Interview with God Forbid
Band: God Forbid
By: Mujtaba M Badr & Moustapha Laithy - 2012-12-01
God Forbid, one of the most notable American heavy metal acts, considered as one of the New Wave Of American Heavy Metal back in the mid to late 90's, with five albums and the sixth coming out very soon, the band craved a name for themselves among the metal community and being always praised by the critics. Just before their new album Equilibrium next March 26th , we have the amazing opportunity to interview the band founder and guitarist , Doc Coylle
JZ: Firstly, we would like to thank the members of God Forbid and Victor Record for this opportunity. We'd like for you to talk about the upcoming album "Equilibrium", how do you feel about it, and how would you describe it to the fans of God Forbid?
I feel great about Equilibrium. People may get tired of hearing this, but I think it may be our best album yet. We spent almost 2 years between the writing, pre-production, and recording process. That extra time really gave us the ability to hone in on the details of every track. The biggest improvement coming in the bands ability to write hooks. To fans of God Forbid I would describe it as more of a return to the Gone Forever/Constitution traditional style with the songs being more concise and to-the-point, but tacking some new territory with Matt Wicklund coming to the band and bringing his unique style. The album is also very diverse, so expect many types of songs. I am excited for people to hear how the band has evolved.
JZ: Most of the fans are looking forward to this album, since it is the first with Matt Wicklund after the departure of Dallas Coyle, how has that effected God Forbid's sound in the new album? I read somewhere that the writing process was, "... tremendously easier for several reasons" and that Matt, " ...fits in awesome" [sic]. Does the new album title "Equilibrium" reflect this new situation?
I think so. The title just made sense. We didn’t talk about the meaning of the title in great detail. It just felt right, and I suppose it does describe a better working relationship within the band. Regarding how Dallas’s exit and Matt’s arrival affected the band, it was pretty dramatic. Dallas’s contribution to the music writing dwindled over the years, and I ended up writing more of the songs. He focused more on lyrics and vocal melodies. Matt wrote a bunch of the new songs and we wrote a few together so I was under less pressure, which was great. But with Dallas gone, Byron and I had to figure out a new writing style for the vocals. There were a lot of growing pains early on, but our managers actually had us come in to their home studio to help work out ideas. This proved to be a breakthrough, and from there on out, Byron and I worked really well together and I think we’ve written some of the band’s best lyrics and vocal hooks. Dallas was also souring on writing in the melodic thrash style as well, but with Matt we were comfortable just being a metal band. There was less tension and resistance.
JZ: Earthblood was already highly acclaimed, with some reviewers calling it the best God Forbid album so far. I believe such comments make it harder for the artist's next release, has that effected "Equilibrium's" writing process?
No. We didn’t really think about it, but there were specific discussions on making sure this album was not as progressive as Earthsblood.Earthsblood was an album we had to make in order to do something different and turn our genre on its ear. The critics seem to love it, but I think our fans were split on Earthsblood. When Dallas left, I assumed we would go much heavier and extreme, but the rest of the guys want to go more straight -forward and hook oriented. I am a team player, so I was on board as long as the vocals were good enough to make it work. I told Byron he had to step up and he really did. I think I made drastic improvements as a vocalist too, but I had to because Dallas is so talented.
JZ: When you released the single off of "Equilibrium", Don't Tell Me What To Dream, I noticed how some people mentioned how it incorporates some Djent elements. For me, as a Djent fan, I dont see it, it's just GOD FORBID SLAY IT*. However, it made me want to ask about what you think about Djent and how it affects the metal community in general. Do you think you may get some influences from it?
[*No Pun intended, I wrote this question even before Doc Coyle comments about Djent/Slayer]
I love the style. Periphery, Tessaract, Textures, are all some of my favorite newer bands. I love the fact that they combine great technical skill with melody and heaviness. I identify with it more than some of the other new styles like Deathcore. I thought it was kinda cool that people were saying it sounded like Djent, but it bothered me when people said we were doing it on purpose to fit in with new bands. It’s just not true, because Don’t Tell Me What To Dream is the only song on the album that sounds like that, and I was inspired to write the song by another God Forbid track called Bat The Angels from Earthsblood that my brother wrote. Dallas always wrote the mid-tempo groovy style song on the albums, so I wanted a couple tracks in that vein. I just wanted people to hear the whole album before making any broad judgements. I think it’s fun to have the debate in public forums like Twitter. I don’t take any of the internet jabs personally. People just like to talk shit. It entertains me.
JZ: What I admire most about God Forbid is that, the band doesn't hide it's love and respect of other bands and artists working in genres other than metal. You covered Muse and morned White Huston through your Facebook page. How would you answer those people who think that this is not true to metal and what are your influences from other genres of muisc?
I don’t really care what people think is true to metal. God Forbid could make a power metal album and people would still call us Metalcore, so the metal elitists have already boxed us in. We can’t control everyone’s perception. Also, metal is just one part of what I like and who I am. My 3 favorites artists all-time are Metallica, The Beatles, and Michael Jackson. As you can see, only one is metal. If you only identify with one sub-culture, that is very boring to me. Life has so much more to offer. I want to stay open minded, and open to new experiences for as long as possible because we tend to lose that when we get older. We get stuck in our ways. I also only speak for myself. Every guy in God Forbid has their own taste, and that’s great.
JZ: This year saw a lot of talk about the internet censorship laws, like SOPA and, since (as a band) you are obviously effected by piracy, what was your reaction to all these laws and internet privacy?
