Notice Is Served
CoC chats with Dallas Coyle of God Forbid
by: Jackie Smit
There's a name you're going to be hearing a lot in 2004: God Forbid. Unlike the Limp Bizkits, the Papa Roaches and the Linkin Parks of this world however, their name won't be ringing in your ears because of the traditional MTV force-feed, or because a group of balding record company bosses think that God Forbid has the "2004 sound" -- you will hear it on the lips of anyone with a passion for undiluted heaviness, because this New Jersey act is, as the saying goes, simply that damn good. You want proof? Try their latest effort _Gone Forever_ on for size. The product of relentless and painstaking hard work, the influence of new friends made on tour and the dedication and of five men to their craft, _Gone Forever_ is God Forbid's siren-call.

And they want everyone on this planet to sit up and pay attention...

CoC: Starting with the new album -- there was a significant delay between _Gone Forever_ and your previous record, _Determination_. Why the long gap?

Dallas Coyle: Well, it's hard to explain really, because when we did _Determination_, we had actually just completed _Reject the Sickness_ and we were signed to Century Media off the back of that album. So, we had to do a new album almost immediately for the label, so that we could go on tour, which made _Determination_ sort of a rushed job. With _Gone Forever_, the process was much more thought out. We toured for two years, which naturally hindered everything, and then we had some personal problems, which took a long time to sort out. The record also took a long time to write, because we wanted to add all these new elements and obviously you want to introduce the new elements without compromising the sound. So a lot of time writing this record was actually spent being very scientific about what we were doing. The fact that we are a "scream" band -- it's a lot harder not to be monotonous. Take _Determination_ for example: think of the album what you will, but I think it gets monotonous after the sixth track, because of the way that the songs are written. With _Gone Forever_ that's definitely something that we wanted to avoid.

CoC: _Determination_ received a very positive response and raised God Forbid's profile considerably. Did the band ever feel additional pressure while recording _Gone Forever_ as a result?

DC: No, because when we were doing this record, we knew that it was going to be better than _Determination_ from the start. We're not the kind of band to feel pressure, because the only goal we set for ourselves is to write a good song and that's the only pressure that we place on ourselves. I don't think that there's any pressure from how successful we are. I mean, even though _Determination_ was critically acclaimed and we got well known and there were a lot of ads, we actually didn't really get "big" off of it. We were never drawing more than 500 people to a show. We were never really coming home with more money than we could spend. There was never really any pressure to do anything on this album, because we didn't feel that _Determination_ had taken us to the level where we wanted to be at that point. We want this new record to be one that will turn us into headliners. We don't want to be a band that supports. And _Determination_ -- man, it's a good record, but it's definitely not what our band is about now.

CoC: So placing aside the diversification you brought into God Forbid's sound, what would you say sets _Gone Forever_ apart from everything else the band has ever done?

DC: Focus. There's definitely greater confidence and greater focus. With _Determination_ we were kind of scatter-brained. We had just been signed to a metal label, we wanted to make a metal record, and we kind of went away from some of the things that we do well to make that. With this new record -- in time leading up to our writing and recording it, we were touring with all these bands, who we all got along with great and who really enjoyed us musically; more so live than on the record, because they understood how we had written the songs. I mean for us, when you listen to _Determination_, there are songs on there that don't capture the original energy with which they were written at all. With the new record, it was much more demanding, and the reason why we had problems with our band as far as writing the album was concerned, is because my brother and I had a definitive focus for the band. We wanted to find our sound. Obviously we're going to be compared to Killswitch Engage and Shadows Fall and Lamb of God -- those are things that we can't control, but what we can control is to make sure that we do what we do as well as we can do it on every single song, and that it's our sound. And that's what we tried to do, which again is why the album took so long. I think that focus is the main issue and I think that touring with so many bands we have learned a lot of new things about music which we apply to what we do.

CoC: That brings me to my next point actually: God Forbid has toured with such a diverse catalogue of bands (Cradle of Filth, Opeth, Mushroomhead etc.); how much of an influence have these bands been on the new material?

DC: I would say that not many bands really rub off on our band's style, apart from the bands that we are permanently influenced by. Cradle of Filth, for example, is a band that I like and respect, but I wouldn't say that I am inspired to write music because of them. Opeth on the other hand, is a band that really influenced the new record -- there's so much Opeth influence on the new record. A lot of people wouldn't really notice, but the style that they do where they're melodic as well as heavy at the same time is definitely something that we have taken from them. A lot of people wouldn't even think it, but that's definitely something that we've taken from them. Killswitch Engage, Lamb of God and guys like that -- those are inspirations to us. I mean, we listen to their music and we ask what makes it current and what makes it fresh and then we apply that to what we do, while still keeping it in the God Forbid sounds. You know, my dad always says: "Good musicians borrow, great musicians steal." And that's what we do -- we take things that other musicians do and do it in our own way and hopefully make it a bit better.

CoC: Speaking of your father -- God Forbid has always exuded a strong sense of bonding and family. How do your parents and your family feel about what you do?

