If he survives, rocker Eric Nally and his Foxy Shazam bandmates will probably be coming soon to an arena near you. He's got the talent, the sound and the showmanship to make it big. But living long enough to get famous may be a problem for the 24-year-old Cincinnati native.
It's not the rock a'n' roll lifestyle that might kill the Foxy Shazam vocalist, but his attitude. Nally's in-your-face onstage demeanor hovers somewhere between the audience-insulting antics of Doors' front man Jim Morrison and the late punk agitator GG Allin. At the end of the video trailer for "Unstoppable" from their latest, eponymous release, Nally can be heard demonstrating what passes for onstage patter in Shazam world, telling the audience, "Twenty bucks says none of y'all dumb white people can kill me."
Maybe that type of funnery goes over well in Ohio, but 'round some Southern parts, them's fightin' words, and after all, 20 bucks is 20 bucks. Making that proclamation on a regular basis is liable to earn him an ersatz fan club waiting in the parking lot after a show to take him up on his offer.
But we may not have to wait that long. He's got another stage habit that may result in his early demise as well. Nally is also a fire eater, with a twist. His fire-eating act involves not only the flames but a boatload of butts as well. The front man lights up four cigarettes simultaneously, then chews up and swallows the lit cigarettes.
Thing is, there's enough talent and musical diversity on stage, so why bother with gimmicks or insults? The singer alone is perfectly capable of holding a crowd's attention. Nally comes on like a mash-up of Prince (dance moves, mustache, smirk, high-pitched squeaks), James Brown (mike stand flipping) and Freddie Mercury (ballet tights; operatic, multi-octave warblings). Stir in the bands' we-will-survive-against-all-odds Queenly anthems with a Meatloaf delivery laid over a classical-tinged rock backing track and the band is impossible not to notice.
Nally has said in interviews that the band is not a joke, telling bullzeye.com that "you want people to take you seriously, but you don't want to act seriously." But the singer lets his serious side peek through on his bio. After describing his band as a "rabble rousing pack of fucks," he introduces himself as a loving husband and the father of two boys. Nally even offers son Julian advice on "Oh Lord," from the new album. "Julian, it's a hungry world/they're gonna eat you alive, son," he admonishes his boy before comforting him: "When you're down on your knees, screaming 'oh lord,' I am always there."
Nally's lyrics can reflect a serious side, as well. After revealing a glimpse into his humble roots on "Unstoppable" ("my mother told me, poor boy, be strong,") the Queenly anthem continues in that band's "We Are The Champions" mode: "Some say I wont last/I say they're wrong/We cant be defeated/we are unstoppable."
Those aren't empty threats. The sound, punky classical smushed up with operatic anthemic arena rock, appeals to a wide audience and Nally's onstage antics keep audiences packed in front of the stage to see what he'll do next.
And, like any good showman, the Shazam front man maintains an aura of mystery as well. "For you I wear this mask," he proclaims on "Wanna–Be Angel," before confessing "At home I tear it off!/'Cause I don't need it at all."
When not on tour, Nally takes his home life so seriously that despite a barrage of phone calls and e-mails with two agents trying to contact him for two weeks the singer could not be located for a scheduled interview for this story.
That's behavior befitting a rocker with arena aspirations. But he's not there yet. So when he does show up, try not to kill him even if he makes you a cash offer. At the price he's offering, it's worth your while to pay to see him live while you still can.