From January 24 to January 27, Sef has been invited by BOSS at the NAMM Show, where he will perform live. Along with Ben, Jeff & Alex Henry Foster, they’ll explore new gear under the sun of Anaheim, California! 😎
For this special rendezvous, Sef wanted you to be part of the moment at the very beginning of it all. So you’re invited to join him live as he’s rehearsing for his performance. You’ll have 2 chances to attend, for you to choose the time that suits you best, wherever you are in the world!
⏰ Sunday, January 20, at 9am (ET) and 5pm (ET)
This is a SFCC fan club exclusive event, so you simply need to join if you’re not a member yet.
It’s a little after 6 am, sometime between Christmas and New Year’s Eve. It doesn’t really matter which day it might be… I’ve stopped hanging on dates to feel alive, looking at clocks for momentary reassurance, and lost the will to make sense of any of those days that kept on disappearing one way or another. The view from my tiny writing place window tells me everything I need to know now. The city is asleep, so are my friends & bandmates Jeff, Ben, Miss Isabel, Sef, and Moose, who are staying home for a week or two. The wind blowing outside is just as calm as the Highlands’ trees offering the mountain view their bright autumnal colors with generosity. I admire the first gleams of light slowly forming what will become a soft and peaceful sunny day. Leonard and MacKaye are sleeping at my feet like they usually do when I’m writing or reading. I’ve learned to appreciate those moments of pure surrender, where innocence still flows freely in the freshness of the air. It’s that quietness, or its fragments, that I’ve been trying to feed my heart and spirit with ever since I drifted to Tangier, sick of a lifelong battle against desperation, and now all the way to the Virginian mountains’ serenity, where I delicately landed in the last couple of months.
It’s been an emotionally rich and paradoxically disorienting year for me, as much as it should have been for the other band members, let alone the whole YFE family team. Tangier has been rejuvenating for me, gracefully merciful for us as friends. I would have never believed what incredible measure of joyful life was about to be unfolded in my life, in our common adventure and creative journey, even if I would have been able to see it with my own eyes somehow. Maybe I failed too many times to believe in miracles any longer. But love… love never failed me, even if I kept on finding new ways to deceive its redemptive nature. Hopefully for me, love forgives an honest man knelt down, always. And I think that’s what last year has been for me; finding the will to stand on my feet and the courage to move forward, if only a little. After an existence of backward crawls, it’s still a learning process for me…
I’ve answered several welcoming strangers, respected writers, reporters, and dear friends’ questions – too many to keep the count on – far more than I have ever answered as Your Favorite Enemies’ frontman in its existence span, over a decade now. But I think it’s only recently that I have allowed myself to start looking for real answers to the most intimate of all questions, to fill the silence that comes after the numerous question marks, with something else than distracting white noise and echoing fail-safes. I have never wanted to look back, even though I somehow kept living amongst the reverberating specters shadowing in a short distance as haunting images and sceneries mirroring the pain of old mourning seasons that kept on unraveling before my eyes, too weary to close my eyes, but too proud to surrender. And after doing everything to avoid the whys, whys, whys – the everlasting whys – and trying to emulate every one of them with illusionary whatevers, it’s somehow special for me to simply answer “I don’t know… I honestly don’t really know.” And maybe it doesn’t matter much to know it all at this point. And maybe it’s all right to turn a fake smile into a real whipping instant after all.
Jeff and I were talking a few nights ago, having a good laugh at last year’s madness. It led to rejoicing tears as we went on communing about how privileged we are to have each other. Ben and Miss Isabel joined the conversation, followed by Moose and Sef shortly after. We shared about Tangier, music, life, grief, faith, hope, as much as fears and doubts, worries, insecurities, and precious loved ones. We talked about us, the six of us, and the ever-growing magnificent YFE family. We laughed some more, about our world, its nonsenses and its wonders. We talked about the totally dysfunctional yet wonderfully graced friendships we are so incredibly blessed to have. We talked for hours, all standing in my kitchen, so close to one another that it felt like a group prayer or something. We all went to bed a bit tipsy from the few tequila shots we cheered together as the morning awoke, a morning dressed with its glowing spectrum of divine and simple promises. We kissed ourselves goodnight in the wake of an uplifting morning, just like the one I’m presently admiring and dwelling in as I’m writing this message.
