EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH GOD FORBID’S DOC COYLE
MetalSucks recently had the opportunity to sit down with God Forbid guitar player Doc Coyle on the New York stop of their Stillborn Fest tour with Hatebreed, Agnostic Front, At All Cost, Necro, and Shai Hulud. Doc gave us some great details about the band’s upcoming DVD release, the band’s currently in-the-works album, the art of metal showmanship, and insight into the band’s writing process. The full transcript after the jump.
MetalSucks: How’s it going on the tour so far?
Doc Coyle: This is the fifth show or so… it’s been really, really good actually. Eclectic. You know, we’re kind of the metal band on the bill. Right before us is a rapper, and after us one of the most legendary hardcore bands of all time, so we’re definitely holding it down, doing our own thing. We’ve toured with Hatebreed a bunch of times, so we’re really good friends with them; it’s just fun playing with them. There have been good crowds. This is a nice little break for us because we’re working on our album right now. We were writing for two months, then we did a couple of shows with Unearth, and then we’re doing this to maybe kind of get our feet wet with a couple of shows before we go right back into writing mode.
You guys have been touring a lot… it seems like since the album [IV: Constitution of Treason] came out, this will be like the 6th time we’ve seen you. You guys are relentless.
Yeah but we’ve actually kind of taken, within that, since the album came out, we’ve taken a couple of breaks. We took about 6 months off… almost the whole second half of 2006 we took off. Except for one European run, it was a lot of time off. And this year we’ve been kind of stop-starting. We did a headlining tour the beginning of the year, then we went to Australia, Alaska, Puerto Rico, and then we went and did the Hatebvreed tour over the summer, took a few months off, and did Europe with Devildriver. Then we took another couple of months off, and now we’re doing this. To me this isn’t really even a tour though, it’s like a couple of shows. All the shows are so close you don’t even feel like you’re on tour really. I drove my own car here – these two shows in New York and Philly, afterwards I’m just goin’ home.
What were some of those places like that you’d never been before, like Alaska and Puerto Rico?
Interesting. It was just different. Australia for example, kind of like the UK… if the UK had nice weather, it’d be like Australia. Really super excited young kids definitely just really into metal. And the scene over there is really huge – everyone’s going to Australia now. Alaska was just weird… I don’t think half the people even knew who we were, they were just happy that a band was coming. So we played this bar, and there were mobs of people there just happy to be at a heavy show. In Puerto Rico, we went with Full Blown Chaos and we played a lot of weird places, more of like a hardcore crowd. I don’t know how much of a metal scene they actually have over there, but probably next time we go back we’ll play more of a metal club, and they’ll put us with more of a metal band. We’re not a hardcore band, and our shows don’t come off as hardcore shows. We’re into performance and showmanship and give people a full show with production value.
I wanted to ask you about that actually, because we saw you on two of your headlining dates at the beginning of the year. It did seem like there was a real sense of showmanship… I think the first time you came out to the Hulk Hogan theme, and I think the second time you came out to the Phantom Menace. Just the way you guys approach your live show seems like you do something that a lot of bands don’t really do anymore. You make little changes in the way you play it live, like I know in “Better Days” you take a dramatic pause after the first chorus. How do those ideas come about – does it come from jamming or does somebody come in and say “it’d be cool if we did this?”
Well sometimes you write a song and you don’t know how it’s gonna be live, and then you play it live and it’s like… “eh.” For example, for the album Detemrination live we changed almost every song we played… well not every song, but “Broken Promise” and “Divide My Destiny” either we’d cut parts out or we’d completely change the end of the song to make it work better live. A lot of the songs we had to get used to thinking about the live setting, because they were a little over-long, and a lot of things just worked better. Nine times out of 10 simpler works better live. Certain things on the album just don’t come across. On the album you can have all these crazy little studio tricks and you can make little sounds, but live subtleties kind of get lost in the mix, so things that are more in your face… that’s why a band like Hatebreed live is just insane, because their shit is all punishing, all groove, all intensity. And then you go out and you tour with Slipknot, something like that, you see little things they do in their set. Or even a band that I think does a lot of things, a band like Chimaira, they’re really good at those little things, those transitions between songs, getting the crowd involved. Some bands take that overboard though. Like now you go to a hardcore show or a metalcore show and the frontman is like almost berating the crowd into doing something… it’s offensive. But I think you want to get the people involved, you just don’t want to antagonize the crowd for not moshing hard enough or something. For us it’s about more of a rock show mentality – make sure people are smiling, make sure people are clapping, getting people involved to make sure they’re having a good time, not so they’re thinking (in metal growl), “Destroy this place!!” It’s like, I don’t want people to die, I just want people to be rocking out and enjoying themselves!
