Interview by Matteo Bussotti
Their musical style is indeed really unique. They take direct inspiration from the Victorian Age, creating songs which seems out of time, and that’ll bring you out of time for their atmospheres and their sound. I’m talking about A Forest of Stars, and I’ve interviewed their lead singer, Mr. Curse, to hear from him what’s the story of this band, and what will be its future after the release of their latest album, “A Shadowplay of Yesterdays”. The result…is something really worth reading. Welcome to A Forest of Stars‘s very strange and peculiar world.
So, Mr. Curse, welcome to Femme Metal! We are glad to have you here! The first question is: your latest album “A Shadowplay for Yesterdays” is nothing less than a complex album, starting from its name. How did you come up with the main idea behind this concept album?
The idea came together via initial conversations between The Gentleman and myself. These concerned the thought of madness; insanity. Also, the question of whether an individual is truly insane, or if the so-called madness is a product of their own imagination. There is also the question of whether or not it is the individual who is ‘mad’, or if it is in fact the world around them that has lost its grip upon reality. The name “A Shadowplay for Yesterdays” was intended overall to hint at the thought of a life flashing behind the eyes at the moment of death; the flickering thoughts, the shadowplay… I must also give a bid mention to our cohort The Projectionist, who’s extremely fine ideas and suggestions not only helped form the back-bone of “Gatherer of the Pure”, but to influence my lyric writing further throughout the record as a whole.
Were there any other ideas that you had to discard before coming up with “A Shadowplay”? Maybe something we will see in future releases?
We did in fact have a small pile of possible names, some of which may indeed be used in the future – whether as song titles, parts of lyrics or whatever should suit them at the time. They may of course end up discarded and left without purpose. There are many things I have written that have ended up this way.
Musically speaking, what are your main influences?
I cannot speak for the band at large; the influences are too many and varied. For myself, Darkthrone, Bathory, Burzum, Ved Buens Ende, Type O Negative, Beyond Dawn, Swans, Arcturus, Voivod, GGFH, Acid Bath, Sleep, Electric Wizard, Jethro Tull, Simon and Garfunkel, Steeleye Span, Skyclad, Devil Doll… the list is utterly endless. So much music has influenced me one way or the other, and I have an eclectic taste. I could go on and on and on and on and on…
And…historically speaking? Why did you get so fascinated by the Victorian Age?
It is all a part of our country’s rich heritage, and it seemed to fit the general demeanor of the band as a whole. You would have to ask my esteemed colleague The Gentlemen for a more succinct answer – though he has already answered this particular question in many prior interviews… In a nutshell, prosperity next to utter paucity; industrial triumph next to opiated squalor; religious fervor next to blasphemous alchemy. We enjoy the duality of it all. That, and the fact that so many parallels can be drawn between that time and the plastic-clad cathode ray gun farce that we call the present.
How are songs usually composed in A Forest of Stars? Who usually comes up with the ideas?
For the first two records, the majority of the music was written by our dear departed Mr. Kettleburner and The prolific Gentleman. Since TSK‘s passing over, we have recruited very talented new members to take up the mantle. Musically, “A Shadowplay for Yesterdays” was mostly written by The Gentleman and H. H. Bronsdon, one of our ‘new’ guitarists and musician / sound engineer extraordinaire. Significant additions were made by our other guitarist, Gtx. Grimshaw, and the rest of us all put our oars in one way or the other throughout…
Do you, Mr. Curse, usually write the lyrics, or do the other band members write something too, sometimes?
Up to this point I have written all the lyrics for our albums.
I really have to ask you this: who had the idea for your website? It is absolutely SPECTACULAR! I really loved it: the design, the style, the interactivity…everything! Congratulations on that!
That was a combined effort between The Gentleman and our wonderful colleague Lord Grum (www.grummedia.co.uk). It is indeed a site to behold, though once again, you would have to speak to The Gentleman to get the full story behind its creation. Suffice to say, it provides us with a most detailed and much tangled home amongst the spiders of the web.
What other themes would you like to explore in your next albums?
I wouldn’t honestly like to say for sure. Is ‘Anything and Everything’ a bad answer? I am most influenced by that which occurs around me at the time of writing – so even if I tried to say for sure what my lyrical influences would be for the next one, they would be liable to change without notice. Having said all this tripe, I am quite caught up in the crux of space and time. Also of gravity, the seasons, and heavy weather in general. These will always figure in my writing, as will my perceptions of the state of the so-called human condition.
What’s your relation with your fans, especially during your concerts? Do you tend to have an active relation, or do you tend not to interact too much with the crowd?
Again, I cannot speak for the rest of the band. Personally, I tend to stare intently out into space as I ‘perform’. It is the only way I can put myself in the correct place to be able to create the energy I require to get through it. I am not a great interactor, though I will always make the effort to speak to people after we leave the stage. It would be most ignorant and ungrateful of me not to!
Talking about the tour, where would you like to go? Is there special place or event you’d like to play at?
I have been very privileged to see some of Europa, and would certainly like to see more! I will go where ever the call takes me – I’m told I will even be going upon an aeroplane next year. I hope they’ve got some decent ‘relaxants’ for the journey… Not to be too evasive, but there are so many places I have not seen – I will not discount any, and will embrace each new place as a learning experience and something new. Having said this, I felt very at home in Frankfurt, Germany, and am very much looking forward to our little band playing Roadburn next year.
This is your third album…can you tell us, in your opinion, in which direction A Forest of Stars have evolved from the beginning until now?
In all honesty, I would say that we have done just that – evolved. Things have moved forward for us with each release simply because we do not wish to repeat ourselves or to bore ourselves with the music we put together. We are comfortable with our myriad influences, and so far have managed (I hope!) to incorporate them into our music without coming across as too much of a melting pot of horrors bound together with shit!
Now…spend some words to describe the other members of the band! You can be as serious/creative/funny/rude as you want!
At the risk of sounding like a trite so and so, I see the other members of the band as an extended family. We all look after one another and ensure that we get from one place to another in one piece (or in as few pieces as possible!) I would describe them as true friends and allies; I would not change them for the world – though I would add one to their number if I could – my attempts to resurrect Kettleburner in daemon form and to shoe-horn him back into the band have so far proven unsuccessful, though I have a few more dubious fine powders up my sleeve to try…)
Thank you very much for your answer! We hope to see you soon in Italy!
Thank you for your questions, Matteo.