Forbidden’s Alpha and Omega

Forbidden is one of these bands coming from the Bay Area in San Francisco, who really contributed to the building of US thrash metal. From its early beginnings, the combo knew how to create its own identity. When some bands were playing on dark fields and others on more festive ones, Forbidden rather chose to develop an elaborate trash. As the brain behind the band told us, the guitar player Craig Locicero, right after the interview, when I explained that the new album Omega Wave would need time to be assimilated: « Forbidden has never been easy to listen ». But, usually the best albums are those which reveal through time.

This interview has gone on for almost an hour and it’s particularly heavy in terms of content. Craig has known and contributed to what we call now the Golden Age of trash. So it is with a particular attention that we absorb his words like a sponge. Words that are actually unbelievably reasoned and lucid, and especially when he comes back on the post-90 period when the trash scene was torn to pieces and when bands – so was Forbidden – were lost  where no one wanted them to be.

This interview was also the opportunity to know more about the young Robb Flynn, Machine Head’s current leader and Forbidden’s founder. An already very talented young boy who did not really appear to be off to a good start to become who he is today.

Among the many subjects we got onto, there is of course Omega Wave : the reason for its existence and the spirit in which it has been created is the opportunity to speak about more profound themes about the world, its inhabitants and its future. The troubles met by  humanity are – and have always been – the driving force behind Craig’s creativity. As he confesses, ironically : « Hopefully, there will be enough problems out there to express myself with ».

Settle comfortably and enjoy this interview.

« When we talked about doing this and the only reason that we are doing this, is that I saw the movie Get Thrashed at a screening. […] . I walked in there thinking that it would be fun to watch all of this and that it was going to be great to see everybody. Then I walked out thinking “Man, I feel exactly as I felt as a kid, when I was coming up into this genre of music” and I remembered was it was that made me motivated. I really wanted to go back and execute thrash the way Forbidden did it« 

Radio Metal :  Forbidden already reformed as Forbidden Evil in 2001 for the Thrash of the Titans benefit concert for Chuck Billy but you were not a part of it. Why is this?

Craig Locicero : Personally, I couldn’t be there but I really wanted to. They had asked me far before it. Well actually not that far as it came up pretty quick. They asked me if I could do it but I was in Los Angeles making a record with another band called Man Made God, produced by Rick Rubin. I knew that my tracks were coming up really quickly and I didn’t know exactly when so I couldn’t really commit. As it turned out, about a week before, my tracks were definitely coming into it. It was a very expensive studio and it was a very expensive album, so I couldn’t just leave. I gave them my one hundred percent blessings though, because I really wanted to be a part of it and it was for both Chuck Schuldiner and Billy – people forget that it was partially for Chuck Schuldiner too. So I couldn’t do it, but I talked to everybody and told them that my heart was there but that I simply couldn’t do it. They understood and ironically Steve Smyth ended up sitting in for me.

Why didn’t you take advantage of the momentum that this event created to do a proper reformation a few months later for example?

Well like I said, I was making a record in a major label situation. It sounds really silly now but at that time, the band that I was in… First of all, you can never do Forbidden without me. That wouldn’t be Forbidden because Russ and I have been the main songwriters since day one. It’s not going to happen. So they weren’t going to do that without me and they weren’t all that excited about it. I’ll tell you one thing: I heard two things about that reunion. One was about how fun the actual show was and nobody could believe the excitement that was caused by the whole thing. The other thing was that everyone was extremely annoyed with Glen Alvelais, who is the other guitar player because he hadn’t played with us since 1988 or 1989 and he basically stepped on everyone’s toes and pissed them off. He even made Paul Bostaph sit out the first two songs because he was mad at Paul about something that was irrelevant and he had some other drummer, who had never played in Forbidden, play the first two songs at this thing. With that alone, nobody really wanted to get back together if I wasn’t involved and Glen was involved at that point. So that basically quelled any real momentum that it would have taken. I think they would have been into it and tried to get me into it, but I was making a record that was supposed to be quite honestly huge. There was a lot going on at that time and if that band wouldn’t have broken up before it even got started I might not even be here today. But I’m glad that I’m here and I’m glad it broke up and I’m glad that all of these things happened. It all came together at the right time I believe. Even when we did reform in 2007, I really had no intention of writing a record yet. It just wasn’t in my thought process. It had to be real and I had to be inspired by real issues to start writing that kind of music because that is always what fuelled me lyrically in Forbidden since the beginning. It’s always real to me; I don’t fake any of this crap. It is my heart and soul, and that is part of it.

