Eric Nally has basically spent most of his life in pursuit of rock stardom. Almost half of his 30 years have been laser-focused on finding the biggest stage possible. And then, thanks to a single phone call, it kind of just happened.
"It just keeps getting better and better," Nally told MTV News on Tuesday night, less than a day after he touched back down in his native Cincinnati following a whirlwind weekend performing "Downtown" with Macklemore & Ryan Lewis at Sunday night's 2015 MTV Video Music Awards. "It feels like the universe is communicating with me. None of this was planned, it just happened and it's perfect timing. I couldn't be more thankful for how that went down."
The "that" he's referring to is the totally out-of-the-blue call he got from Mack and Lewis a few months ago asking if he'd be interested in working on a song for their new album. The timing was perfect, as Nally had just started a hiatus from working with his glam punk rock band of a decade, Foxy Shazam.
"From what I understand Ryan Lewis is a pretty big fan of Foxy Shazam," he explained. In addition, Nally said the hip-pop duo's trumpet player and collaborator, Josh "Budo" Karp, had played shows alongside Foxy when they performed on the 2012 Warped Tour.
"He [Budo] remembered me and I guess we'd exchanged contacts and he and Ryan thought I'd be a good fit for the track," Nally said. "The next thing I know I'm flying out to Seattle and sitting in a circle with them in a studio working on the chorus and then I'm in a vocal booth." At first Nally didn't know what would become of the song -- which was pretty much done except for the chorus he helped write with the duo -- but the next call informed him they'd finished it and that it might be the first single.
"They asked if I'd come out to Spokane and be in the video, so I flew back out to do it and then I come back and the next thing I know they ask, 'can you do the VMAs with us?'"
The answer was, of course, yes, and the results were typically outrageous for the body-twisting, hyper limber singer who's developed a reputation for his high-energy stage show, which includes everything from eating multiple lit cigarettes to slamming to the floor on his knees and uncorking long, totally NSFW monologues that leave audiences wondering if he's for real.
The call from Seattle came just as Nally was starting work on his solo debut. "This is just the perfect set-up for that," he said. Nally's already lined up "some really big" collaborators for the as-yet-untitled album, but he's keeping details under wraps for now. "Now I have a lot of options and a lot of business cards I collected in L.A. The fact that they've [Macklemore & Lewis] been independent proves you can be very successful in that world."
The father of two boys -- Julian, 13 and Frances, 9 -- said that while his Foxy fans may have been surprised by the hook-up it actually makes perfect sense. "To be completely honest I was big fan of theirs before, I really loved The Heist. I know it sounds like I'm just saying that, but it's true." Picture this: Nally said one of his favorite things to do is jog around his neighborhood, listening to The Heist, of course, getting inspired by the album's message.
"If I listen to something [when I exercise] it's gotta be something I feel," he said. "I promise you they are one of the only artists from recent years I really connected with because I could relate to everything they were saying about the music industry and I felt the struggle in the lyrics and it reminded me of what we were going through with Foxy."
And how was his VMA night? Nally, who had watched the show forever but had never attended, said the performance was over way too fast. But it was exactly like the dreams he's had since he was a kid. "I watched the VMAs all the time and MTV all the time and when I first started Foxy I always had a big goal of being a star," he said. "That's what was going through my head when we were playing, 'here you are Eric, don't take this for granted, stay in the moment and really enjoy it.'"
After the performance, the whole crew went to the ceremony and Nally said his old tour mate Patrick Stump of Fall Out Boy hopped up to give him a huge hug and tell him how proud he was and fellow Cincinnatians Walk the Moon also gave him props. At the end of the night the "Downtown" crew skipped the Hollywood scene, piled into a van and went to a dive bar in L.A. and just partied by themselves all night.
"I missed my flight the next morning, which I never do," he said. "But I just couldn't help myself I was so over the moon and on cloud nine."