In early 1987, Miles was making a phone call to his ex-bassist Marcus Miller when Miller had some music was playing in the background. “Who’s that?” asked Miles, who then asked for the musician’s number. It was Foley, a young musician from Columbus, Ohio, who had developed a unique approach to bass playing – lead bass. Using just four strings, Foley played like a lead or rhythm guitarist. Miles asked him to join the band and Foley stayed with Miles’s band right up until Miles’s death in 1991.
Since then, Foley has released a solo album (7 Years Ago – Directions in Smart-Alec Music), toured playing his own music, played with George Clinton as well as a bunch of other stuff. He’s also set up a great website (www.smartalecmusic.com), which not only contains some terrific artwork by Miles, and interviews (“inner-views”) with a whole bunch of people including Marcus Miller, Lenny White, Patrice Rushen, bassist Victor Bailey and keyboardist/producer Larry Dunn from Earth, Wind & Fire). You’ll also find Foley’s The Big Truth, a highly provocative take on where the music industry is heading – read it!
Foley kindly agreed to an E-innerview with TheLastMiles.com, which involved a lively exchange of emails. I’ve left Foley’s original punctuation, typeface, fonts etc, because it reads so much better!!
Foley Live in Europe 1998. Courtesy SmartAlecMusic.com
TLM: Your “Big Truth” has attracted a lot of attention and provoked a lot of controversy!
Foley Well, I guess it has…. for those artists that “THOUGHT” I was referring to THEM “Personally” But, quite frankly? There’s been an overwhelming show of support for what I’d said. It even made it all the way to Public Enemy’s message boards. A lot of “Brave” Musicians seem to be passing the “Link” along (at least over #15, 000 of them have, since I posted it on new years eve of 2005).
TLM: One of your points seems to be that while artists such as Prince, Bowie and Peter Gabriel understand the power and possibilities of the internet, the music industry hasn’t?
Foley: Those kats have….but the industry didn’t know what to do about it. This type of thing always happens when “Technology” moves at a faster pace than the Law. Plus…. the industry sat on their egos, instead of *really* taking things serious …until it was too late.
TLM: I love the expression “U have to perform to be real” because many artists today seem to think that the recording an album is the most important thing.
Foley: Well, I guess the ones who don’t actually have a “clue” prolly never will….
But, a lot of them are just “Kids” tho…. like a “Cassie” Ya know ?
TLM: Whereas music companies (and some artists) see downloading and file sharing as a danger, you say that artist who tours has little to fear – now that’s got to be controversial! Please explain!
Foley: Well, it’s ALWAYS sorta been “common knowledge” that record companies have made money like this since the inception of “Free Goods” etc.
Even when an artist sells “Millions” of records…..
they STILL owe Millions back to the company ?!?!
(via video costs, promo, etc.)
So, The ONLY way for the artist to make any profit, was to tour as much as humanly possible.
And, if you are the kind of artist ….who was never worth the price of admission?
YOU will be hurt by this technology. A lot of legendary artists (with catalogue)
are finding that the have to go back to work. “On Tour” if U will….
Al Green’s “LET’S STAY TOGETHER” for a “Tide” laundry detergent commercial?!?!?
For real, man…when’s the last time U’ve seen a pay phone or phone booth?
Yo, hotels even offer “free long distance” to get you to stay in their hotel.
And, THEY KNOWit doesn’t matter one way or the other….cause, 99.9% of the time you’ll
have your CELL PHONE with you. So, it’s easy as hell to offer something that theyKNOW U won’t be using.(but it reads nice) Mom & Pop stationary stores, too….people have mini-stationary / camera stores in their homes now.
TLM: Tell us about MySpace and what it’s done for you and other musicians.
Foley: “MySpace ?!?!?!?” Gyaaaaaaaad Damn!!!
I Don’t Do “MySpace”
People seem to lose sight of the fact that it was “basically” an alternative to
“BlackPlanet” for whites & non-blacks ( To hear ME call it…..)
