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Interview: Foreman & Co
What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
Music was definitely in the house when I was a kid, my mother sang and played mandolin and my father loved old country music but there were no guitars or such lying about. But in the Fall of 1980 my older brother brought home a brand copy of AC/DC’s Back In Black, slapped it on our crappy, plastic Dorchester stereo and opened up a whole new world to me. Guitars came into the picture shortly thereafter and have never left.
What would I be doing without music? I don’t actually know; I have done a myriad of things, teaching, touring, spraying pesticides, working in warehouses, but music has always been there.
What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
This might sound odd coming from someone who has been both a punk rocker and an outlaw country guy, but I find gardening and flower photography strangely satisfying. I think the planning and patience that goes into gardening is a necessary foil for my 10 000 mph brain activity, you know? With a garden, just like with songwriting, you gotta really work it, you gotta hurry up and wait, and while you have an idea of what you hope to achieve, you gotta learn to accept that you get what you get. Flower photography is also weirdly satisfying because it is all about the close up. You really have to look if you want to capture a subject's personality. So you do all this work but the flower is oblivious to you, it doesn’t care. Songs can be like that too.
How long has your band been around?
Foreman And Co. kind of grew out of the ashes of an older band that went down in flames in late 2014. I had 10 years invested in that but it had run its course. I was pretty bummed so I did what most bummed out songwriters do, I wrote a country album. By 2015 I had reconnected with an old high school buddy, Steve Larocque (bass) and we set about putting this band together.
Where are you based and how did that influence your music?
We are based out of a tiny township, Grenville sur la Rouge in southwestern Quebec, Canada. This is about halfway between the cities of Montreal, Quebec, and Ottawa, Ontario so we kind of have access to two decent markets. That said, Canada is a ridiculously large and underpopulated country so touring generally means at least a day between urban centers. So touring is an issue, oh yeah, and there is winter up here too so that’s a thing.
All that said, where we are based has a major effect on the songs. The Rouge River is a beautiful beast of river a few minutes walk from my house/studio. It is a very historic body of water and has been a part of my family for generations; it also kills on a regular basis so it makes for good stories and songs.
How did you come up with the name of your band and what does it mean to you?
Oh God, band names, the bane of music. I don’t know if anyone is ever really happy with their band name which is probably why most often someone from outside the band bestows it. Steve and I had pages of ideas but at one point he said “Just call it the Tom Foreman Band because that is what everyone here is going to call it anyway!” That thought made me cringe; seeing your own name up in lights might make some people super happy but for me it takes too much responsibility and ownership away from the rest of the band. We settled on Foreman And Co. It was a compromise. I am still not sure I am comfortable with it.
Tell me about your most memorable shows.
For me it was the first time I experienced a large crowd who did not know my songs, start singing them back to me. Winning over a crowd is a pretty cool thing but having them sing you back your words is mind-blowing. Of course, in their defense, it was a youth jamboree and they literally had nowhere else to go, but I still take the win.
What is your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you have not already?
I kind of like outdoor festival stages. They are not as up close and intimate as a packed club but there is always a carnival atmosphere around them. And you really have to work to be more than just the background noise in a situation like that. I really like the challenge.
If you could play any show with any lineup, who would be on the ticket?
Oh man, put us on a bill with Blackberry Smoke, Markus King Band, Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats and wrap it up with Tedeschi Trucks Band and I will be one happy fella!
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into playing in a band and some advice that you would give to your younger self?
Forget about what’s popular and forget about what people think, just be honest with yourself and write what you think matters to you. It doesn’t matter what the piece of art means to you because a thousand different people will have a thousand different meanings for it.
If you could go back in time and give yourselves advice, what would it be?
For God sake man, don’t sell that 1983 Les Paul with the Tim Shaw pickups… bonehead….
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
I think The River Takes Another off the second album, The Seven Sisters. The production of that album troubles me but that song was one of the first ones that I wrote about my hometown and the first where that river really stepped up for me.
Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most?
Sun Still Rises, Fox In The Hole, Another Redneck Wedding, and Last Song of Summer are the ones we are not allowed to leave off the setlist. People get a little upset when they don’t show up.
What is the creative process for the band, and what inspires you to write your music?
It comes from all sides; often Steve will bring in a bass riff or just start playing something and we all fall in with him, so the band room has a lot of weight when it comes to songs. I also tend to write massive amounts and demo them up and Matt has started bringing stuff to rehearsal too so there seems to be a steady flow.
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music?
I don’t know if there is a message. I know what I am saying or talking about but, as I mentioned earlier, a thousand different people will take a thousand different meanings from it. Actually, I think it is better than way. You know? To some Picasso’s Guernica is a masterpiece of noise and violence, to others it is a beautiful statement, to others it is rubbish.
Do you ever have disagreements in your band, and how do you get past them?
Bands always have disagreements. Basically every human interaction is a series of disagreements and compromises. We don’t scream and fight and throw things but we also don’t always see eye to eye. But we make it work because that is what you do. Friends and music matters more.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that is coming up?
Like everyone else in this business, Covid was a game changer. Shows are starting to come back but we have a ways to go. The last record, Waiting For A Sign came out just as things were in flux. We got some live shows out of it but the band elected to right back into the studio to track the follow up as we wait for things to settle down. So you can expect a brand new record by early winter of 2022. It will be our Christmas gift to you.