A FOREST OF STARS (Eng.)

– Hi, thanks for your time. What’s currently going on with A FOREST OF STARS?

The Gentleman: At this precise moment I am absolutely snowed under with last minute arrangements and rehearsals for our UK tour which starts in a few days. Outside of that, my house could be burning down for all I care – I don’t think I have time to notice!

Curse: Indeed, all is panic stations. No rest for the wicked, and all of that!

– You are about to unleashed your third album, but I guess some people won’t know about you yet so, first off, would you mind to share some history of the band? Why and how did you decide to create a such special act?

The Gentleman: Honestly, the band started as a small, quiet project between friends, just to do something that we loved for the sake of our own enjoyment and nothing more; the first album was written and recorded without any pressure or care for what anyone would think. Somehow, from that, without any real promotion, it just sort of spread, which took us quite by surprise. Before you know it, we’ve added members, toured all over and now we’re talking to you about album number three. It’s all a bit puzzling – I must confess we have absolutely no idea what we are doing. Nobody in the band knows how we got here. I suppose as long as we don’t let on, no one will mind. Or maybe not…

Curse: We tend to float through a vast soporific sea, encountering the occasional terrifying moment of clarity before sinking back down in to oblivion. Sometimes when I surface I take a moment to wonder how we have arrived here, but then befuddlement overcomes me once more…

 

– This new album is entitled “A Shadowplay for Yesterdays”. After listening your previous “Opportunistic Thieves of Spring” I thought “The Corpse of Rebirth” was only an augury of what it was to come with your next album, but after listening your upcoming opus I’ve had the same feeling. Could you say you are still shaping your very own sound?

The Gentleman: Definitely so. It is our intention to progress, adapt and grow with every record, and I hope to do so for as long as we are able. Treading water doesn’t hold much interest for me, personally.

Curse: I would say that each record is a moment in time. We create what seems right at that point, and seeing as time is relentlessly marching forward, we never quite know what might be coming next. It certainly keeps things interesting.

 

– This time I think I’ve noticed more elements from Progressive Rock or even Doom Metal. Have you opened to new influences? Or does everything just come naturally?

The Gentleman: We’ve always listened to a wide variety of music, I think we cover pretty much the entire spectrum between us (although there’s always something new to discover). As each record comes along, we stretch our wings a little further, and allow more disparate influences into the songs. I don’t think we would do ourselves any favours to stick it all in at once – it’d just be a great big mess. Though some would probably say it is already! So, yes, we add new elements to the core each time, and I hope to continue in that vein.

Curse: I would agree completely. Certain songs tend to lend themselves to variations in approach, and if it works, we go with it. I don’t believe that any limitations should be adhered to, provided that the end result remains (vaguely) coherent!

 

– This being said, does AFOS has any limitations?

The Gentleman: I don’t know really. You can fit something rather odd and unusual into almost any genre of music, so long as you stay true to what you are doing and it is done for the right reasons; mainly, because it works and feels natural. I despise sticking something in just for the sake of it, or worse, to be jarring, especially as you can effectively unsettle a listener in so many other ways other than sticking a random dance beat in the middle of a song.

 

– “A Shadowplay for Yesterdays” is a quite intriguing album title; how should we interpret it?

Curse: I would suggest that the title is very much intentionally open to interpretation. The over-riding idea behind it was to suggest visions of ghosts of the past – life flashing before the eyes. It has to be said that it ties in with the concept of the record in general, what with the perpetrator living a life based in his own twisted fantasies and misunderstandings, ultimately leading to his assisted self destruction.

 

– All your albums have been conceptual records, and this time you make no exception so, could you please tell us what is the main concept behind your new release?

Curse: The story surrounding the lyrics of this recording is one of dread; fear of the self and of the slippery nature of sanity. It is a tale of best intentions perverted by experience and of destruction wrought upon perceived enemies. Basically we follow one particular individual as he wreaks havoc upon himself and the world surrounding him.

 

– It’s obvious Britain plays an important role on AFOS but, how important is its influence both for your music and lyrics?

The Gentleman: I honestly don’t know, it’s very difficult to say. It certainly doesn’t have a direct, conscious effect on the music I write, but I am rather British in a lot of stereotypical ways and a lot of people feel the band is very British sounding, so it must be occurring on a sub conscious level, to a degree or two. Having grown up in this country, I suppose that’s only natural.

Curse: I have to agree – I never intentionally set out to be perceived as ‘British’ – but having said that, I do seem to spend an inordinate amount of time complaining about the weather and likening it to bitter experience, so in essence I suppose that is very British! As the esteemed Gentleman said above, having grown up here it is fairly expected that we would bring that to bear on our songs whether entirely intentionally or not…

 

– You have always had really well-cared and complex compositions, but this time around, with an enormous diversity, you’ve managed to create a really enjoyable and even catchy CD. Is this balance something easy to get?