Then… some of the smarter Bands / Musicians…. early on, saw some of its potential to “actually” get some networking done….but, what it ended up becoming ? was a Fuckin Mess.
I think a lot of the artists on Myspace who are really trying to be seen and / or heard
are forgetting the basic “Perception” behind Stardom, Celebrity & Showbiz….
There’s a “Reason” for the Spotlight or the Glitter….. and the stage NOT being on the same eye level as the audience….it’s to create an “Illusion” of something “Larger than Life”….a spectacle if U will?
“Myspace” conceptually? means…. exactly THAT!
A “space” for people who DON’T have their own “Space” (READ: a website etc)
So, to maintain this “Mystique” as an artist ….is all but non-existent when U are apart of the same program as the “Audience”. People end up knowing way more about who / what your doin than they should. ( to maintain the “imagery” of Showbiz or a “Larger than Life” persona….)
They can even see when your “Light is ON” (last login:)
How are you gonna maintain your anonymity like that ?!?
Which is EVERYTHING in Hollywood !! No solid interest ? No “Mystique”? NO CAREER !
And, it’s impossible to be “Interesting” when people find YOU to be as “normal” as they are.
We’re All Human Beings & nobody’s better than anybody in reality….but, that’s what the “Game” is.
TINSLE, THE ILLUSIONARY, LARGER THAN LIFE FACADE that makes people interested in YOU.
Nobody wants to know that you actually take a Shit, Cry, or Bleed just like they do?!?!
Just because 100 million people are doin something….doesn’t mean you have to join them.
I’ve gotten over 250,000 myspace visitors to MY site, alone!
(apparently they like my “Artwork?”) cause, I see a lot of it embedded on their pages.
There’s a rock band that has a myspace page with my company’s namesake “SMARTALECMUSIC”
so, I know the work & hustle that I’ve put-in on the internet for myself, is working.
Name recognition is serious biz….just as it is, in politics.
If you’re gonna be on “Myspace?” work that shit !!
There’s a kat named “NYoil” who I’m sure understands this.
He’s not only working the hell outta Myspace….but, he got himself madd headlines from “YouTube” as well.
Miles in Europe in 1987 or early 1988. The picture shows (left to right) Foley, Adam Holzman,
Darryl Jones, Miles and Kenny Garrett. Photo © Dany Gignoux. Courtesy SmartAlecMusic.com
NOW , MIND YOU ……
WhatHE had to offer was so strong, that it caused madd INTEREST & debate.
Thus…..working the internet for what it’s worth. NYOil has more power than if he’d had been “signed”
to ANYbody. Which means…YOU STILL have to do something “Strong enuff” to create interest in YOU and, what YOU as an Artist… have to say!
And, as far as my fellow “Artists” are concerned….
Who in thee Fuck would want to be signed to a label, anyways?!?!
The internet is sooooooo Fuckin’ vast, man!
I’m saying this so that folks can think about what’s *Really* goin on….
When People use that amount of energy that it takes to sit around, (for hours) looking for “Friends” that’s VALUABLE time lost on *Really* getting something done!
Most of those people are just the Record label trying to “recoup”
& a lot of times it’s actually the artist themselves.
(in need of “more” attention than they’ve already been given)
We should be blessed to have ANY attention for the gift any of us are given.
And, that’s where a lot of it, should STOP. And, Celebs who are pissed about losing their “Privacy” need to stay the fuck off of “Myspace” or anywhere else that they feel puts them closer to the “occupational hazzard” known as Celebrity.
Let’s be real…the average person MIGHT have 4 *REAL* friends that they could actually
consider…. so, if U’re on anybody’s site sitting around collecting “Faux Friends”?
Why, collect all of these “Friends” when they don’t even live near you ?
PRINCE or THE STONES are the only folks that I can think of, who’ll actually have folks “flying” out to see them. Remember: You have to conquer your own “AREA” first….in order to generate that spillage over into the rest of the world. I suggest finding “Friends” who are no further than 1-2 hours away from you.