How did that go over on a tour like ths one?
Fine – we’re well-known enough so that our fans are there. And even if people aren’t a big fan they at least know us and appreciate us in a live setting. First time we toured with Hatebreed it was like… it was totally different… they’re a very odd band in that respect. You come up in the Northeast, it’s almost like they’re a hardcore band with metalheads there also. But then you get out of the Northeast, you go South, and they’re a fucking metal band. Going to see Hatebreed, a Hatebreed crowd is almost no different there than a Slayer crowd, or a Lamb of God crowd once you get out of the east coast. So we do what we do and I think people respond to that because we’ve been doing it for so long. Like I said we used to put on shows, now we put on concerts – we have lights, we have a flow to it, and we work the crowd. We try and go up there and have a good time; we’re not one of those bands trying to have the meanest face on stage and shit. We’re jokin’ around, we’re smiling, we’re making eye contact with people, trying to connect. We don’t wanna be like… one of the bands we toured with, one of my favorite bands, the Haunted. You know, awesome band, but they kind of disconnect themselves from the crowd; they kind of play for themselves and it’s more insulated. To me, all my favorite bands want to make the crowd a part of the show.
Let’s talk about the future a bit… 2008 seems like it’s gonna be a big year for you guys. You’ve got the DVD coming out. Is there any update on that?
DVD is pretty much done, we pretty much just need to finish up the editing of the documentary. The concert is pretty much done too. We have to do the menus, and kind of get the final cut on everything. But I’ll tell you, the DVD is fucking incredible. Honestly it’s one of the best metal DVDs I’ve ever seen. It came out even better [than the show]… honestly we were so nervous, we didn’t know what to expect. We knew the crowd was really good, and that, you know, it went so fast that we just didn’t really know what to think. We were just happy with the turnout and everything just seemed like it went really smoothly. But when we went back and looked at all the footage, it looks fucking epic, the look of the whole DVD. We had Eric Rachel who did our last couple of records record it and mix it and it sounds incredible. We’re actually gonna release a companion disc with it, because it sounds amazing. We’re not the hugest band in the world so I don’t know how many people are gonna buy it, but hopefully word of mouth will spread it. At least the people who buy it will pick it up and say “damn, that was worth the 15 or 20 or whatever bucks I spent on it.” A lot of bands put out some shitty DVDs. I’m not gonna name any names. But ones where you they shot it with their momma’s 1984 VHS, them hangin’ out back stage, them prankin’ each other and throwin’ up on each other and downing beers. It’s like… that shit’s cool, but we wanted to have a great concert. Cause I know when I was a kid I couldn’t afford to go to the concert. I watched Live Shit Binge and Purge! That’s how a lot of people who have never seen you before are gonna learn about your band, and what it might be like to go to one of your concerts. And we also wanted to show the personality of the band. A lot of people talk about how when they tour with us we’re a cast of characters, we’re off the wall. A lot of bands bring us on tour cause they like hangin’ out with us. So we wanted to kinda show people who didn’t know us personally what we’re all about. And also the story of our band.. it’s a very interesting story. It’s not like a typical success story – like, if you watch the Killswitch DVD it’s like, “We did this, and it was amazing. And then we did this, and it was more amazing. And then we got big, and then we got rich!” I mean whatever, they’re not, who knows how much money they have. But I’m just saying it’s all great stuff, and with us it’s like yin and yang – it’ll be good, we’ve had good stuff happen to us and we’ve had bad stuff. The tale of a struggling, working band, in the fight, but not where they wanna be.
Our shit, the thing about it is it makes us look a lot bigger than we are! The show, the lights looks crazy, we had ten cameras and a fuckin’ crane. It was a big show, so it just looks good. We’re really happy with it.
We were talking to Brodsky [Dave Brodsky, director] about it and he was over the moon about it.
I can’t believe how well it came out. The documentary is fucking incredible. Denise Korycki did it, she did Killswitch’s documentary. But ours is just so much edgier. We talk about the race thing, and just the struggles of our band. The shit is the REAL shit. It’s fuckin’ hilarious. People who are fans of the band are gonna be really stoked on it. Hopefully it’ll come out and build some hype before the CD.
