Ryan Foster is an awesome shredder and an affable goofball. I was able to spend nearly a month on the road with him and he was constantly cracking jokes and breaking ice. But one of the few things he takes very seriously is his role as a cat dad. I have seen Ryan rip the guitar for Lost Boy ? and Toons, but recently, he took the forefront as singer/songwriter as well in his project Warm Body. I was interested in how Ryan’s feline friend, a Persian named Romeo, contributed to his musical side.

AF: Happy belated birthday! Did you do anything with your feline friend to celebrate? Do you know what Romeo’s birthday is/what sign he is?

RF: Thank you! Actually I was fortunate to be awoken by Romeo on my birthday, as on most days, by him first resting on my chest and purring loudly and then walking up onto my head and purring loudly. That’s sort of his M.O., and it’s become my alarm clock for the past year! I love that we are in sync, or maybe my habits inform his. His birthday is June 11, 2009, so that makes him a frisky little Gemini.

Ryan and Romeo

AF: Tell us a little about your project Warm Body. How did it start, and where did you meet the other members?

RF: Warm Body was conceived because I wanted to record my own fully-formed songs with a singular vision. I’d always found it difficult expressing my own creative ideas to others as they came to me, but always sensed strongly that they were valid and often times even the best ideas being presented in a group setting. While I wanted to focus on keeping the songs singular and establish a sound of my own, I was always still keen on collaboration and that shows from some of the recordings; eventually that turned into full on recruitment, and I was so blessed to capture the attention of Philip, Rick and Milli, whom I’ve known for years – all in tangential ways. In fact, this technically came together because I asked Philip to track saxophone on a new song and one thing led to another. Those boys are not only amazing players technically, but they’re literally the perfect people for this band and the furthest from the types that would phone it in; nobody in Warm Body lets their ego dominate the assembly. It feels really good.

AF: What is your instrumental background? When did you start playing guitar and singing, and are there other instruments in your regular repertoire?

RF: I started learning passable versions of well-known riffs on guitar at around 12; it wasn’t under much guidance. It wasn’t until my friends wanted to take things to the next level that I felt motivated, which is to say they wanted to play the talent show. I just wanted girls to notice me, basically. Singing came much later and doing both at the same time is still a work in progress. I’m convinced that all of my musical abilities fall in the category of ‘fake it til you make it’, but with that said I’m always one to pluck a bass and dabble in synth and with drum machines.

AF: You have an adorable Persian cat named Romeo. Did you choose him or did he choose you?

RF: Thank you so much! As a matter of fact I am certain that Ro chose me; he literally found me and shadowed me.

Romeo stealing hearts on some lounge chairs

AF: Where did you and Romeo find each other?

RF: Our story started when I was doing contractual electrical work inside of this big house in Great Neck on Long Island. Romeo was that family’s cat for many years, having been adopted and cared for by them, and he caught me off guard one day as I was flipping circuit breakers in the laundry room there. I didn’t even know they had a cat; the house was a maze and there were big dogs too. By all accounts it seemed as if he was largely ignored or sort of just not appreciated the way I felt he ought to be, but anyway, he saw me and I saw him and it literally just clicked. This cat would yearn for my attention and keep me company all day in this house while I did this and that. I would become sad to leave him when work was over. Finally I guess the stars aligned because the family saw our love wouldn’t be denied, and I was able to take him home with me for good! I was given all his documents and his food and bowls and all that, and I couldn’t believe there was no heavy heart about it, but I got him.

AF: What was your inspiration in adopting a cat? Are you new to being a cat owner, or did you have cats growing up?

RF: I’ve always had cats and dogs around, so it’s very natural to see a place for them wherever I end up. I love their company, and Romeo made it very easy by wanting to be around me and by being so adorable. I honestly never gave adoption much thought but I told myself after meeting him that I’d adopt this 8 year old cat in a heartbeat and thats ultimately what I did.

AF: Romeo stars in some of your music videos – would you like to share some of them with us?

RF: To date Ro has been the subject of only one of my videos – “KOOL” – but I do think his inspiration carries on in all that I do. The video is about him rescuing my friend John’s stranded pet turtle Rambo and the bromance that follows. I shot the whole thing on my iPhone and it was just a blast.

AF: In what ways does Romeo inspire your creativity?

RF: Ro likes just being around me, even if it means he’s just found a new spot to nap by me. I’ve had a few cats, both boys and girls, and I know that not all cats truly warm up to their owners. Romeo actually likes me, and I think by virtue of his being so friendly and easygoing makes him endearing to me and watching him do his thing is like getting lost in a song. He’s just like most of the things that would inspire me really.

AF: Do you have a specific songwriting method or is every song written in a different way?

