THE HARD R: GOD FORBID’S DALLAS COYLE ON HOW YOUR ENVIRONMENT AFFECTS YOUR MUSIC
It’s The Environment, Stupid…
What’s up party people? When you do a blog every week you wonder what to talk about and this week I decided to talk about the progression from our first record (Reject The Sickness) to our second record (Determination). I have no idea how familiar any of you may be with those records but I’d figure a look into the inner thinking of how each record was made and how we approached making those records will help any of you aspiring to do music for a living to do it more efficiently than we did.
I believe that people are affected by their environment more so than the other way around. When we were writing Reject The Sickness we were just finding out about the hardcore scene in NJ, which at the time consisted of a lot of types of styles, mosh-core, thug-core, rap-core, emo, tech-core. In NJ, at that time everything was hardcore. There was no metal scene. We were the metal band in NJ at the time. We had a particular incident at Obsessions Night Club that ejected us from playing with bands like Morbid Angel and Testament to playing shows with bands like For The Love Of…, Train Of Thought, E-Town Concrete, Clubber Lang, NJ Bloodline, Candiria, just to name a few. We were all metal heads when we found this new form of aggression in the hardcore scene.
By our peers we were NEVER labeled hardcore but we played so many hardcore shows that people who didn’t know us thought we sounded like Bulldoze and Fury Of Five. I guess that’s guilt by association. We’d play shows with Dillinger at The Plum Street Pub which was a seedy bar which held only 80 people. We first played with Lamb Of God when they were Burn The Priest in Reading, PA at this guy Alex T’s garage. It was a broke ass show. They played in front of us and we played in front of them. I think one person showed up. My point is, in writing Reject The Sickness the environment we were in affected the types of songs we’d written. If you listen to Reject The Sickness, you hear the metal but you also hear the brutal breakdowns, the chaotic arrangements, the dissonant guitars that reeked the scene at the time. Not to say we were copying our peers but the environment we were in influenced the music we wrote and recorded.
When we got the finished copy of Reject The Sickness everyone in the band was stoked because the quality of the recording was just so good at that time in 1999, that we impressed ourselves and our peers. We gained a healthy hardcore following and starting playing those bigger clubs because of that hardcore following we generated. The music on that CD obviously wasn’t typical because only a week after we finished the master Century Media called and said they wanted to sign us. This is the point where the direction of the band changed. Our environment had changed.
In earlier blogs I talked about resentment in our scene toward us that made us say ‘fuck you’ to a lot of the people who were hating. At the time we were signing with CM we knew we were writing a record for a ‘metal’ label so the band decided clearly that the next record had to be the most METAL SHIT EVER!. That’s where you end up with Determination in 2001. Our environment influenced our song writing because now our environment was Century Media. We were proud. We were metal. We were viable. We were represented by Century Media.
The music didn’t change much but what do we see? Determination had more melody, more solos, more thrash. A lot of the brutality in the music from RTS was toned down because we had fights at all of our shows because RTS was just a brutal album. We wanted to get away from that. So songs like “Broken Promise” and “Divide My Destiny” were created due to the environment of Century Media being metal and God Forbid always being metal. We also wanted to distance ourselves from the violence in the hardcore scene at the time. But in the NJ scene, we were the metal band in the hardcore scene but the hardcore scene influenced our metal. I know it’s confusing but it does make sense.
After Determination came out we went on tour and lost many of our ‘hardcore’ fans because Determination was more metal; we were bigger; we had toured. And that was our growth, produced by the environment we were put in by being signed to Century Media.
This goes to show you when you are true to yourself in writing your environment is supposed to affect you! Imagine how our environment changed from Determination to Gone Forever. A lot of people may find that interesting…. Maybe we’ll get into that next week.
For now I’m going to give you a song each from each of the albums discussed and you see if you can tell the difference between the songs with the ideas I’ve put forth…
The RTS song is “Dark Waters:” One of my favs on that album. This song is straight to the point and brutally honest with no fat. It’s heavy, off time, but still metal with a more ‘hardcore’ sound for the time in 1999.
God Forbid – “Dark Waters” (Reject the Sickness)
The Determination song is “Network.” It’s OK, but you can see us TRYING to be metal by writing longer structures and the song has a little too much fat. We’re trying to have ‘song structure’, hence us trying to show how metal we can be.
God Forbid – “Network” (Determination)