In 2007 when Forbidden reformed, the line-up was more or less the same as the Forbidden Evil album line-up apart from the drummer.  Then Glen Alvelais left. Were there any more problems with him? What happened?

(laughs) Ok, let me back up a little bit. When we talked about doing this and the only reason that we are doing this, is that I saw the movie Get Thrashed at a screening.  I walked out of the theatre with a completely different feeling as the one I had when I entered the theatre. I walked in there thinking that it would be fun to watch all of this and that it was going to be great to see everybody. Then I walked out thinking “Man, I feel exactly as I felt as a kid, when I was coming up into this genre of music” and I remembered was it was that made me motivated. I really wanted to go back and execute thrash the way Forbidden did it: with a certain violence in our playing and something that I felt was missing – that disconnects us from some of the newer thrash bands. This was really the intention. I talked to Paul Bostaph years ago about the fact that if we have time and if I ever feel like it, maybe we could so some shows. So I called him up and said “I’m up for it, let’s do some shows in Europe” and he was all for it. We had not yet settled who was going to play guitar for us. We really wanted Tim Calvert, but he was becoming a pilot for United Airlines at the time and in fact he is now. But we wanted Tim Calvert because that was the line-up that we had the most fun with. He wasn’t available, so we said “alright, we will do the Forbidden Evil line-up”. But then at that same meeting Paul said “oh by the way, Testament asked me to do their next album, but I can do both”. I said “no you can’t”, so then we had to go back and forth thinking about the time that he wasn’t going to be there. This is how we ended up with the line-up that we ended up with. Originally, we had Gene Hoglan sitting in because Steve Jacobs had some shoulder problems. So basically, the drummer problem didn’t sort itself out until we went to Europe for the first time. When we went to Europe, even before I had thought about writing music; that was when the problems with Glen started to creep up. It was more or less the same stuff that happened. People can only change so much. Glen is a great lead guitar player, but he fancies himself as more than that. He is not leader for a band and he is not a songwriter. It is just not what he does. If he was just ripping and be happy ripping, then he would probably be doing something right now. Who knows? He has gotten canned from Testament twice and he was also canned for the first time from Forbidden probably because his motivation is different from everybody else. He is not the “team-player” that some of the rest of us are. The same thing started to creep up in Europe again, because it was all about him and everyone reacted like “wow, this is not as fun with this guy again”. It was all eventually going to happen. We came back to Europe and everyone gave us a chance again. We went to Japan and that was it. Quite honestly, he let out a statement after we had our conversation in which we let him go, where he said that he quit and that the music wasn’t heavy enough. None of that was true; that was just a guy who was angry. But we didn’t want to come out and say anything bad about him. In fact, I am not really saying anything bad right now. It’s just that he is not a relevant part of Forbidden anymore. He wasn’t even really a student of anything besides Forbidden Evil. When we started doing it, I had to teach him the stuff and he was resisting so… It’s about chemistry, and there is none. We don’t have it with him.

« But right at the end of the thrash metal thing, before grunge arrived, thrash started to really suck balls. […] But with bands that went on like us, you get confused when nobody gives a shit. […] Trying to find your way through when nobody gives a shit is a hard thing to do.« 

In 2008 you said that the reunion was not permanent and that there were no plans to make another album, so what changed your mind?

Actually, that is quite an interesting thing because… Well, you’re only talking to me, so you will only get my point of view on the matter. But if you asked anyone else in the band, they would have said “yeah we are going to do another album, we will do it for sure”, but if I am not writing it then it is not going to get written at the onset of it all. I went out there thinking that I was going to have fun on this tour and that there was no pressure. After a few shows, I thought to myself that I could probably write some riffs, because aside from the crowd, which is a large part of it; Forbidden has always been a vehicle for speaking upon issues that need to be touched upon for me. I was seeing the elections that were coming up in America, the world climate situation and this whole political “blood for oil” type thing and I thought, “you know what, I think I have enough ideas here to start writing some riffs”. That was really the inspiration to come back and even give it a shot. It just has to be real for me, and Forbidden has been that vehicle. I also do some heavy rock stuff with Spiral Arms and it is never going to be that heavy lyrically. It’s going to be different because although it’s a heavy band, it isn’t a metal band or thrash metal band; that’s for sure. Half way through 2008 on that tour, it became the perfect time to voice those displeasures and that was the beginning of the whole thought process.

