Category: Interviews Published Date Written by Christine Hits: 142
Genre: Melodic Death/Thrash Metal
1. First of all I’d like you to fill us in on what’s happening in the THE FORSAKEN camp at the moment.
Well! There is a lot going on right now. The pre-release season is always hectic with interviews and other promotional activities. We're also in the process of getting our pale flabby asses in shape for the upcoming live shows we have scheduled.
It's always the same story, after an intense recording we get so sick of the songs that none of us can bare to rehearse or practice for at least a few months. And as usual there's a slight sense of panic in the camp when live-dates are approaching and our technique has devolved into something rather pathetic. But we always pull through and things are starting to sound pretty good in the rehearsal-room so we probably won't make complete fools out of ourselves.
2. Why did it take you about nine years to release a new album? Was the band active or had you disbanded and rejoined forces recently?
Believe it or not, we were active as a band. Though "active" is a term whose definition got thrown around carelessly like an old chew-toy when it came to us. We were active in the sense that we never officially disbanded but then again there were some long periods that passed without any rehearsing or songwriting going on.
So why the long wait? There were several smaller events that in combination led to us becoming more and more inactive. First of all we split up geographically. I moved to a different town in order to study and this certainly affected our songwriting. Most of the material up to that point had been something we crafted together in the rehearsal-room so being split up like this meant we had to come up with a new way of writing songs that involved working from a distance. This didn't quite work out. We did write a lot of material but it didn't measure up to the previous albums in our ears, the songs simply didn't pass our quality-control. At about the same time Century Media told us that our cooperation had come to the end of the line which meant we were free to pursue other partners. No promos ever got sent because we didn't feel we had good material to send. Frustration about the slow songwriting and happenings in our personal-lives, jobs, family and other things led to the band being less and less of a priority for all of us which in turn led to less and less riffs being written which led to less interest in the band from all of us.
Not that we didn't have our active spots during these years but the momentum that we painstakingly built up during our 7-years of existence had almost disappeared and we'd nearly come to a complete standstill. So we were pretty much back to where we had started.
3. Can you present “Beyond Redemption” to our readers in a few words? Give them reasons to check your work out. What will they find in it?
"Beyond Redemption" is a solid fucking death-metal album. We're not trying to break any speed-records and we're not trying to cram as many sweeps and tapping-licks into a riff as possible. It's an album crafted by five guys who love death-metal just as much as we did 15 years ago.
4. In which ways does “Beyond Redemption” differ from your previous works? How and in which ways has the band’s sound evolved and progressed all these years?
It differs in a lot of ways. We're nine years older, have accumulated a lot of different musical influences and learned quite a lot. The album as I see it is a much more focused effort than ever before, there was a very distinct plan of how we wanted the songs to sound this time around. All other albums were simply a matter of creating something and seeing how it turned out. In my view this is a much more straight-forward death-metal album. Sure, there are several different directions that can be noticed between the songs which is unavoidable when the material spans over almost seven years from oldest to newest track. "Beyond Redemption" is obviously more speedy thrash-death while "Reap As We Have Sown" has a heavier CANNIBAL CORPSE kind of feel to it while "As We Burn" and "Only Hell Remains" has a slightly more melodic touch.
Another interesting way the music has evolved is that it tends to get simpler with each album. Many of the songs on the album have very simple structures, similar to any pop-tune you might hear on the radio. I've always had great admiration for bands that manage to make a simple song with few riffs into an epic journey. I'm not a big fan of the over the top tech-death stuff. It's impressive, sure, but so is playing Guitar Hero on hard...
5. Have you got any more songs ready? If yes, how did you choose which ones to include in your new album and what will happen to the ones you left out?
We do have a couple of tunes finished so it doesn't look like it's going to take another nine years to get the next album out.
By the time we started recording sometime in December we only had 8 songs finished so there was some stress in the songwriting-department. Even so, we did have some kind of selection-process since we had 3-4 rough sketches of songs we thought sounded promising and we simply picked those that we felt were closest to becoming actual finished songs. The last song written for the album ("Force Fed Repentance") was completed sometime after Christmas and we recorded the vocals just before new-years eve one or two days before the mixing-deadline. So there wasn't much of a selection-process, all material recorded ended up on the album. We aren't that good with planning and such but somehow we get things done in time anyway.
6. Why do you think you stand out from most melodic death/thrash metal bands out there? What do you believe you can offer to the metal scene?
First of all I wouldn't say we fit in the "melodic" or "thrash" category anymore. Sure, some of the older material ("There Is No God", "As We Burn", "Only Hell Remains") have very distinct melodic riffs here and there but overall I think this album is far more leaning towards just being a death-metal album with some melodies to spice things up.
