Lupus Lounge/ Prophecy Productions Artist - A Forest of Stars Interview
1. will several releases and the 2nd on Prophecy how have you seen the band progression . I see it as more into a Post Rock and Progressive rock style with strong metal overtone?
Kettleburner: What I find interesting is that the more people hear it I realise that no one can particularly agree on what direction we've gone in for Beware The Sword You Cannot See. I perhaps feel like we've created some strange musical Rorschach Test. In all seriousness though, more so than before we didn't try and steer the music in any particular path beyond what worked for that particular song (as opposed to say, Opportunistic Thieves of Spring, where I only wrote pieces that had a certain type of feeling to them). We just let the music flow without questioning or trying to overthink things. It was also our most collaborative effort which I am sure adds beautifully to the confusion.
Curse: Lyrically, my path has always remained the same; I write about whatever is on my mind at the time. Quite often, themes and concepts repeat themselves. What can I say? I'm a repetitive man!
2. The heathen and folk element play a strong path of the musical identity. I know there is a large tie to 19th century with the ideals of band as well? Would you talk about that to our readers
The Gentleman: As ever, I hold my hand up and say that this is entirely my fault. I am gleefully obsessed with all things Victorian: the age, the people, the science, the spirituality, the inventiveness, the madness, the contradictions – all of this makes it such a fantastic era, a sort of pulsing, living creature that writhes from the past, tentacles all a-quiver as it taps us on the shoulder and reminds us that for all the time that has past, it is still recent and there is an alarming similarity between those days then and these days now. We're tremendously different in some ways, but in quite a lot of others, not so much. But the main reason we love it is simply that it was such a bloody weird period of history, full of mad, mad people set on courses of unerring and absolute certainty. And of course, it is simply wrong to judge people from 150 (ish) years ago by your own modern standards, but really, you look at some of the general thoughts of that era and it boggles the mind as to what the hell they were thinking. And I just love that mess, the drama, the oddness, the thinly veiled atmosphere of dread, of hope, of seediness, of the desperation of needing to know there was something beyond what they had, that as science gradually peeled back the skin of the universe to reveal the underbelly, people needed to know that there was something really out there, a spiritual hunger that could be fed by science finally revealing there was something there, some deity. And when it didn't, there was this exodus of faith for some, which as nature abhors a vacuum, plenty of people then took up the opportunity to fill with seances, spiritualism, the occult and all things from beyond the veil. And if that giant melting pot of messiness isn't interesting enough to inspire writing some music, then I don't know what is, suffice to say, we've barely scratched the surface, and it gets wonderfully uglier the deeper we dig.
Curse: Coming from a family that has never embraced organised religions has led me to free reign over my own beliefs. Attending one particular school that felt it necessary to try to christianise its' pupils did wonders for my opening up my sense of disgust at the overriding hypocrisy evident in such pursuits.
3. Is there a theme behind " Beware the sword you can not see" ?
Curse: There is a loose theme – that of death, interment, rot, mould and slithering, crawling beasts. The title itself is a reference to the throwing of curses; themselves being the swords that you cannot see. Lyrically, the album also approaches ideas of bewilderment, travels without destinations, and uncertainties regarding ones abilities to complete said travels to any degree of satisfaction.
4. I hear elements of bands like Fen, Devil Doll, Arcturus and My Dying Bride and even Hexvessel and Beastmilk? What would be the two or three bands that really influenced the band?
Kettleburner: Well, out of the list of bands you mentioned, almost all have been influential at some stage, or had some bearing on what we wanted to do during our formative years. Specifically and more recently, I recall that we were all heavily imbibing Hexvessel's Iron Marsh EP during the writing of Beware The Sword You Cannot See. I was also listening to the French band Air semi-religiously at the time, but I can't hear any of their influence in my contributions towards the album. It is all fuel for the fire though, I suppose that what comes out of the fire tends to be very different to what went into it...
The Gentleman: If I had to choose three non-metal bands, I would say GSY!BE, Pink Floyd and Swans. But then that would leave a woeful amount of influences that are of equal importance. We really should make a definitive list someday, but the damn thing keeps changing.
Curse: If I think back to the band's conception, then band number one would be Darkthrone (I was and still am obsessed with A Blaze in the Northern Sky). Band number two would be Devil Doll – I'd never heard anyone approach music in such a wonderfully unhinged fashion – to my mind it worked perfectly. Band number three would be Swans. No more needs to be said on that choice, I don't think. There are so many others it's impossible to begin to list without the fear of putting the reader on suicide watch through sheer boredom.
5.If you could only have one song off new album played so someone could get a good picture of band what would it be and why?
Kettleburner: This hinges entirely on whether people view Pawn on The Universal Chessboard as one piece, given that it is split into six parts. As I do view it as one piece, that would be my answer. I think that it comprises every extreme of the album as well as some of its central themes.
6. You signed a long term deal with Prophecy how has the partnership going and are you pleased with your exposure to the worldwide audience?
The Gentleman: Oh goodness, yes. We absolutely love Prophecy. And that's not something that we say lightly or because we have to tow a particular line. We've said it countless times on record, there is no other label we would rather be with, that gives us complete artistic freedom, and that supports us so unfailingly in every aspect of the band. We could not be happier.