I intended to write about how determining 2018 has been for me, for us all, both personally and collectively, wanted to offer some glimpses of what’s coming up for 2019, but I’m hearing Jeff laugh from the hallway as Sef is going from a room to another to wake everyone up. And just like that, I know that it’s gonna be a great day, whatever date we might be, whatever the whys. If there ever is something or anything I could reflect on about 2018 before Sef crazily erupts in my room, it’s that I’m deeply thankful to accept that the very best moments in life, whatever they are, whatever how long or brief they might be, happy or sorrowful, greatly regretted or fully embraced. The best moments in life remain, always, the ones we have at hand…
“BROTHER, WAKE UP, IT’S TIME TO OPEN OUR GIFTS!!! LET’S GO, DUDE!!! WAKE UP!!!” is Sef currently screaming, not knowing I’m not in my room, and telling me it must be December 31, which is our traditional band gift exchange day, reminding me that Sef will be highly disappointed with his gifts, just like every year, as he will make sure we understand that it was a 1959 Fender Jazzmaster guitar that he wanted, not some silly poetry books and other non-1959 Fender Jazzmaster guitar “stuff” (I’m the one who picked Sef again this year!!!)
All that to say, thank you. Brothers, sisters, friends, fans, partners in crime and loved ones, your faithful support and your generous love kept the light brightly shining at our feet. You are not only showing us the way to go in the darkness of our doubts, but you are never short of a guiding hand when we lose ourselves in discouragement and hopelessness. And as we like to remember ourselves, you are the real everlasting moment we both hang on to and galvanize our unstable will on…
“ALEEEEEEEEXXXXXXX WHERE ARE YOU? IT’S GIFTTTTTTTTTTTTT TIME!!!!!!!!!” – Sef
Gotta go now 😉
It is with a lot of joy and excitement that we wish you a happy Holidays season! It’s the perfect time to gather with your loved ones, family & friends, and to remember that the most important of all gifts is the love we get to share, as everything flows from it. May it abound freely this season!
Sending our crazy Your Favorite Enemies love all the way to you!
Today, we’re not only celebrating your birthday Miss Isabel, but the heart & soul that live & shine through you towards us. Keep exploring the notes and melodies that your free spirit might give birth to. We wish you a new year that’ll lead you to get new visions to pursue your journey, showing you the woman you’re called to be and the inspiration you are for all of us!
[Mike Carr has put together a massive volume on Canadian music history entitled Canadian Alternative & Indie Reference and Collector’s Guide. It’s an incredible discography of hundreds of bands. This is the latest excerpt from his book. – Alan Cross]
Your Favorite Enemies is an alternative rock band that was formed in Varennes in 2006. The band is now established in Drummondville, in a former Catholic church that they have transformed into a studio. The members of the band have remained the same since the beginning. On May 20, 2014, the band released the Canadian edition of their album Between Illness And Migration. The album peaked at number 2 in the iTunes chart on the day of its release, between Coldplay and The Black Keys. Between Illness And Migration was also nominated at the Juno Awards 2015 for “Rock Album of the Year”.
Find out more about this artist and hundreds of other Canadian artists in the softcover edition of Canadian Alternative & Indie Reference and Collector’s Guide. Get your copy here.
“We are just people. Not that much separates us. Not nearly as much as I’d thought.”
On this Human Rights Day, we’re thankful for this communion we share with all of you every day of our life’s journey. Discover the stories behind those pictures in a new Instagram Stories series on the band’s profile!