I would like it if there could be regulations put in place to make downloading a lot harder than it is. I am guilty of downloading stuff, so I know how easy it is. It’s way too easy and I think as long as it is, it’s going to be difficult to convince kids not to do it because they’ve grown up with it and don’t know any better. From what I read about SOPA, it was overreaching and gave the government way too much power to shut down websites, so maybe that is not the answer. They need a scalpel and not a hammer to solve the problem. Overall though, the record industry may be saved because the internet is still the wild-wild west. It will not stay as lawless as it is forever. More laws could hurt the overall freedom that we love about the internet, so we have to be careful.
JZ: Let us talk about the lyrics, one of the things that got me into God Forbid are its lyrics and how they relate to everything happening around us. For example, in "Earthsblood", these lyrics have been with me since I heard them: "All together we stand and rise... or there will be blood... opposition set around me... illusion of equality... liberty, a far cry... all together we stand and rise... or there will be blood". As the first part of my question, what is God Forbid's writing process concerning lyrical content and what inspires it? The second part concerns the quote above, do you believe that someday we will really "all together stand and rise" ?
I can’t really speak for Byron and his process as far as lyrics, but this album was my first time writing lyrics in a lead capacity with the band. I ended up writing lyrics for 3 songs and helping Byron with a few arrangements. It was very challenging because I wanted the lyrics to come from a real place and en emotional core, but I wanted the poetry to make sense and sound good in terms of vocabulary and wording. I would just sit down and really try and hone in on a feeling that was important to me, and make sure that it was truthful. Do I believe humanity can “stand up and rise”? Maybe in a metaphorical sense, we can rise by evolving. We are slowly becoming one world culture, so as borders and nationalism dissolve, hopefully we can progress by focusing on innovation and problem solving.
JZ: Lot of our readers are local Middle Eastern musicians, and we have this problem concerning those young musicians who just want to quickly become known around the world and tour the EU and USA. You, as a band, have been around since the mid 90's, produced six albums, and have been signed to two of the biggest metal labels, yet, most people agree that you are still an underrated band and didnt get the exposure that you deserve! So, what you would you to tell our readers that could explain or describe how the development of a metal band?
First off, you have to keep in mind that the current environment is vastly different to how things were when God Forbid first got going. Things happened for us because we always set small and reachable goals early on, but we also were obsessed with doing the band, and put everything we had into it. But, none of that mattered until we could make music that was deserving of attention, and that was in 1999 when we made our first album, Reject the Sickness. It was obvious that we were doing something that was unique, and good enough to deserve attention beyond the local level. And that was 13 years ago. The internet has become the great equalizer in that MTV, radio stations and Major Labels are no longer the primary gate keepers to expose your band. There are positives and negatives to this development. Technology has made it possible for anyone to start a band or be a one-man band, and deliver relatively high quality recordings to the entire world very cheaply. But because of that, there are a million musical entities sitting in cyber space waiting to be heard. So that means, you have to be twice as good to be recognized and stand out from the pack. So put your focus into being unique and high quality. It’s tough to stand out being average without having another hook like wearing costumes or makeup. Not that there is anything wrong with that. It’s certainly direction to take and Kiss and Slipknot ain’t hurting.
JZ: You guys are now preparing for a North American tour with the Thrash gods, Overkill. How do you feel about it and how are you preparing for this tour?
We obviously have the utmost respect for Overkill and feel honored to be able to hit the road with them. We’ve toured with many thrash legends like Slayer, Anthrax, Death Angel, so we feel very comfortable playing with bands of this era and stature. I’ve always felt that God Forbid tried to continue many of metal and thrash’s traditions musically. Overkill is also from New Jersey, so we have the common bond. There aren’t too many real metal bands from Jersey. As far as preparations, we are putting together a set that we think will work with a tour like this. Luckily, we write a variety of songs, and can put together different types of set lists that work with a variety of crowds. We haven’t toured in 2 years, so we are ready to get out.
JZ: Speaking of tours and shows, recently, many bands started to come to the Middle East (i.e. Metallica , Obscura, and the upcoming Hate Eternal event in Dubai). Does God Forbid have any plans to do something like this? Seeing how the metal scene here is growing, and how fans here are hungry for the opportunity of attending some live shows. I'm betting that they will be more than happy to see some "true" metal acts like God Forbid!
We would love to. A bunch of our friend’s bands like Chimaira and Machine Head have played Desert Rock in Dubai, and we’ve heard some great things. Some of the non-conventional places to play like the Middle East and Asia are far away enough that it’s difficult to tell what type of following we have in these places. We would be very excited to go to the Middle East, so we’ll see what happens.
JZ: That brings to me to the question: do you know of or listened to any bands from the Middle East? Who were they are and what are your thoughts about them?
Outside of Acrassicauda from Iraq because of the film that was made about them and Orphaned Land from Israel, I’m not too familiar with the Middle East metal scene. Before the films Heavy Metal in Bahgdad and Sam Dunn’s Global Metal, I didn’t know there really was a metal scene in the Middle East. I guess the internet is changing things, but I wasn’t sure how censorship affected how people were exposed to music. The fact that these are emerging scenes is really exciting. It’s great to be able to expand the map, and it shows how truly global heavy metal is. It really does cross all cultures, and that’s a beautiful thing.
JZ: Again, thank you for this great opportunity, are there any final comments and what would like to say for your fans in the Middle East?
I would just like to thank you for interview and the support. It means a lot to the band. To any fans we may have in the Middle East, or if you’ve never heard us, please check out our new album Equilibrium on Victory Records. It comes out March 26th 2012. Hopefully, we can make it over there soon. Cheers