Photo: Gary Lappier / Terrapin Productions
When I first heard C.F.A.'s "Managed By The Devil, Brought To You By The Grace Of God", I was really astounded by what I heard, an outstanding mix of genres which anyone with a proclivity for the musical underground could really get into; stoner, punk, doom, metal, it was all there!
After looking further into who this band was, it was soon apparent these guys were three lifers on a musical mission to create music for music sake and have a damn good time while doing it!
Recently, I caught up to the band's bass player, Cody Foster and this is the interview which went down...
ThrashHead: Music, what is it's draw to you? When was the first moment when it grabbed hold of you, you cranked that dial to ten and thought to yourself "I want to do this!"? What was that one magic album you had that said it all?
Cody: That's a simple one. Suicidal Tendencies. I had been turned onto Joan Jett, The Clash, Iron Maiden, Metallica and Venom. And I love all these bands, But I had a feeling in me that wasn't satisfied. ST was the 1st band that really charged my batteries.
ThrashHead: You have played quite a few outfits, Toxic Shock, Miserable Bastards, but the one name which jumps out at me is Poppa Wheelie, it's gotta be one of the coolest names out there; brings to mind some psycho five year old just going nuts on a big wheel! Tell me about what kind of music you were playing before C.F.A.
Cody: All kinds, I'm a very all over the board kind of guy with a select attention span. I started playing at age 13. I was part of the beginnings of a band, but we didn't have a full cast of dudes. Toxic Shock was my 1st full cast. I was 15 and it was thrash.
That fell apart, my good friend Nate (drums) and I went onto being in a band called Stump, which Turned into ASH BIB. I called it space rock, It was heavy melodic at times and still fast parts. The Guitar player Andy was a huge influence on me; he was and still is an amazing guitar player. The Guy's in C.F.A. had great things to say about Ash Bib. One was "Man, this is Kyuss before Kyuss". Takata being there and seeing us live around 1990 loved the band. I have been Friends with him since I was 16. From Ash Bib The other guitarist Nick G. and I went on to Poppa Wheelie.
Oh Poppa Wheelie, That band was a machine. Fist pumping, punk, with a real great tone but here's the catch, there was an underline groove that's didn't take away from the angst. We got to play with some legends D.O.A., Poison Idea and local friends and soon to be legends, and now are legends, ZEKE. We went on some states tours we release a 7" after being a band for 3 months, We have a full length cd I am proud of and various other recordings on comps and some live stuff. A couple of videos can be found. I believe we were a band for 5 years. When we named the Band Poppa Wheelie, we all had kids.
ThrashHead: You lived almost all your life in Tacoma which is just south of Seattle on I-5, what was the scene like as you grew up and what were you doing in the 90's when that whole grunge thing went down?
Cody: Yes sir, I am a 3rd generation Tacoman. We are a small town for a city. When I was born the population was 155,000. just last year 2013 did we push past 200,000.
We have a the large port that employ's 43,000 of us in this county. Lumber mills and what have you. A very working class town. It seems everyone is a musician or artist and very good. More importantly, everyone is only a couple degrees away from each other.
Nirvana and the scene happening was local, It wasn't grunge. Nirvana was on bills with The Accused and Nirvana's neighbors, The Melvin's. The Grunge title was thrust upon us. The whole label was, if I may like America telling everybody here's a border, if you're not on this side stay there (civil right aside). Now in my listening ear the key to a band being Grunge is easy; you have to sound like you are singing with a bunch of nuts stuffed in your cheeks. Well, I was in Ash Bib during this time and we were heavy spacerock, no nuts in our cheeks, but it was coming to an end, Nick, one of the guitar players, had quit a year before. There was some down time for being in a project; a small sabbatical if you will. The only Punk venue in Tacoma was the Community World Theater and it had closed down in 1988. Tacoma took that hard. Lots of people taking sabbaticals. People reminiscing about the glory days. Well, Nick had been talking with Potter about putting together something that reminded us why we cut our teeth on Punk. They knew I would be down. So we started Poppa Wheelie in '93...very far from Grunge.