Musically, the new album Omega Wave sounds more like a follow up to Twisted Into Form. Why didn’t you take off from Green musically?

Well between Twisted Into Form and Distortion alone, there was a lot of years of battling the industry and trying to figure out what the fuck we were doing. From there to there we had written so many songs and starting in 1990 as a thrash metal band to when we were making demos in 91 and 92, we had evolved into some sort of dramatic semi-thrash Queenrÿche type thing and we took on a lot of Tim Calvert influences. This was not a bad thing but it meant that we evolved too quickly and got away from what we were. Then the industry and everything had changed all at once, so Paul joined Slayer and all of the sudden Nirvana came out and then everything turned in, literally, a second. We had a major label deal on the table but we had to say good-bye to that because everything had changed so much. So we did Distortion: it’s an album that is different, it’s a little disjointed, it was a cool record but it had lost some edge. Then with Green, it was a result of actually going out, touring again and having a little bit of success, getting motivated and yet still realising that we were not going to make a really big splash in the industry. So there was also a little anger there too. That album worked as kind of exercising our anger, making it more “cave-man” for Forbidden than most people were expecting at the time because it was simpler and there was a lot more screaming and anger so I think that people didn’t really know how to absorb it. Then obviously we broke up because nothing was going to happen for us. But after all those years of looking back and retrospect, when I started writing this album, it was very clear to me what I wanted to go for : be as metal as possible, be as thrash as possible. I wanted to do all of the things that we may have hesitated to do in those later years in the band, to be more explosive and taking it to the next level without being safe at all. It was a fun record to write because it was very “fuck it, let’s be as technical as possible and everything that we have hesitating in doing, let’s go for it!”. It was a pretty natural process this time. If it makes more sense with Twisted Into Form, it did not happen by design, it was just that we took the best that we had done and made a record with it.

Should we understand from this that you will never play songs from Distortion and Green again?

No, no no no no no. That is not the case. Before we left to tour for Europe, I had an epiphany, literally a dream in the middle of the night that told me “don’t waste your set on songs that people are not going to react to for your first time back”. And this is true. So we thought that we were just going to concentrate on those two albums, because those are obviously the ones that most people want. It was a good idea. That tour was a success because of that. There is always going to be a low in our set whenever we play Distortion and green, because people are not going to react to it. Now, we are starting to dust off a few songs from each of those records because we can’t play that much off the first two records, and we are also going to play the new record so we need to bridge it all together. Depending on whether we are headlining or supporting, it will dictate a lot of what we play. I doubt that you will ever hear as much from Distortion or Green because those albums are not half as popular. However, if we are playing a headlining set, then we will play a bit of everything.

During the 90s, pretty much all thrash metal bands changed their sound to something more modern. Exodus did Force of Habit, Metallica did Load and Reload, Megadeth did Risk etc… Was it so hard at the time for thrash metal bands that they had to try something different musically?

That is a really good question but there were a few things going on there. When Paul joined Slayer in 1991, Nirvana came out with their album the same week. Everything was already watered down in thrash metal. To be quite honest, when I look back upon 1991/1992 and all that genre of music, besides from Pantera, everything fucking sucked! It was just not good! Everybody was chasing the same thing, trying to be more commercially viable and getting on MTV. It had infiltrated a scene that was pure in 1988/89/90 and by 1990, it had really started coming into play. I think that some people forget that because they try to remember it as some “golden age”. But right at the end of the thrash metal thing, before grunge arrived, thrash started to really suck balls. It was just not as good and I can name numerous albums but why should I throw someone out there under the bus? Forbidden probably would have put out an album that had the same problem if we had just entered a record deal, it would have been a watered down version of what we were and not as good in my opinion. So things kind of needed to change. But with bands that went on like us, you get confused when nobody gives a shit. I think that it is only really Slayer and Pantera who were the only ones who really stuck to their guns. At that point Pantera had changed; people didn’t even want to talk about them after their first two albums. Once they released Cowboys From Hell, they were set in the motion and they just went in the other direction which was heavier and heavier. You have to give them a lot of credit for that. The rest of us were all getting watered down and it wasn’t very good. What can I tell you? It was different. Trying to find your way through when nobody gives a shit is a hard thing to do.

