I was first introduced to Fórn quite randomly, no recommendations, seeing their name on a flyer and I proceeded to check them out. So many doom bands these days just do not “get it” it’s all tempo driven, morons thinking doom is an actual tempo, when it is in fact a vibe (helped along by slower tempos of course!) and Fórn, for a relatively young band “get it” and their debut full length The Departure Of Consciousness (review) not only proves they understand the genre but they have also created something pretty fucking special.
First and foremost, can you tell us a little on how Fórn came to fruition?
Joey: Chris P and I met some years ago and we both knew we wanted to start something truly bleak and heavy. There were a couple of iterations before the line-up we have now stuck. Brandon, Chris D and I were all at some point playing drums but eventually we ended with what we have now.
Brian: Chris and I met in college and bonded over music tastes, went to many shows together. It was through him I met the other guys and they asked me to step in on bass duties a little over a year ago, when writing for The Departure Of Consciousness started. It’s been full steam ahead ever since.
Chris P: I had always wanted to do a project like Fórn, as long as I can remember at least and had tried starting it at various times with different line-ups. It took about four years to meet the right people in the Boston area that shared the same interests and goals but it eventually surfaced its way into the universe and the current line-up is the strongest it has ever been.
Did any members do anything prior to Fórn?
All of us are either currently in other bands or have played in other bands before. Joey plays drums in a band called Trespasser, Brian plays bass in VYGR. Chris P and Brian were in a band called Crusher ages ago. Chris D plays drums in The Epidemic. Brandon also plays guitar in Human Bodies and is also a drum instructor. We all have little mini projects going on in our very sparse amount of free time.
How would you describe your music? To me it is a blend of misanthropic funeral doom and at times peaking into Suicidal Black Metal, but sounds like it was recorded in the 1990s.
Joey: The music is definitely bleak. Living through even just one New England winter can have that kind of effect on you. We all draw influences from different places whenever we’re playing together so it’s really hard to narrow down what we sound like. But bleak is definitely a word we all agree on.
Brian: The soundtrack to a particularly abysmal New England winter, for sure.
Chris P: I definitely find the music to be bleak as well and agree we add a lot of our own influences into the mix of Fórn when we’re writing. While we have a wide variety of tastes and backgrounds among us, we all come from a similar music oriented backgrounds be it metal or crust. Even if people might not think the music sounds punk, for example, we are definitely throwing some of our punk influence into songs we write.
In this day and age, the scene is bursting with talent, why should someone check out Fórn?
Joey: Eh, I feel weird telling people to listen to anything. I think I speak for everyone when I say we’re making this music for us first. If anything, you should listen to it because you want to be crushed by massive riffs and melancholy vibes.
Brian: It’s a traditional cliché for bands to say “we do this for us and we don’t care if you like it” but when you’re continually writing music that the entire group is stoked on and you can all listen to it constantly with excitement and not think it’s total shit, you know that you have something that other people might appreciate too.
Chris P: A lot of people tell me to check out new music to listen to and I find it a bit overwhelming. Unless I know a person very well and understand where they’re coming from/why they think I should listen to it, I don’t always check out their recommendations honestly. So I don’t think it’s my place to tell anyone what to listen to or check out but if I know someone has an interest in particularly bleak and heavy music, I’d tell them to check out Fórn as it might peak their interest.
How did the record with Vendetta Records materialise? A new US band being picked up in Europe is quite a feat.
Joey: Stefan is a wonderful dude. We really see eye to eye on musical ethics and he’s a pleasure to work with. I don’t remember the specifics, but I think we just reached out to him saying something along the lines of “check us out, we love your work” and the rest kind of moved from there.
Chris P: It definitely was an interesting move to work alongside a European label before we have ever worked with a label in our own country but we felt after talking with friends of ours and Stefan of Vendetta it was the best move at the time for us as a group.
Our friends in Negative Standards get the thanks for introducing us to Stefan, without them, the partnership with Vendetta would have never happened. After Vendetta first heard our self-titled EP, they asked what our future plans were – we told them we had an LP written and even more material than that, and we then decided to do the LP with them. We really have enjoyed the extreme DIY and very comfortable environment Vendetta creates for the bands on their label, we feel honoured to be partners with them and working alongside so many amazing other bands that are on Vendetta or have worked with them in the past. It has helped us to become friends with lots of amazing people, as well as to be able to perform with some of them.
How does the scene seem on the West Coast? Do you see any differences?