Curse: Indeed. Great people, wonderful attitude and genuine music lovers. We very much fell on our feet there.
7. What are the members of the band listening to and reading currently?
Kettleburner: I am currently listening to Darkher's EP. They are/she is a new signing onto Prophecy and absolutely superb. Also I have been aurally consuming Thaw and WITTR's ambient Celestite record. I am reading, well slowly absorbing, The Kalevala: a great book of ancient meandering Finnish folk tales. Additionally, I recently purchased Robert E Howard's Conan stories, so am working through those stories of valour and power :-)
The Gentleman: This week, as indeed the last month, I've been binging on the back catalogues of Type O Negative and Tangerine Dream (RIP Edgar Froese – I was gutted to hear about that the other day). Book wise, I'm still working my way through the Cadfael series (on number 16 at the moment), plus Gateway by Fredrick Pohl and ooh, nearly forgot, my brother bought me The Codex Seraphinianus, which is just about the most bizarrest book I've ever read. Well, I say “read”, it's impossible to read (people have been trying to decode it for thirty-odd years), but as something to pour over, and enthral you with its mysteries, it's second to none. I only wish he'd start buying me books that actually fit on my shelves...
Curse: Musically, Type O Negative's World Coming Down has been doing the rounds, as has Sühnopfer's Offertoire. Eyehategod's entire catalogue, Wovenhand, plus Sleep, Om, Skepticism and on and on and on. I am currently reading Closing Time by Joseph Heller.
8.Digital age and social media needed evil or fans of the new media?
Kettleburner: I believe that what success we have gathered has The Modern Age to thank for it. The internet has helped spread our songs so much further than we would have been able to otherwise. Luckily we have also had some incredibly supportive people around us from the mainstream UK metal media.
9.You music is so theatrical will we ever see a long form dvd or video from the band?
Kettleburner: It entirely depends on how many underlings we would need to throw at Ingram, our resident Projectionist, to make him agree to such an undertaking. I am absolutely sure that he would happily work thousands of young artists to their death to create a feature length piece, if his own work ethic is anything to go by. For the time being we proudly present a nine minute piece for our track "Drawing Down The Rain", from the new album, which should be beamable from your nearest webological portal by the time you read this.
10. Sorrow, Loss, Hope and Rebirth seem to be reoccuring theme in the bands songs . Do all the album play a longer story?
Curse: As I mentioned previously, I do tend to return to recurring themes – I suppose this is simply due to the subjects being continually trotted out are close to my heart and mind. That, and the fact that I'm creatively barren! More seriously, I feel that since these concepts bother a great many people a great deal of the time, that they are hard to ignore. My attitude towards all of them fluctuates over time, so I feel that it becomes necessary to revisit these thoughts as I see fit. Perhaps the next album will be different. As a rule my lyrical concepts depend upon the situations that I am presented with in day to day life. I always write from the heart.
11. Will A Forest of Stars be coming to North America for live shows on this album?
Kettleburner: I have to be honest here, there are no current plans. We have only stretched off the Great British isles tentatively over the last few years and while we do expect to see much more of Europe this year, we are taking things slowly. There are many of us, some with various commitments, so organising a tour for us can be like herding cats that have had their milk spiked with LSD through a particularly tricky maze. Hopefully one day though :-)
The Gentleman: I would like to add that we would most definitely love to come visit and even perhaps annoy you with some badly played music. As Kettleburner says, hopefully one day. We just have to find the right time, bands, arrangements, booker, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc. So there's not too much standing in our way :-)
12. Your website http://www.aforestofstars.co.uk/ is wonderfully interactive and just great resource how did it come to be ?
Kettleburner: What many people don't realise is that this is an actual desk sat in the Gentlemen's Club and they are controlling the implements, using a rather novel technology (Hyper Telekenetic Transfer Protocol) that our associate Lord Grum cooked up one day for us on his Difference Engine. People are generally respectful and place the objects back in the correct location when they are done, but you do occasionally see the odd inkwell hit the wall across the room.
Curse: Aye, a paperweight in the back of the head on a regular basis is no laughing matter. For the recipient at least!
13. Do the members of the band have other projects that you would like the world to know about musical or otherwise?
Kettleburner: Our drummer, John "The Resurrectionist" Bishop is in an array of other excellent acts - namely Hryre and Acolyte. Our excellent new guitarist, William Wight-Barrow is in a splendidly fiendish act named Mountains Crave. I think otherwise we are relatively musically monogamous currently. My own side project The Water Witch is currently sleeping with one eye open.
Curse: I / we have been trying to put together a more traditional folk band, though time is of the essence, and life gets in the way. Hopefully we can rectify this given time, but the conundrum remains!
14. Thank you for the time any closing thoughts here....
Kettleburner: Jest with an ass, and he will flap you in the face with his tail.
The Gentleman: Ooh, that's a good one. Err, how about: A hungry Fox saw some clusters of ripe grapes hanging from a trellised vine. She resorted to all her tricks to get at them, but she could not reach them and tired herself out. At last she turned away, muttering to herself, “Well, who cares? I'm sure the grapes are sour anyway.”
Curse: If I knew where I was sailing from I could calculate where I was sailing to...