Following the unexpected success in the charts of Alex Henry Foster’s new album “Windows in the Sky”, Daily Rock Québec is happy to introduce a very particular interview with the artist. Up in the air in between two big cities, creator Alex H Foster answered our questions about this album; intimate, expressive and very appreciated.
PS: Our interviewer Jérôme Go-dreault says that he has perceived and reconnected with a vibrant and compelling sound, just like Mr. L. Cohen knew how to make me feel. Congratulations, and thanks to Mr. Foster.
JG: Who is Alex Henry Foster? Where are you from?
AHF: We are starting the interview with the question for which the answer is the most difficult to me…! I will simply say that I’m a hardcore fan of music, poetry, skateboard, baseball, and video games, and that I am the father of 2 pups answering to the names of MacKaye and Leonard, which I have adopted in Austin, Texas, at the end of a North American tour with Your Favorite Enemies, a little over 3 years ago now…
I come from Montreal, but I moved too often during my childhood to be able to say exactly where I would consider having grown up…
I studied social work, worked with children victims of sexual abuse, and at the heart of the HLM (“rent-controlled housing”) community of the South Shore of Montreal before committing to my passion for music full time with Your Favorite Enemies some years ago…
JG: Since when and under which circumstances did you start creating music?
AHF: I think that as far as I can remember, I have always created music. Some cassettes hidden in the infamous family archives testify of the constant and uninterrupted way I had to make my parents go crazy while singing continuously… and to make noise with everything that could produce a sound and could be broken or strongly damaged while making said noise…
I logically integrated punk / hardcore / noise bands during my teenage years, thus increasing the circle of people I could render insane while playing Minor Threat, Ramones, Gang Green and other compositions, all of them equally disturbing for my friends’ parents, neighbors, school’s social workers and other people worrying about the fact that not being that good didn’t seem to have an impact on the passion with which I was turning to it so devotedly and… non-stop.
But it’s when I met Sef (Your Favorite Enemies’ guitarist), during his internship at the community organization where I was working – and through him his brother Ben (multi-instrumentalist and producer) – that my passion for music went from seriously dangerous to dangerously serious. We then founded Your Favorite Enemies and left school and any other form of normal type of social life potentially leading to a life made of promises… and of being good sons.
What would follow is in theory largely documented in dark places of the internet!
JG: What are your musical inspirations and your artistic process?
AHF: They are numerous, I’d say, but they must first and foremost be authentic and honest. My process is probably based on not having a pre-established process. I like to be surprised and capsized, which probably explains why I can listen to Japanese traditional chants, Nick Cave, Swans, Fugazi, Mats Gustafsson, traditional flamenco and The Cure in the same evening… it’s the emotions, whatever they might be, that inspire me.
JG: How and why, aside from the circumstances already mentioned in the media, producing a solo album?
AHF: It happened a little bit by accident. I was on an exile in North Africa as I was totally exhausted, both physically and psychologically, after 5 years of touring with Your Favorite Enemies. It must have been close to a year since I had last touched an instrument, but I was writing poetry so as to live and assume some emotions I had buried deep down inside in order not to have to face the reality and risk of losing myself even more than how I was feeling at that moment…
Ben came to find me in Tangier to work on a movie soundtrack, and following discussions, he encouraged me to put those feelings I couldn’t express in music, which slowly became a song, and another one, and finally a cohesive ensemble of what I like to call “moments”. I didn’t have the ambition of making it an album, as I didn’t want to have to face those words, those sounds, and those feelings after, even less have to talk about them publicly, like right now…! In the end, it’s the other members of Your Favorite Enemies who have encouraged me to do it, saying that it would set me free and allow me to assume its nature fully – and they were right to say so!
JG: Would this album have come to life if circumstances would have been different?
AHF: I don’t think it would have seen the light of day, it’s that simple… neither would have any of the music to come.