And how far along are you with the new album?
We’re actually pretty far along. We have 3 songs compeletly done. We’re still tinkering, you know, it’s never done till it’s done. But we’ve probably got another 10 or 12 that are almost done or half done, and probably another dozen ideas we haven’t even gotten to yet. But we have another two months of straight up writing and preproduction and we go into the studio in March. It’s coming along really well. Sometimes you get so wrapped up in working on it that you don’t even know how good it is and how people are gonna react. We’ve shown some people the songs we’ve done, and it’s been an overwhelming response so far… it’s a lot different.
We’re just doing different… trying different types of song. We’re not tied into a formula. One song we have, it sounds like a Dimmu Borgir song. One song sounds like Opeth. Then we’ve got more stuff like “To the Fallen Hero,” more hook-oriented stuff too. And some really technical stuff. Some super, heavy slow stuff. In a way not being a massive band like Killswitch or Lamb of God or Slayer, you don’t have as much to risk as far as trying different things. I don’t know, we’re trying to make an impact, we’re trying to make an album that…
Is Eric Rachael doing it?
I think he’s gonna record pretty much everything. But we haven’t decided who we’re gonna get to mix it yet. We were going back and forth trrying to figure out who we wanted to produce… some people we wanted weren’t available, but Eric, we just feel really comfortable with him, and he’s the shit.
What’s the writing process like in God Forbid? Does one person bring in an idea and everyone rallies around it? Or do you just jam shit out?
Kind of a combination of everything. This time is the first time that I’ve actually been writing full songs. I don’t come in with it all done, but usually I’ll have like half the song. Sometimes it’ll be like “this works,” and sometimes it’ll be like “this doesn’t work,” and we’ll fuck around with it. I just brainstorm. Half the writing I do in my head. And then we come back and say “let’s change this,” or “I have this other part of the song.” It’s kind of weird in that my brother, he kind of comes in with more whole songs. But his songs are a lot different. My songs have a lot of changes, tempos, and feels, his songs kind of have one feel through the whole thing. Then we get in the rehearsal room, we jam some, we work on it, we yell at each other. And everyone will come in with ideas about transitions, or “maybe we should do this with that riff.” Everyone’s definitely involved. But I’d say I’ve personally become more protective over my material. I’ll be like, “This is how I want it!” Because I’m thinking of the whole song, and if you change one thing it’s gonna affect everything else. I’ve written a lot of material; sometimes you don’t really realize how much you’ve written. But that’s what happens, because it’s been two years since our last album, more than two years. Plenty of time to get inspired.
Do you track demos on a little ProTools rig or something?
I’ve actually been using GarageBand. I started recording all my riffs into it, and at rehearsal that’s how we record it too. We’ve got everything mic’ed and we run it into a mixer, and hey, it sounds pretty good.
What about your solos? Do you work on that endlessly, or do you do it off the cuff, or does it vary?
I’m not much of an improv guy. Usually I’ll have a track, and I’ll just start playing, start fucking around with stuff. I just keep going over and over, and I’ll try and find hooks in a lead. I’m really into melody and I want people to remember the solo, I don’t want to just play notes. I think a lot of guys are technically incredible but they just play a lot of notes and I don’t think that’s really impressive. Also I’m not the fastest or craziest, most technical guy in the world, so writing catchy solos is my strongpoint, trying to play with feeling. At the same time I’m also trying to step outside the box on this one and not do shit I’ve already done. For the last album I think I wrote some good solos but I didn’t feel like I got that much better. Because I’m not gonna outdo Alexi from Bodom, I’m not gonna out-shred Dragonforce or Trivium, so I just wanna try different things or different sounds, maybe fuck around with some effects pedals. I wanna come up with more abstract ways of thinking. I’ve only written one and a half solos for the stuff we’ve worked on, though. But that’s why we’ve taken our time, stuff like that. Last album I was in the studio writing most of my solos. We wrote the album so quick, I didn’t have time to work on ‘em. I’d rather go into the studio knowing exactly what I wanna do, at least 90% of it.
Any last words?
Hopefully the album will be out in summertime. Once we punch the DVD, after not having anything out for a while. We were trying to get the DVD out in the Fall but it was coming along too slow. Quality is the most important for us. I think a lot of bands, with DVDs especially, just rush it out and it ends up not being that great.
We’re looking forward to it. Thanks!