). Are there any original side projects you are working on?

A18. Global domination thru mind control. Don't you see? I played 5,6,7 nights a week since 85 in 1 thing or another, remember, I only took 2 weeks off after BDH tour and the cover band started. Problems with other projects are 1. I'm a little burnt and needed a break 2. Most people suck anyway. In spite of that, I continued to play out until Motorshark started, since then I'm trying to see if I can make someone else get a deal for a change, a modern rock band called Underminus. Fuckin great, really. If anyone is interested please e-mail me, I'll fill you in. Just waiting for Britny to become more active. Emails

Q19. It's now 2003 and Britny Fox have just released their first studio album in about ten years. How did it feel to be back in the studio with the band?

A19. Recording is probably my least favorite aspect of this nonsense. None of the spontaneity of writing, no instant gratification of a gig. Outside of that it's cool though.

Q20. The new CD 'Springhead Motorshark' has a totally different sound to the other Britny Fox albums. Could you give us your view on Britny's new approach?

A20. I really like the stuff that most people are going to consider different, because I get easily bored and have wanted us to stretch for quite some time now. Just buy the goddamn thing and see for yourself is the best advice I can give.

Q21. Are Britny Fox considering touring again?

A21. Without going into specifics it feels like we may be getting ready to do the most we have in a long time. Hopefully that will happen, because I've never enjoyed playing with anybody even close to how much I enjoy playing with this band, whatever version, but especially the Tommy version. Hoping late 03 and a lot of 04 will be gig filled, but as with most things in life, it boils down to supply and demand. That's capitalism for ya.

Q22. Over the years you have played with many bands. Which were your favorite(s) and which would you hope never to play for again?

A22. I hate this lame ass phrase but its all good. Though Poison was the best tour.

Q23. Which is your favorite Britny Fox release, and which are you most proud of?

A23. Without a doubt the live album. I think it pretty well sums up the band to that point really well, and sounds the most like I've always thought we should sound. I also really like parts of the new one, but if you had to have just one, my pick would be live.

Q24. What are the three highest and lowest points of your career?

A24. 1. Signed to CBS 2. Signed to EW Atlantic 3. Signed to Spitfire 1. Dropped from CBS 2. Dropped from Atlantic 3. Still waiting.

Q25. You just went and bought a new car and it has a 6-disc CD changer in it. The only problem is, you can only load 6 CD's and they'll be locked in forever. Which CD's would you load?

A25. Well where the fuck did I park it?? Man, I never could answer this one, sorry. I'll try. Nirvana unplugged - album of the decade, Britny live, cause I love myself, here's a weird one-lamb lies down on Broadway-genesis (heard that when I was a little kid, they were great before queer bag Phil Collins took over), Zep's Physical Graffiti, and Vol4-Sabbath. I really dig that Trust Co. disc; don't know what I'll think in 2-3 years, but right now def.

Q26. You recently saw Dean Davidson for the first time in several years. Was it awkward and is there still bad blood amongst the band?

A26. Not anymore, it's been a long time and after all, the whole thing was his idea in the first place, ya know?

Billy, I would just like to take this time to thank you for putting up with all these questions, and I hope to see you back on stage with the rest of Britny Fox soon!!!

Thanks for the interest.

Interviewed by Bay Breez

Visit the Britny Fox Website