TARTAREAN DESIRE WEBZINE
This interview with guitarist/bassist/vocalist Wulfstan of Forefather was done via e-mail by Carlos Martin Cuevas in January 2006.
From the lyrical point of view I have always considered it extremely interesting the fact of exploring one's ancestry and historical heritage through music. The British band Forefather is a living example of this, always proud of exporting the Anglo-Saxon past to the rest of the world. I contacted them through email and they agreed to answer my questions as follow...
Hello guys, nice to have this interview, how are you?
Hi. We are okay, thanks. Happy to answer your questions.
Your last album came out in 2004. Now that more than one year has passed, what do you think is the general opinion (both from press and fans) on this work?
The general opinion seems to be that it is a very good album. I think I only ever read one or two bad reviews, and they were from people who clearly didn't understand or appreciate our style of music. Most reviews were very positive, which is most pleasing. I won't pretend to not care what people think.
Is there any future Forefather album in the horizon? Have you been composing new material?
A fifth album has been in progress for nearly two years now. That was when we first started writing new songs. We haven't been working on it every day for those two years - just here and there. The album is now basically finished and only needs to be recorded.
If I am not wrong, ďOurs is the KingdomĒ was your first album with Karmageddon Media. Are you satisfied with their work (personal treatment, distribution, etc)? Will your next album be released through them?
Yes, "Ours is the Kingdom" was our first album with KM. They re-released our previous albums at the same time too. Maybe we expected too much, but we're disappointed with them. Some important promises/commitments were broken and even distribution outside Europe seems to have been very low (if not actually non-existent). I don't know who will release our next album, but KM isn't anywhere near the top of our wish-list.
The band has just 2 members. Do you play gigs, or are you a studio band? If you chose the first option, which line up do you have when you play live?
We are a studio band, so we don't have to think about this, but I don't think finding the necessary musicians for live performances would be difficult. There just isn't enough combined will on our part to move into the live arena.
You do not like to be considered a Black Metal band, and I agree with you. I think black metal is one of your main influences, but not the only one. Which bands/styles do influence you at the moment of composing music?
This may sound strange but when we write Forefather music we're influenced by Forefather. We've developed a style and we work around that style, pushing the boundaries a bit occasionally. We don't think about other bands. Everyone is the product of what they grew up listening too though, and some important ingredients that have made the Forefather sound what it is have been Iron Maiden, Metallica, Bathory, and the 90s Norwegian BM explosion - Burzum, Immortal, Satyricon, etc. This isn't all we grew up with, and we naturally listen to lots of other stuff now, but those bands were key influences up to the point that we started Forefather. Of course we're still being influenced now, but to a lesser extent than when we were younger and more impressionable.
You have participated recently on a Falkenbach tribute. How did you come to be involved in the project? Will you cover a whole song? Which one?
It came about through our contacts in Folkearth. I didn't know about the tribute CD before then. I was asked if I'd perform the clean vocals to Heathenpride, and I was happy to, because Falkenbach is a project I've always admired. So our only contribution is my vocal track on that one song, but I hope it will be judged a worthy contribution!
You will also collaborate in Anti-Live 8 compilation cd by Supernal Music. What info can you share with us about it? Which other bands will collaborate? I am not quite informed about that historical event. What is your personal opinion on that macro-concert?
Aside from us I believe other bands contributing include the likes of Astrofaes, Benighted Leams, Bewitched, Capricornus, Dark Ages, Darkthule, Thorís Hammer, Ulfhethnar, White Hunter, and Woods of Infinity. The whole project has been delayed though, I think. I disliked Live-8 from the moment I first heard of it, and ignored it as best I could. I have a natural aversion to this kind of thing Ė all those pompous and smug celebrities getting together.
You have recently collaborated with Czech band Trollech. What did you do exactly? What can you tell us about this band?
We have performed some choir parts for their new album. I presume they will be used but I suppose itís not definite yet. Theyíre just a really good band that I (and Iím sure many others) discovered a few years ago, playing a kind of forest-inspired pagan metal. Their new stuff sounds great too. They can be found on the internet at www.trollech.com.
Now I would like you to talk about the Folkearth project. It seems a kind of album in which a wide number of musicians have collaboratedÖ
Yes, thatís the idea. But the first album seemed to be largely the work of Magnus Wohlfart. I think his workload is being reduced on the second CD though, with more bands and people contributing. I thought the first album was excellent, so Iím looking forward to hearing the second. Our track is a very melodic and thumping anthem called ďThe Ladyís GiftĒ, very different to ďRhyming with ThunderĒ which we recorded last time.
Are you fond of British classic heavy metal? You know, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Saxon, etc, etc. How do you see the classic heavy metal scene in your country nowadays? I particularly was living for 4 months in Wolverhampton 2 years ago and, to my despair, I saw many teenagers with Nirvana, Korn, Slipknot and Cradle of Filth shirts, but none with an Iron Maiden one (none in 4 months!). What are your visions about this situation?