How we stand out? I dunno. It's never been our intention to reinvent the wheel or come up with something amazingly new. I think it's quite possible to have distinct musical influences and still play something with our own original twist.
7. What kind of procedure do you follow when you compose songs? Do you have to be in a certain state of mind in order to perform the songs as you want?
I can only speak for myself but creativity isn't something I can turn on or off. Ideas come no matter if I'm at work, out walking or trying to sleep. Sometimes there are no ideas when they are desperately needed, like when we were approaching the deadline for this album. We still needed one more song, only had a half-finished demo and I felt totally drained of ideas. So I tried the naturalistic approach. I went out walking in the woods next to home and wandered for a few hours to clear my head, then I sat down with my guitar and recorded the first thing that came to mind. It actually worked for me that time but usually ideas attack when I least expect them to. I'll typically write a few riffs at a time that fit well together and at the same time get ideas for vocal patterns that usually stick with the song until it is finished. After I have maybe half a song I'll do a simple demo of it and send to the other guys for feedback. If I get a thumbs up I'll continue on the same path. If I get a thumbs down I'll have to change the song or convince the rest of the band that I'm right and they are wrong which is usually what I try to do he, he.
8. Which song or songs do you think are the most ideal to represent the whole album’s essence?
My one fave song from the album is "No Dawn Awaits", I think it sums up what we are all about and contains all of the elements that we feel are essential to our sound. Brutality, melody, atmosphere.
9. Which are your sources of inspiration when it comes to the lyrics? Which are the main topics you deal with?
For the past albums the lyrical work has been divided between Nicke and Anders and I have no idea what went on in their twisted minds. For this one all of the lyrics were written by myself. For me the lyrics aren't something that is separated from the music in any way, the lyrics are what gives the vocals their groove, feel and melody. By that I mean that I always see the lyrics from a musical standpoint not as something that needs to work by itself. Most of the time we'll have a song finished before I start working on the lyrics. I probably look like a complete idiot walking around with my iPod listening to instrumental demos, gruffing guttural rhythms to the music but that's how I get things started. Before even writing a word I try to find a pattern that flows seamlessly with the music and try to write lyrics that are compatible with that rhythm. If a passage isn't singable enough I'll throw it to the scrap-heap no matter how cool I think the wordings are. This is not to say that I don't care about the lyrical topics, there is a definite theme to the album. At first glance the lyrics seem to deal with religious matters but that is only half-true. All of the lyrics on this album are written from a political/social point of view rather then a spiritual one although sometimes it is difficult to distinguish the two.
I'm quite interested in the political zoo that is the U.S. and more or less all of the lyrics are written from that perspective. I find it fascinating that the worlds only superpower in so many ways is ass-backwards, conservative beyond comprehension and how its lower and middle-class are constantly getting fucked up the ass by those in possession of greater wealth.
"Foul Messianic Grace" was written in the midst of the republican primary election. There were quite a few candidates left in the race back then and every last one of them came across as a despicable, self-serving hypocrite. The U.S. is fascinating with their fear of anything even remotely socialist and this "American dream" bullshit. It seems the mentality is that if you're not wealthy and powerful it's your own damn fault and I've never understood that perspective. The way to determine if a society is successful is by seeing what standards the poorest live by, not the other way around. Phew... rant over.
10. Why did you name the album “Beyond Redemption”? Are you referring to anything in particular? The humans for example?
We chose the title because it summed up the general topic of the album quite nicely. The phrase "Beyond Redemption” has something really sinister and conclusive to it. It states that there is no turning back, no measures that can be taken to reverse the downfall.
Sure, I'll admit it's a slight exaggeration just for the sake of it sounding more menacing but it sums up the state of things in the world today. Very few things seem to be heading in the right direction. I'm sure this applies to the situation you have in Greece as well.
11. Who created the cover artwork? It’s intense and is clearly connected to the album title. However I’d like to know what you think about it and how you interpret it…
The artwork was created by Gustavo Sazes (http://abstrata.net/), a very talented artist who has worked with loads of bands bigger then us. He did our MySpace-page and when he heard about the album he asked if we wanted him to do the layout for that as well. Naturally we jumped at the chance. The cover-art was completely his own doing. Sure, we had some small esthetic inputs but the ideas were all his. We sent him some songs and some lyrics and the cover is his interpretation and I think he did a brilliant job.
My interpretation of the cover? Hmmm... let me put my thinking-cap on.