RF: It usually starts when I have the desire or time to express a feeling, or just the opportunity to play around with a musical idea. Being both armed with an instrument and receptive to a moment that may or not ever come is the next step, but that’s not assured, and it’s even accidental sometimes too. Lately I find I really enjoy experimenting with loops and samples. Switching it up yields the most interesting results, but not necessarily the best songs I’ve written. Since my music is quite personal to me, I feel silly trying to put something so intangible into words.

Ryan playing a Warm Body set at The Footlight (Photo Credit: Natalie Kirch)

AF: Tell us about your recent release on GP Stripes.

RF: It was funny being asked to put a tape of my music out in 2017, but it was humbling to be asked to put out a tape on a label I respect. Jordan, Nick, Davey, they’re all just good people and inspiring to be around, so it was a no-brainer. I had this feeling like they really care and would very likely put their hearts and souls into the process of making it and with any luck promoting the piss out of it. That tape is actually the first ‘official’ physical Warm Body release though, and I’m proud of the songs. It’s just the first two EP’s: 8 songs in a continuous flow. Sort of power pop, a little bit of 90’s rock, a bit psychedelic too.

Romeo repping the Warm Body tapes released on GP Stripes

AF: If Romeo was an actor, what film would he star in (other than the obvious Romeo and Juliet)?

RF: I tend towards comedy and I find him funny sometimes, so part of me would really like to sub him in for the little weird alien called Mac from Mac & Me, and have him get into all those crazy situations and dance-offs in McDonald’s and pop up with a funny face out of nowhere at random times like when the kid in the wheelchair rolls down a hill and goes off the cliff into a ravine. But really, who are we kidding? He looks like an Ewok, so clearly he’s gotta go to Endor for Return Of The Jedi.

Photo Credit: Ryan Foster

AF: You mentioned to me the other night that Romeo would not have many positive things to say about Trump. How has Romeo been a comfort to you during this current political climate?

RF: I find that, to me, Romeo is the impossible in these times: he’s this fluffy cute creature who makes everyone smile and reminds me of the simple wonders of life. I don’t know if he’s ever even killed a bird, so I guess he’s pretty innocent too. He also likes me, which I’m certain that our president does not!

Ryan and Romeo cuddling (Photo Credit: Ryan Foster)

AF: What is the first word that comes to mind when you think of Romeo?

RF: CHIB.

AF: You have played in several other bands over the years in addition to your project Warm Body. Can you talk a little about those projects and how they formed, and the difference in the songwriting process between leading a project with your own songs and collaborating with others to write songs?

RF: I could likely write a book about that subject! I came up just playing guitar and seeing that as a way to channel my feelings, and I had always written songs, but they were primordial at best. I was better at just knowing what a song needed from its guitar parts, and in that way I suppose it was collaborative. So I was never a songwriter per se until I had Warm Body; I diligently just tried to serve the songs and make them all as special as I could. It’s easy to start a band and it’s like a marriage if it’s good, I think. You wanna make it work and you get what you give. I’ve been adept at balancing as many as three bands at once and with writing it’s never the same experience from one to the other; it’s down to the very distinct clash of personalities at hand as much as the talent on board. Same token, it’s also a matter of some bands just being a dedicated vehicle of their central songwriter; basically a formula you stick with because it works. It takes time to form a chemistry with a group of people, and that’s really the secret to writing with others, otherwise it seems it’s like one person does all that and you play off that person. I write songs frequently but I’ve worked with some people who write and record their songs completely at a breakneck pace. Davey Jones – whom I play in Lost Boy? with – has always worked that way, and it floors me. Seeing that kind of workflow with a consistent quality to the output was one of the factors that made me start doing it for myself as well.

Ryan rocking out with Lost Boy ? at the Pine Box (Photo Credit: Natalie Kirch)

AF: Where can we catch your next live sets?

RF: You can catch me playing guitar in Lost Boy? at Elsewhere in Brooklyn on 5/24 – we are playing with Thick & GymShorts and that is going to be a blast.
Warm Body has only one show on our calendar currently – at Ghost House in New Paltz on 5/26 – but keep your senses peeled for the dates we will be announcing soon!

AF: Any big plans in music for the rest of 2018?

RF: Currently we are wrapping up recording for a new 7″ but it’s still a bit soon to give you a release date. Behind the scenes there are a lot of new songs demo’d and I’d like to get them out into the world this year as well.

AF:¬†What is Romeo’s favorite pastime?

Romeo trying to steal some of Dad’s food (Photo Credit: Ryan Foster)

RF: Ro is like a little kid that needs and enjoys lots of playing around, which typically involves either the laser pointer or waving a ribbon around in the air for him to catch. That might actually be a draw, because he also likes lingering while I eat. This cat will eat anything I put in front of him, and if I won’t, he steals! Don’t leave any bacon unattended.

Follow Romeo on Instagram @ro__meow and check out Warm Body via Bandcamp.