Interview mit Christian Horton
Mit ihrem demnächst bei Cruz del Sur erscheinenden vierten Album 'Beyond The Veil' haben die Engländer DARK FOREST nicht nur ihr bislang stärkstes Material am Start, die Scheibe ist gleichzeitig ein heißer Kandidat für das beste traditionelle Metal-Abum des Jahres 2016 (Double-Strike-Review hier). Streetclip.tv sprach mit Bandgründer, Gitarrist und Chefkomponist Christian Horton über die Entwicklung der Band, die neue Metal-Welle auf der Insel und - natürlich - den Brexit. Hier das Interview im englischen Originalwortlaut.
Thanks for taking the time, Christian. Firstly, there were no line-up change since the last album - rather unusual for Dark Forest!
Horton: Yeah we knew when we got Josh and Pat on board that we'd found the right line up. We've had some turbulent times in the past but now we all share the same vision and are being more creative than ever before.
What can you tell us about the songwriting process?
It was kind of the same as usual, I'm constantly writing songs, so this album was actually started just before the release of The Awakening. The difference this time around was that there was more contribution from other members. This is the first album with material written by Josh because The Awakening was actually written before he joined the band, also Pat has contributed quite a lot. I might write the bulk of the songs but then the others might suggest how to re-work sections and send me things they've written to be included. Pat actually wrote the entire of The Wild Hunt with me adding the lyrics afterwards.
With a few weeks or months having passed since the completion of the album, do you feel you have realised your aim?
I think so, we are certainly very happy and proud of the album. We knew when we were in the studio that we'd made something special and at least in our minds, it's the best thing we've ever done.
What is the biggest improvement in comparison to ´The Awakening´?
Personally I think the quality of the songs themselves. I actually enjoy listening to this album more than the last one, The Awakening was a good album but the songs on Beyond the Veil are more uplifting and exciting. There's a lot more musicality in general and I've incorporated a lot more of my own interests in folklore and mythology into the lyrics this time. I'd also say that the production has gone up a level again and also the artwork looks great.
This album spans an impressive 70 minutes – was this planned, or were you unable to stem the flow of ideas?
It wasn't really planned no, with all our albums we never have a complete vision of how we want it to turn out. There's definitely a fair amount of letting it flow out and see what happens. After a certain amount of songs are written, you can see the personality of the album beginning to take shape and you go with that.
When I listen to ´The Lore of the Land´, I am strongly reminded of Atlantean Kodex. Have they influenced your songwriting?
The funny thing is, if any song has a Kodex influence I would have said it was Earthbound. We are fans of Kodex but whatever similarities are there it's more of a subconscious thing. For me, The Lore of the Land has more of a Maiden vibe going on.
You opened for Kodex in November 2015 at Castle Theuern. How do you reflect back on these two nights?
They were incredible, easily the best gigs we've played to date. Kodex really looked after us, we had an amazing crowd response each night and the whole experience was one that we'll always look back on fondly. We hope to share the stage with them again in the future.
We are starting to see a resurgence of traditional heavy metal coming out of Great Britain. Do you consider Dark Forest to be one of the leading forces of this scene?
There is definitely a resurgence yeah, but I don't really see ourselves as leaders in any way. To some extent we've always been outsiders, never fully fitting into any scene, although the current one is certainly one which we're more comfortable with. The thing is, the young bands coming out now are all of a similar generation, there's not too much difference between us but we've been slogging away since 2002, I don't know I suppose it depends how the other bands in the scene view us!
Do you think this ‘Revival of British Traditional Metal’ is comparable to how it was in the early 80s? Is it still growing?
I wouldn't go that far no because a lot of it is a sort of retro thing that's going on. Not all of it of course, but you'll never have the same freshness as back in the 80s when it was brand new and bands were creating music that was vital and original. These days bands try to just recreate the same music from the 80s, which is fine if that's what you're into, but there needs to be other bands playing more original music otherwise it will just grow stagnant.
Do you notice a trademark sound that separates the British style from the Scandinavian, German or Greek brands of traditional metal?
Actually I don't think I do when traditional metal is concerned. Other genres you can tell instantly like Scandinavian folk metal for instance or German power metal. Thinking about it, I guess the British bands have never been interested in playing the fastest or the hardest, there's a sort of laid back, honesty about it I think.
Do you feel Dark Forest receives more recognition on the continent than in the UK?
Yeah I'd agree with that, it's always been the case really. The UK fan base has been steadily growing over the last few years but I'd say the majority are still European. We've played some great festivals in Germany but in the UK it's generally club gigs.
Your music seems to demonstrate a folk influence. Do you have a favourite contemporary folk band?
I don't really listen to any contemporary folk music although I know a lot is out there. I'd probably say Circulus but the folk music I listen to is mainly from the 70s like The Young Tradition, Steeleye Span, Forest etc.
What, if any, are your thoughts on Mumford & Sons or The Unthanks?
Nauseating, middle class dross. But the Unthanks actually have some good moments of very traditional folk.
How big do you think a traditional metal band of your generation can get?
I don't know, it's not something that we think about very much. Our way of thinking has always been to just play what we play and put it out there hoping other people will also enjoy it. I suppose the music industry has changed so much since the 80s that you'll never get bands making careers the same way the classic bands used to.
Do you sometimes wonder who will headline the big festivals when Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and all the other heroes are gone?
Yeah it's a good question. I don't see any newer bands of anywhere near the same calibre. It's a sad affair but I think that maybe when those bands have gone, it will be the end of an era. The whole world of music has changed so much I just don't think we'll see it again on the same level. Maybe it was just a period in history that will be looked back on as an alien concept by future generations.
Talking about the UK, we can hardly ignore the EU referendum. If you don’t mind us asking, which way did you vote? And what do you think the after-effects will be for the country, the music scene and for yourself?
It was a bit of a sore topic over here, for a couple of weeks anyway. Anyone would have thought the world was coming to an end the way the Remainers were acting. The sad thing is how emotionally involved people got, to the point where friends and even family members were falling out with each other. If the elites wanted an English civil war of the psyche they certainly got it. I don't usually get involved in politics because I believe that it's all a Punch & Judy show designed to keep people distracted while the real shadowy elites pull the strings. The only reason I voted this time was just to show that we aren't quite so brainwashed, not just yet anyway, that we'll willingly allow an anti democratic, tyrannical organisation to rule over us. Too many of my ancestors shed their blood trying to prevent such things from happening.
Thanks very much, see you on tour!
You're welcome, cheers mates!
Von: Michael Haifl, Ludwig Krammer & Thumri Paavana