DOC COYLE is the guitarist for GOD FORBID, I had the pleasure of interviewing him for my “Mars Attacks Podcast” late last year, and was able to catch the band play twice in the past twelve months. Once at the now defunct Kobetasonik festival here in Spain, and in New York at B.B. KINGS opening for KITTIE while visiting the states back in March. When speaking to DOC the last time there were so many things in limbo, as a result I wanted to follow up with him and see where a bunch of the topics stood at this point in time.
1. We previously talked back in November. At that time there was a bit of uncertainty surrounding the band, you didn’t have management, a label, and Matt (Wiklund) had just joined the band. Flash forward to March, I was lucky enough to see GOD FORBID with KITTIE at B.B. Kings in NYC. At this show Byron (DAVIS lead singer of the band) announced that the band was working on new material that if all went well would be released in the near future. How is the writing process coming along?
All of the management and label stuff hasn’t been fully resolved although we’re making progress. The writing is actually going very smoothly. We had some shows in June and July which slowed things down a bit, but we’re back to rehearsing a couple times a week. Matt and I were working on material on our own on computers, and it’s been a great way to showcase the material before we get into a room so the guys are already familiar the material and arrangement. It has saved a lot of time. Plus if we demo something on our own and guys don’t like it, than we don’t work on it. I think we have 6 songs we’re working on right now as a band, but only one is fully complete. I have no problem taking our time making sure things are right as opposed to rushing.
2. When we last spoke you also mentioned that Matt had brought some new ideas to the table, how is his input shaping the new material?
He’s a songwriter. The guys plays guitar all day long and always has a melody or riff floating around in his head. I was going through a rough time around last fall with a break up and some depression, and he helped spark some inspiration in me and get me to start writing again. For that I’m thankful. We’ve contributed about equal material to the process, which is great for me. I unintentionally became the main song writer for the band because Dallas just became disillusioned with the band’s melodic thrash roots. So he wrote less. I love to collaborate with someone. Matt and I are more similar. We both love the Scandinavian stuff like IN FLAMES, ARCH ENEMY, and DIMMU BORGIR. In a way, I have to compensate for that and write more dark, and slower material because I don’t want GOD FORBID to just sound like a European band. That’s been our core for the last few albums, but it’s just a starting point. We’ve always branched out and had a distinctly American edge that stems from PANTERA and MACHINE HEAD. I never want to lose that. Matt is also really good with orchestration and key boards so I would expect more of that on the album.
3. Do you think that working without a label or management has assisted you in crafting the new songs? In other words without the pressures of having either breathing down your neck, has it allowed the band to really do what they want?
It’s hard to say. It’s probable that we would be more aligned to a specific schedule. Labels and managers need their bands to be productive making albums and touring to make money, so I suppose you have a point. The fact of the matter is that I think we’re all just dealing with real life. I think we’ve past the point where we’re going to go on the road for peanuts just to live the rock n roll dream. We’re all grown up, and we have to treat the band more responsibly from a business stand point to survive. In the past, we would go on tour over budget without a plan, and it’s wreaked havoc on the business. So that has to be in order first and foremost. The album will get where it needs to be in the proper time. We have patience right now and we’ve never had that.
4. Has your playing experience with LAMB OF GOD factored into this album at all?
It definitely has. There are a handful of riffs I’ve written that are inspired by their style. I had a lot of fun playing those songs, and I still play them to keep up with the differing technique that their songs offer. It’s very notey, and involved a lot of left hand work with plenty of controlled alternate picking. I’ve often referred to them as the best metal band in the biz before I played with them, and I have even more respect for their music and their status after I’ve played with them. They should teach riff class, haha.
5. Have you begun looking into producers or labels for that matter?
There have been talks about producers. I’d love to do vocals with Jason Suecoff, because I think he worked great with Byron on Constitution. We’ve also talked about Adam D, Mark Lewis, Devin Townsend. A few others. It’s just talks right now. Until we sign a deal and get a budget, we can’t pin point anyone. Plus, the really good producers are always busy so if you don’t book em way in advance, it may not work out. We’ve been waiting to talk to labels until we find a good manager. We have someone that we’d like to work with but the process is going slow. If it doesn’t pan out, we may just hire a lawyer and go look for a label ourselves. Can’t wait around forever. It’s fine though, I’d rather go to label when the album is almost completely done, so they understand what the next album will be.
6. Live you guys did PANTERA’s “Mouth For War”, you’ve also covered Muse in the past. Are there any covers you’d like to record for the new album? I have mentioned a cover song I’d like to do for the next album to the guys. It’s not a metal song, but it’s from the solo band from a guy who played in a pretty big metal band. I hope it works out, but I’m not gonna give it away. I think our cover songs have been hit and miss. I love doing covers, but some work live and some work on recording. Metallica did it right. It’s best to cover obscure stuff with bad production and make it your own rather than cover Rain in Blood or something. On recording I mean, live it’s always cool to do famous songs. Not that I’ve always followed my own advice.
7. We previously discussed the various guitars you’ve used, the Stephen Carpenter model ESP, and ESP Eclipse you used with L.O.G., and your custom ESP seven string V. What we didn’t really get into is your amp. If I’m not mistaken, I believe I noticed you were using one of the new EVH III 5150 heads. Why the switch to this amp?