ThrashHead: How did C.F.A. begin? What's the story behind you meeting your guitarist Dave Takata and drummer Dave "Reno" Marseillan? Also, stupid question, but I gotta ask, is the band's name an homage of sorts to the J.F.A.?
Cody: I met Takata playing a show in 88 or 89. I was in Ash Bib and he was a tambourine player in Daisy Love. I was 16. I met Reno Dave When I was playing in Poppa Wheelie so I was 20 or 21 He was in a band Nadir that I loved. C.F.A. didn't start till 2009 so us three had been friends for a long time. I would like to point out we were the ones in the other bands that the rest of the guy's made the brunt of the joke. So C.F.A. is really misfits among misfits.
J.F.A.? Yes. It started in 7th Grade I was 13 started making more friends that were Punks. From time to time when the more informed punks caught my name ( Cody Foster) and the response which followed was; "HA! Cody Foster Army. When, forming what is now C.F.A., we were trying to figure out a name and we were leaning towards Whitey and the others, since both the Dave's nationalities were of darker skin and I'm obviously a white villain. At the time, it seemed funny and very un-PC...so perfect. I jokingly said Cody Foster Army, 'cause I heard it my whole life, with no intention of wanting it for real. Both Dave's faces dropped and said; "that's what we're calling it!" I tried to stop it by saying, I don't want the band named after me. They said it isn't, It's not Cody Foster's Army, It's Cody Foster Army; us!!
ThrashHead: One thing which hit me between the ears immediately upon hearing the album "Managed By The Devil, Brought To You By The Grace Of God" (Killer fucking album name by the way) I noticed that it was like listening to every single genre of music I love rolled up into a nice spliff of pefection! You have metal, punk, straight up rock in roll, you're doing CCR and Marley covers alongside insane original tracks, you got some doomy bass work in there...it's all there and yet it's not a mess, few bands can pull this off; and, obviously I'm not the only one who hears this, a lot of folks have commented on how there's this incredible mix in there which almost creates a genre unto itself! Hell, you have longtime Tacoma friend Brian Skiffington saying you sound like "Cryptic Slaughter meets the Melvins." and Mos Generator's Tony Reed, who produced both C.F.A. albums, christening your sound as "Stonercore"...I call it simply fucking awesome!
How the hell did you guys come to creating what would become the C.F.A. sound?
Cody: WOW! Well, we are fans of music. I jest, We let nature take its place, but that doesn't always work. What does work, is we will try anything the other brings to the table. We all write song's, Reno Dave(percussion in C.F.A.) was a bass player previously. We have a lot of common ground between us, but equally not common ground. I love street punk and Skynnard and the Sonics, Dave Takata love's doom and Kate Bush, Reno Dave loves New Wave and Metal. None of us really dislike each other's taste of music. And ultimately our goal is a barrel of laughs hangin' out writing music, playing shows; WE LOVE TO ENTERTAIN YOU LIVE! I think you should get some testimonials of our live shows from some peeps.
ThrashHead: You're first album, the Smoking Gun E.P., or otherwise known as the 7-11 album, was fast and heavy as fuck, was it really the first recording of C.F.A., are there any bootleg cassettes floatin' around, how stoked were you to finally be laying some tracks down with Tony in the studio? Tell me a bit about the whole process, what it was like in the studio and what memory do you most cherish from that time.
Cody: The EP. Well, No Boot leg cassettes. We did release a cd, 200 of them. They were released on Violent Hippie Records. Very solid nice peeps. We sold all 200 of those very fast. Have not had the funds to press any more. It is currently available for download by our current Label, RIPPLE MUSIC, AGAIN ran by Super solid Dude's, Salt of the earth kind of guy's. HOWEVER! I am very excited to tell you we are currently in process of rereleasing The Smoking Gun EP on colored vinyl 7"s with additional art and a download card!
