On the eve of the release of their second album "Captivity", we sent out a selection of questions to FORTH, a Finnish rock band with a Canadian singer. And yes, we've heard some samples of their new stuff and it's good, especially if you're into rock with a grungy edge.
Your first album was released a few years ago. Looking back, what do you think about it?
Brian: Road Stories was the beginning of everything for us as a band. That album put us on the “road", but there was a lot we had not figured out about ourselves musically back then - we were still finding our sound. We managed to get some songs up on some charts in Finland, and radio play, plus some great gigs and even live radio appearances from that album - and we did it all on our own with no label behind us. So we are really proud of Road Stories. We wouldn’t be here without it - and it was a good stepping stone for Captivity.
Tim: Road Stories was definitely a Forth showcase of sorts. I’m really proud of that album and how much we achieved by doing pretty much everything by ourselves. Captivity on the other hand is an album that wouldn’t exist without Road Stories. We have evolved as composers, lyricists and musicians and most importantly - as a band. And that shows throughout the whole of Captivity. We would like to thank Mikko P. Mustonen, our producer since Road Stories. He pushed us to the max to get the best results out of us for each song. And the result is Captivity.
The process of writing and recording this new one - how long has it taken?
Brian: We started working on new material pretty much right after Road Stories. By 2016 we had built up the band with it’s current members adding Micke Söderbäck on bass and Eric Von Hertzen on drums. That allowed us to really jam out the new material and shape it together as a band - something we didn’t do with Road Stories. Then we took the new songs out to gigs and experimented with the audience. Stylistically, I think we have finally found our sound in Captivity. It’s a combination of 90’s rock / grunge, mixed with fat harmonies, dirty electrics and bass sounds, big drums with an acoustic guitar flavour. There’s bits of Alice in Chains layered with Queen harmonies and even some epic David Gilmour guitar. The writing itself took place over about a year and a half, and then another 6 months in production while we recorded Captivity.
Tim: Yeah - and Captivity certainly is more of a good old hard rock guitar album than Road Stories ever will be in that sence. Captivity is all about heavier, grungier songs mixed with lighter songs, a few covers and melodic power ballads without forgetting thunderous drums and pounding bass lines.
Which songs are the ”cornerstones” of the next album, maybe your favourites or otherwise remarkable?
Brian: The song “On Top of the World” has always received a big reaction from the crowd at our gigs. Maybe it resonates because it's so authentic: it was written about us - a group of somewhat “older” (more experienced??) rockers who didn’t break big (yet!) but still keep on doing what we do - no matter what people think about it. And every night when we get up to play a gig - even in a shit hole bar in the suburbs of Helsinki, we get to rock out like superstars for about 2 hours in the corner of the bar. We all live for that. Another track on the album that has been really popular is our take on the Elvis Presley song, “Can’t Help Falling in Love”. The first time we played it live, the crowd made us play it again back-to-back and the entire dance floor ended up moshing together in a huge circle. When that happened, we knew we were on to something.
Tim: For me, and I think definitely for all of us, there are many special moments on the album. One of those moments for me personally is when we got Jonas Berg, a professional piano player resident in Copenhagen, who is mostly recognised in the jazz genre to play some killer rock’n’roll piano on one of the songs on Captivity. Now how cool is that?
Do you have any gigs lined up?
Brian: That’s the next step. We’ve spent the last months in the studio and now we are looking for a distribution partner for Captivity. The plan is to start gigging to promote the album in the near future - just as soon as we get the distribution sorted out. Also, we are just moving to a new rehearsal studio, where we will be building the new “Captivity” set for the promo tour.
What kind of a set list can we expect at Forth gigs, just your own material or also something else?
Brian: We always do our own material. Between our two albums we have over 2 hours of solid rock to deliver on stage. We do have a few cover versions, like the Elvis song, and a dark version of Bad Moon Rising that we usually perform - but when we do a cover, we always make it our own - totally different from the original. On our first album we even covered a Tiktak song, “Satuprisessa” - or Fairytale Princess in english - and it has always been one of the most requested songs at our gigs.
Tim: We might throw in some surprises every now and then. Like a few covers or extended versions of our own music. Something special for the night. In some cases, even we could get surprised.
Who do you consider as your main influences?
Brian: In my early years, the Beatles were definitely a big influence. I’ve always been more a Beatles than a Stones guy. Growing up in Canada in the 90’s I really got into the Seattle sound, and bands like Stone Temple Pilots, Pearl Jam, Alice n Chains. My favourite singer / songwriter has always been Chris Cornell. Sadly most of my music idols from that era have been checking out way too early. What I loved about that scene was the break from the plastic, label-manufacturered, boy band crap that was infesting the airwaves back then. Grunge brought back real raw emotion and blues and complexity to music. And I really believe that’s what’s missing from much of today’s popular music. I believe (hope?) that music works in cycles, and the time for our kind of music is coming back around again.
Tim: My influences are definitely drawn from what I personally think is good music. Black Sabbath, Queen, Pink Floyd, Marillion, Genesis, Deep Purple, Tommy Bolin…you name it. I’ve always been a lover of great melodies. If you can sing or hum the lead guitar melody or the riff of a song in addition to the vocal melody and refrain, then it’s a good one!
Being a musician isn’t the easiest choice to make a living these days. Do you have a regular job too or are you a full-time musician?
Brian: We all have full time day jobs. In our band we have an educator, an electrician, a crane operator and a dental camera salesman (yes that is a real thing). So it’s always a balance been the reality of needing to pay the bills, and our passion for playing music. At least in my case, music has been the one constant in my life. Jobs come and go, friends, cities and relationships change, but music has always been there, and always will be. It would be nice one day to actually make a living from doing the thing we love….at least that’s still the dream.
Tim: Yeah, music is definitely still the dream. It’s a way of life. As the late great Lemmy Kilmister once said “If you think you are too old to rock’n’roll, then you are.”
A guy from Muse recently said something to the effect that ”bands with electric guitars are a dying breed”. What do you think about that?
Brian: Well firstly, I like Muse a lot. I’ve seen them live and Mathew Bellamy plays a mean electric guitar. But I can’t say I agree with that statement. I mean, our album also features violins and cellos - and I’m pretty sure those instruments peaked in the 17th century - but they are hardly a dying breed. Music always works in cycles and different sounds come in and out of fashion. But the electric guitar is a versatile instrument and it will always have a role to play in modern music. It expresses power and subtly and emotion in a way a drum machine and a synthesiser simply can’t (sorry Max Martin).
Tim: I don’t think that bands with electric guitars are a dying breed. There are lots and lots of great guitar players and musicians out there…and there always will be. You can’t beat a real guitar, a real bass guitar or real drums with a sample or a computer. You can get close, but it’s not the same thing. You just can’t beat it.
Anything else you’d like to say to our readers? Here’s your chance!
Brian: I just want to say that this music is our hearts on a plate. We’ve poured out everything we’ve got artistically and personally into this album. We didn’t set out to write “hits” - but I sure hope that happened along the way. We also want to give a huge shout out to all our Fan Producers. Back in the later summer, we had a special fan funding event. We put on a big show at Semifinal in Helsinki and our fans got the chance to buy tickets and become Fan Producers for our new album. We were blown away by all the support, and we hope our work in the studio makes our Producers proud!
Tim: Remember to love one another and take care of your loved ones! Even that is something what music is all about. Peace.
Interview by Kimmo Toivonen
Photos provided by the band
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