Interview with FOUST: ‘I want to write different songs every time, I don’t want every album to sound like Revival’
by Sara Seddon at The Bucket Playlist
Nashville-based rock band FOUST, kings of the crunchy guitar, are working on an EP that will likely come out this summer, according to frontman, Chris Foust.
FOUST was formed in 2019 out of the ashes of Blackwater James and comprises lead singer, guitarist and primary songwriter, Foust, his longtime confidant and drummer, Todd Schlosser (Blackwater James, Majestic Swayzee) and bassist/producer Chris Utley. The surname Foust, which has Germanic roots, is similar to the German word ‘Faust’, or ‘fist’, which he has taken for the band’s logo.
They have nine tracks from which to choose on what will likely be a six track album: ‘They’re very different to Revival (their EP which came out last September), we’re incorporating digital aspects of music, so analogue natural drums and guitars on top of synths,’ Foust said. ‘It sits somewhere between the Foos and Nine Inch Nails and a little Muse, maybe. I want to write different songs every time, I don’t want every album to sound like Revival.’
At the end of May, they will release their next single, ‘Tuesday’, which he says is heavily influenced by Yungblud: ‘It’s a ballad, let me see if I can play it and you can hear it,’ he said. ‘It’s a love song, it’s more about longing. The guitar lick had existed for a long time, the idea was to flesh it out into a song. The pre-chorus and chorus are a bit pop punk driven.’ He plays me the instrumental track, which is very upbeat yet more laid back than their recent single, ‘Fashion’: ‘I want to create music without boundaries, you should not be limited,’ he said. ‘If I want to write a punk song, I’ll write a punk song. If you think about Metallica, every album sounds different. Their And Justice For All feels like it’s six hours long but then you hear their Black album, which is arguably the best.’
‘The song’s about how rock ‘n’ roll goes in and out of fashion and that people who like rock music are also upset by it’
Last month, they released their single, ‘Fashion’, a massively energetic, proper old school rock song, featuring his collaborator, drummer and best friend, Todd Schlosser, who kicks the song off with a devilish scream. ‘We have this thing onstage where we try to outdo each other in a nice way, like we do in life, and we wanted that to come across in the song,’ he said. ‘Todd has a lot of energy, the song was a riff that we came up with after playing Aerosmith covers like ‘Sweet Emotion’. The riff has a real swing to it. I kinda miss that fun element of rock music. The song’s about how rock ‘n’ roll goes in and out of fashion and that people who like rock music are also upset by it. It’s going up again now but in a way that traditional listeners might not like. Rock music has to evolve. If a rapper like Machine Gun Kelly can reimagine rock with Travis Barker on drums (also in band Blink-182), that means that rock is viable.’
We chat about rock bands changing the face of rock music and he mentions UK-based band, The Struts, of whom we are both massive fans and who he says are ‘incredible’ live: ‘Luke (Luke Spiller, their frontman) is this generation’s Freddie Mercury, he makes rock music fun. We want to have fun with it, too. Bands like Soundgarden and Nirvana had a presence onstage that was electric, we want to experience all of that.’
He has an impressive guitar collection behind him and when I tell him that I love it, he gives me a history of where they’re all from, including a stunning burgundy Epiphone Riviera and a very cool black Gibson Les Paul BFG: ‘It has no lacquered finished, it has a lot of wear,’ he said, holding it up for me to see. ‘I’ve played it a lot.’ I ask him what his first guitar was: ‘My dad was a horn player and he toured with The Mavericks (an American country band with Cuban influences in the 90’s). He was pretty good friends with Robert (Reynolds) in the band, who lived with Tricia Yearwood (an American country star and actress) at the time. They were at Robert’s house one day and my dad mentioned that I wanted to play guitar. Robert disappeared and came back with a beautiful Takamine Santa Fe guitar that had been custom made for Garth Brooks but he didn’t like it for some reason and he’d given it to Tricia when they toured together. He told my dad that they had a whole room of guitars and that I could have it, so they gave it to me that Christmas when I was 11. It has a mother of pearl inlay, it’s beautiful. It put me on the musical journey.’ A year later, he moved onto the electric guitar: ‘I was in a music shop and thought what’s the most obnoxious guitar I could get and I bought an Ibanez RG550 neon yellow guitar!,’ he laughed.