The only way to ENSURE that your gonna make not only an impression….but loot…. is to
actually have merchandise that goes directly to the audience: AT YOUR SHOWS!!!!
Otherwise, you’re taking the risk on getting hit on the Wild Wild West (world wide web)
Remember Y’all : The Bigger the Artist ? The More they’re being downloaded.
(they simply have the catalogue out there)
If you’re a musician who just wants to stay in touch & all of that?
Well….Email still works….having your “OWN” space still works…..at least you’ll OWN the content.
What did yáll do before “Myspace” ?
A LOT of people don’t know that “Myspace” owns ANY & EVERYTHING that’s posted
on the website. When U click on that agreement ? They OWN whatever’s posted.
Foley – 7 Years Ago album cover. Courtesy SmartAlecMusic.com
Here’s some of the “Legal“ language…
From Myspace :
Proprietary Rights in Content on MySpace.com.
By displaying or publishing (“posting”) any Content,
messages, text, files, images, photos, video,
sounds, profiles, works of authorship, or any other
materials (collectively, “Content”) on or
through the Services, you
hereby grant to
MySpace.com, a non-exclusive, fully-paid and
royalty-free, worldwide license (with the right to
unlimited levels of
sublicensees) to use, copy, modify, adapt,
translate, publicly perform, publicly display,
store,reproduce, transmit, and distribute such Content on
and through the Services. This license will
at the time you remove such Content from
the Services. Notwithstanding the foregoing, a
back-up or residual copy of the Content posted by
you may remain on the MySpace.com servers
you have removed the Content from the Services, and
MySpace.com retains the rights to those
copies. You represent and warrant that: (i) you own
the Content posted by you on or through the
Services or otherwise have the
right to grant the
license set forth in this section, and (ii) the
posting of your Content on or through the Services
does not violate the privacy rights, publicity
rights, copyrights, contract rights or any other
rights of any person. You agree to pay for all
royalties, fees, and any other monies owing any
person by reason of any Content posted by you to
or through the Services.
There’s A lot more I could say…but, I’ll just leave it there.
Posturingcan be a DANGEROUS THANG , man !!
TLM: What’s your take on YouTube as a medium for promoting music?
Foley: A Hustle…. is a Hustle…. is a Hustle.
The “internet” is bigger than “YouTube” or the next hip place to be.
Google only wants it for the ad revenue it can “Possibly” rake in.
They (Google) can afford the copywrite lawsuits….not to mention they can maintain ANY bandwidth.
But, people who DON’T see the ad potential that Google sees in this (Now) popular place…
will ask to have their content removed.
This is the 21st century & there needs to be NEW ways of getting thru to consumers…
while maintaining a “Mystique” (if you’re an Artist) in the marketplace!
In the case of someone, like…. SADE ?
You will NEVER catch her out there Cheesin & puttin her biz in the streets (other than thru her lyrics) or losing her cache with her audience. When she puts out music? PEOPLE WANT IT!
They Miss Her….because she gives you a “chance” to miss her. SADE understands that “Space”
between her Private Life & her Professional Life!
TLM: Do you see power shifting from the record companies to the artists thanks to the internet or are we going to see corporations simply buying them all up (MySpace is now owned by News Corp, YouTube by Google etc).
Foley: It’s too little …too late now.
But, Good Luck to all of them.
As long as everyone has the right to own a piece of the SAME portal?
The playing field is again…Levelled.
TLM: Got to talk about the lead bass. In 1991, Stanley Clarke told you that you’d taken the bass as far as it could go – have there been any developments since then?
Foley: Do you mean has anyone taken it even further than I?
I haven’t heard them, if they did.
but, it’s been 20yrs. now…..so, I guess that’s about as far as it could go?
Bassists had Love for me & a lot of Guitarists didn’t.
I know it was because I was getting dangerously close to sounding like a guitarist ?
Or thatTHEY wanted to be sitting where I WAS ??
Miles knew WHO & WHAT he wanted out there with him, man!
He didn’t want somebody out there throwing “Be-Bop” lick # 45 thru #400 at him?!?
