Broke Is Better
If you're clueless about rockabilly—where to get the clothes and furniture or how to score great guitars on the cheap—Amber Foxx and Tom Almanzar of the band Amber Foxx have your primer
How did the band start?
Amber: I was in a ska band out of high school for about five years. I met my husband, who was into rockabilly, and I didn't know too much about it. He's our bass player. He basically talked me into trying it out. I was up for a challenge because I'd been doing ska and jazz for a long time. We started from there. We found Tom at a jam session at a friend's house.
Where did the Amber Foxx band and stage name come from?
Amber:My husband thought it would be cool. That's it.
Tom: The only problem with that is there's an Amber Fox—one X—who's a porn star. If you Google, click on the right one.
Amber:My mom was looking up our band on Google, and she used one X. She was not happy when she saw the porn star thing. And the porn star has red hair, and I have red hair.
She really ought to be Amber Foxxx.
Amber: Good point.
There's a pretty strong rockabilly scene in Orange County. What about OC lends itself to that?
Tom: I think it goes back to the lineage. I went to high school in the '80s. The guys from Social Distortion went to my school. The ironic thing is those guys were all hardcore punk, and they would fight the rockabilly guys. There was this big thing—the punks didn't like the rockabillies. But as people got older they just all jelled into that music, and that's that Social Distortion sound. And guys like me who are still living in Orange County, that's the music you grew up with—X, and all those bands. It just kind of evolves into this sound.
Amber: The Doll Hut had been supporting rockabilly for so many years. At one point they had us playing there once a week for three or four months. That could be why it's so popular.
Is being in a band with your spouse something that takes getting used to?
Amber: No, not at all. You would think it would, but it works out well. He's been my inspiration too, because he knows everything about rockabilly.
Tom:It's easy because we practice at their house, and I always know there will be at least two people there for the practice.
Dressing the part has as much to do with rockabilly as any other genre. Do you shop at vintage shops and wear the clothes when you're not onstage as well?
Amber: Tom's not too vintage, but we like Tom the way he is.
Tom: Amber and Bob are totally into it. Their house is awesome. It's all mid-century modern. Is that the proper term for it?
Amber: Yes, Tom.
Tom: Everything in their house is vintage. It's cool. It's like a good escape for me because it's like, "These people really live the thing."
Amber: I've been into it for years now, even before I was into rockabilly. I love '40s and '50s stuff.
Do you have any favorite local places for furniture and clothes?
Amber: Swellegant Vintage in Newport Beach—Nicole can take care of anybody there. Out of Vogue in Fullerton—they're really cool there and they sell furniture, knickknacks, everything. There's Swankys in Norwalk. They can take any idea and turn it into a vintage shirt or dress.
Do you have any local favorite music shops?
Tom:Not really. You just have to know who the other guitar players are, and then you find out when they're broke, and then you find out if you can buy their guitar off them. Usually the better the guitar player is, the more broke he is because he's not working. He's practicing.
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