As far as recording and Meeting Tony Reed, I did not know him before rolling our gear in to record. Reno and Takata knew him they said this is the guy, so Reno made it happen. I walked into the studio for the first time and immediately felt at home. Tony was spinning one of my all time favorite complete albums, Voi Vod's Dimension Hatross. Come to find out he had played drums and produced a great album I had loved for years(Goodbye Harry's Food stamp BBQ) with Scott Reynolds, one of the vocalist from ALL. (I think All had two different vocalists?) And the conversations kept going. I think Tony Reed is one of the most solid dude's you could ever meet. Honest, trustworthy, talented and most importantly, humble. I always answer his calls, it's never going to be a surprise drag.
ThrashHead: You worked again with Tony on the last album, what were some of the differences, creatively speaking, between the first and second album?
The first recordings The two Dave's picked what songs to record. They picked songs I had a large part in, me being influenced greatly by street punk. We had others that eventually made it to our LP. The LP had some of the heavier stuff those guys are known for and they had a large part of. Most importantly we had more time to jell.
Tony's words " Look at the recording board, most all the dials were straight up. You came here with your own tones. All I have to do is keep C.F.A. sounding like C.F.A.". What is important to C.F.A. is that you can still hear the street in our music. To better describe that; If you have ever been listening to headphone and skating, you can hear the road through your bones, the vibrations. Not to give anyone a false image of us. We aren't skaters. I only rode a skateboard for transportation for a year when I was a kid. But it best describes us. We record as a three piece. Meaning even though we double our guitar tracks the are 90 percent of the time identical. So when you come see us live, it still jives.
I should mention C.F.A. has a debt with the man we call "The Don Father". We borrowed some money from him so as to make Managed by the Devil...we had paid off all but $800 when the Don Father released us from his debt. True story. However, he did tell me that he might need to call up on us to help him later "No questions asked"...still true!
ThrashHead: Were you surprised by the hail of applause it received from critics when it was released?
Cody: ABSOLUTELY! We were thrilled I only saw one review where we got some bad marks but by the end of the review they were starting to lean the other way, good times.
ThrashHead: Are you guys planning any major tours here soon, maybe a west coast tour next summer?
Cody: We are trying to land a supporting west coast thing if possible. Our other goal is Europe for one or two weeks.
ThrashHead: You've been around the block once or twice, what do you think is the state of music in general today? And what's your stance on the music industry going after downloaders? Should they come up with a new business model?
The reason I ask this is because it doesn't really seem any different than what we were doing in the 80's, recording from cassette to cassette, sharing and turning people onto music; I mean, shit if it wasn't for a few second or third generation demos and bootlegs, I would have never have found thrash or hardcore, and once I did, I was buying authentic merch and albums directly from bands or inde labels. And even though everyone I knew was recording Maiden's Killers to give to a friend, it was just something they could jam until they could buy the album themselves and enjoy that whiff of new vinyl before laying the needle down. You know what I mean?
Cody: I know exactly what you mean. I would also like to point out physical copies of music were not so easy to get a hold of. Most record stores didn't have what I wanted. We need old school thought with modern day tech. New business model? Sure. Going after people. Fuck no. Really, I think digital downloads should be reasonable. 5 to 10 bucks. I think the real goal is to get individuals to re negotiate the value and what deserves compensation . $5 mocha vs $3 EP, which by the way is the cost to download our Smoking Gun EP, but this mindset isn't just fans of music. It's everyone, The Value of Life and Happiness. I don't tip at a restaurant for their sake, I do it for mine.
ThrashHead: Perseverance, what does that word mean to you?
Cody: I'm a go, go,g o kind of guy. I always have goals and the next five projects are getting attention. I'm ambitious but very realistic. My goals don't usually have a due date. It's when I can get to them, and still have fun. That's what Perseverance is to me.
