– Hello, thanks for your time. What are you currently up to?
I have been quite busy lately! Forbidden hve been touring around the world all year long, and it’s been a pretty busy schedule. We have done The States and Canada twice now, several European festival dates, South America, Australia, and today we’re at ProgPower USA. I also busy writing a followup album with my instrumental band, The EssenEss Project, as well as recording a debut album for my new UK based metal band, Firehead, which features myself, Mikkel Sandager (ex Mercenary vocalist), Jamie Hunt (ex Biomechanical) on 2nd guitar, a killer bassist called Dan Veall, and we’re about to make a decision on a drummer next week, but have been recording with Jason Bowld (Pitchshifter). So,back to being busy!
– First off, how did you join FORBIDDEN? How did you feel about it at first?
Well, first off, I had always been a fan, from the early days when I used to see them play live. Then, ten years ago, I got the call to sit in for Craig when he couldn’t play at Thrash Of The Titans, so I had a lot of fun doing that with the guys, and I think it stuck! Ha ha Because I got the call 7 years after that from Craig, and we’ve moved forward from there. Everything is going good! We’ve done a lot over the last few years together, and there’s lots more we’re doing! We’re shooting footage for a live DVD tonight, and also writing for the next album as well, plus more touring planned starting early next year.
– Though your latest “Omega Wave” was released last 2010, I would like to talk a bit about it if you don’t mind. This was the first album after a 14 year studio hiatus. Do you know what happened during those years?
Well, I know 10 years ago I played with Matt, Russ and Glenn, and each was in a different place at the time, doing different music, and not really thinking about doing Forbidden. Then I heard in 2007 they started back up again, and a year later, in late 2008, I got the call from Craig, asking what I was up to, and would I be interested in meeting up and talking a bit about the band. So, we did, and then jammed early January, on a few songs, and 2 new ones; what became Adapt or Die and Hopenosis. I really dug those songs, and I guess they dug what I was doing, and here we are!
– And what has meant to you being part of this album? As I read you have been a fan of the band since the 90’s.
Well, a lot actually! It’s always great to collaborate with people, and I’ve done it a lot in my career, and always loved what these guys came up with. Now, I’ve been a fan of the band since the 80’s, but also really dug what they did in the 90’s, where most of the band’s releases happened. I thought Green was a departure, but ahead of it’s time as well, very modern sounding, and a lot of thrash still happening with it. This band was not your average thrash band to me, they always tried to get a bit more in there than just straight ahead thrash. That’s the vibe we carried over on to the new album, and what I contributed reflects this as well. I grew up on 80’s Bay Area thrash, and know how to write that, but I am not one of those original dudes who was there and did it all, and I have different ideas, and that’s what I think appealed to the guys, and what I brought to the table. Songs like Behind The Mask, Forsaken At The Gates, Inhuman Race, and a few other riffs of mine made it on this album, and to me, is reflective of my some crazy musical brain, and a tint bit of what I can contribute. We’ve got a lot more to do!
– How was the response for «Omega Wave»? Were you guys satisfied with it?
It’s been great! The critics had their say, and it was mostly well received, a few old minds you can’t change, but hey, if I could get 25 years back, I don’t know what I would do….there might be a few things I would change, but probably not, because experience is how you grow_! Ha ha The fans love the album though, and if they like it, I’m happy! They are who matter at the end of the day….
– I could say this is a different album which can’t be compared to the previous ones, as it has different dynamics, is quite heavy…. yet sounding like FORBIDDEN. Did you expect this album to be like this or did you expect something into a more classic style?
Well, this is a band that has never done anything the same way twice, and that’s reflective of how my career has gone as well. Onwards and forwards! I think there is an element of classic Forbidden in there, and an element of modern Forbidden; you don’t have the same people playing in the band, so you’re not going to get the same chemistry as you did 25 years ago, it’s not possible. And so what if we did go for that? Would it have been convincing? I doubt it. You have to play from the heart, say what’s on your mind.
– Could you say both yours and Mark Hern·ndez’s addition have had something to do with this?
Well, by this time, he’s already left the band, and I’ve lost a lot of respect for the guy, so no comment…. But in terms of what we brought in, yes, we brought in what was on our minds, and where we came from. I’ve played with a lot of different bands over the years prior to coming in to Forbidden, Mark was in Violence for a short time, and Defiance for an album, so those are factors that contribute, I believe. They have to…
– So, how was the songwriting like? Is it a team-work?
Yes, definitely a team effort. Me and Craig got together on Skype about twice a week and traded riffs back and forth, and I grabbed a lot from that, and also threw riffs at him, and we worked it all through with Mark,Matt and Russ in the room, until we got it as far as we could. Craig took it a bit further in the studio, along with Tim Narducci, getting a lot out of of each of us. I really pushed myself on this album to make it the best I could do, and I’m really happy with the results!
– You have recently shoot a video for «Omega Wave»; could you please shed some light on this?
We did! We shot it in LA with Jon Schnepp, and it was a great experience for all of us. Not my first video, but the first one shooting with green screen, and I think it came out pretty well. Jon heard the song, and came up with the treatment for it, and he and Craig went back and forth a bit, and off we went from there. It was released August 9th.