Miles heard ALL of that Shit, already!!
I know He preferred to have heard me fumbling around with my “OWN” notes ….honestly
than to try to recite some shit back at him incorrectly?!?!
With No Feel…..
I didn’t know ANYthing when Miles asked me to join him.
I had literally just started playing music, period.
And, it was ruff man. I’m not madd at folks who didn’t like my contribution to the band
at the time…shit I was concerned, too!
BUT, I DID start to catch on & before it was over?
I was getting in Guitar players asses…..Then I got even MORE haters!
Folks don’t know that I’M A BASS PLAYER!!! (First & Foremost)
The “Lead Bass” is an extension of my Bass shit.
Motherfuckas didn’t want me on BASS back then….
or Miles would’ve had ONE bassplayer the entire time I was there.
TLM: For the bass freaks who like to know all about the technology, can you describe your equipment – bass, strings, amps, effects etc?
Foley: I’m soooooo not this Guy …..I use a Fender Jazz (73)
And, my “Lead Basses” are customized & created by me.
Running thru a Huge Amplifier. That’s basically it.
I don’t wanna sound like a prick about this kinda thing….
But, a persons “SOUND” is in their Hands…..NOT their GEAR!!
TLM: You once said “lead bass is more about a state of mind” Explain!
Foley: Well…”Physically” I’m playing a piccolo bass in theory….
But, “Lead Bass” actually lies in my “Mind”
My phrasing etc. otherwise I’d sound like I was playing a piccolo bass instead of a guitar.
I’m completely thinking: “LEAD INSTRUMENT” when I play my Lead Bass.
Be it: Sax or Guitar lines, etc etc
Miles and Foley – photo © John Beake. Courtesy SmartAlecMusic.com
TLM: Also got to ask you about Miles. How did you manage not to freeze on your first gig?!
Foley: I did.
And, I continued to freeze….. clear up until maybe….. 7 gigs before He died.
out of 4 1/2 years onstage with him & over 650 shows.
TLM: I expect you’ve got many highlights about your time with Miles – can you describe a few of them?
Foley: Yeah, but they were all offstage.
I talked about them on my site.
TLM: You always seemed to have an old head on your shoulders when it came to your role (and every other band member’s) in Miles’s band. Was it hard to keep your ego in check when playing with Miles?
Foley: No, cause. I NEVER HAD ONE to begin with!!
How can ANY Musician have had an Ego with MILES DAVIS?!?!
I was scared to death man…..but, my street half of me made it look like I wasn’t.
All of the prancing around & shit in the beginning, was away for me to not completely
be assed-out at the time. I grew up in show bands & huge R&B/Rock groups & shit
where you had to look cute & make it look Easy & Sexy…
so, I just reverted to THAT shit ….until I learned how to play…. on the Gig.
TLM: Miles died 15 years ago – how do you think his legacy stands today?
Foley: Nothing’s changed.
He’s Still “THAT” Dude!!
TLM: What would like to see happening to help today’s young generation stay connected to Miles and his music?
Foley: I’d like to see these kids stay connected to ALL of the information out there….
From King Oliver to Corinne Bailey Rae!!
TLM: I know you love people like Stevie, Miles and Prince and I was wondering: is there anything common to all those you admire?
Foley: Oh yeah, man…. TRUTH!!!!
That’s always a common thread among those who DON’T block the “Light”
TLM: I agree with your point in Big Truth that if music is simply given away (as opposed to using it to promote a tour and sell tickets). The same with these free DVDs they stick on newspapers and magazines. But have we passed the point of no return – are today’s younger generation fully Napsterised and now expect it all to be FREE?
Foley: Oh, Yeah…..
Music isn’t important to people, anymore….because it’s FREE!
and, most things that are Free….tend to NOT have much value to people.
Sorta like getting free samples in the mail.
In the back of your mind U’d be thinking :
“Why are they giving this shit away”?
“It must not be that good”
So, then they’ll go out and buy the most expensive shampoo, instead of “Pert”
I think Artists & Songwriters need to step their game up ….
