Metal is Josh Foster’s passion.

And for Foster, there’s no better way to express that passion than through his bus stop performances along Patton Avenue. For about the past year, thousands of motorists driving up and down the West Asheville roadway have been Josh performing to the music he’s listening to on his headphones. For awhile, he was just singing. Then he broke out his air guitar. Now he’s using a Guitar Hero guitar that he carries with him.

“I love music and I’ve always wanted to be in a metal band,” Foster tells me one rainy afternoon during a break from his routine.

Foster says it all started a couple of years ago when he was living in Florida. He was working as a sign spinner and breaking out his air guitar to keep himself entertained. His employer didn’t like the air guitar bit, but that didn’t bother Foster. “When I work, I have to have a flow.”

In Asheville, passersby have responded with enthusiasm to his act, Foster says, though that hasn’t always been the case in other places.

“People have thrown water at me, called the cops on me,” he says.

Foster says he actually gave up on the public performances for awhile. “But one day I  had a shitty day, my wife cheated on me, my kids got separated and I said I’m going to start again,” he says.

That’s because listening to, and performing, metal is also therapy for Foster.

“I scream and sing and it gets that anger and frustration off me,” he says. Metal is “how you feel inside, and you want people to see how you feel.”

“People say, ‘I see you screaming all the time, what are you screaming about?’ And I say I feel like shit. People need to know the truth.”

Killswitch Engage ranks as Fosters all-time favorite metal band. He’ll give a listen to DevilDriver and In Flames, too, and even rock out to some old-school pop like Boston and Journey.

Still, Foster emphasizes that “I’m going to do metal till the day I die. That’s just who I am. And if I can help others be happy, that’s cool, too.”

“I really want to inspire the little metal heads out there, too. I want them to realize that they’re not alone,” he adds. “Metal is never dead.”

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