Brian: With the recent tour we did in August it was a few of the guys’ first times on the West Coast. For all of us, we consider tour to be more of a vacation of sorts, so spirits are always running high, but the most recent jaunt was truly something else. We played some incredible shows out there that blew any other gig I’ve ever played completely out of the water, and the responses we got were overwhelming (Sutro Baths Cave show). I’m not sure how that relates in a comparison to East vs. West but I’m sure the weather and corresponding attitudes have a lot to do with it.
Chris P: I moved to Oakland, CA a year ago and I have already noticed a ton of differences. I grew up in the East Coast scene though and it was a big part of my life since my early teenage years – so it was all I really knew until I got a little bit older and started traveling longer distances to go to shows.
In terms of attendance for shows, people go all out on the West Coast if it’s a doom or black metal show. For the most part every one I’ve attended, even for smaller DIY bands. The Bay Area and PNW in particular just have such strong scenes, with so many new bands coming out of it, it seems they just pop out of nowhere daily, and they’re all usually damn good! And fans of these types of metal just seem to be in abundance compared to what I’ve seen on the East Coast.
There is also a really strong connection between the metal scenes with bands from the Bay Area going up to play lots of shows in the Pacific Northwest and bands from the PNW coming down to play the Bay Area. I didn’t really notice that too much on the east coast, maybe the northeast in general seemed to have a good connection with their particular scenes in each city, but it didn’t seem it expanded that far down south.
The biggest thing I’ve noticed since I started attending west coast metal shows is the vast age range of show goers, at least compared to what I saw in Boston. Maybe it had to do with the lack of all ages venues in Boston. I’ve met kids coming out to black metal and doom shows who are 15/16 and are super into it. I remember my mom had a hard time dropping me off at punk shows when I was 14, I can’t imagine a parent picking their kid up covered in pig’s blood from seeing the Oakland black metal band Torture Chamber who likes to spit blood on everyone in the room.
Joey: Growing up as part of a thriving DIY music scene in DC was one of the most important things to happen to me, and I am very fortunate to have had that. I think the thing that unifies us all, in this band and scenes all around the world, is the desire to support peers who are creating something original; creating something from a passionate place. All across the country we come across all sorts of wonderfully crazy people who having been willing to house us, feed us, book us and without them, everything sinks. And we’ve been incredibly fortunate to work with them.
That all being said, every scene has their own problems. The East Coast has been suffering from huge police crack downs on DIY spaces, forcing bands to play 21+ bars or nowhere. Laws are being put in place to keep younger people out of venues. Bands are forced to deal with booking and promotion companies whose idea of taking care of you is $50 pay out for a sold out show. I noticed this significantly less on the West Coast, which is why it’s sort of a mecca for bands like us, but with several bar/venues closing in Portland, I fear it may not be long before this becomes not just an East Coast problem, and that’s scary.
Does being in a band in Boston present any difficulties apart from the obvious logistical issues? How do you make it work?
Joey: In the modern age nowadays there are many bands that have members located around the globe so it’s possible to make it work, it just takes a little more effort. The three of us who still live in Boston (Brian, Joey and Chris D.) still get together regularly and write and practice but we pretty much only have full band practices before shows or recording. We’re figuring out logistics now for some upcoming things we have planned. It’s definitely going to be an interesting process.
Chris P: Since I’m the only member out on the West Coast, far away from everyone else, it’s kind of up to me to let the others know when I’m available to play shows or record, but so far I’ve luckily had lots of opportunities to get together with them in the past year. It worked out that I was hanging out with them basically every other month. This obviously included me taking lots of red-eye flights but I really like creating music with the rest of Fórn so I make it one of my main priorities. I haven’t really seen many difficulties with us as a band working together, we wrote most of The Departure of Consciousness miles away from each other and even recorded different parts separately on different coasts. I think that worked out fine, but as Joey said, it’s a continual learning process of how we can do it even better in the future.
