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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Interview with Parachute Musical's Josh Foster

RSL INTERVIEW SERIES
Someone You Should Know

Josh Foster of Parachute Musical

Never before published photographs of
Parachute Musical's 9/12/09 show in Boston
all images by Sean Hafferty


I am thoroughly impressed whenever musicians find a way to surprise me in a live show. That's what happens when you see a lot of music - there's unfortunately, a bit of the law of diminishing returns. Today, I present an interview with Josh Foster, the driving force behind Nashville's sensational Parachute Musical - one such band that really just blew us away this year.

Foster and Parachute Musical weren't even on my radar until this summer when I began planning the fall live show schedule. Parachute Musical graced the RSL Presents "From Behind These Keys" live show in Boston in September, 2009. The program showcased acts that use the piano in new and amazing ways. The first thing you learn about Josh Foster is that he's an amazing pianist. The second thing, and perhaps most important, is that he's one of the most dedicated performers we have seen on tour. And as it ends up, he's a very driven songwriter - taking pride in his songcraft.

The photographs in this piece were all taken the evening of 9/12/09 at the Red Room at Cafe 939 by RSL photographer Sean Hafferty. The piece that follows showcases a never-before-released track from Parachute Musical's forthcoming album in January 2010.

RYAN SPAULDING for RSL: Josh, the last time we spoke in person was after the show I produced in Boston. At that time I was just blown away by your performance. After the show, you accepted my praise but expressed your regret that the performance wasn't energetic enough. Can you talk about your personal expectations for a live show?

JOSH FOSTER of PARACHUTE MUSICAL: That night was interesting, I felt so compelled to use the really badass piano they had on stage. It's not often that I get the opportunity so I took it. However, it caused a lot of problems in our set... It always does. I am so used to my set up. It's such a part of what PM is and when I challenge myself to try something different, it's fun for sure, but usually something suffers. I guess it was the energy that night. Also, our drummer Ben (Jacoby) hits the shit out of his drums... as a drummer should in a rock band. I don't care how you mic that piano, it still is no comparison to the volume of his kit.

RSL Streaming Photo Album
Parachute Musical at Cafe 939 in Boston 9-12-09

RSL: Well, I certainly don't think your think your set was lacking a thing. Definitely one of the better performances I saw of 2009. Your pieces are vibrant examples of what modern piano can be.... demonstrating that while the sound behind the keys is timeless, the art there is very much real and can be made modern. Can you talk a minute about what it's like to work with piano these days? What opportunities and hardships will it present for you in 2010?

FOSTER: Honestly, the piano sucks a lot of the time. The Boston show where I met you was a perfect example. I opted to play a real deal acoustic piano provided by them but so much went wrong. Unless you're Rufus Wainwright or Alicia Keys touring with a loaned $120K piano from Yamaha, complete with a soundman that knows what the hell he’s doing, it is a semi-pointless endeavor to play an actual piano. So we substitute the best we can. Parachute Musical started out with a very piano driven sound... it was difficult feel great about that live because my gear was so sub par for so long. As time went on my gear got better, I added some more fun keyboards and the sound improved... but so did the writing, I think.

RSL: I think I know where you are headed but will help you there... If you were given the ultimate choice - that you had to give up piano or singing/songwriting, which one would it be?

FOSTER: It would be piano in a heartbeat. I feel the most creative when I'm in the songwriting process, and when I feel creative I feel happy. It just so happens that it comes out easiest when worked out on a piano. As much as I love it and enjoy sitting and improvising, I'm not that great at the end of the day.

RSL: Well, I appreciate your self-effacing nature - but I humbly disagree. I was drawn to your music for your use of piano - as both an instrument and for the story-telling element. I love the way you slap the piano around and make it a modern process. I know piano is very much part of your creative process.

FOSTER: Well it's always different. Sometimes a song is generated by a riff or something I like playing on the piano/guitar, some chord progression or something. Other times an entire song happens because of a single lyric... some phrase that I think is witty or cutting and has enough meaning behind it to write other lines. I'll be driving and think of something and text message it to myself. I have over one hundred saved text messages in my phone right now, 90% of which are lyrics that make no sense to me. The other 10% consist of recipes from my mom, nude photos and directions.

RSL: Nice. Can you take a song from your forthcoming album and do your best to describe how it came to be? Were the words or the music written first? What would we see if we were a fly on the wall in the room at that time?

FOSTER: I like to think that the perfect song writing process goes the way of Drop Me A Line, a song we just recorded with Derek Garten here in Nashville. Getting the song going with the full band was really difficult. It went through a lot of different stages as we played it live, different stages live if you will (that was a stupid Rush reference... I may go back and delete it later). Before ever bringing it to the other members of Parachute Musical, that song basically wrote itself. If you were a fly on the wall that night you probably would have seen me thinking faster then I could write. Lyrics poured out, the melody wrote itself, the structure was obvious and a bridge came naturally, which is unusual. That was a great moment for me writing that song.

FOSTER: Another song, like Hometown for instance (no recording for this one yet... sorry) was a different story. I pined over the lyrics and structure for a month! It was agonizing and I hated it. I like where the song is now but it was just a stupid month with that song. My favorite songs are the ones that just write themselves. They may not be fully developed and ready to be recorded... they will change here and there... but the core is done and you’re proud of it and it seems as if you did nothing but pick up a pencil. I love that.

RSL: You obviously see a lot of dates and have met fans in cities all over the place due to touring. What's different about live music in 2009 than in the past? Other than winning a new album, wild riches, unrelenting praise and steamy romance, what does 2010 hold for Parachute Musical?


FOSTER: (smiling) The "drugs to bands from fans" relationship has been awful lately. It's really dried up Ryan. People are just downright stingy now. PM has SO MUCH SHIT going on in 2010, it's two years before the end of the world so we need to get in as much fame as possible before... ya' know, we all die. In January, Parachute Musical is out on the road doing dates in Texas and the southeast with a band by the name of Sequoia Prep School for about 20 days. They're very handsome gentlemen who always get drugs from fans no questions asked. People are practically throwing fully prepped rigs on stage for them, soundmen are offering up belts as tourniquets... It's ridiculous.

RSL: Sounds like good folks to be around though!

FOSTER: And February has us on the road for 12 days, March will be about the same depending on whether or not SXSW decides to turn us down for the third year in a row and in April/May we'll be doing our first west coast tour with a wonderful group of transvestites named The Winter Sounds. That will have us out for 35 + days. We're thinking up some fun ideas for that tour, it should be awesome. Most importantly, we're releasing our new 2-song single on January 8th in Nashville as the start of our tour with Sequoia. We're very excited about this recording and very proud to give you those two songs before any other blog. Big huge shout out to Derek Garten who recorded, produced, and mixed this record. He's amazing, but not single... sorry.

RSL: Josh, let me finish off with a fairly staple question - because I am interested in how you will answer it... If you could work with any living musician or producer, who would it be and why? Is there anyone else out there, past or present, you feel that strongly about?

FOSTER: I love Rufus Wainwright but I think he'd be too much of a queen and wouldn't let me do shit. Jeff Buckley is amazing but too talented and would probably scoff at my ideas. A girl asked me this recently in an interview and I know my answer is going to be different from what I told her. I would have to say Elliott Smith. I have a healthy obsession.

Parachute Musical
Web / Myspace

1 comment:

Nimesh said...

Nice Post
Enjoyable
Thanks for good stuff