An email interview with guitarist Brad Foster, explaining the thoughts and actions that went into making Abandon Kansas’s latest record, Ad Astra Per Aspera.
Who are we talking to here? Give your name and what you do in the band.
Brad Foster. Guitarist.
Your new album Ad Astra Per Aspera came out earlier this month. How would you compare it to past releases?
This record was written more deliberately as a concept record unlike our last EP release. With more time in the studio we felt more comfortable knowing we didn’t have a tight deadline. Sonically this record is more cohesive yet at the same time we have a lot of many diverse guitar tones and effects throughout.
The last time I interviewed Abandon Kansas, you said that Mark Lee Townsend really helped you figure out what kind of a band you were. What was it like getting back into the studio with him? How did he contribute this time around?
Yes, Mark has been an important factor in the shaping of Abandon Kansas in many ways. Having worked with him before, we’ve developed a stronger relationship with him as well as his family. Each day Mark would lead us in a devotional and we would pray over the day as well as the whole recording process. With a stronger friendship built, I think we were more confident in communicating our ideas. From a guitarist’s perspective it’s always a great learning experience watching him come up with various tones. Mark really helps compliment guitar parts with certain textures and effects.
Where do the new songs go lyrically? Would you say the record has a theme?
Yes, the theme is inspired by our state motto “Ad Astra Per Aspera” which is Latin for “To the stars through difficulties.” As a band we have our share of difficulties ranging from various bass players coming and going to just being a full-time touring musician while striving to be a man of God in addition to a son, brother, and friend. Therefore, the “stars” are a metaphor for God or providence. Lyrically this record is more personal and introspective as well as playful fun. Ad Astra Per Aspera is an album of deep longing, of finding hope, wholeness, purpose and completion in Christ through real struggles and hardships.
I’m especially interested in the song “Where Else Can We Go.” Where did the inspiration for that track come from?
After we shared our demos with Mark Townsend he suggested that we go write a song that was completely different from what we had previously done. With that in mind, Jeremy came up with the song inspired by the response the disciple Peter had when he acknowledged that Christ was “the way, the truth, and the light.” Peter heard Christ’s claims and responded with a “where else can we go?” mentality. We immediately loved the song and our bass player Chet had the idea of playing the song in 3/4 time which is different for us so we went for it.
You just started touring on the new record too. How are the crowds responding so far?
Well this tour is unlike any tour we’ve ever done. We are traveling with production, which includes videos we’ve made that are synced with each song and the feedback has been great. The songs people gravitated towards vary, but we’ve had people asking about the tunes and where they came from. It’s really cool that the record has only been out a week and people are already singing along.
And how have things been going with Gotee?
Gotee is great to us. Everyone in the Gotee family more than provides their share of support and encouragement. They have let us express our art the way we want and have supported us all the way through.
What are your hopes for Abandon Kansas in the near and distant future?
Essentially we would love to keep making music we like and sharing it with people as long as we can. The past four years we have toured the entire country dozens of times so it would be great if we could tour internationally. In the end, if we could hear GOD say “well done” to all that we have been and become as a band we could say we made it. Our desire is always that we could place ourselves in a position where GOD can fully transpose himself through us so we can serve others better.