I ask him if he can shred: ‘Shredding is hard, I can’t shred, I’m more of a Joe Perry (Aerosmith guitarist) than a Joe Santriani (master shredder). I think because I’ve always sung, I’m not a shredder at all. I can do two thirds of an Eddie Van Halen song and then I give up!’ I ask him if he can play a Van Halen song to speed. ‘Barely,’ he laughed. ‘I like my guitar players covered in sweat, who can bend a note and use their vibrato effectively. They warm the guitar up. One thing I love about Eddie is that he could take the vocals and play around them. He was able to meld the soul with the technique.’
We chat for a bit about different guitars and I say that given what a powerful voice he has, I couldn’t imagine him sticking with an acoustic guitar and going the Nick Drake folk song route: ‘I WISH I could do Nick Drake, I love him, but my voice doesn’t get that quiet! The first time I heard Pink Moon (Drake’s album from 1972), it blew me away. I describe his music as “like a warm blanket”.’
‘What I’ve been doing since the pandemic is listen to bands I’ve listened to my whole life but their whole catalogue chronologically and now I’m noticing things I never noticed before’
He has recently become a massive fan of LA-based rock band, Dirty Honey: ‘I was introduced to them by my friend Christy on Twitter. I fell in love with them, I binged them consistently! I also really like Agnostic Front, they’re a hard core rock band from New York. What I’ve been doing since the pandemic is listen to bands I’ve listened to my whole life but their whole catalogue chronologically and now I’m noticing things I never noticed before. I’ve done this for AC/DC, Queen, Pantera and Eddie Van Halen. The day he died (last year), I was sitting on my patio and I could hear three people in my neighbourhood playing him and I cried. He loved what he did and it was so damn refreshing. After time with my wife and my kids, playing live is as much fun as it gets and with Eddie, he was at home onstage.’
Last September, FOUST released their debut EP, Revival, which comprises five tracks, including ‘The Ocean’ and ‘The Fountain’. Foust said he starts all songs with a clean slate, without a preconceived idea as to how they should sound. ‘The Fountain’ was inspired by people telling Foust he was too old for the business, even though he is only in his early-thirties.
Their defining crunchy guitar sound is something of a happy accident: ‘In 2006, I found a unique Matchless Lightning 15 amplifier, 15 watts run through a guitar pedal. That’s my sound, influenced by guys like Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath.’
Both of Foust’s parents are musicians, his father was a jazz horn player and his mother was a country singer, so he grew up as a ‘tour bus baby’, he said. ‘My dad could play almost anything, they played together on occasion. In that kind of environment, you learn a lot and you learn quick! I got to travel a lot and see a lot at a young age, maybe not of it suitable for kids! When I was 14, one school night, my dad told me to pack my guitar and we went to a local jam session. I got to play on onstage for 3-4 hours with a local blues band.’
I ask him what TV show he would like to hear his music featured on and he gets really excited: ‘I have a select group of shows I like. Ted Lasso, the new Jason Sudeikis show, is so good! He plays an American football coach who is hired to coach a British Premier League team, even though he doesn’t have any experience. He doesn’t know what he’s doing but he’s so enthusiastic! It would be awesome to have one of our songs on that, or on Vikings. You know what? The show I would LOVE to have one of our songs on is The Great British Bake Off!’ I laugh because it definitely wasn’t the answer I was expecting. ‘My wife and I love everything UK, we went there for two weeks when we were 18, we weren’t married then. We always talk about how we could move there. I love Mary Berry and Paul, it got me baking even though I’m not good at it. And Noel! I loved him from The Mighty Boosh, he and Matt Lucas are perfect together. Actually, if Noel lip synched one of my songs that would be amazing!’
his story first appeared on: https://inthebucketplaylist.com/ on April 15th 2021