Being a band in Boston is pretty interesting, on one hand there are tons of shows happening every night of the week you could try to hop on and tons of people will come out to them, or you could play with really great doom bands to 3 paying people, which I saw happen to the band Cough a few years back. There are a lot of solid people and bands in the underground metal scene in Boston, but the fan base seems to constantly be coming and going, due to people moving out of the city, or venues getting shut down, etc. It never makes for a dull moment. It’s kind of disheartening though, because a lot of touring bands will skip over Boston and instead play Providence and NYC, because they’re unsure if it will be worth the trip or they might not know who to trust for a solid show, when a lot of the venues seem to be run by big scary booking agencies. There are people that have been trying real hard to get the scene built up, but there are a lot of factors standing in their way, at least that’s what it felt like for me when I have booked shows in Boston. Not enough venues and venues that are booked 5+ months in advance, or dealing with venues that only care about profit or have dance nights booked on popular show nights, so many things make it difficult. Hopefully this changes in the future, but for now at least, sometimes it’s not easy being a band in Boston, especially as an underground metal band.
Brian: Boston has a vast music scene and history and an incredible aggressive music scene as most are aware but that comes with its own issues. The majority of the population are students which is a gift and a curse; there are constantly new people arriving to the city bringing fresh ideas to the table – however this ends up causing a type of “Brain Drain” situation as most move to bigger cities after doing their time here.
The same holds true for up-and-coming bands looking to break out of the local Boston circuit. As many people would tell you, it’s rare for a Boston band to achieve national/international success and many bands are cursed to grind away with opening slots at the same handful of venues over and over, despite trying their hardest to break out. This usually ends up with members deciding to relocate to greener pastures (NYC or LA) and doesn’t end up benefiting the Boston scene at all, just a “Brain Drain” of talent (this is true for other fields too). There’s a myriad of causes – lack of venues accepting of whichever particular genre of music, lack of trustworthy and good-intentioned promoters, etc. but there are also some amazing people heavily invested in promoting growth of the Boston scene. We’ve all played shit shows where we question ourselves but we have also played some awesome hometown shows too.
The past few years have seen a lot of cultural growth in the city with the opening of new venues, restaurants, food trucks and other spaces – but for every positive there’s a negative, most recently with the Boston Police going ‘undercover’ posing as punks and getting DIY spots shut down. With Fórn’s members being located across the country we’re in kind of a fortunate position where we can play California shows or Boston shows if we want to and not be limited to being a ‘local only’ band.
What sort of equipment does Fórn use?
Joey: Our rigs are ever-changing! I don’t want to give away too much information on our rigs so we don’t get “tone jacked” but we use pretty much Sunn heads exclusively (with one exception) and a slew of cabs (Sunn, Ampeg, Hiwatt.)
Chris P: We like to keep things interesting and make a choice before each gig what we’re going to use depending on the venue, how much gear we can bring and what gear is working at the time (we definitely have a fine collection of dead amps always in our space). I think one show we used four 4x12s, two 8x10s and two 2x15s and then most recently we just used half stacks on all of our West Coast tour. So you never know what we’re going to use. However, yeah we really like Sunn heads haha.
Brian: I’ve primarily used Sunn heads for a long time but those shits are old and love to blow up on you so we all have some backup heads that we end up using more often than not. I get most of my tone from my pedalboard to be honest, I’ve used a lot of Boss effects since I first started playing bass. Joey and Brandon are big into the pedal game too, most recently using some custom boxes that our friend Brad at Nerd Knuckle effects crafted up for them.
Do you feel equipment should be allowed to define a bands sound or do you feel it should be down to individual expression?
Joey: Even though we could talk about gear for days and how important it is and how much we love it, at the end of the day, if the person playing it isn’t putting heart into it, it won’t matter. I’ve recorded songs that I loved through shitty little combo amps that sounded better then then some ridiculous tube amp and cab set up. In the end the art is what matters, not the tools.
Brian: I am a firm believer of “it’s not what you use, it’s how you use it.” Too many bands nowadays are concerned with having walls of vintage cabs but they usually just end up sounding like shit. We’ve been guilty of that for sure, but we’re also just as comfortable using half stacks as we are full stacks. All the gear in the world won’t make up for you not being able to use your instrument properly, which I’ve seen a few people try to hide with this tactic.
What is next on the agenda for Fórn?
Chris P: 2015 will be pretty busy for us. We’re planning on doing two tours and two splits. We are also able to announce our LP The Departure of Consciousness will finally be available on CD via Gilead Media, that will includ a special patch and sticker. In addition, we will also be releasing an EP also with Gilead Media. More details will be available at on our Facebook page very soon regarding all of that.
Any final words?
Chris P: Thank you Jas for including us in this interview and thank you to The Sleeping Shaman for featuring us twice in the past several months! Thank you for everyone else’s support thus far as well.
Interviewed by: Jas Murray
Photo Credit: Catbutt Photography (Live)