« I think that a lot of what is happening now is human beings just surrendering to thinking “I can’t do anything about anything”. […] the majority of this planet sees undoing and is relenting to it. We need to do something as a collective consciousness, to pop our heads up and say “what the fuck are we doing here?!”.« 

Do you think that some of these bands should have stopped the way that Forbidden did in order to recharge their batteries?

Well that is all opinion. I’m pretty amazed that Testament was still there during all that time. Then again they almost changed their name and did a completely different thing which was death metal, because they believed that it would be more successful for them.  Then they came up with Demonic, which was a nice answer to all that. These bands probably should have stopped but that is only my opinion. I’m glad that we stopped and I am glad that I did what I did. I had a wonderful time and I met some wonderful people. Everyone has got a different story and a different point of view. I think that for the guys who really stuck with it and nothing happened, it is very taxing and it makes you feel beat down. I give credit to the bands that stuck it out and have come back, but hardly any of us really did that except for maybe Testament. Exodus wasn’t there the whole time, neither was Death Angel or Forbidden or Heathen and Testament almost changed their name.

The album artwork for Omega Wave is clearly a reference to the first album Forbidden Evil. Why did you use these red and blue skulls? Is this a way of leaving clues as to what to expect from the music?

There is a little bit of that. I just think that those skulls represent us visually. Maybe if we had a clearer point of view during those later days, then we would have used them more as a calling card for the band like Eddy for Iron Maiden. I have seen literally about a thousand tattoos of Forbidden Evil all over the world. I see those things everywhere and it’s really impressive. When we went back to tour Europe, I was really blown away by how many tattoos I was shown. That was the first real clue that we should probably make something that people can relate to visually right off the bat. The concept of the record has very little to do with Forbidden Evil as far as the cover is concerned. I don’t know if you noticed but the skulls are actually making the omega symbol and they are riding on the crystal Skull of Belize like a crown. It really represents Man duelling with his own psyche. At a time like this when there is so much going on, it’s as though we are racing towards our own self fulfilling prophecies. I think that a lot of what is happening now is human beings just surrendering to thinking “I can’t do anything about anything”. It’s a shame you know. So the skull that they are racing around is the crystal Skull of Belize which is a very famous and very mysterious skull which has had numerous tests done to it by Hewlett-Packard. It is just simply amazing and you couldn’t even make it again with modern technology because if you cut it the same way that it was cut, it would just shatter. That alone is something interesting but they figured that there is more information in that skull and the thirteen other skulls than we have in all of our computers. They tell us that there is no way to tap into it, but would they tell us if they could? It is the science fiction versus science fact concept. What they tell us and what they doing? Can we save ourselves? What do they know? There is a concept behind the whole album cover but it is a very simple look into that and it’s representative of our past.

I read somewhere that the red and blue skulls represented the good and bad sides of humanity. On the new album they haven’t collided yet, however on the Forbidden Evil cover, they are in collision. Should we understand that you are not as pessimistic about man-kind as you were in the 80s?

Oh no. I am just as dismayed about man-kind as I have ever been. In fact I think that I am more dismayed now. It’s the setup, the actual action of humanity colliding with itself completely. This is what I was saying. Those two skulls form the omega symbol and omega represents the “end”. So either way, I feel like things are going to change. If the collective consciousness snaps out of what it believes to be the ending, and I mean the majority because not everybody believes that. But I would have to say that the majority of this planet sees undoing and is relenting to it. We need to do something as a collective consciousness, to pop our heads up and say “what the fuck are we doing here?!”. If you are in the minority on this thought process of hope, then guess what, our reality changes for all of us. The omega wave is that impending doom feeling that a lot of people are surrendering to now. I personally don’t have it, but I feel like I am in a minority here. I think that unless most people make a conscious change in their thought process and abolish corporations that are running our fucking world, we are destined to bad things in this material world.

There is a strange track in Omega Wave called “Chatter” which divides the album in two parts. What is the purpose of this track?

