If you asked us to put together a list of the most genuine, the coolest, and generally most all-round solid dudes that we’d interviewed here at Thrash Hits, then Doc Coyle, guitarist from God Forbid, would be right there at the top. When we chatted to him a few years ago at Download, he put up with our amateur-hour questioning like a pro, and when we sent him an email the other day with a load of snide questions about Equilibrium, his band’s recently-released sixth studio album, he once again took it all in his stride. Doc, sir, as far as Thrash Hits is concerned, you’re one of the good guys.
So…album no.6….do you feel like “old men of the scene” now?
I’m 31. I don’t feel old at all. Even when I was 21, I never felt in tune with the “youth” culture, or whatever was considered to be cool. There definitely seems to be a very youth-oriented segment of the heavy music scene, like the Sumerian and Rise Record type bands that I don’t think we are really connected to because we came out years ago. Although we’re not really part of that, I’m not opposed to it. You have to constantly grab new fans to stay relevant. We’re on tour with Overkill right now, which is a band that’s been around for 25+ years, so there is some perspective if you start feeling old. Longevity is a good thing as long as you are producing quality material.
On a more serious note, God Forbid have clocked up well over a decade now – compared to the burn-bright-burn-fast lifespans of other bands, that’s some serious longevity. What do you put down to God Forbid’s robustness in the face of one of the most turbulent decades in the music industry’s history?
I think we’re still hungry, and there is an enthusiastic creative energy still within us. Even though the new album is definitively a God Forbid album, there is still a freshness in the sound. Our goal is to never become a formula band. Once it becomes “wash, rinse, repeat”, we’ll have lost some of our credibility. I think we’re sticking to our guns, but still willing to grow.
It’s only been a few years since Earthsblood, but it feels so much longer than that. Just what the devil have you all been getting up to since the touring cycle for that record came to an end?
There was a lot of behind the scenes work that had to be done before we could put out another album. We were without a manager and a record label, and felt it was important to have a good manager in place before finding a label. So we worked on writing the album in 2010 while looking for a manager. This took til the end of the year, and began recording a demo to shop to labels. The schedule for the demo ran late, and didn’t get finished to summer 2011. Once the demo was done, we shopped it around locked the deal with Victory in a short period of the time. We got in the studio in October 2011, and the rest is history. We had to put the infrastructure back in place to be able to do it right and also deal with real life. Jobs, girlfriends, etc.
Was it hard to go back to playing God Forbid shows after playing those Metallica support slots as a stand-in guitarist for Lamb of God?
You know, I was the most nervous I’d ever been before playing that first gig with Lamb of God, but the second I stepped out into the arena, it just felt like home. I remembered that this is what I do, and everything flowed naturally. I would say the only difference in my routine was that because I had so many songs to learn, and the material was dense, I practiced a lot before the shows. I wanted to make sure I was locked in. Being that they have a professional crew, and all I had to do was perform. I had that luxury. With God Forbid, we have to work for ourselves, teching, tour managing, driving. It was definitely nice to just have to worry about the performance. It wasn’t hard to go back again, I knew that it was a temporary thing, a vacation from my regular life. It was a great learning experience, and gives me confidence to be able to do more work like that if it comes my way.
Okay, let’s wheel out the predictable, tedious question you’ve been asked a hundred times this past month: why call the new album Equilibrium?
Byron [Davis, vocals] wrote the song called ‘Equilibrium’, and I thought it made sense as an album title. There wasn’t a lot of in depth conversation. It just seemed to be an elegant, simple title that tied everything together. We’re all seeking balance. An album should be a snapshot of a time in your life, and the title just fit.
From where did you draw inspiration from when putting Equilibrium together?
It’s hard to say. I just fuck around on the guitar, and something will come out that feels like God Forbid. Where it comes from is a mystery to me. I just know that I can’t write when I’m in a bad mood. My creative spark comes from positive energy and enthusiasm. I have to be able to see the potential in everything to have it lead to something.
When you set out to write and record Equilibrium, did you have a set plan of what form you wanted it to have in its final shape?
There was no grand plan, but there was talk that we didn’t want the album to be progressive like Earthsblood. We wanted to write more consolidated songs. More to-the-point, and hook-oriented. Also, having Matt [Wicklund, rhythm guitarist and replacement for Doc’s brother, Dallas] writing a lot of songs shaped the album. He has his style. Ultimately, the album took shape based on what we felt were the best songs. It was a relatively organic process.
Watch the video to ‘Where We Come From’ by God Forbid:
Whenever a band moves label, it has a big impact on them – not necessarily musically, but obviously with a complete change in the framework the band operates in, and the people they’re working with on a day to day basis. Were there any particular challenges in making the move from Century Media to Victory?
The only real adjustment is just meeting the staff and understanding what everyone’s role is. Luckily, the people at Victory are very proactive and supportive of the band. They really believe in the album and seem to be working tirelessly to take the band to the next level. It’s really refreshing to have a fresh start. I am still friends with the Century Media people and think they have a great record label, but I think change is good. We are happy with where we are.
In 2002, a slightly-shit film called Equilibrium was released, which lazy, feckless film critics described as “1984-meets-The-Matrix” or “Fahrenheit-451-meets-The-Matrix”. In 2012, you guys are putting out a pretty damn sweet album called Equilibrium. If we were lazy, feckless music writers, what convoluted “THING-meets-THING” description would we use to describe your album of the same name?
I think my favourite quote like that was from a UK mag, I don’t remember which one. They said we were “Lamb-of-God-meets-36-Crazyfists”. I’m not sure how accurate that is. It just seemed like an odd pairing. Maybe “Machine-Head-meets-Arch-Enemy” is a good one? I don’t know. It all sounds ridiculous to me. We’re just a heavy metal band.
Equilibrium, the sixth studio album from God Forbid, is out now on Victory Records. You should probably go and buy a copy so that God Forbid have enough $$$ to record a seventh one at some point. This summer the band will be hitting the road across the USA as part of the ‘Metal Hammer Trespass America’ tour, where alongside Five Finger Death Punch, Killswitch Engage, Trivium, Emmure, and some other bands, they’ll be playing a shitload of shows all over the USA. You can check out more about by checking out the tour’s official website.