JG: Tell us more openly about your latest album; WINDOWS IN THE SKY:
AHF: It’s a personal and intimate album, but from which the honesty produces an invitation to share and commune. I’m discovering its true nature through the eyes of others and through how they make it theirs.
JG: Is this album a reflection of all your expectations and what are its qualities?
AHF: I didn’t have any expectation. I never had any expectation for anything I produced with Your Favorite Enemies before. For me, art and creation have for only interest the honesty with which we abandon ourselves to it. And the more we expose ourselves, the more we accept that we have nothing more to give than what we have at the moment we are creating. It’s, in my opinion, the reason why all creations evolve naturally with time, if only for the way we give a new look at what once was, thus making it something that is in the present moment as well. Creation evolves to the measure we allow ourselves to evolve as a person. At least, that’s how I see it.
JG: How many stars on 10 would the album deserve?
AHF: I don’t believe in the gradation of art. Some artists hate that people evaluate their artwork. For me, it’s all a matter of perspective, to put it simply. People who let go to the journey that “Windows in the Sky” is have a perception that is as right as mine… I never feared critics, as when a work is shared, it no longer exclusively belongs to me.
JG: Who are the main people who collaborated on the album production and in which studio was it recorded?
AHF: Ben has been the maestro behind the creation of this project, but all the members of YFE participated in it and have all offered a piece of themselves to it. It was imperative to invite them to do it.
The production happened in 3 totally different places and in completely atypical conditions. Between a small fortune studio located in Tangier, up to the incredible YFE studio located in a transformed Catholic church, to a creation station in the highlands of Virginia…
JG: Could we hear some of the tracks on the album Windows in the Sky played with the band YFE?
AHF: I hope so! They all sent me their resume to be part of the potential backup band if I ever wanted to share the album in a live mode! I will therefore have them audition; it’s a serious and professional project!
JG: How will the future with the band YFE be seen following the success of this solo album?
AHF: For me, it’s all pretty simple, as I live music without cultivating the ambition of success and without any careerist perspective. Understand me well; I am incredibly happy that people took “Windows in the Sky” for themselves in such a personal and intimate way. But it influences in no way what is to come next. And knowing me, people for whom YFE is important understand this and support me in that sense. It is the same for the members of the band: we are, first and foremost, a family. What will follow will be determined by what we want or need to live, create and share.
JG: We heard that you were presently working on a movie project which could be a follow-up to this album. Would you like to tell us more?
AHF: I told myself that after the release of a surprise solo album while people were expecting a new YFE album, the most logical decision in terms of “career move” would be to offer a third project which would not be YFE nor Alex Henry Foster and to talk about it during interviews about my album “Windows in the Sky”…! I guess we understand a little bit better now why I wasn’t the one mandated for YFE interviews 😉
JG: Why choose Japan, is there a special link with this country, for this new album and/or with the band YFE?
AHF: It was important for me to host that type of event in Japan.
I have always had a very singular relationship with the people of this country, very intimate I would say, may it be through suicide prevention projects, the soundtrack for the Final Fantasy video game we did, or the privilege we have to be welcomed as family every time we go over there to share music or other projects.
And to have done that in Tokyo was on one hand the fulfilment of a promise I had made to the parents of a fan who tragically took his own life, and on the other hand a way for me to share emotions that are sometimes only expressible through music for people who, like me, don’t feel like they can express their nature.
JG: Is an international touring project something foreseeable for this album?
AHF: Yes, surely, but I must determine what I will want to share and the way I would like to do it. I’m still reflecting on all of this, but I have desires of “moments”, and not of another rock tour…
JG: On the album, the texts seem to have a big importance and we would like to know if those were written specifically for this album? Furthermore, if the musical compositions were inspired and crafted starting from each of the album’s texts, or the contrary?
AHF: The texts are always what comes first, which is pretty rare, as texts are often written to accompany the music. May it be for YFE or another project, for me, it all starts with the texts, which flow from the vision I wish to explore for the album that will carry them.