“Chatter” is exactly what it says. It is a term used by people who have to analyse all of the information that is being disseminated and regurgitated on the internet, television, radio, telephone… In America, since the Patriot Act has been unleashed upon us, it has basically been “1984” over here if you know what I mean. Nothing is private anymore. Not even your emails. There are key words which they put into a super computer which will basically spit out whether you are a possible threat. I know that this sounds paranoid, but it is just reality. This is what is happening right now. “Chatter” pulls together all of these conspiracy theories and science stuff that is actually going on. It has a lot to do with extra-terrestrial stuff, extra-dimensional stuff, solar stuff, government stuff; basically all of these paranoid reality conspiracies. It really sets up for “Dragging My Casket” because the character in that song is somebody who is overwhelmed by all of this and feels completely hopeless. It was written from the point of view of a young person. “Dragging My Casket” represents putting all of your problems and all of your despair together and dragging with you everywhere that you go. It is a really difficult thing to be a young person in this world and not have a chance to have any kind of success, I just can’t imagine… Well actually I did imagine (laughs) and that is as far as we went. You really can’t feel that, unless you are living it. It’s a really tough world to get a leg up in.

« Back then, music was our lives and that was it. I don’t think that it is that many people’s lives anymore.« 

Now on another subject. What do you think of what we call the “re-thrash movement”, meaning the thrash metal revival which we have witnessed over the last few years with the apparition of new thrash metal bands such as Municipal Waste, Bonded By Blood, Violator, Havoc and so on?

I think that it’s really cool and complimenting in one side, but a lot of these guys just don’t have the same influences and resources that we had in order to make their music as viable as it was for us. When we were doing it, there was only music and it was all we had. There was nuclear war, there was Reagan, there was God and there was the Devil. What else was there? There was very little to work with. Now they have a lot more chaos to work with, but they are concentrating more on re-representing a time that they can’t really understand. Wearing the pants and the jacket with all of the patches is cool as a look, but I feel as though something has been lost in translation. Some of those bands really have potential. Someone out of all of those bands has to come up with a record that will do something different and that will set them apart, so that people can think “well that’s a fucking innovative record”. There are a few bands, like Evile, which could possibly do that. However, it hasn’t happened yet and out of all of those bands, they all have cool records, but nothing that is completely blowing everyone away just yet. We will see. Perhaps they will grow just the same way that all the rest of us did or maybe it will do the same thing as everyone will get watered down and it will get worse.

You partly answered that, but do you think that the context of this re-thrash movement might have some similarities with the context in which you found yourself in the 80s when the American thrash metal bands emerged?

Yeah there is a little similarity but it is not the same; it can’t be the same. Back in those days, all that we had was music. Back then there was tape-trading, there was music and there was going to shows. Now you have i-Phones, i-Pods, as well as computers in general, video games that are played worldwide and that people play throughout whole week-ends, in fact people don’t even leave the house as much. It is just a different set of circumstances to make the background to their music. Back then, music was our lives and that was it. I don’t think that it is that many people’s lives anymore.

Has the regain interest in thrash metal in recent years somehow played a role in your decision to reform Forbidden?

Yeah absolutely, because I saw that movie Get Thrashed which was about thrash metal. But that alone was ahead of the curb because they saw something coming and it took them years to make that movie, by pulling up all of the pieces together. For me that movie really rekindled the reasons why I did it, why I loved it and why it was real. It certainly played a part in it and if it had fallen upon deaf ears, then I don’t think that anybody would have been that motivated to do it. As I told you, my personal motivations were the situation in the world and what I could pull out by taking my anger and making it into something productive and positive. It was taking the negative and using it as therapy by voicing it. From what I have seen and the way that people are reacting to our album, I think that we are on to something there because just about everybody has asked about the lyrics. I get into philosophical conversations with a lot of these guys in interviews (laughs). That’s the motivation for us; the fact that there is an audience there that will come back makes it possible.

Forbidden has always had greater complexity than other thrash metal bands of the same generation. Do you think that this is what has prevented the band from becoming bigger like Megadeth or even Testament who have more obvious songs?

Well I think that there are many reasons for that. I think that Forbidden was on the fast track to do something good but we made some bad career decisions along the way which took us sideways. Also, I think that this genre which we talked about earlier has a hell of a lot more to do with it than anything else. Forbidden Evil and Twisted Into Form were selling pretty well. In fact Twisted Into Form did really well in the States. We were on our way but things changed and we could say that it was because of one thing but actually it was really because of another, it was music changing in general. As I said earlier, all of us were getting watered down. By the time Testament came out with The Ritual, we all reacted like “err what?” because it was like their rock n’ roll album. Everyone had changed and that was the great problem. It wasn’t as though Exodus were firing out great records after the next like after too because after Fabulous Disaster they went pretty far down too. Everybody did it except Slayer and Pantera who kind of survived the changeover. We just were at the wrong place at the wrong time. Who knows? If that third album had come out and we would have stayed on track… but it didn’t and we didn’t.