The Gentleman: I’m not sure. We worked very hard on this record to get everything just perfect in terms of feel, and as it tells a story the music had to have a beginning, middle and end to it as well, so we used themes to represent certain things and could utilise them as call backs throughout the album. All that aside, we were quite surprised, after the initial writing and discussion of the concept at how quickly it all fell into place. That sort of thing scares me sometimes.

Curse: Indeed, if I were to term the recordings as ‘catchy’ I would only do so in attempting to explain that I feel that everything seems to fit together well, forming a very cohesive whole – perhaps creating the illusion of ‘catchiness’. Lyrically I have remained as intentionally honest and harsh as ever.

 

– And talking about such; how does the songwriting process tend to be like in the band?

The Gentleman: With seven people, it can potentially be a chaotic mess – but not a good one. For the most part we have three main music song writers, and after we’ve written the rough outline of a song, either individually, or as a pair or whatever combination, everyone else comes in and adds their own unique stamp, to give it that AFOS polish (or lack thereof). It’s important as a producer (along with HH Bronsdon) to keep a rough eye on the whole picture to make sure it all fits together. For the next album, we’re tempted to change all of that, just to see what interesting results it brings. We’ll see!

Curse: I work in the shadows as the others compose the music, attempting to fit my musings in alongside the musical patterns that they create. So far this has worked rather well. I would say that I have worked more closely with the nascent music this time around, writing around the riffs from the ground up, rather than previously, where my approach was somewhat more free-form.

 

– This has been your real first album with Lupus Lounge / Prophecy Productions. How did this cooperation arise? And are you satisfied with the work they are doing with “A Shadowplay for Yesterdays”?

The Gentleman: Prophecy approached us with a great offer and we couldn’t turn them down; that’s about as interesting as it gets, I’m afraid. We’re tremendously happy with our label – we enjoy a great deal of musical and artistic freedom and they do a fantastic job of promoting it to everyone. Really, we are very, very lucky.

Curse: I can say nothing but good words about Prophecy. They have treated us extremely well, and their attitude towards creativity and artistic expression first and foremost is utterly admirable. It is wonderful to be able to say that after the amount of truly hard work put in by the band as a whole, and certain individuals in particular towards creating as artistic a release as possible, that Prophecy have put in so much effort to make the physical ‘product’ a real sight to behold. They have done us proud!

 

– I’d say this new effort, once more, represents an important progress for the band but, what does personally represent to you?

The Gentleman: That’s difficult to put into words, really. It’s always important to push yourself further and on this record it was the first time I’d written such a large chunk of the material, and that I’d co-produced, so I feel there is a lot riding on this personally. Will I be the one who runs the band into the ground? Only time will tell, I suppose, but I’ll damn well take as many people as possible down with me if I do. Just for the fun of it, of course! Erk.

Curse: I like to think that each musical step we take is a moment in time (repeating myself, but I feel the cliché holds water). I think that we cannot help but to progress, as we are always trying to move forwards. This is not to say that we would take any notice of trends – it is not in our nature.

 

– And do you think there is always room for progression? Is evolution a constant process for AFOS?

The Gentleman: I think I answered this earlier, oops! Yes, I get bored and fidgety rather quickly and I have rather an enthusiastic personality – I can’t stay still with one thing for too long. So, from that point of view alone, we have to evolve, otherwise I’d drive everyone crazy. But aside from that, I have no desire whatsoever to musically stagnate; there’s always something new and inspiring around the corner to appropriate!

 

– I’ve always thought your music goes a step further and steps out of what its simply music, each album is like a journey filled with different emotions so, what does your music mean to you? Is it an art form? A way to channel your feelings and thoughts?

The Gentleman: Indeed. A journey would be the perfect way to describe what we do (or at least, what we attempt to do). As for what music means to me, personally, that’s impossible to say. I love music, I love a wide variety of music, but different songs/bands/genres mean wildly different things, mostly dependent on moods more than anything. Sometimes you want something you can flex your muscles and get your teeth into, sometimes to dance, sometimes to brood over and at other times still you just want to a bit of fluff to sing along to; For example, there really isn’t anything better than perfect pop music – that’s the pinnacle of society, when you have a simple, memorable, magical song that you can enjoyably sing along to. And there goes all my credibility…If I had any in the first place.

Curse: I would love to think that our music was an art form, in that we pour our hearts and souls in to it. My personal intention is to wear my heart on my sleeve, and to never pull verbal punches. In my own time, I listen to many forms of music, but it has to be said that I unerringly tend towards dark music – whether that be in sound, lyrical content or general nature. There is very little ‘cheerful’ music out there that doesn’t irritate me almost to a fault.

 

– And finally, what are your near-future plans?

The Gentleman: Just to tour, write and record. We should be heading out to Europe quite a bit next year and getting to lots of places we haven’t been able to reach yet. Fingers crossed and all that!

Curse: Personally, I’m going to try to keep my eyes to the sky and my feet moving forward, and see where that takes me! I am hoping that the future holds more journeys and further learning.

 

– That’s all, thank you once more for answering our questions. If you want to add some final words; feel free to do it.

The Gentleman: Thank you for taking the time to interview us!

 

Tania Giménez

tania@queensofsteel.com

 

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