ThrashHead: Without music where would you be today?
Cody: I haven't the slightest idea. I started playing music before maturing. Ha! I say that like I Have matured. Sorry , don't really have an answer for that. I work to take care of my family and in turn I have a support team you couldn't trade for the world.
ThrashHead: You guys also have a comic book! How did that come to be?
Cody: The comic Book was done by our good friend and the Vocalist of Poppa Wheelie, Potter. I would like to point out Takata and Potter went to school together, he has known all of us for at least the passed 23 years or so.
Well, Potter has written several comics. And drawn pics throughout the years. And in a fanzine fashion printed some stuff on a copy machine; Takata being the topic or part of all of them. C.F.A. has been putting out videos and in the idea and planning process I asked him. "Hey Bro could you put together a hundred or so frames of CFA as super heroes, maybe a Charlie's Angels frame?" He said sure. And it started taking a life of its own. Potter pushing himself with the support of his lady took it further and further. I hardly contributed. I told him how I would catch blue bellied lizards by the smelter with my pops and maybe that's how the lizard mutated and turned into a Godzilla like creature. Potter did the rest. His lady put up the cash to print a 100 copies which were numbered and signed.
The plan is 3 issues and physical copies can be ordered online and mailed anywhere for 7 bucks. We pressed 100 of them and sold all of them. Just go to Indy Planet, what will you Find there? Only the greatest selection of independent comics available anywhere ... EVER!
ThrashHead: Alright, give me your craziest rock n roll story, whether it be getting mugged by a gaggle of nuns while on tour or realizing someone had slipped acid into your beer at a Voivod show (just examples of course), what is that one story you can't help but laugh to the point of hyperventilating each time you tell it?
Cody: I can't reveal details to the craziest ones, but here is a very entertaining one.
Poppa Wheelie tour, '95 I think, location was East LA, the Club, Natural Fudge. Natural Fudge being an old fudge factory turned underground punk venue...that alone spawned many puns. We show up get out of the van and are hit with the pungent scent of bleach. As we get closer to the door we realize that's where its coming from. As we make our way in, our eye's are burning! The entryway opens to the stage room where there is ketchup on the walls floor's... it's everywhere. There is a small elderly black gentleman wearing two pieces to a fine three piece suit, dress shoes and mopping the floor with what smells to be pure bleach.
We introduce ourselves and are directed to find someone else. We meet this someone else, we'll call him "dude" and things go on fairly normal. Bands and people start showing up and so does "Dude", dressed in a big dog suit, dirty and stinky as all hell; kinda resembled the dog van from Dumb and Dumber. Then he would disappear and come out without the suit and ask if you have seen his dog, he's been missing.
Turns out "Dude" has a lady, we meet her and continue through the night. Several dog appearances later, a band takes the stage, this old rocker horseshoe balding with long straight hair who reminded me of the guy in the movie Pumpkinhead, drags this big empty console TV on stage, no screen in it, but he still plugs it in. The band he sings for starts playing, turns out the TV was to climb inside of and sing to you. When he climbed in, lights start flashing, a real show man! This wasn't the end of it, second to last song he rips his prosthetic leg off and starts swinging it around while hopping around on one leg in and out of the TV. We are rapping the night up. I go to find a bathroom and stumble upon Dude's Lady with a needle hanging out of her arm passed out completely. Needless to say no door money for Poppa Wheelie.
ThrashHead: Here's an easy one, what is the meaning of life?
Cody: To crush your enemies, to see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentations of their women...sorry couldn't help myself.
My guideline for the meaning of life: Being offended is a choice, aspire not to be offended, it is the precursor to anger, and discretion is the better part of valor.
ThrashHead: Anything you want to say to the fans of C.F.A.?
Cody: Lots, we put it in our music. I would like to convey gratitude and thanks for supporting us, sharing us with your friends and coworkers. Most of all thanks for bringing us into your home. We look forward to entertaining you!