The praying represents a futile gesture, faith in those who govern and make the rules. Futile because democracy is in many ways an illusion. We can vote but in the end we have little control over the people supposed to represent us. Money is power and in the end it seems all ideals can be bought if the price is right.
The screaming skull represents the wail of the oppressed masses, crying for some kind of change in their time of need. As all prayers do, this one also falls on deaf ears. Those aspiring power will say what the electorate wants to hear to get into office, but ultimately the downtrodden are the first to be sacrificed when times get rough.
12. Have you got any plans for live shows? How easy is it for you to play your songs live? Do you have to be in a certain state of mind in order to create the right atmosphere and feeling?
Yup, we've got a few festivals lined up for the summer so as I said, we're in the middle of intense rehearsals. We don't really make songs that are that difficult to play. Some of the old stuff is kind of technical but most of "Beyond Redemption" is fairly straightforward. Some of the older songs of the album have already been played live so we know what to expect.
It's always an interesting experience playing new material on stage, you never know quite how it is going to be received. Songs that sounded great on the album might not work that well in front of a crowd or simply aren't fun to play.
I don't think it's that much about getting into a state of mind. Sure, a gig is best when you are hungry. Playing in front of two drunks passed out over a table might not be as fun as playing for a hundred enthusiastically moshing people but we always try our best anyway even if it sometimes is hard. No, for me the joy of playing really comes when the band is a well oiled machinery, when the songs are so well rehearsed that you don't even have to think about what you are playing. This means you can focus on the audience instead of staring at your instrument. Sometimes on tour I'd realize that I had been playing halfway through a song while thinking about something else. True story!
13. Have you made any video clips? With YouTube I think videos have started becoming a necessity for bands again. How helpful is the Internet?
We've made sure to document the recording-sessions. Since we did everything but the mix ourselves we thought it would give a good insight into a pretty interesting and highly unprofessional process. We have tons of unused material so we might just make a few more videos just for the fun of it. Anyway, the videos can be seen on our YouTube channel (http://www.youtube.com/user/TheForsakenOfficial).
I agree 100% that YouTube has resurrected the music video. Videos don't have to be that expensive anymore. A good camera and some skill in video-editing could get you a long way. We'll probably make at least one video for this album, actually this will be the first video ever for us so this is a chance for me to finally show off my superior acting skills and break into show-business for real.
The Internet is a vital asset for any band. The planet has shrunken considerably since the old 'zine days and gives us the chance to reach a potentially limitless audience. Then again every other band on the planet has the same tools at their disposal so we're also competing with every other band in existence for attention.
14. What kind of feedback have you received thus far? Can you mention a comment, be it positive or negative, serious or funny, that impressed you?
The feedback has been great so far! We haven't been ripped to shreds even once. The album feels really solid so any bad reviews will simply be shrugged off as a bad reviewer with crappy taste in music, he he. And naturally all who give it a great rating are musical geniuses who clearly have amazing insight and totally understand music on a deeper level.
15. I know you are a signed band, but still do you think that the contemporary metal scene has a place for record labels? I mean more and more bands do everything on their own and more and more labels don’t support the bands or pay them any money… What’s your view on this phenomenon?
Recording and releasing an album is easy. I could start my hypothetical black-metal side-project MOTVIND tomorrow and have an album on Spotify in a week. The hardest part is letting the world know you exist and that's where the label comes in. Most bands I know that manage their own music made a name for themselves with the help of a record label first. Marketing and promotion is fucking hard work and without the distribution-channels of an established record-label it's even harder. It doesn't really matter if you have the best album in the world, if no-one knows it's out there it's doomed to become an obscure, rare cult-album 10 years from now.
Sure, record labels take a lot of the profit but then again they take a lot of the risk as well. A record label is a company, a company needs to make a profit in order to survive. If times are tough and fewer albums get sold it's the band that will have to pay for it by getting less royalties, smaller studio-budget, less advertising and smaller tour support. It sucks but that's the way it is. The best way to support a band is to BUY THEIR FUCKING MUSIC!!!!!!!! Seems like a fair trade, give the band a little something because you enjoy what they do, this small contribution allows them to continue doing what they do. Everyone is happy and we can go on with our lives.
16. What do you want people to think when they listen to THE FORSAKEN?
"Wow! This is the best band ever and that Patrik-guy is hell-a-handsome and not even slightly retarded!" is probably not the reaction we'll get from the album.
I'll settle for the next best thing. Just the fact that there are people out there who really like the music we do is enough to put a smile on my face.
17. Thank you! Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Not much! Thank you very much Christine for the interview and for still giving a shit about us. Check the album out, it will be released on the 29th of June through Massacre Records.
Cheers and peace out!