Q&A with Canadian accomplished musician Glen Foster, has earned the right to break any music rule he wants

"Basic humility is a big lesson to learn and it's never ending, it's a practice. You have to believe in yourself and what you're doing. At the same time, it's important to be able to listen to advice and know what's good for you. Also, practicing your skills on your instrument, singing, songwriting, etc. is critical and there is no substitute for hard work."

Glen Foster: Unnatural Tendencies

Glen Foster is a Canadian singer songwriter, music producer, entertainer, multi-instrumentalist and president of his own companies Rescue Records, and Parent Publishing and Productions. In short he is a “do-it-all-myself” kind of guy. He has been performing professionally for more than 40 years and has released 9 original albums featuring his own compositions, many of which include self-produced music videos. He was front man of his own band called Falcon, signed with Quality Records in the 80s, and lead guitarist for several years with WEA’s Ray Materick of ‘Linda Put The Coffee On’ fame. He has toured Canada extensively from coast to coast on the same bill with Lighthouse, Sammy Hagar, Dr. Hook, Jose Feliciano, Valdy, Jesse Winchester, Stan Rogers etc., performed at the Richmond Ozone for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, and plays regularly at music festivals, pubs, concert and dance halls on the west coast with his band Glen Foster Group. Foster was a professional music teacher for over 20 years. He has studied rock, jazz, Chet Atkins finger style, Hawaiian, and classical guitar, having been awarded two silver medals from the Royal Conservatory of Music.

(Glen Foster / Photo by Bob Simpson)

After four decades in the music business, Glen Foster has earned the right to break any rule he wants. And this happy iconoclast shows no signs of compromise on single “White Funeral,” a whimsically morbid country-blues number that appears on his latest album, the trend-bucking “Unnatural Tendencies” (2024). Snake’s truck isn’t the only thing that’s breaking down here: It’s his life itself, as Foster’s plaintive yet sardonic vocal makes painfully apparent. All the while, the singer-songwriter-instrumentalist’s Dobro curlicues circle like hungry buzzards over the tasteful burial plot of a backing track laid down by his bandmates in the Glen Foster Group: Marg Foster (harmony vocals, percussion) Marty Steele (keyboards, harmony vocals), Colin Stevenson (bass guitar, harmony vocals) and James McRae (drums). Unnatural Tendencies, co-produced with Rick Salt at Nanaimo’s Mountainview Studio. It’s seeing release on Foster’s own Rescue Records label, which is part of the reason he felt the freedom to stretch out in multiple directions at once.

Interview by Michael Limnios                             Special Thanks: Eric Alper

How has the music influenced your views of the world? What moment changed your music life the most?

I guess you could say I 'cut my teeth' on the music of the 60's when I was in my first band, learning how to play and write songs. The emphasis on Peace and Love in that generation struck a chord in me which remains today. It's helped to give me a World View through music. The first time I played one of my own songs in front of a live audience showed me that I could have influence and make a difference writing songs. 

How do you describe your sound, music philosophy and songbook? Where does your lyrics creative drive come from?

The only way I can broadly describe my sound is Soft Rock. I'm a singer-songwriter playing acoustic and electric instruments. It's not 'heavy' but has an edge. As a Songwriter my lyrics are expressly important in the majority of my songs. I occasionally write a song 'off the cuff' but I need to be truly inspired to create something that I feel has some originality and tangible value to add to the collective of world music. Lyrics typically come from a unique experience that happens to me, or something I read or hear about that I believe is unusual and worthy to be the subject matter of a song.

"I used to look forward to hearing the 'guitar heroes' of the 60s and 70s, when they would release new music that I would practice for hours to learn. It seems like musicianship and virtuosity on your instrument is not as important nowadays. I hope we don't lose that, and also that things come back to placing more value on songwriting as a skill and an art form." (Photo: Glen Foster)

How do you think that you have grown as an artist since you first started making music? What has remained the same about your music-making process?

After writing a couple hundred songs (and then stopped counting) I can look back and see that not every new song is going to be my best. But it's nice to hit upon something that people start talking about and say they really like. You realize that every now and then you come up with something that you feel strongly about and know that it's a step ahead. Sometimes I start with music that sounds different and special to me, and other times I come up with lyrics that I really feel good about.

Are there any specific memories or highlights of your career that you would like to tell us about?!

It's funny but I still remember the first time I got up in front of people to play my guitar at a 'home and school meeting' when I was 10 yrs old. That was very exciting! I was in a folk group once that opened for Jose Feliciano at Massey Hall. We also played the Ian Tyson Television Show which was a bit of a thrill.

What do you miss most nowadays from the music of the past? What are your hopes and fears for the future of?

I used to look forward to hearing the 'guitar heroes' of the 60s and 70s, when they would release new music that I would practice for hours to learn. It seems like musicianship and virtuosity on your instrument is not as important nowadays. I hope we don't lose that, and also that things come back to placing more value on songwriting as a skill and an art form.

What are some of the most important lessons you have learned from your experience in the music paths?

Basic humility is a big lesson to learn and it's never ending, it's a practice. You have to believe in yourself and what you're doing. At the same time, it's important to be able to listen to advice and know what's good for you. Also, practicing your skills on your instrument, singing, songwriting, etc. is critical and there is no substitute for hard work.

What's the balance in music between technique (skills) and soul/emotions? What is the role of music in today’s society?

The balance in music is different for everyone. It's our individualism that sets us apart, so developing those things that are unique to the individual is very important. Music is still big business in our world today so anybody who wants to participate needs to figure out where they fit in and what unique skills, they have to carve out their own niche. That's just my opinion and I could be out to lunch...but I don't think so.

"The only way I can broadly describe my sound is Soft Rock. I'm a singer-songwriter playing acoustic and electric instruments. It's not 'heavy' but has an edge."

(Glen Foster / Photo by Bob Simpson)

Life is more than just music, is there any other field that has influence on your life and music?

Physical fitness is like a life skill that I value. So, exercise, music practice, eating well and having well rounded interests are important for my mental and physical well-being. I try to appreciate all forms of music and arts, which in turn helps me better assess and evaluate what I'm trying to accomplish with my art.

Glen Foster - Home

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