Even with Omega Wave, Forbidden’s music is pretty complex, a lot more than what a band like Megadeth does today for example. Despite this complexity, do you think that your music can still have the power to attract people just like a band like Megadeth have?

Probably not! (laughs) I don’t think that we expect to become as big as Metallica or Megadeth. I think that the days of chasing something and trying to be anything with Forbidden are over. We are not trying to do anything and we are just being ourselves. If it is successful then it is because people are going to like us for what we are. Forbidden was technical and we tried to dumb it down a bit on Green, but that wasn’t really Forbidden. It was a cool album and it ended up being a big influence for a lot of the bands that are popular now like Lamb of God or Slipknot or Strapping Young Lad. Those bands really liked Green. But you know, I don’t think that we are ever going to be all that big. If it happens, then wow! Great! But we are not in it to become giants. We are in it to express ourselves and become a cult band again that can go out there to play and survive doing it.

Do you think that this will be a long lasting reformation? Can we expect more albums in the future?

I have given up answering those types of question with an absolute yes because I don’t really know. This shit has to be real for me. I have been cool for a long time about not playing technical thrash metal and heavy stuff. I still have Spiral Arms, which is a band I love; it comes from the heart. But I don’t know how long I will be fired up to play this kind of music. Hopefully, there will be enough people into it to inspire me and enough problems out there to express myself with. I’m sure that we will give it a shot, but I can’t answer that question with any certainty because you never know for sure.

(A propos de Robb Flynn) « When Machine Head put out the demo the first time, I thought to myself that this had the potential to be really good. But when Violence was putting out their last two records, I felt bad because I didn’t think that he had much of a chance to do anything in that band.« 

Robb Flynn from Machine Head was part of Forbidden at the very beginning when it was called Forbidden Evil. Why did Robb Leave the band before Forbidden Evil was recorded, despite the fact that he participated in the compositions?

There was a very short amount of time between when Robb was in the band and then Glen came into the band and we got signed. It was really fast in the great scheme of things and it took barely a year. Robb and I met in high school. I had a friend who saw me walking around with a Merciful Fate EP, “A Corpse Without Soul”, and he said “hey I know a guy who likes the same shit as you do”. That guy ended up being Robb and about a year later we put together Forbidden Evil. When he found Russ, they didn’t have a name or anything but that band ended up coming together. He left because he got an opportunity to play with Vio-lence and that seemed to him to be more what he wanted to do because we were more metal and he wanted to play more punk type stuff. He didn’t really care for a real singer, as he was more into the live reaction. So, I think, to him it was kind of a short term answer to what he was looking for. Later on, I think that he started to understand that Forbidden Evil had a lot more potential than Vio-lence. He did the right thing for him. Ironically, not a lot of people know this, but although everything happened the way it should have, Vio-lence asked me to join a month before they asked him. I asked “why me?” and the old singer Jerry (Birr) and Perry Strickland said “because you’re Violence material!” and I said “no I’m not, I like metal dude, I’m so not a Vio-lence guy”. I think that in the end, they realised that they didn’t ask the right guy and they got the right guy in Robb.

Would you have guessed that he would become so popular?

No I wouldn’t have. I didn’t know that he was going to make the right decisions along the way, because there was a point in his life when I was looking at him and wondering what he was doing. When Machine Head put out the demo the first time, I thought to myself that this had the potential to be really good. But when Violence was putting out their last two records, I felt bad because I didn’t think that he had much of a chance to do anything in that band. At the time, Forbidden was on the way up and Vio-lence was on the way down. He is so talented though. In the old days when we were playing together, he was a ripping lead guitar player. He is way better than what people know he is now. He could do a lot of things that a lot of guys couldn’t do. And that was what inspired us to get a guy like Glen, who was even better than Robb at doing that, but we felt that we needed to get someone who was really a burner. Robb was a different animal back then compared with how he is now. I’m really proud of him; I think that he has found something. But even Robb got distracted and watered down, just like our scene did. The third or fourth Machine Head albums are kind of like “what the hell is that?” (laughs). It’s just the way it goes. Sometimes when you are going through it, you try to hold on to your success and let it grow but you make the wrong decision along the way. This is what happened to Machine Head, but now they are back and they have made two really good albums.

