by Adelie Salagnac
“I don’t ever want to stop being creative,” says Radney Foster. On a sunny and warm morning, I had the chance of speaking with the statesman of Texas singer-songwriters, Radney Foster, which resulted in one of the most refreshing and inspiring interviews I ever had the pleasure of conducting. With a 30 year career, a brilliant latest record, Everything I Should Have Said, and an even more promising one on the way, Foster is eager to share an evening filled with music and all sorts of emotions at Tin Angel on May 18th. He says : “I am a good storyteller and people like those kinds of songs. I try to express the human condition and try to see if I can make you laugh, cry, make you want to dance or kiss your sweetheart. If you feel like having an evening where you run through all of these emotions, come see my show!”
Expect a lot of fun at Foster’s upcoming show, a solo acoustic one, which is going to be, according to Foster, more loose. “When I play with a band, they don’t know 15 albums worth of materials,” he says. “They know 30 of my songs. Sometimes, people will shout out a request and I can’t really play it, because the band doesn’t know it. This time, and with a small, intimate venue, I can go ‘Sure! I’m gonna play that one, right here, right now!’ So that is the fun part.”
And for the fans out there waiting not-so-patiently for new songs, Foster confessed that at least a couple of the songs he is currently working on will make it to the setlist. With the pre-production of a new album right around the corner, Foster has been working on 50+ songs, admitting he has a tendency of overwriting, for each record. “We are going to record it in the fall,” he says, before adding that, “usually, once it’s recorded and finished, it still takes about four or five months before all of the machinery, so to speak, is done. It’s not like Beyoncé, where I can just finish it and put it out the next week!”
Of course, I got extremely excited about those wonderful news. Foster’s last album, Everything I Should Have Said, was very personal, and recorded in Louisiana, at Dockside Studios. It has received great reviews, described as swampy and loose in all the right ways. More than two years later, audiences still seem to like the songs, and keep shouting out for them at shows.
“That record is really personal,” he says. “The older I get, the more I feel like I don’t have time to write a love song just for the sake of it being a love song. Of course there is nothing wrong with that, those songs can still touch people. But my challenge is to find those things that are really personal, in-depth for me, and to write it in such a way that someone else can think ‘wow, how does that guy know exactly how I feel?!’ That’s what I tried to do.”
Of course, as the true food-lover that he is, Foster didn’t fail to mention how Dockside Studios got a personal cook when they were there. Just glancing at Foster’s official Facebook page, one can easily get a glimpse of his love for food. “I have traveled all around Europe and America. I love it when fans give me recommendations, like ‘you should go eat there!’ or ‘you should go eat that!’ that kind of things. I am pretty adventurous as well, so I love to try different things.”
He should have known better than to get me started on the subject of food, as I could go on for hours. It however led Foster to recall a lovely story, that I absolutely had to share: “One of the things that I do, is that I actually offer on my website, that I come cook a gourmet dinner for eight people at your place, and play a concert in your living room. It is kind of a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I had one guy who surprised his wife; she had no idea I was going to show up. He just said he wanted a dinner party for their anniversary and said he was going to get a celebrity chef to come and do a thing. She thought that some chef around town, from one of her favorite restaurants, was going to come and do something special for them. Apparently I was her favorite singer, so when I showed up with my knives and my guitar, she completely lost it and even started crying a little bit. It was pretty great. It was one of the neatest nights of my life.”
The one thing that’s really striking about Foster is his generosity. He is now considered a mentor to many on the Texas music scene. More than a mentor even, numerous younger artists see him as a great friend. “I get a lot of calls from young men and women, who are at a crossroad in their career, and they don’t know what to do, or they are having trouble reconciling their personal lives with touring, they have all those kinds of questions, and they just come up to me, their Uncle Radney!” For many reasons, I really like the comparison and can totally understand how younger artist could look up to him as an uncle.
He adds: “When I was 20 years old and had just moved to Nashville, there were a lot of people in the music business that really helped me. None of them had anything to gain from it, other than they just thought I was talented and they wanted to help.” He then proceeds to tell me all about various artists that helped him out throughout his career. One of them stood from the others. He fondly remembers Randy Goodrum, who, when asked why he was doing this for Foster, simply said “Because somebody did it for me,” before continuing: “And you need to remember this when you get older, because you are going to be really successful: you got to remember to give it back.” It sort of ended up being Foster’s motto. “That really stuck with me,” he says, “and it’s really true. It helps you get sleep at night, you get some sort of satisfaction from it.”
With that kind of attitude, no wonder why Foster is still killing it, 30 years later. And he’s planning on keeping himself pretty busy, too. Touring, from LA to NYC, and everywhere in-between, working on a new record, setting up a Kickstarter campaign, writing short fictions, getting a part in a movie… even sending out one of his kids to college and helping out another with his new band!
Some very exciting months ahead for Foster. But through it all, there is one thing he definitely does not want to forget. And that’s to never stop being creative. “That’s my number one goal. I don’t ever want this career to just… turn into a job. I don’t ever want to stop being creative.”
Foster will be at the Tin Angel on May 18th with Thomas Bazzanella. Tickets are available here.