Friday, April 19, 2013
Tuesday, April 16, 2013
Burning Bright: This Is Life Baby Featured Artist: Gregg Foreman
By Ola’s Kool Kitchen
Tiger, Tiger Burning Bright: This Is Life Baby Featured Artist: Gregg Foreman
By Ola’s Kool Kitchen
In Delta 72, Mothadelic Gregg Foreman singes his wings (or rather his guitar strings) in a blistering opening set.
The most fascinating artists usually possess the greatest contradictions. Since I first met Gregg Foreman, I observed his journey reflected the paradox of a star in the solar system; at times searing and scorching brightly and other occasions falling through the night sky. He was kind enough to join me on my radio show as a guest deejay and I thought this a most prudent moment to document the experience.
A versatile musician and true showman, Gregg first came into the limelight in the mid 1990’s with Delta 72. The band channelled post punk rock sensibilities with 60’s British Invasion R&B to create a frenetic and honest style. The band was very much a live experience, with Foreman as the frontman The gigs were electric displays consisting of anything from acrobatic splits to swinging from the ceiling in wild abandon. Gregg explained that at the time, he was exploring the Mod sound which was influenced by flamboyant black soul artists. Even though Delta 72 did not see themselves in this way, they were considered by others as the real deal in the self-styled liberation theology to make a new genre called ‘Gospel Yeh-Yeh’. This style led to an emphasis on live performances and interaction between the band and their audience, incorporating the crowd into the performances as a fifth member.” D72 was not only equal but perhaps even surpassed then contemporaries The Make Up and Nation of Ulysses in this field of musical philosophy. They disbanded in 2001 with Gregg citing the reason’s that they had run their course and he himself had become embroiled in heavy drug use leading to a recurring battle with addiction.
Delta 72 "Alright" music video, THC Productions 1997
And here is a full set of a Delta 72 show from 1996 (performing in Philadelphia) to get the full experience:
After D72, Foreman established a career as a popular deejay in hometown Philadelphia primarily with a gob of rare R&B sides and still spins in his resident city, LA. He joined Cat Power in 2007, now elevated to musical director; is currently also in Pink Mountaintops which is a project founded by Stephen McBean from Black Mountain; in hypnotic, psychedelic post punk band The Meek and is a part time member of the “slow-burning psyche rock band that paints creeping moods with layer upon layer of drony, blissed-out guitars” Black Ryder.
The glare of contradictions became evident as I conversed with Gregg. Onstage he appears fierce and brave like a tiger. He handles his instruments with a graceful ease that looks deceptive in his conquest of it; add a piercing stare that commands audience attention to complete an unforgettable persona. When the burn of the spotlight fades, in the flesh a different creature presents himself in front of you. As we had our chat, Gregg was sensitive, pensive, slightly faltering in his speech and exuding a flutter of quiet nervous energy.
With Cat Power and Nick Cave on tour in Australia 2013
I asked him about the difference between being in a band and session musician work.
GF: I do sessions and I play with people similar to Ricky Maymi (from Brian Jonestown Massacre and Wild Swans) where we are in a similar boat. We have a main band but we also play with other people we enjoy. Sometimes it’s for money, sometimes it’s not. I only ever play with bands I like. Sometimes they can afford to pay and sometimes we just do it for fun, cause their not really making money yet. I just do it for the love in general. But it’s nice to be paid in addition.
OKK: You’re a gun for hire baby!
GF: Sort of! A gun for hire seems more like they play with anyone if the price is right. I would not play with anyone. I only play with people whose music I feel. I got to have a connection.
OKK: You’re not a mercenary gun for hire! You’re a gun for hire with LOVE!
GF: With SOUL!
With a laugh we concluded that line of thought. One of the most engaging aspects I observed about Gregg as we conversed for almost two hours is his sense of humour. He is earthy, slightly self- depreciating and flippantly ribald. When he breaks into a guffaw, it is quite difficult not to be charmed and crack a smile in return. Albeit when he deliberated over the tribulations on his personal war against drugs, he approached the difficult subject with honesty and cautionary reflection.
I asked him if drug use changed him drastically.
GF: I think it’s changed me for the better because if you do survive and get through it...you can only learn from going through the darkness. Which is great, it makes you stronger in a way.
OKK: Do you think it changed you in another way? Are their side effects?
GF: I think a lot of that is stereotypes. I’m a little more in tune with pain, maybe a little more sensitive to it in ways, in other ways I'm a little stronger.
OKK: Were you sensitive to the pain before you got into it?
GF: I think the reason I started using was because I didn't feel comfortable in my skin and I wanted to shut everything out and I finally found a solution to that which was drugs and alcohol. They enabled me to shut out.....
OKK: ...that uncomfortable feeling?
As the making of the show progressed, we touched upon solutions and positive points to aid others who have suffered from addiction. While he may still deal with the social discomfort within his own skin at times, the place he thrives and seems totally at peace in is music. It is not just about being a musician. He flourishes in the research and especially the dissertation of sound. The pure pleasure he took in just talking music created a warm aura the listener could bask in. In a few hours, he evoked a perfect day of pleasant musical conversation and auditory delights. Gregg was a definite highlight in my canon of awesome guest deejays and is a star in all its’ complicated forms. You don't need to take my word for it you can listen to the podcast here:
To get you in the mood for the tour, here is a taster of his performance with Cat Power 8-5-2013 on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon
Gregg will be on Tour with Cat Power in 2013 at these locations
May 18 Rio de Janeiro, Brazil Circo Voador
May 19 Recife, Brazil Espaço Catamarã
May 21 São Paulo, Brazil Cine Joia
May 25 Santiago, Chile Teatro La Cúpula
May 27 Montevideo, Uruguay La Trastienda
May 31 Nelsonville, OH Nelsonville Music Festival
June 1-2 Houston, TX / Free Press Summer Festival
June 13-16 Manchester, TN Bonnaroo
June 20 Vienna, VA Wolf Trap Filene Center
June 22 Duisburg, Germany Traumziet Festival
June 23 Berlin, Germany Tempodrom
June 25 London, England Roundhouse
June 26 Brussels, Belgium AB
June 27 Zurich, Switzerland Volkshaus
June 28 Munich, Germany Theater Fabrik
June 30 Somerset, England Glastonbury
July 2 Amsterdam, Netherlands Paradiso
July 3 Hamburg, Germany Grosse Freiheit
July 17-18 Paris, France Olympia
July 19 Suffolk, England Lattitude
July 20 Poznań, Poland Malta Festival
August 2-4 Chicago, IL Lollapalooza