– Now talking a bit about you and your background, you have played in different bands as TESTAMENT, NEVERMORE or VICIOUS RUMORS among others so, what album you have worked in do you feel the most proud of?
With Vicious Rumors, we co-wrote and recorded Something Burning and Cyberchrist, 1996 and 1998, and with Nevermore, we co-wrote and recorded This Godless Endeavor. To be honest, I am proud of all of them. They’re all with different bands, and they were all well received, so that makes me happy.
– And are there any bands left you would like to play with?
Ha ha! Well, yes, MY OWN! Ha ha And, I’m working on that. I’m happy where I am right now with Forbidden, and we’ll be around with these guys for as long as the chemistry lasts, and that looks really good right now. One of my dream gigs was to play with Ronnie James Dio, but that chance is gone now, sadly…. Still really bummed about that
– For example, you worked some time with DRAGONLORD, a band with a different style as it was Black Metal. How was that experience like?
It was interesting. It was a departure for everyone in the band, in that no one had ever done this before, and we all wanted to see how it would be doing it, that’s why we did it. Eric had been recently influenced by the black metal scene, and got me into it, and he asked me to jam on a few riffs with him when I first hooked up with Testament. So, we were jamming these riffs a bit, and I asked him what it was, was it new Testament material? At the time, he wanted to call the name Dragonheart, so he kept saying “this is Dragonheart”, and we jammed along with it. Little did we know we’d have a conflict of interest with the name with the band that became Dragonforce, and another band from Brazil, who had the name before any of us! Ha ha
It was a good experience, and I got to know how to pay the style, and discovered who my inspirations were within that style of music.
Eric had most of the first album put together, so we all put in our arrangement ideas, and I wrote solos and 2nd guitar arrangements for the album, and kind of became the “fine tuned ear” for what would and would not work in the studio. We did 2 albums, and toured behind the first one a little bit, played several European festivals including Wacken! And quite a few direct support slots as well. To play this stuff live, that was interesting! Ha ha The whole black metal makeup thing I wasn’t really into, so I kind of lost interest when Eric wanted to go that route….and I also had a lot on my plate when we did the second album, Black Wings. We were recording this album in Sweden, and I was recording This Godless Endeavor in England with Nevermore at the same time (which had been rescheduled due to to Warrel Dane’s illness), so it was a bit of stress to do both, but I did it, and learned a lot form that experience about how I can apply myself in several different situations at the same time. I was also tracking my instrumental band’s debut at the same time, so there was a lot on… and unfortunately, I could not tour the album with the band, as Nevermore had a massive tour schedule behind TGE, due to start at the same time the Dragonlord album was to come out and their touring was to start. A tough call, but I’m glad to have had the experience, and had a good time playing! And working with Frederick Nordstrom as well, that was a good experience.
– And how positive is for you as musician playing different genres? As I guess it may be a learning and enriching experience…
Absolutely! I’ve always learned a lot from every situation that I’ve been in. I learn a lot about how other people write and play, and also can share my experience with them, and collaboration with others has always been a good experience for me. I would recommend it to anyone. You can always write you own music too, but sometimes, when you get an outside perspective, you might find something new in the riff you were playing, and you might learn a thing or two about how you write, or how other people write as well.
– You are also a guitar teacher and, as the main focus is let your students learn, I would like to know what have you learned from them and from this profession…
I still do teach, and I find it to be a great experience. I think people get a lot form me, in that I have experience in areas they are interested in, and can shed light on goals they can make for themselves to achieve, and reach their potential. I think I learn about how people learn most of all, how they think or approach learning, and that always fascinates me. I also teach in a music college as well, and that has been a challenge, in that teaching in a classroom situation, you have to think on your feet, yet have a lot planned as well, and keep everyone involved on a consistent and constant basis, so over the years, through this and clinic/masterclass experience, I have learned about how to keep classes and situations like this interactive.
If anyone is interested, I am always taking on students! Please visit my website, www.stevesmyth.com and click the lessons icon for more details. There’s always room for one more!
– Coming back now to FORBIDDEN, you will soon start an European tour; what are your expectations?
Sadly, this got cancelled due to a member leaving the band in an unprofessional manner, under false pretenses. But we were able to perform at the Alcatraz Festival in Belgium, with Gene Hoglan behind the kit, and it was a great gig! We were glad to get at least one gig saved from that tour, only wish we could have done the entire tour. We do plan to reschedule the tour to next year though, so stay tuned Europe
– And, beside touring, what are the band’s near-future plans?
More touring in the offing for next year, so stay tuned!
– That’s all, thanks again. Now feel free to add some final words.
I want to thank all of my fans all over the world for their everlasting support! I do this for every one of you, and it’s so great to meet you everywhere around the world! Stay tuned for more news on my bands Firehead and The EssenEss Project, as there are a debut and a second album due to come out next year for sure! And stay tuned for more Forbidden news, sure to come, as we make a final decision on a drummer!