Welcome to the Fall
CoC chats with Doc Coyle of God Forbid
by: Jackie Smit
There are those who contend that Nostradamus' teachings pinpoint 2006 as the start date of the Third World War, and mankind's ultimate destruction at the hands of a nuclear holocaust. Whether or not you place any stock in this sort of thing is a different matter entirely, but as atomic paranoia once again grips the world in the same way that it did during the Eighties, it's only natural that this psychosis should be reflected in humankind's most extreme art form. One of the finest examples of this is the latest opus by New Jersey thrashers God Forbid, entitled _IV: Constitution of Treason_. A conceptual tale of annihilation and redemption, it provides one slight silver lining in that if the planet is indeed (for lack of a better phrase) fucked, at least we're going to have a hell of a soundtrack to usher us into the end times. God Forbid founder and chief guitarist Doc Coyle was back in the CoC hot seat to shed some light on his vision of the future.

CoC: The last time we spoke was around the time that _Gone Forever_ was about to drop, and knowing how much expectation there was resting on you guys at that point, it was definitely good to see it do well for you. Looking back, how do you feel about how the album was received and how it performed for God Forbid from a commercial point of view?

Doc Coyle: I think it did pretty good. We did about 60,000 in the States sales-wise. About 10,000 in the UK. Probably about 10,000 or 15,000 in the rest of Europe. So for us, I think it was definitely a success from a commercial point of view, especially considering that we only did about nine months worth of touring for the album, which isn't much for a band like us. I think that _Gone Forever_ into the new album is really a case of us working on an upward climb. I think we lost some steam prior to that with there being a big gap between albums. I mean, when you're Tool or Metallica you can take five years between albums, but for a younger band who's not as established, it's not a good idea to wait that long.

CoC: Is that one of the reasons why you brought out _Constitution of Treason_ so soon after _Gone Forever_?

DC: Well, I think we knew what _Gone Forever_ had done and we just felt like if we could get an album out this year, then we'd be a step ahead of a lot of the bigger bands who didn't bring out records this year and who will more than likely have something new in 2006. Outside of Chimaira, nobody else is bringing out anything this year. So we felt like we could maybe steal the spotlight for a few fleeting moments, and more importantly we felt creative enough as a band to write and record a new album, so we just thought: "Why not?"

CoC: So in the run-up to doing _Constitution of Treason_, did you look back on the last record and make a conscious decision to avoid doing anything in particular that you had done previously?

DC: There was never a meeting where we decided what the album was going to sound like. But that said, there were definitely certainly things about _Gone Forever_ that stood out -- it was very straightforward and very catchy -- and in doing it, we learned how to craft songs that were more structured. So this time around, we basically took what we had learned and tried to be a bit more progressive. We didn't want to be predictable at all. _Gone Forever_ was predictable in the way that we wanted it to be. It was very traditional metal. We didn't want to do that this time, and probably with the next album we'll get even more out there.

CoC: How did the recording and writing process differ on this record to all its predecessors?

DC: Well, those records were written and recorded while we were still doing our day-jobs, and because of that it forced us to spend a lot of time in the process; like four to six months of just sporadic writing and rehearsing a couple of days a week. This time we wrote five days a week, like this was our job. And we only had two months to write, so we knew we had a limited amount of time to write; and we knew we'd have another two months on the road afterward, where we'd probably be able to work on some more stuff, but not all that much. So we pretty much got everything done in that time, and whatever wasn't done, we managed to finish up on the road. The exception was "Into the Wasteland". With that song we hadn't come up with a finish yet. I got an idea in my head and ended up putting that in when we were in the studio. But besides that, everything was written in those two months.

CoC: As I'm sure you know, a concept album can be quite a risky undertaking at the best of time. What made you decide to take on the challenge?

DC: It was a very natural thing, because the concept didn't come first; the lyrics came first. And when that was all done, we put the songs in the order that they were supposed to be from a musical point of view, where we'd have songs of varied tempos and so on mixed up. I'm a big fan of not beating someone over the head for forty minutes, you know, so that's where that came from. Only when that was all done did I start to read the lyrics, and it dawned to me that there was a thread running through all of it, and that's when I came up with the story, which I think holds everything together and makes sense of what's going on.

CoC: I know you've been asked this many times, but can you elaborate on the story?

DC: Well, basically it starts in current times where things are kinda fucked up, there's a whole lot of wars going on and eventually most of the earth is destroyed in a nuclear holocaust. That's talked about in the first part. The second part deals with the aftermath of the holocaust, where people start rebuilding society, and because of everything that has happened, the society starts to become very religiously oppressive. And within that, they have one man who stands up as a revolutionary and goes against these oppressors, and eventually there's a revolution, he gets killed as a martyr, but his ideology lives on. The third part takes place many years on and it's kind of a commentary on how people continue to not learn from their mistakes and just go on and on and continue to destroy themselves.

CoC: What inspired the idea for the story?

DC: The lyrics were very apocalyptic, and when I read them I just thought that put together in the right way, we had the makings of a really cool story. I mean, I'm a huge movie fan. I love "The Terminator" and stuff like that, and this just sort of sat alongside all those influences. I don't think that there was a grand concept or a grand scheme from the beginning, but it does make it a bit more exciting and a bit more cinematic, in my opinion. And hopefully we'll be able to make our stage show much more visual as well.

