Julian Foster spent moments of last semester eating llama meat, receiving noise complaints from Trump Tower and crossing international boundaries instead of attending class.
“There were lots of moments meeting crazy people … and it gave me a sobering look at similarities and differences we have hundreds of miles apart,” he said.
By his sophomore year at the University of Vermont, Foster struggled to pay attention to academics. “I would only be able to do work when I was on Vyvanse or Adderall,” he said. Foster made little effort to be involved in campus life, faced sleepless nights and increasingly missed classes.
With little motivation to head back into the classroom, Foster turned his attention towards music, devoting his semester to touring with high school friends in alternative band Little Hills. “It wasn’t about trying to accomplish anything more as it was a personal statement for each of us that showed that we were willing to do this,” said Foster.
Foster’s lifestyle changed over the three month tour due to scarce funding for the trip. Prior to the tour, Foster was a vegetarian. On the road, Foster gave up meat abstention to ease budget restraints.
WWOOFing (volunteering on an organic farm in exchange for food and shelter) 40 miles away from gigs in Toronto, Foster’s diet ranged from lettuce to llama meat, provided by the farm’s owner. “Every time we saw him, he would be like ‘Hey pals’ and give us some beers and llama meat and it was good,” said Foster.
Without any gigs left in Toronto, Little Hills traveled back home to New York. The decision which Foster labeled as “abrupt”, went against the band’s previous plans to go directly from Ontario to Ohio.
“We didn’t have any idea what we were doing which kind of made the tour more fun,” he said. Shortly after attempting to land a gig at a festival in Western New York, the event fell through.
Despite failing to perform in their home state, according to Foster, the band reached their peak performance at their next show at the Euclid Tavern in Cleveland. “We were nice and nervous before we went on and then we went on and somehow had the best show of the tour,” said Foster.
Aside from the band’s performance at the Euclid Tavern, Foster remembers much of his experience in Cleveland unfavorably. He claimed that the owner of the house he stayed at would often harass band members to play cover songs when he was intoxicated. “Because he was the owner of the house and hosting us felt as though there was an obligation to play whatever song he wanted to hear, whenever he wanted to hear it,” he said.
Unlike Cleveland, Foster had a more positive experience staying in Chicago, the last stop on the tour. “Chicago was groovy,” said Foster. In Chicago, Foster’s highlights ranged from playing at a local radio station on a whim to receiving noise complaints from Trump Tower on a riverside show.
Foster said he didn’t realize how it felt to be on tour until he came home. “Things were happening and I was just in a better position to take in the moment and feel what was happening,” said Foster.
This semester, looking to adjust back into academics back home in the Capital Region, Foster enrolled at Hudson Valley as a part-time student. “If I take a couple [classes] this semester that I focus on so I’m not overwhelmed, it could give me a positive experience if I do go back to school next semester so I won’t be coming off the extremely negative experience of last year,” he said.
Next semester, Foster looks forward to heading back to the University of Vermont to finish his degree in environmental science. “It’s more of personal thing to go back and prove to myself that I can do the things that are healthy for me to do in that environment which put me down,” said Foster.