It was after watching The Beatles on Ed Sullivan when just eight-years-old, that Jeffrey Foskett knew he wanted to play the guitar. Once his parents bought him his first axe, he began teaching himself the songs of the fab four and The Beach Boys, the latter of which, he ended up joining, thanks to a little divine intervention... That was 1979, and he’s been a Beach Boy ever since...
How did you become a Beach Boy?
[smiles] As a kid, I couldn’t make up my mind up as to which band I liked better – The Beatles, or The Beach Boys. I have two older brothers, one liked one better than the other, and vice versa, so I listened to both a lot. Then, when I was in college at the University of California, Michael Love, the lead singer of The Beach Boys, came into the restaurant where my band was performing one night. I went and introduced myself to him, and told him we were playing in the back room. In those days, everyone smoked cigs and drank with the band, but he said, ‘you know, I don’t smoke or drink alcohol, so I probably won’t stop back, but nice meeting you’.
Not the best of pitches, then...
[laughs] Right! So anyway, at the time, the restaurant was gracious enough to run a tab for me, so I didn’t have to pay for things right away. I decided to buy Michael’s meal, which was very expensive to me back then; and he actually came back to say thank you, and ended up staying for an entire set. He really liked what he heard and said he’d have his manager call me sometime in the week; and to my surprise, he did have him call me, and we started touring, backing Michael as a solo artist, as he’d just released his first solo album. Then he asked me to come to Europe with The Beach Boys, and he hired me on the spot!
Tell me about your relationship with Brian Wilson... What’s it like working with your hero?
Brian is incredible. I just left him, and rejoined The Beach Boys this past week, in fact. I was originally with them in the late ‘70s and throughout the ‘80s, then with Brian throughout his solo career for the past 16 years until January of this year. I just finished my first three shows back with The Beach Boys this past weekend, which were great. Brian is most certainly a hero, but all of the guys in The Beach Boys are heroes to me; they were the group I learned pretty much everything from.
You must have seen some big changes in terms of kit over the years...
Oh, the biggest by far was switching to in-ear monitors. It is literally night and day what you get out of a floor tub and an in-ear monitor – especially as a singer, because you can save your voice when you hear it so clearly in your ears, rather than the bin on the floor, which can be brutal. All of The Beach Boys are on JH Audio IEMs. Personally, I feel that JH are that cut above the rest, probably because of the feedback that different artists have given them over the years. I beta test some of the products for the guys, and I think what they like about me is, I don’t just say, ‘these rock!’ I try to offer constructive feedback: perhaps a frequency isn’t sitting quite right here or there, or whatever.
The great thing about JH Audio is, they actually listen to you; they change and modify kit to fit artists’ individual requirements - and that’s from Van Halen to... well, me! Van Halen is one of the heaviest and loudest bands, and we are one of the most intricate vocal bands, and you can pick the monitor that suits you the best. They even make the consumer line, so if you only want to listen to your iPod or your stereo system, then they have those as well.
You guys are using the JH13s on tour...
That’s right. And because of that, we have no need for amplifiers on stage; they’re all facing backwards off the back of the stage, so everything – and I mean everything – is in your ears. It’s the perfect scenario, because you get exactly what you want to hear, and only what you want to hear. If you want something louder, just ask the monitor man. It is literally the best of all worlds.
You even used them in the studio, right?
Well, this is really interesting... I’d heard that Santana mixed his mega record, Supernatural, on headphones, and I was very curious as to how that process would work, so the last record I mixed, I did so using headphones alone, and the clarity I was getting out of the JH kit was stunning. I can’t say enough about their products, which is probably why I have several different sets!
Is touring with The Beach Boys much different now than it was in the ‘70s?
Back in the ‘70s and ‘80s, when I was in the Beach Boys, we had our own jet, so a typical day back then would be to stay for 10 nights in one hotel and then fly in and out of that city. Touring has become much different lately, and in this version of The Beach Boys, it’s pretty much what Brian and I would do: play the gig, get to the next city, get a full night’s sleep, get up, soundcheck, and do the gig...Then do it all over again!