And make it worth SOMETHING again…..that people CAN value!
TLM: Tell us about the making of your album “7 Years Ago – Directions in Smart-Alec Music”
Foley: I was angry…..
I was excited…..
I was grieving….
I was relieved…..
I was sooooo many things during the making of that record.
TLM: You have a home studio – when are we going to see another Foley album?!!!!!
Foley: Prolly….NEVER……in the conventional sense?
I record “Flyers” for my concerts.
So, when U come to the shows? I’ll have something for ya.
And, I’ve been getting ready for my project with the legendary “BERNIE WORRELL”
We’re about Break some folks Off!!!!!!!!!
He’ll be here next week.
George Clinton and Foley. Courtesy SmartAlecMusic.com
And, I’ve been working on new trks for Funkadelic w/ George Clinton as well
Man, I only do….. what “I” want to Do….and, I’ve ALWAYS been like that.
Trust, I Sleep well at nite.
That’s why I’d do a tour with….
An Arrested Development…..
Cause, I really dug what they were doin & it was an honor to have been there with them,
during prolly the most important time of their lives.
Oh, yeah….Kenny Garrett wants to do something as well.
We’re talkin about doin some dates together in Europe with “THE DIFFERENCE”
TLM:Tell us what it’s like working with George Clinton!!!!
TLM: What are you doing today?
Foley: Trying to maintain, Dogg.
My Excitement for the “GAME”
I’ve made out fairly well. Actually, Better than “well”
I’ve seen the world over….
to the point where I have old Friends & Lovers from”EVERY” Continent!
I’ve played this GAME on “MY TERMS” & I STILL DO!
Lookin back? I Glad I NEVER played myself out over trying to be “Famous” & shit.
Cause, now….the way things are with technology? Er’Body has to go “Back to Work” anyway!
Plus, I just celebrated 11yrs. (and counting) with the MOST incredible Woman on this earth.
And, there’s 7 million people out there *that I know of* …who appreciates my work.
(these are the numbers of visitors since my website was launched 5 yrs ago)
because it substantiates my claims to A lot of what was said and,
when pronouncements are made, Proof is then needed..
And, I can STILL Play!!!!!
Yeah….I’m doin Aiiiiight, man.
TLM: Anyone you’d love to work with? If so, why?
Foley: I’m down to workin’ with people who do this shit FOR REAL !!!
People are always hittin me with shit like :
“Dood, U can do the shit that So & So is out there doin….why don’t U wanna produce one of these Folks?”
I’m NOT into That Shit!! I have to work with someone where “I” can learn something from them as well….
The whole Svengali Producer shit? DOES NOT appeal to me, and it never has.
George Clinton always teases me about having “Funk lying around not doin nothin”
I’d rather have it Not Doin nothin …than it being abused.
TLM: A young musician comes up to you today and says “Foley, I wanna get in the music business” What’s your advice??!!!!
Foley: I’d ask them are they willing to DIE for it ?
Cause, if they’re NOT in that type of space about “Whatever” it is they want?
Then they can and WILL get ”turned out”, for it!!
When Anybody is willing to Die…..For ANYTHING…..that’ll let you KNOW how serious they were/are.
This Biz don’t give a Fuck about Nobody….and, whether they make it big or not ?
People will STILL not give a fuck about YOU…..they’ll only care about the You that is: A “STAR”
Plus, I’ll know if it’s worth spitting Game to somebody who just wants to be “Famous”
as opposed to being a “Messenger” with their craft!
TLM: What are your hopes for the future?
Foley: Hopes ?!?! Hahaha
The Future is ….NOW !!!
TIME is a fuckin ”ILLUSION” bruh.
Time……that’s funny…..how can we agree on the month & day / hour of the week ?
And, can’t agree on GOD ?!?!?
Music transcends All of the “Bullshit” for me ….and, it ALWAYS has.
And, it ALWAYS will.
Many thanks to Foley for a highly entertaining E-innerview and the photos, and a big hello to Melanie at Smart Alec Music!