JG: After listening and discussing about the album with a few people (which liked it), two of them told me that in some moments, they thought the music was redundant. What do you think about it?
AHF: It’s probably due to the fact that it’s an 8-song album of over 60 minutes of orchestral noise music and spoken word…! But seriously, the nature of “Windows in the Sky” is meant to be, first and foremost, a voyage, and I believe it makes sense according to the measure with which you abandon yourself to it. We all have our way of consuming or living music. For me, it was my way of expressing myself, without having to ask myself too many questions on anything else than what I felt like sharing. But I totally understand as well why those people lived it this way. That’s the beauty of sharing and of letting the others define the experience.
JG: Does Alex Henry Foster have the idea of producing a second album of the same type and do you think it would have as much success?
AHF: If we look at my discography, I believe I’m incapable of sticking to one specific genre, of building my decisions on what would make more sense in order to surf the same wave the longest or of doing what has to be done in order to reach success…! Considering the fact that I dream of making an album mixing old shigin chants (a traditional Japanese chant) and some avant-garde noise, I’m thinking this might be the last time you will want to ask me questions – which also explains why I wanted to beat a record of words written in this interview!
December 8, 2018
Windows in the Sky | Hopeful Tragedy Records
Those who watched the Canadian music charts the week of Nov. 9 were scratching their heads when Alex Henry Foster’s debut album came in at #6 on the Billboard Canadian Albums chart. SoundScan reporting for Quebec sales over the next two weeks showed the Montrealer hitting top spot in the charts and reaching #3 nationally just behind powerhouses Muse and Imagine Dragons.
So who is this guy?
Well, apparently his old band is big in Japan. Foster plays in the 2015 Juno Award nominees Your Favourite Enemies whose 2014 album Between Illness and Migration had a Rock Album of the Year nod. If you don’t remember it, don’t beat yourself up. That category has given us, among others, such memorable acts as Finger Eleven, Sum 41 and Slik Toxik. Your Favourite Enemies are still active with a new album in the works.
Windows in the Sky dropped without any advance hype or tours announcements although Foster has said that there are plans in 2019 to take it on the road with a multimedia project. YFE are likely back in the new year too. But right now the focus is on this suddenly successful solo album.
Here are five things to know about it:
1: Full-on Post-Rockin’ Roll. Huge cascading guitar chords, echoed spoken word vocals, distantly reverberating choruses and as much overlaid orchestration as you can fit on a track. Songs such as Winter is Coming in sound like Bullet the Blue Sky U2 channelling Loveless era My Bloody Valentine by way of a band on Fluttery Records. It’s a big sound.
2: Seasonal sounds. If there is one thing Canada needs more of, it’s expansive and atmospheric music that goes well with snuggling down in a warm room for a few months until the “beautiful shivers go goodbye.” That may mean Snowflakes in July in this nation, but it’s all good.
3: Cool entry/exit. The Pain that Bonds (The Beginning is the End) opens the eight song album. The Love that Moves (The End is Beginning) closes it. The two songs intertwine not just in titles, but in build. Slow moody chording becomes more urgent and smashing in the opening, more distant and evolving in the closer. If the views we are supposed to be seeing in our Windows in the Sky are akin to a cranial train ride through an imagined landscape; then this works like a sonic journey.
4: The Hunter (By the Seaside Window). Perhaps in homage to his Japanese fans — the album was launched in a series of live listening sessions in Japan — this nearly 15 minute-long workout has a secondary vocalist saying something in Japanese as Foster’s vocals grow more and more paranoid. Fans of serious guitar noise must check this out.
5: Yes, it’s about grief. Windows in the Sky was written in isolation as Foster worked through the passing of his father following a long battle with cancer. It’s exploration of devotion, loss, sorrow, grief and exhaustion will echo with many who have been through such a process. Perhaps that is why the album resonated with so many, as the population ages this story becomes more and more repeated.
November 27, 2018