An Interview With Dryjacket Bassist, IAN FOLEY All About His New Solo Project, TONKS!
Posted On 14 Dec 2018
TONKS is the name of Dryjacket bassist, Ian Foley’s new solo project. On November 16th, he released his debut album as part of this new project. Entitled “Windows Down & Dying,” it’s like something out of a Wes Anderson film – beautiful, slightly quirky, and aesthetically pleasing. This is an introspective collection of songs set to brightly shimmering melodies.
Foley shares: “This record is about aging out of ‘live fast, die young,’ and prioritizing a happiness that is simple and consistent.“
Learn more about TONKS in the following All Access interview:
Thanks for your time! What is on tap for the rest of your day?
As I am answering these questions it is actually later in the evening and I just got in from Dryjacket practice. After this I’ll be headed to sleep.
Since we are now at the back-end of 2018, how has this year treated you? What is one musical goal that you have had for this year? How close are you to reaching it?
My goal was to put out a solo record, and it happened! Windows Down & Dying is finally out.
Can you recall the moment when you thought you could be in this group together? Was it hard to think of a name that you could agree on?
This is a solo project so it was more of just me deciding whether or not I was capable of putting out music on my own and playing live without a band.
How do you think your hometowns have influenced the sound and how you all carry yourselves in this group?
I think the Philly Jersey hub had a big influence on my writing. I went to Settlement Music School in Philadelphia at a young age which is where I got a lot of my classical influence. I was also surrounded by a lot of local bands growing up, and the band I was in while in middleschool/ high school always had handful of venues in the area to play in. I’m not sure I would have even become interested in music if I had grown up somewhere else.
How has your various musical backgrounds helped shape the sound of this band?
I think it just gives the record some diversity and even though the songs blend well together, there are aspects of each song that make them stand apart. Some of the songs may sound more folky, while others will be very simple with almost poppy choruses.
What was the inspiration for your newest single, “Giles Corey”?
This song is about when I lost someone close to me in a tragic event, and how it affected my everyday life. It’s a tribute to people dealing with loss, but more specifically it talks about how you want to vent to the people around you without feeling like you are dropping your burden on them. You might carry the loss for years even after its past the appropriate to break down in front of your peers.
How do you think this song prepared listeners for your just released debut album, “Windows Down & Dying”?
It has a good combination of the things you’ll hear on the record. It has the finger picking and it has some string parts, which occurs pretty frequently. Giles Corey has a mellow tone, but is also hopeful, which I think is the overall vibe of the record.
What made you decide to break away from Dryjacket and put out your first solo project? Was there any fear or trepidation that came along with this decision?
I have always wanted to put out a record like this even before Dryjacket formed. Dryjacket will always be my number one priority. All of us have invested so much into it and I’m so fortunate to write with them. But I knew at some point I had to put something out on my own, and the band had to take some time off, so everything lined up. I haven’t been too worried about being on my own. Once I got the first few shows out of the way, I’m a little more confident that I can play a show with just an acoustic guitar and vocals and keep it interesting.
Your music is described as something out of a Wes Anderson film. What does that description mean to you? Is this something you ever thought about when making music?
I actually have not heard that before but I take it as a compliment! I love Wes Anderson films and always enjoy the soundtracks. I think that must come from the classical kind of sound some of the songs have. String sections can be kind of cinematic, and I hope that’s the case with these songs.
Generally, how do you all go about writing your music? Do you write together or separately?
Tonks is a solo project so I was the only writer on the songs so far.
While it’s difficult to pick, can you choose a few of your favorites on this collection? How did they come to be on this album and what was the inspiration for them?
I think Giles Corey and St. Charles Place are my favorite. Giles Corey is about coping with loss and deciding internally how much you are able to talk about it to other people without bringing them down. I had the main riff and first verse of this song for six years and decided I felt comfortable finishing it for Windows Down & Dying.
St. Charles Place is about maintaining friendships. Life will definitely pull people in different directions but if you want to make it work, sometimes a phone call, or meeting up for an hour to get coffee is enough. I wrote the main riff for this song in an Airbnb while on the road with Dryjacket.
Where do you think you are all happiest- in the studio recording new music, on stage performing or elsewhere?
This is a hard one because I love both. In the past I’ve said that performing is my favorite part. Being on stage is definitely more exciting but there are always bad shows. I don’t think I’ve ever had a bad day in the studio, so on average recording new music probably makes me happier.
Do you find that all of social media and keeping up with your fans has gotten so overwhelming? Or do you rely heavily on others to take care of that for the band? Which platform would you say that you enjoy engaging with the most?
I’d say for Tonks, twitter is my favorite social media to use just because it’s so interactive, and I get to talk with people about the record. It’s a way to promote the music while still allowing my personality to show through.
We are currently living through a very trying and politically charged time right now so I am curious to know how you all think being musicians and in this band still gives you the most joy in life today? Do you find that your music is an escape to all the current events?
Music will always be the best part of my life no matter what happens. If I’m home relaxing, most of time that means I’m sitting in my living room either playing piano, or acoustic guitar. It’s a good way to zone out and break away from everything.
What musicians would you love to work with in the future? What artists have really been inspiring this group and your music since day 1?
I love Sufjan Stevens, so if I ever got to play a show or festival with him that would be a dream come true.
What do you hope is the message of your music? What do you hope people continue to take away from your songs?
I just hope that the songs will help people feel calm. I love going on long drives and listening to acoustic music, so I hope Windows Down & Dying makes it onto some peoples driving playlists.
Is there anything else that you would like to share with our readers about this group?
I’ll be doing a North American tour from March 15th- April 10th.