DC: Our band is definitely supported by all our families. My brother and I have been brought up in a musical household. My father was a piano teacher, my mom is a singer -- and it's so much easier, because my dad raised us on the piano. The fact that we didn't go to college and got into music instead; he couldn't really say anything about it, because he knew exactly where we were coming from and why we were doing it. The fact that we've gone further than he or my mother has ever gone, he's really proud of that, and he really shows his support. Every Christmas, he buys God Forbid shirts for his students. He wears God Forbid stuff -- he's really proud of it. I think that's a big reason why we're so successful. We put everything into our music, because that's always what we've been taught to do and what we've been steered toward doing. We never had any flack about us throwing our lives away. It's not like the '70s, like in "Almost Famous", where parents were throwing away their kids' records. Our dad bought us Metallica CDs.

CoC: Has he ever gone to any God Forbid shows?

DC: Yeah, he actually came out to a show recently; just after we finished the record. The first show that he ever came to see us at, he just said to us: "You were out of tune." That was all he said. Then with the last show he said: "The singing sounded really great." That was when we had just started singing, so that really meant a lot to us. It's not like when you have a kid that comes up to us and who's really bloody saying: "That was great shit, man -- I got my head kicked in six times." Our dad -- man, he's listening to us the way a musician would listen to us, not to blow smoke up our asses, because he is in no position to do that. He gains nothing from that. And the fact that he likes what we do means a lot more to me than most other things.

CoC: So what sort of music did you listen to growing up?

DC: Well, I got into music earlier than my brother. My brother didn't really start listening to music, until we moved in with my dad -- that's when he found Metallica. But when I was living with my mother, I was really into old-school hip hop. And she was really into R 'n' B, so that's where a lot of my singing comes from -- all the singing on the new record is my stuff, because it's pretty easy for me to come up with it; it's really natural. When me and my brother moved out of the house though, I got really detached from the whole black culture of music, and I got into metal. I was drawn to it so much, it was kind of like this immediate obsession for me. It was like, every time that I saw Guns 'n' Roses or Metallica on MTV, it was magical. Then from there, when I was in high school I was not a good student, and I hung out with people that were much older than me and they listened to Slayer. Then a couple of people who I knew from my apartment building listened to Megadeth and I was grabbing onto all this stuff from all these people and it was all just metal. It was like fate -- getting this in my brain. One of my friends gave me a tape with _Reign in Blood_ and you know that album has the whole album on both sides, and I was walking around with my walkman with that shit on repeat, because that was me at the time. Then, being from New Jersey, I started getting to know the hardcore bands, and when we started hardcore metal was still really new. Shit like Overcast had just come out and I think that the part of their music that we patch into our band, makes us different to just a straight metal band. At the same time though, our hardcore influence is minimal. I mean, it consists out of basically just a couple of New Jersey bands and it's there just basically for the brutality. The hardcore's definitely more of an overtone.

CoC: Coming back to your dad; growing up with a piano teacher, you must also have quite a bit of classical influence in your musical array as well.

DC: Yeah, I mean, I wouldn't say that I was really watching my dad play. I was just listening and learning and that stuff stayed with me forever. I'm really turned on by minors -- minor pieces; things that don't sound happy. That's the type of stuff that I've always been into. My dad would play old classical stuff and old jazz like Miles Davis; stuff that's quirky, but really dark as well. That definitely takes a toll. Also, how I grew up with my dad struggling to support us. I mean, I never got abused or anything like that, but the stress level that my father suffered -- that shit rubs off and it can be almost just as bad. That made me want to lash out; it made me want to create. I never thought about singing until last year, but as far as guitar -- that was always there.

CoC: With your ethnic background and God Forbid being a band that is racially diverse in a fairly secular genre of music; do you feel that what you are doing could potentially influence other kids who would possibly be apprehensive about starting a band or doing something similar to get into the scene?

DC: Well, I think we're helping, but I think that bands like Outkast are actually doing more for metal in that respect. I mean, their new album is so not black. We've been seeing more black kids coming to shows and you see no shelter in their eyes or anything like that. It's like they're proud to be black and to be at the show. A lot of the black stereotypes... You know, I have two black cousins who fit the black stereotype and who are in jail right and it's so sad, because they're both smart as hell. And they're in this shit, because they followed a fake dream that someone else put in their heads. I think that the kids right now are getting smarter and they know that all the stuff they see on MTV -- all the shit with people like Puff Daddy; that is something that is not very desirable, because usually it ends badly. Metal and rock music for me has always been very liberating. It's always been about lashing out at the norm and I think that there's a lot of black kids who are realising that and realising that just because they're more drawn to metal, it just makes them a different kind of person, not a bad person.

CoC: Well, thanks a lot for your time, Dallas. Any last words?

DC: No, man -- thanks for the interview and we'll see everyone of you on tour very soon.

(article submitted 29/2/2004)

12/2/2005 J Smit God Forbid: Welcome to the Fall
2/28/2009 J Smit 9.5 God Forbid - Earthsblood
10/17/2005 J Smit 9.5 God Forbid - IV: Constitution of Treason
2/16/2004 A McKay 9 God Forbid - Gone Forever
5/13/2001 A Bromley 9.5 God Forbid - Determination
12/2/2005 J Smit The Haunted / God Forbid Absolution Not a Frozen Room
8/31/2004 A McKay Slipknot / Slayer / God Forbid God Forbid! It's Slayer -and- Slipknot
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