Yeah, Iíve always loved Iron Maiden from a small child, but Judas Priest is a band I got into later in life (canít say Iím into Saxon). I do very much like the traditional Heavy Metal style, but not just British bands. I love King Diamond/Mercyful Fate, for example. As for a classic Heavy Metal scene in England Ė I donít think there is much of one. I may be making a sweeping generalisation, but the kids here seem to be mainly into the Nu-Metal, Metalcore and EMO stuff. That stuff is almost mainstream now. Proper Metal has never been mainstream or fashionable though, and I wouldnít want it to be.
Now just a personal question, if you donít mindÖ How old are you? What are your jobs? Do you consider that a musician plays more honest music when his income does not depend on his music but on a regular job, and then the music is not polluted by economic interests?
Weíre both mid twenties. Certainly the days of our youth seem further and further away now. At the moment we are trying to make a success of our label/mail-order Seven Kingdoms. Things are very much up and down. You need to work damn hard and be very ruthless if you want to make any money out of underground metal. I donít agree that a personís music is necessarily any less honest if they rely on it for their living. Certainly most factory-driven pop is like that though. Letís face it, if youíre a musician that wants to make money, metal is probably not the best option. We certainly donít think of money when we write and record, but weíre happy to take any money that comes our way from it.
Your lyrics are quite inspired by Anglo Saxon history. Which sources are your main inspiration? History Books? Old English Literature? Any other?
Yeah, I got into Anglo-Saxon history back when I was 16 or 17, inspired by the bands I was listening to that used Viking history in their lyrics. The two are very much entwined. Iíve always found history interesting, but I was extra-motivated about the Anglo-Saxon period because itís such an important period in Englandís history that is largely over-looked or patronised. I use historical events and figures for lyrical inspiration, also Old English texts and mythology/folklore.
As I have studied a degree in English philology, I found it quite interesting to see that you like to write some verses in Old English. Were you taught it at school, or did you learn it on your own? Are you fond of Old English literature?
The only piece of Old English I wrote myself is the passage from ďThe Shield-WallĒ, which is very basic stuff. The other parts have been existing old text that weíve re-produced. What I know and have learnt of Old English is all self-taught. I would like to write a lot more original Old English lyrics but itís just much easier to be expressive in my modern English tongue. There will be some Old English on our next album though, whether original or not. I am very fond of the language, yes. In fact Iím very interested in languages generally, particularly ancient Germanic languages and how they relate to each other.
Your land was invaded by the Vikings from 793 onwards and by the Normans in 1066 (if my memory does not betray me, hehe), and they left an important influence both on your culture and language. Are you proud of both the Viking and Norman heritage on Nowadays UK?
Yeah, Iím certainly not ashamed of Englandís Viking influences. I see the Viking invasions and settlements really as just a continuation of the Anglo-Saxon invasions and settlements. The Danes (which most of the Vikings in England were) had an affinity with the English, even if they were often great rivals. The Normans are a different story though. They were culturally more alien and more oppressive in their campaign to keep power. They moved England in a different direction and, I believe, moved her people away from their roots. The Normans did leave their mark, in architecture, aspects of government, aspects of language, but as a stubborn Englishman Iíll never be proud of their contribution haha.
Iíd like to end the interview with a kind of quest/game. I will tell you some proper names (music bands, famous people, places) and you will tell me your opinion on him/it. I hope you like it ;)
A great inspiration musically. Certainly saddened to hear of his death, especially after his recent excellent Nordland albums (I donít care what anyone says Ė theyíre great). I canít claim to have known him personally though, or read much about him beyond the music. So just a great musical inspiration. RIP.
Suspicious death. Not someone I was ever very interested in though. I find all these people who are obsessed with her strange.
Interesting from a language point of view, for examining the transition from Old English to Middle English.
Having never met him, I can only go by what Iíve seen and heard through the media. Based on that, he doesnít seem like the kind of person Iíd want to hang around with.
I stopped paying attention to football quite a few years ago. I always thought he was over-rated though. He just pulled off a few good long passes and free-kicks occasionally. I suspect not much has changed. As far as his status as a celebrity, his hair styles, etc, you will be shocked to hear that Iím not all that concerned haha.
One of those bands that everyone seems to be into but I never have been. That isnít to say I donít like them, just that Iíve never got into them.
Well, thatís all. I hope you did not find it too boring, hehe. Would you like to say any final words to our readers? Hail to England! ;)
Thanks for the questions. I will refrain from any wise words and just send my hails to all the worthy souls out there who read this interview. Cheers!
That's all, it has been a positive experience for me for I find the band a quite interesting one both from a musical and lyrical point of view. Good luck for them in the future!
Links of interest:
Seven Kingdoms Records