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Interview with The Bittersweet Way.
This week I interviewed Jedidiah Foster of The Bittersweet Way. Jed has been creating music under this moniker for at least a decade now. The music, and the band itself, has changed dramatically over the years, from distorted layers of guitars to ukulele and synth ditties, and everything in between. One constant remains throughout the history of The Bittersweet Way, and that is Foster's uncanny ability to write catchy, beautiful songs. That distinctive, creative voice is what makes The Bittersweet Way stand out from the crowd. Do yourself a favor and give them a listen. Enjoy the interview, and don't forget to visit The Bittersweet Way at the links below.
Brax: Can you tell me about the name of your band? What exactly is The Bittersweet Way?
The Bittersweet Way: In 1997, I was putting together a new band. I had five or six different name ideas floating around, but they were all terrible! Just really bad, angsty nonsense.
I was running sound for a friend's band at a show they played in Fountain Hills, Arizona (A Phoenix suburb, known for having one of the world's largest fountains). We were hanging out after the show, and for some reason, I was looking over their mailing list. Someone on it lived on Bittersweet Way. I was immediately excited about this wonderful street name! It conjured up a thousand images, and perfectly captured the feel of what I wanted my music to be about at the time.
Over the years, The Bittersweet Way has been six or seven entirely different things, depending on my moods and interests at the time. A number of people have come and gone through the ranks down through the years, but the only constant has been me doing whatever it is that I want to do. I'm arrogant enough to be OK with that.
Brax: What music project are you currently working on?
The Bittersweet Way: For most of the last year, I've been on hiatus musically. There are a number of reasons for that... none of them important enough to go into here.
Recently, I've started playing acoustic shows under my own name, and playing a variety of music I've made under a variety of band names over the years. That's actually been a lot of fun. I've gotten to play a lot of things I haven't played in years, as well as try out some brand new material.
I'm finally finishing up the Jingles and Jangles album by The Bittersweet Way. That should be available in early 2010. I'm working on two single/EP side projects. One is a four song EP, a 60's girl group kind of thing called ...And The Goods. The other is an experimental noisy thing called Tiger Tiger Roar. Eventually, there will also be a new record from The Yellow. That's a promise.
I'm also in the process of putting together a new live band to play some sort of rock music. I don't know yet if it will be another incarnation of The Bittersweet Way, or if it will be something entirely different. So far, the sound I've been demo-ing has been very droney and layered, so we'll see what happens.
Brax: How did you get into the ukulele? What do you like about playing it?
The Bittersweet Way: I was so unbelievably bored with the guitar that I desperately needed a change. I was in a songwriting rut that I couldn't get out of. I tried writing on keyboards, but didn't have much luck. I had always loved the ukulele, and decided to buy a super cheap one. I figured that learning a new instrument that still had a similar tactile feel to playing guitar would allow me to break out of my rut. Within days, I had written several songs. I almost couldn't stop writing! My love for the ukulele has been firmly cemented.
Brax: What's your favorite movie and why?
The Bittersweet Way: Blue Velvet. I can't really explain why. The cover of the first Bittersweet Way album was a direct homage to it, as well as containing several other Lynchian nods.
Brax: Describe your dream concert. Include where you'd play and what other bands you'd play with.
The Bittersweet Way: Over the years, I've had the opportunity to play quite a few dream concerts with some of my favorite bands. I look forward to playing more, and I think I'll just leave it at that.
Brax: Where do you see your band in five years?
The Bittersweet Way: Defying expectations.
Brax: iPod, CD, Vinyl, or other? Why?
The Bittersweet Way: I'm an album guy, through and through, but I'm definitely sold on the iPod. I had mp3 players even before the iPod existed. The difference is that I put whole albums on them, instead of playlists/individual songs. I still buy a ton of CD's, because I love having the physical artwork in my hands. I very rarely listen to music on CD, though. They just get ripped to my computer.
Having said all that, I think there is some music that's just meant to be played on vinyl. There's an art to ordering tracks by side that I think is really missing these days.
Brax: Why are so many of your songs so short?
The Bittersweet Way: It's funny that most of the stories behind my songs are so much longer than the songs themselves. Over the last few years, my songs have gotten shorter and shorter. Again, I think it mostly just comes down to getting bored with myself very quickly. I started writing pop songs that were averaging 2:30 to 3:00 minutes long in reaction to the self serving 5-6 minute "epics" that I used to write. Anything longer than that, and I just couldn't be bothered anymore. When I put together the Summer Says Hello EP, it ended up being six songs that equaled exactly ten minutes of playtime. It was a happy accident, but it inspired me to start writing the "jingle" type songs I've gotten known for recently. I wanted to see if I could put together a full, ten song album that was only ten minutes long. That ended up being the Jingles and Jangles project.
I still think that the ideal pop song shouldn't be more than three minutes long. Anything longer than that is just showing off. Naturally, I reserve the right to change my mind at any time!
Brax: Anti-gravity or anti-matter?
The Bittersweet Way: I'm strongly anti gravity.
Brax: Any advice for others trying to "make it" in music?
The Bittersweet Way: Make music for yourself. Write songs that you want to hear, and don't worry about your "audience." You'll find an audience.
Visit The Bittersweet Way:
Tell them Brax sent you!
Thanks to The Bittersweet Way.
Check back next Wednesday for another exciting band interview.