There must be something in the water in Baraboo, Wisc. That’s the one thing Monica Martin could come up with to explain the sudden rise of her band Phox.
All six members of the indie folk pop band hail from Baraboo, a city of nearly 13,000 that was nicknamed “Circus City” since it was the former headquarters of the Ringling Bros. Circus and is still the current home of the Circus World Museum. “It’s funny because it really only affected me in the sense that we went to the circus every summer,” Martin told Radio.com over the phone. “And every year there was a Milwaukee Memorial Day Parade where I had to dress up as a clown. I’d have sweat coming through my makeup while playing the trombone.”
Before it was demolished in 2004, the town was also the home of the Badger Army Ammunition Plant, the largest weapons factory in the world during World War II. The factory produced sulfuric acid and smokeless powder for grenades, amongst other toxic chemicals during WWII, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. So that contaminated water story might not actually be that farfetched. “It’s definitely damaged ground. I don’t know how much of that we’ve ingested,” she said, “but I like to think we’re some sort of super human-type band.”
Martin attended high school with the other five guys in the band — Matt Holmen, J. Sean Krunnfusz, Dave Roberts, Matteo Roberts and Zach Johnston — many of whom played in a local emo band called Superheroes By Night. Martin was a fan, but says she wasn’t hip enough to be a part of the band back then. At the time, Martins says she also had terrible anxiety that for a while made it hard for her to look people in the eye, never mind get up on a stage and perform. “I never thought about going on stage because I’m not a show person, I was really shy and uncomfortable,” she said. “But there’s always been a part of me that’s been curious about it.”