A few weeks ago we spoke with Renny Caroll (vocals) and Jack Macrill (guitar) from alternative metal act Forever Never as they stopped in York while on tour with Skindred. The band chatted to us before the gig about their latest self-titled album, touring and even shared the secret to their success.
“We’re not in it to be a typical metal band”
S] So we are in York today lads, what do you enjoy most about playing shows up north?
R] For some reason we have found that we go down a lot better up north, Manchester has always been good to us, and Leeds is always good. This isn’t our first time in York and I’m sure it’ll be a good show and we’ll be able to make a few new friends. Up north we’ve had a lot of love in the past and we hope that it will carry on.
S] Do you notice a difference between the reception that you get from the north and south?
J] I am not sure really, I suppose in Manchester we’ve had the opportunity to play the Apollo when we played as part of the Stone Sour tour and that certainly boosted our fanbase massively. Kids up here just seem really up for a good time, that’s not to say that fans down south aren’t but yeah, up north there’s always a great vibe and people really love the shows. Whenever we come up to play we always really look forward to it.
S] Since you began as a band in 2004, how do you feel you have progressed personally through the music that you make?
R] I can easily say that the point before the first album, ‘Aporia‘ which came out in 2006 and the two years building up to that, and where I am at now are two completely different places especially in terms of my vocals. I have gone back into my past for inspiration nowadays. When I was five the only singers I knew were Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder, from then I discovered metal when I was in my early teens, I loved that and really poured my heart in to it for a long time. I think that for anyone, after a certain point you don’t really lose your love for metal but you start to look back for inspiration and I have re-discovered my love for soul and R&B, and that’s why I think there is a notable difference between the first and second album in terms of the sound and recording quality as well.
J] It is different for me, because I have only been in the band since after the first album was released and I joined up half-way through the writing process of the second album, but it’s like Renny said, we listen to so many different genres of music and we take our influences from everything from metal to dance, and that’s what’s great about this band – we’re all about listening to something new. In our van, when we go on tour the stuff we put on ranges from Meshuggah to “baby-making” R&B music and right through to Jamie Cullum – we take from everything and it keeps it fresh.
R] Yeah, the best compliment that we get is when someone comes up to us and says, ‘You’re sound is really fresh and different‘, that’s great to us because we are really trying to do something different. I think that comes from drawing from different sounds.
S] How is the dynamic of the band when it comes to writing?
R] I have a Pro Tools rig at home and a studio, with a lot of spare time so I do a lot of writing from home. I’ll put the drums and guitars down and build the songs into a sort of a skeleton-type shape and then show what I’ve got to the rest of the band and then we’ll make a decision on whether it’s good or bad. At the moment we’ve got about six demos for a new record but we won’t even play them in rehearsal until we have had time to sit down and work out how everything will fit together and how we’ll play it.
That’s how things get re-worked when we get into the rehearsal room, riffs will get changed and parts that we’ve built will come together. I mean, if you were to listen to one of the demos from the second album for example and then listen to how it sounds on the album, there’s so much that’s different because each musician has added their own flavour to the mix.
J] I think that one of the most important things for us when we are writing and recording, apart from how good a song sounds on the actual CD, is whether we can pull it off live and can we put on a good show while we’re playing it – we have to question whether something is so complex that we might not be able to recreate the same impact live, it might not sound good, or it might take away from the live show. Too many bands now release albums that they can’t pull off live and I think that’s a bit pointless. Sometimes you’ll go to a live show after hearing an album and be so excited to see a song done live, then the singer might bottle out of doing the note or the guitarist doesn’t play the riff particularly well. We pride ourselves on the fact that anything we do on the album we can recreate live.
S] Jack, what was it like for you joining the band after they had built up such a strong following after the first album?
J] It was really cool, because I’d never been in a touring band before and I’d only ever been in local bands travelling around Essex. Within four months as part of Forever Never we were doing the Stone Sour tour and my second ever central London show was playing The Astoria. It was really fun coming into that environment. It’s definitely a lot more hard work than I thought it would be.
S] The cover art for your self-titled second album with the two mountains is pretty interesting can you tell us a bit more about that?
R] Well you’ve got the picturesque, beautiful fountain and then in the water there’s the reflection of this darker and more sinister industrial landscape. That’s purely to do with our name – forever and never are two opposite things and then there are a lot of opposites within our music, like particularly strong and heavy riffs and then some harmonies over them. So, yeah the art all ties in with that – light and dark. On the inside of the artwork, that’s the theme for all of the inserts – we wanted to have a lot of dark with a shade of light in there, or the complete opposite. We had the idea for it and artist came out with it exactly like I had envisioned.
J] There’s so many metal bands that just have a very dark colour scheme and we wanted something that would stand out on a shop-shelf. A few of the first ideas had that kind of focus and we really wanted to stand-out.
