Sunday, August 31, 2014
A Ripple Conversation with Wes Ford
They blew us away at the last Heavyfest in Dallas. Wes Ford and the Foundry we're talking about, who came out with all barrels blazing a molten stew of Texas doom and blues. So let's talk with Wes and see what makes him tick.
When I was a kid, growing up in a house with Cat Stevens, Neil Diamond, and Simon and Garfunkel, the first time I ever heard Kiss's "Detroit Rock City," it was a moment of musical epiphany. It was just so vicious, aggressive and mean. It changed the way I listened to music. I've had a few minor epiphany's since then, when you come across a band that just brings something new and revolutionary to your ears.
What have been your musical epiphany moments?
The first real musical epiphany I ever remember having was when I was about 12 and I was listening to Metallica. I had heard Metallica's music my whole life, because it's what my brother and his friends were into in the early and late 80's. Then at about 11 or so I got into Metallica when a family member bought me my first of 6 copies of the
Black Album that I've owned over the years for my birthday. I thought every other band was crap after hearing it. I was alone in my room one night and I actually "listened" to what they were doing, and then Kirk Hammett started his solo and I said to myself "I'm going to be able to do that one day. I want to play guitar!" There have been many more moments, but I think that's the most important one....it's what made me pick up the guitar.
Talk to us about the song-writing process for you. What comes first, the idea? A riff? The lyrics? How does it all fall into place?
Songs for us generally come from me or Scott throwing a riff out there at the start of practice, and ten minutes later we have a song. We've been known to write two or three new songs at practice, 3 hours before a show, and play them all live that same night. We hardly ever come in to practice and say, "alright, lets write some new stuff." It's almost always spontaneous with us.
Who has influenced you the most?
That's definitely a tough one to answer. There are too many bands for me to even begin to write a list, so I'll give you a few people that have. Kirk Hammett-the man made me wanna pick up the guitar in the first place. Jerry Cantrell-one of the best hard rock/metal songwriters I've ever heard, and tasteful as tasteful can be. My Cousin, Jeff Sweet-he was our band leader when I was in school. Instead of a marching band, we had a rock band. He pushed me into becoming better (and could be a real horses ass about it sometimes, haha), and gave me confidence in my abilities as a guitar player. Kris Grimes-he pushed my abilities as a guitar player to the absolute limit when I played in a band with him. I literally had to change the way I thought about the instrument when we would write and play together. The guitar player I am today is largely because of him.
Where do you look for continuing inspiration? New ideas, new motivation?
I never set out, really, to find something to inspire me, it just happens on its own. I rarely ever look at things or people and say to myself, "I'm going to write a song about that. During the writing process, the lyrics that come out will basically depend on whats going on in my life, and the style of riff will depend on the mood I'm
in that particular day.
We are based out of Dallas, which is a pretty good ways from where I live and grew up. I'm a small town guy. But the North Texas area has a way of getting to people....Maybe it's the heat, haha. I think there's a bit of that "Texas" sound in our music, we can't help it. That ZZ Top on steroids kinda thing.
Where'd the band name come from?
We were throwing around the idea of including my name in the band name, and to be honest I wasn't sure about it...then somebody said Wes Ford And The Foundry, and it stuck.
You have one chance, what movie are you going to write the soundtrack for?
This is actually something I'm interested in doing. I would have to say anything that Rob Zombie does, I like his style of film making, and he always has really good soundtracks. Either that or a good old fashioned western movie.
You now write for a music publication (The Ripple Effect?). You're going to write a 1,000 word essay on one song. Which would it be and why?
I think it would be one of our songs, "Can't Tell". The subject matter of the song is pretty dark. The video we released for it is every bit as dark. It's about heroin abuse. Addiction is not always pretty, and there is plenty one can write about it.
What is you musical intention? What are you trying to express or get your audience to feel?
I want to make people think. That's why I tend to write about what's going on in my life. If you write about things that are personal, people tend to gravitate more to it because it's about something real. I want people to get lost in it the way I do when I play it.
Come on, share with us a couple of your great, Spinal Tap, rock and roll moments?
There have been many. One of my favorites was about ten years ago I was playing at a club in Denison, Texas. I was using my wireless that night for some reason. I thought it would be a good idea to jump out in the crowd while I was playing a solo. I jumped off the stage fine, it was the coming back onto the stage part that got me. Instead of walking around the side and getting onstage the "normal" way, I tried jumping from the front. I went down on stage, fell into my amp and into the drums and couldn't get back up. So there I am on stage half on my amp and half on the drums. My bass player Tony would not stop laughing and ended up walking over to me as I'm laying there helpless in this awkward position and starts to dry hump my leg! Everyone in the crowd was pointing and laughing at me.....I never used my wireless again after that night, haha.
Tell us about playing live and the live experience for you and for your fans?
Playing live is what it's all about for me. It's a very liberating feeling. My mind races a thousand miles per hour before a show, but the second I walk on stage and put my guitar on, everything else goes away except for the music and the fans that are there for us. They can tell we have a blast playing our music, and it makes it more fun for them, gives them a little bit more to connect to.
There's that old saying, "less is more." You can always tell when someone really overthought during the songwriting process. Keeping it simple is often times the best way to get your point across without beating the hell out of the listener. Tone is another big thing. You can have a great song, and if you've got shitty guitar tone, it will ruin the song.
Tell us about the first song you ever wrote?
"The first song I ever wrote on my own was a sappy love song that I wrote for my first girlfriend. It was your typical three chord same rhythm over and over again kind of thing. I was 15. Eventually I added a few parts to it when I started playing acoustic guitars with my best friend Tony (the same Tony that humped my leg). He loved that song for some damn reason and made me promise to sing it at his funeral for his wife....unfortunately I had to do just that a few months back when he passed away.
What piece of your music are particularly proud of?
"I'm proud of all of it, really. My favorite at the moment would have to be "Can't Tell". It's just a brutal song, with a really cool groove that's a bit different than our other stuff.
Who today, writes great songs? Who just kicks your ass? Why?
Jerry Cantrell, hands down, is my favorite songwriter. He has never released anything that I don't like. Like I said before, he's so damn tasteful with his playing, and has a great voice.
Vinyl, CD, or digital? What's your format of choice?
Vinyl all the way! You can't beat that sound. I'm glad vinyl is making a comeback. That reminds me...I gotta get a new belt for my turntable!
Whiskey or beer? And defend your choice
I would have to go with beer. I've drank plenty of whiskey as well, It's just a different kind of drunk. Beer makes me laid back, whiskey makes me want to do stupid shit, haha.
We, at the Ripple Effect, are constantly looking for new music. What's your home town, and when we get there, what's the best record store to lose ourselves in?
Well, in my hometown of Savoy, Texas there are no record stores...We have a gas station and a flashing light, that's pretty much it. Population of about 600 I believe. I didn't actually live in town. I lived about ten miles away in the middle of nowhere. Playing guitar or going out in the woods and snake hunting was about all there was to do, until I got my drivers license. But, when in the Dallas area, you can't go wrong with Bills Records and Tapes. I've lost entire afternoons in that place. Nothing like a good old fashion record store.
What's next for the band?
We've got some new music to go in and record and work on in the next few months. We love playing live, but it's also fun being in the studio and throwing around new ideas. After that, we'll be out playing them live and getting a good read on how people are reacting to the new stuff. After that, sky is the limit, you never know what the hell we are going to do.
Any final comments or thoughts you'd like to share with our readers, the waveriders?
I just gotta say thank you to you guys at Ripple Music for taking an interest in Wes Ford And The Foundry. We are looking forward to what the future brings!