I used to use Peavey 5150′s going back to 2002. I still have a 5150 and a 5150 II. I’ve always liked the amps, but switched to Kranks back in 2005 because the Artist Rep Jody Dankberg was the man. Then he left and went to Randall, so I went as well. Then he split with Randall and I was free to do whatever. I heard great things about the Fender 5150 III, and started seeing bands use them all over the place like Darkest Hour, Whitechapel, Gojira. Then I tried Corey (Bealieu) from Trivium’s on Mayhem Fest and I liked it a lot, and our sound guy loved it, so I got in touch with Chris Canella at Fender and he hooked it up. I love the amp, and I have Matt playing one too. We sound great with them.
8. I’ve had several fans of the band contact me regarding your tuning. They mentioned that your earlier material is tunes slightly different in comparison to the newer material you’ve released. What tuning have you used, and was this a conscious effort to try something different, or did it just sort of come about?
We’ve always changed the tunings from record to record because we get bored, and new tunings always seem to inspire. A riff may sound different and fresh in different tunings. I’ll give you the run down. Reject the Sickness was mainly D standard meaning the whole guitar down 1 full step, and there were 2 songs in dropped C. Determination was all D standard mainly because we had guitars with whammy bars and it was too annoying to tune them down. Than Gone Forever was about half and half D standard and we switched all of the dropped songs to C sharp from C because we thought it sounded tighter, although we do all those songs dropped C live because it’s easier to sing. Constitution was all dropped C. We started using Seven strings on Earthsblood with the primary tuning being the whole guitar tuned down a full step with a low A. There are a couple exceptions though. Shallow is half step down and Bat the Angels is dropped C with the A tuned down a step to G. This is a very cool tuning Dallas came up with.
9. One of the things that has really caught my attention about you specifically are the articles you put together for Metal Sucks. Not to kiss your ass, but your posts never seem to have an agenda, and seem to be very true and honest. Why is it that so many people in metal are so concerned about following trends, and scared to admit that they actually admire a band?
We all want to belong, be accepted. Having a dissenting opinion puts a target on your back in a way. I just think there is a lot of elitism in metal or any cultural sect than contains a decent amount of intelligent people. I have several very smart friends that I would consider elitists when it comes to their cultural preferences but that can relate to films, literature, or even the restaurant or bars they go to. They are my friends and I don’t hold it against them, but it’s not me. I consider myself to be an intelligent guy with a populist sensibility. Of course I have standards, but I enjoy a lot regular joe amenities and that could be listening to Aerosmith or going to see and enjoying Transformers or eating a hot dog from 7-11.
10. Have you received any backlash from any of your posts?
Just the retorts in the comments section, and most of those are pretty fair. I always expect more backlash than I get. Half the time when I write something, I think everyone is going to think I’m an idiot. I hearken back to writing research papers in high school. I try to have a thesis and back it up with evidence or at least a cohesive argument, but half of the time I’m questioning myself. The blog itself is me discovering if I even have a point worth arguing. That’s why so many of my blogs end up in question format. I really want to hear some feedback to find out if I’m full of shit. I love to debate. Prove me wrong. I welcome a rich discussion.
11. The one post that really sticks out in my mind is what you mentioned regarding frontmen wanting the crowd to do something specific in unison. A few days after this was posted I witnessed the lead singer of a band roll his eyes on stage when a crowd here in Spain didn’t instantly do the Wall of Death when he commanded. This actually isn’t the first time I’ve seen something similar, the language barrier actually plays a big part in this. Why have bands come to expect these things? Is there an unwritten law that us as fans don’t know about where a pit must form, even if the band sucks?
My dismay with this type of crowd interaction began when I started seeing bands steal the stage banter from other bands. I started to realize it was a gimmick to make the band look like their shit was sooooo heavy that the crowd just couldn’t contain themselves. But it’s not really true. If the part was so heavy and so great you wouldn’t have to orchestrate people. Things really changed around the late 90′s. Phil Anselmo was the king of getting the crowd into it, but he almost didn’t have to because the music was so heavy and energetic. He just brought it up a notch. But I think when hardcore and metal started mixing that’s what really brought it out because hardcore was all about crowd participation, dancing, sing a longs, stage diving. Than Hatebreed blew up, and a big part of it was the way Jamey (Jasta) commanded the crowd. They mixed hardcore with metal and became the biggest band at the time of the scene, and everyone followed his and their lead. So when all the bands I came up with like Chimaira, Killswitch, Shadows Fall, this just became industry standard. But the thing is, those bands are good so you didn’t tire of it. You were enthusiastic about rocking out because the music brought it out of you, but now you’re hearing the same lines as 10 years later with music that’s half as inspiring, so it is was it is. Tom Araya doesn’t have to say shit, and people still wreck for Slayer. Word.
12. What bands should we be listening to right now outside of God Forbid?
My favorite albums of the years so far are the new Deftones, As I Lay Dying, Periphery, Sevendust, and the new Soilwork is unbelievable. It’s my favorite album of the year so far.
13. If all goes as planned what does the balance of the year hold in store for you and the band?
Writing than recording. Just have to figure out the business end of things. We will also be doing shows here there including our first show ever in Mexico. I’m also doing a new band with Tommy Vext from Divine Heresy/Snot. We’re still working on demos and putting a band together, but I’m psyched about that as well.
14. Where can people go for frequent updates regarding the band? Right now, just check our myspace but I can’t guarantee how frequent it will be. We’re very busy working on stuff and living life to be on the comp all day. Hopefully once things get rolling we can get more updates including footage of us writing and recording.
15. On a side note, what is the best place in New Brunswick to pick up a Fat Cat?
I prefer PJ’s on Easton Ave. Enjoy!
- Victor M. Ruiz