In between the break-up and reformation of Forbidden, you had a band called Manmade God which only released one album which went pretty much unnoticed and then you broke-up. However, there was a lot of hype prior to that about the band from what I’ve understood. What happened with this band?

Manmade God was supposed to be huge. Every management company wanted us, major labels were knocking themselves over to get to us and so everything was going our way but once again, it was victim of bad timing. Honestly we had everything going but when we signed the deal and made our record with Rick Rubin, there was a huge change at the label from Colombia to Island Records. The head of both labels had turned out and so it was a bunch of business stuff which was happening over our heads. As a consequence, the album kept getting pushed back on its release date. That alone wouldn’t have been a problem, but it was because it took so goddamn long that our singer just completely imploded in the process. He had somewhat of a meltdown. He wasn’t really much of a people person beforehand, so when we were out on the road, he started to get miserable and made all of us miserable. It’s sad because he is so talented. The songs that I was writing and the vocals that we were putting together were really special. It was just such a shame, but it was becoming so difficult for me that I literally one day said “I’m done, I quit. I don’t want to do this with this guy”. This may have been the wrong move at the time, but I’m glad that I did it because it brought me to here. If Manmade God was going now then I doubt that I would have even had a chance to come back and write Omega Wave. My head would not have been in the same place. I do believe that everything happens for a reason.

Then you formed Spiral Arms, which is basically Manmade God with Systematic front man Tom Narducci. You recorded a second album this year. Why would you feel more confident about Spiral Arms considering what happened with Manmade God?

I like Spiral Arms even better myself. It seems like the Forbidden fans seem to accept Spiral Arms better too because there is more energy in the music. We are just not trying to be a major label band the way that we were back then. We are not going to try and battle for that pole position. If you sell a bunch of records, it is the only way that you are going to stay on a label. I tell you that Spiral Arms could have been dropped and signed, then dropped and signed a few times by now. But we kept staying away from the major labels and not trying to do things like that. Now we have a situation that is pretty cool because we are happy being a cult band and building it up the way Clutch or Black Crows would do it now. I love Spiral and that is what I am going to end up doing when I get really old even if Forbidden keeps going, because it is so fun. Those guys are super talented too. It’s a lot easier playing that stuff. It’s easier physically and it’s just really fun. I just love it, what can I tell you? My heart is really into that band. My heart is also in Forbidden but it’s a hell of a lot more work and I seem to be doing the majority of it. In Spiral Arms, it’s everybody working together evenly. I’m not complaining, I’m just answering (laughs). This is the reason why I hesitated on writing another record, because I knew that I was going to make a humungous commitment and they were going to rely on me to wear a lot of hats. I’m doing it again, just like I was in the old days.

You also have a third band called Demonica featuring Merciful Fate’s Hank Shermann. The first album was out at the beginning of the year. Are you somehow trying to invade the music industry with all of your bands this year?

(Big laugh) That’s actually really funny that you said that. It’s not that, it’s just that for a long time, I was putting all of my eggs into one basket. I was only concentrating on one thing at a time. This goes for Forbidden to the beginning of Spiral Arms. And then I realised that I have a lot more music to offer than that. The Demonica thing had come up before the Forbidden reformation had come up. Hank Shermann asked me to do that at the beginning of 2007. He sent me an email saying “would you be interested in playing with me? I got these thrash songs…” and I thought “Hank Shermann? I love! Thrash? That doesn’t make sense!”, so I had to hear it for myself. He sent me some riffs and the demo with the drum machine. I liked it and I thought “well it’s Hank, so I’m gonna give it a shot”. It took a long time for that to come out but that’s all of Hank’s music. I just added my parts and contributed. It is an honour to play with him, as he is a great dude and I hope to do more with him and Demonica. However, as far as all three bands coming out with albums all around the same time, it’s just weird that it all came out like that. In fact, my best friend said to me about a year and a half ago: “dude, when 2010 finally comes around, you will have all of these albums finally out and you can put your feet up for a minute to think ok there you go, I’ve fuckin’ done it! And then you got to get back to work and support that stuff!”  He was right and it’s really good to have all of that music happening out here. It has been a good year for me as far as that goes.

Interview conducted on october 15th by phone.
Transcription : Isere & Saff

Myspace Forbidden : http://www.myspace.com/forbiddenofficial

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