R] I did say I wanted a proper green field and a blue sky. It’s not the most “metal” cover in the world but then we really are not just in it to be a typical metal band. We just write songs that sometimes happen to be very heavy.
S] So, you’ve started work on a new album? Can you tell me what kind of themes and ideas you have for that?
R] One of the new tracks is probably the first Forever Never song you will hear in a really major key but it’s still really heavy. I think because we’re always really open to trying new stuff and moving forward, it effects our sound. For example with solos, I think the first album had four and the second had three, it’s not like we’ll just bring out another album dedicated to solos following that it’s just something that we’ll use if the song suits it. On the last album we experimented with string parts and piano – I think we’d definitely like to persue that a little bit and try some more stuff along those lines. I think we are going to try and look at a bit more of the R&B-vibe like the interlude that we have on the last album using programmed drums and synths. We’ll maybe incorporate that into some songs. Basically at the moment we’re finding out the shape of the album. These are the first six songs that we’ve demoed and maybe only one of those will end up on the album. We might find when we get into the studio that we have 14 songs and only two of those are relevant by the time we come to record. It’s hard to pin it down right now.
S] Is there a song on the last album that you feel represents the band as a whole?
R] ‘Lost Forever‘ came from a riff that George (Lennox, guitars) and a bass part that Kev (Yates, bass) came up with and a chorus that I thought-up. Actually, that’s a track that the whole band really had an input on. We’ve actually got a video coming out for that in a few months.
J] There’s a few good songs on the album that show where the band is at. It’s hard to pick one because they are all good songs. I like ‘Living Daydream‘ because it has some of the string part which we are going to try and work in a little bit more in our future stuff – they won’t be all over the place but we’re not going to rule it out. The last album was all about where we were at that time and in the same way that ‘Aporia‘ was completely different to ‘Forever Never‘, I think the next one will be another evolution.
R] We don’t want to release the same album twice but then we don’t want to let go of our values and what we stand for musically. It’s always going to sound like Forever Never but each album will veer more in one direction. We’re never going to keep doing things in the same way.
S] You’ve toured with a variety of bands nationally and internationally along with doing very well at home, so what’s been your defining moment as a band?
J] I think that’d be playing Download Festival last year. That’s something we’d been trying to get on for years and then we finally got the call last year. We weren’t told straight away what date or time we’d be on but we got a really good slot. It was great because when we walked out the tent was rammed and over-capacity and there were queues of people waiting to see us.
R] I think it felt like years of hard work had paid off when we went out on that stage and there was hundreds of people singing along. It was very cool. It was reassuring that we were doing something right because all those people had put in the time that we were playing in their schedule and come to see us.
S] You seem to have built up a very strong relationship with the likes of Fozzy through touring with them regularly. For new bands coming out, what advice would you give to them when it comes to building relationships and a reputation?
R] I’d say, don’t p*** people off. I would also say that it’s not hard to make friends with people. If you are a professional band you will automatically get a good reputation. Things like sticking to your stage time are essential because that can annoy people. When we’ve done headlining shows and the support bands run over and we’re going on half-an-hour late, I think it’s fair to say that we’ll cross all of those bands off of our support list. It works like that for every level I am sure. If you’re professional and you’ve got your own gear then that’s great. Don’t turn up saying, ‘Oh can I borrow your bass amp?‘ because the answer will most likely be no, unless you’ve got a good reason like it’s plugged it in but it has blown. It’s all about respect really. It’s always how we have done it when we’ve supported bands. If you are going on tour with a band that are selling out, 3,000 capacity venues you have to respect that and we are fortunate enough to be in a position where bands like that are taking us out with them and we respect them. It’s very simple and that’s why Stuck Mojo take us out with them whenever. They are happy to do that whenever because we’ve built up a relationship with them. I have even helped to write a few songs on the new Fozzy album. Eventually it becomes like hanging out with mates but you do have to do your apprenticeship first and do as you are told!
S] Would you like to go back to the States in the future with a band like Fozzy or Stuck Mojo?
R] We’d love to but it just costs a bomb.
J] Yeah, you have to be out there for a month to make it worth while, and then to make that worthwhile you need to go back three or four months later.
R] Also, you need proper distribution so that people can walk into Best Buy the day after they have seen you and buy your album, and that’s not quite in place for us yet, but hopefully it will be. We had a great time when we went out there last time and we are now an undoubtedly better band than we were and the songs have progressed so I think that it would be a lot better next time.
S] What would you say to the fans who have been so solidly behind you?
R] Thank you. I can’t really say that enough. It’s been great to have so many supporters out on this tour. We have got some really loyal fans and we do really appreciate it.
S] Final random question, what weapon would you use to defend yourself in the event of a zombie outbreak?
J] (laughs) That stuff that they use on Zombieland. They can use a double-tap-type thing where you can hit them twice with a shovel or I’d shoot them in the head. I’d get the film out and get some tips from that.
R] I’d think I’d just go for a grenade launcher or the BFG.
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Read our review of the show here.