CoC: Musically it strikes me as a much more aggressive record.

DC: I don't even know if I think it's more aggressive. I think it's just more in your face. There was definitely not anything on there that we did on purpose. It just kind of came out that way. Some people might not say that it's heavier, and some people might think that it's more commercially acceptable because there's more singing.

CoC: You mentioned the last time that we spoke that your dad's musical background had a big influence on your and your brother's [God Forbid guitarist Dallas Coyle] writing. Am I to assume that the use of things like piano on the new album stems from that?

DC: Yeah, he actually plays on the new album. On track four, "The Lonely Dead" -- that's him playing. And we basically told him that he could come in and do whatever he wanted, so he listened to the song and improvised some stuff, which I think worked out really well.

CoC: What does he think of the new album?

DC: <laughs> They like it. They're very proud of what myself and my brother have accomplished. And my dad: if he didn't like it, he'd say so.

CoC: You did a number of much bigger and more high-profile tours for _Gone Forever_. What are some of your most memorable experiences from that?

DC: There's a whole bunch. We got to tour with Machine Head in the States and in Europe, which was great, because that was the first time that we had even been to mainland Europe. So we were seeing places like Finland and Spain for the first time, and we were away for such a long time that you couldn't even think about home. But we really bonded with the Machine Head guys, and it was like a really tight-knit family environment. We also got to do the Ozzfest, which was unreal. And we also did a bunch of shows with Hatebreed and Slipknot, and just stuff that was totally beyond what we were expecting to be able to do. It was very surreal. We got to go to Japan for the first time. Really, as far as tours, I don't think we'd have been able to pick anything better. With this album we're going to be going on the road with Meshuggah and The Haunted and guys like that, but at the end of the day, all those tours are really hard fought and you've got to go out there and really work to get on these tours.

CoC: It's been a very long and winding road for you guys. Now that you have reached a slightly more comfortable plain of success, how do you feel about the band and about this business?

DC: Well, with every step you take, there's always more obstacles. The music industry is based around perception, and if you're perceived to be something, then people might believe it and you might get somewhere. So that's what it's all about: you get people to kinda go along with you. I think now we have different obstacles, like people trying to pigeonhole us into the whole metalcore thing, and others think that we're jumping on to some sort of bandwagon. It's really weird, because now that the style that we've been playing for so long has become popular, suddenly there are people sort of expecting you to blow it off and go on to the next thing, and it really isn't like that. In our minds we're just playing metal, and we're trying to be as timeless as possible. The thing right now is that we need to prove to ourselves and to everyone else that we're going to be able to outlast this 'trend'.

CoC: With you being on the Ozzfest, you had a more unique perspective than most on the incident surrounding Iron Maiden and Sharon Osbourne. What's your take on the whole situation, and do you think that there's any validity to the allegation that the Ozzfest has become too corporatised?

DC: Man, everything that makes money is corporate. If it weren't successful, and it didn't make money, then it wouldn't be happening. And for a band like us to expose ourselves, we need to use a channel like Ozzfest to do that. The people that are saying what they're saying about it -- whatever the reality of the matter, if they were called up by Sharon Osbourne and promised x amount of dollars to participate in next year's Ozzfest, I can guarantee you that they'd go. The problems between Iron Maiden and Sharon Osbourne... I think that's all bullshit, because basically they're rich and the rest of us are poor. <laughs> That's the problem right there. They're up there yelling at each other about this and that. I don't really relate to any of that shit. The biggest problem for me is that Ozzy might possibly not be doing it anymore. The whole deal with Sharon is just stupid and immature on both parts. Those are just all spoiled people who think that they can do whatever they want to do. Was Bruce Dickinson wrong for dissing Ozzy? Yeah. Were they wrong for throwing eggs at him? Of course. Both sides were in the wrong, and ultimately it just served to disrespect the audience.

CoC: So, what's next for God Forbid over the next twelve to eighteen months?

DC: A lot of touring. We're really looking forward to getting on some big tours and maybe even playing to a couple of less 'traditional' audiences. We just want to play to a bunch of different people and that's going to be what will take up our time for next year at the least.

CoC: And can fans in far-flung places like Australia and South Africa expect a visit?

DC: We're definitely not opposed to anything. It's all just a matter of timing and what the possibilities are for us. To go to a place like that, we're probably going to have to try and tour with a more artistic band like Tool or System of a Down or Opeth -- someone like that. But we'll see what happens. Hopefully.

CoC: Right, I think that about wraps it up. Instead of the usual "last words" type question, I thought I'd finish off by asking you what your favourite concept album is.

DC: <pauses> Dream Theatre's _Scenes From a Memory_. I love that record.

CoC: I'll overlook the fact that you didn't mention King Diamond's _Conspiracy_.

DC: <laughs> I only got into him later. When I was a kid I hated anything that had the high-pitched metal vocals, like King Diamond and Judas Priest. I only discovered that stuff when I was older.

(article submitted 2/12/2005)

2/29/2004 J Smit God Forbid: Notice Is Served
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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