The album may be called Gone Forever but it demonstrates that New Jersey's God Forbid has arrived as a band. The quintet, which features vocalist Byron Davis, guitarists Doc and Dallas Coyle, plus bassist John Outcalt and drummer Corey Pierce, has been around since 1996. After releasing a series of promising records on the indie label 9 Volt, the band signed with Century Media in 2001, released the aptly titled Determination and has never looked back. I caught up with Doc Coyle earlier this year to discuss the band's bold step forward with Gone Forever. Catch the band now on the Ozzfest tour.
SoT: Can you tell me a little bit about what happened between the last record and the new one?
Doc Coyle: A lot of touring. We toured for about a year-and-a-half, all over the U.S. We played with some pretty big bands. We came home and were pretty broke, we had to go get day jobs and then we started writing the record. We were playing pretty good but we had some tough times getting along,just having certain expectations. Eventually, we got on with it and it came out way better than we ever thought it would. We toured for four months after we recorded the album. But there was a long time between when it was actually recorded and when it actually came out.
SoT: People might be surprised about the fact that you guys came home broke from such a long tour.
DC: The thing is that we were a brand new band at the time. We were on our own. No one was there to support us so we had to take very little money or no money to play with bigger bands at first, in exchange for exposure. That's just where we were at at the time. You also sacrifice a normal kind of life in order to tour. Bands are getting a lot bigger, a lot quicker than when we started. Hopefully, once the record starts selling, I won't be claiming brokeness.
SoT: Was it a real conscious effort to break new ground with this new record?
DC: We really wanted to make a classic record. We really wanted something that would stand up there with some of the best metal records of the past 10 years. That's a pretty tough thing. But that's the bar we set for ourselves and everything we've done in the past, we kind of threw out the window. We weren't trying to redo something old. The record still sounds like us but, we haven't lost any of our aggression but we wanted to become a more dynamic band, something that would give the listener a lot more to hold onto, musically.
SoT: So when you were preparing for this record, did you go back and listen to records you thought of as classic to see how they were put together?
DC: That's what it is. But it wasn't just classic metal music. There were a lot of classic rock albums as well. I was just trying to find certain streams that were similar to these records. There's a lot of Master Of Puppets, a lot of Rust In Peace, a lot of Pantera, stuff like that. It was about really understanding what those guys were going for. Metallica weren't writing for three guys in a basement, they were writing metal on a grand scale. That stuff was meant to be played in arenas. There were great riffs, great melodies, the songs were very heavy but also had great leads. They were well-versed in many different types of things. That's one thing we were trying to do and really take things up a notch in our playing to truly show what we can do.
SoT: So how did the actual writing differ this time out?
DC: My brother and I are kind of the main songwriters and we would come into rehearsals with better, more realized ideas for songs. We weren't walking in and saying, 'Let's jam here.' It was more ... scientific. We'd done a lot of touring and so we could say, this and this is going to make it sound like this. We'd just played together a lot and knew that. We could tell those things. It was kind of an adjustment for our drummer [Corey Pierce] because he was used to us kind of working around him. We wanted to get away from that and focus on songs and having a tighter groove, something where you could breathe. It wasn't just all hyped, playing fast all the time. You want something that's going to be a little more biological and bring a little more feeling. We wanted choruses and stuff, but we still didn't want it to be verse-chorus-verse-outro. We still have songs that get into the progressive side. I think there's nothing wrong with writing songs that have unusual structures. Look at bands like Meshuggah and Opeth. They're very progressive in what they do. We like that and maybe we'll do some of that in the future but I think we had to learn how to write a proper song first before we could go out and really start messing around with that stuff.