Eric Forrest – Vocalist and basist of E-Force
Interview by Luxi Lahtinen
Live pictures by Eva Tristessa (Stormblast)
Eric Forrest, whom many remember from his days spent fronting the legendary Voivod, and replacing Snake, has got his own band E-Force going on. E-Force relies more on a straight-forward thrash sound; the sound Eric has always loved, and has now a possibility to bring out his own musical visions (or perversions – or whatever, ha!) through it. E-force´s debut album, EVIL FORCES, saw the light of day in 2003 on the French Seasons of Mist label, receiving a good amount of positive response from all over the world.
As some of us already know, E-Force was started in Montreal, Canada in 2001 – and the band was forced to go through a drastic line-up change when Eric moved to Toulouse, France in 2003. A new line-up around E-Force, was however found soon, and the band became ready to record their follow-up album in the end of 2007.
MODIFIED POISON is E-Force´s new album, featuring 11 thrash songs with a side order of “shreddzilla” – plus an unreleased Voivod cover song "Victory", which Eric also considers as his own personal tribute to Denis ´Piggy´ D´Amour who passed away due to Colon Cancer on August 26th, 2005.
Eric was kind enough to talk to Metal-Rules.com about his whole history in bands from a Maiden/Antrax -tinged Thunder Circus to Voivod to his current band E-Force – as well as revealing some new, yet interesting things about Voivod´s plans for the band´s last album, DVD plans – and just much more…
´BOUT MODIFIED POISON
E-Force´s new, 2nd album, titled MODIFIED POISON, was released on Thundering Records a while ago already. Melodic thrash is what E-Force has always been musically about, but what could you say are the biggest differences musically between your debut EVIL FORCES (2003, on Seasons of Mist) and your latest baby that carries the name, MODIFIED POISON?
Well, the guitar playing for EVIL FORCES is a bit darker, but MODIFIED POISON is heavier with killer guitar solos, plus there is more technical playing on MODIFIED POISON. Also, my singing has a bit more variety through out the record. As well as some other tracks which include Kevin and Tim of Project: Failing Flesh WIRED, a co-written track from Alex-Colin Tocquaine (Agressor) ”Perfexionist” and a re-recorded cover from the Voivod 2001 as a tribute to Piggy.
I have read quite a few reviews as far as MODIFIED POISON is concerned, and it seems like people really do appreciate all your hard efforts in it to make it sound so ear-captivating, etc. for their own listening pleasures. Obviously it´s rather pointless to ask from you that you must also be somewhat happy with the fact how well people have received the new E-Force album thus far, aren´t you?
So far the reviews and comments are positive. I am content with the final result considering the budget we had to make the record. Our engineer/producer Patrick Friedrich did an amazing job + his good friend Achim Kohler (Sodom/Primal Fear) who did the mastering. Stephan from Ess Graphix did an amazing job with the artwork. So, all in all I am satisfied.
I couldn´t help noticing either that you used Alex Colin-Tocquaine (Agressor) to co-write the lyrics for one of your songs on this new E-Force record. He offered his helping hand for a lyrical contribution of “Perfexionist”. But then again, you helped him out with the lyrics for an Agressor song “Order of Chaos” on their DEATHREAT album in 2006, so talk about some true brotherhood of two metal brothers… ;o)
Actually, Alex composed the music for “Perfexionist” and I wrote the lyrics. Yes, I wrote the lyrics for “Order of Chaos” and “Transmutation” for his last Agressor record. Well, the first time we met here in Toulouse, he was playing with Loudblast and we just started to chat and kept in touch. One thing led to another and we helped each other out a bit. I have a lot of respect for Alex and it was great to work with him. He played with E-Force a few weeks ago at the Raismesfest. As he is a real pro onstage and off. Great person – and who knows maybe in the future we will do some more work together.
How many songs did you write for MODIFIED POISON all in all? If you wrote more than those 12 songs (plus one for the Japanese version as a bonus track), do you have any intention to use some of those extra songs for some future release of yours?
We wrote about 15 songs. The others had some cool riff/ideas but I don´t know yet if they appear on a future release. Perhaps some of the riffs worked into another song is possible.
How did you end up signing to Thundering Records for 3 albums anyway? Did one of the reasons for signing for them, was they are a French label, so working with them is way easier and smoothier than with some other label that is located outside of France?
Well, basically we had other offers from other countries, etc. but Thundering was the best for us so we signed with them.
Talking about perfectionism, when you get into a songwriting mood, do you normally set a bar for writing a new song on so high level that sometimes that you start questioning your attempts to reach sort of satisfying level of perfectionism – kind of like asking from yourself why on earth you are actually doing this for yourself? I bet it´s kinda awkward situation for yourself when you constantly try to prove to yourself this is where it just has to stop, saying: “I need to move on and start concentrate on building up another song next; otherwise I´m totally stuck with my ambitious attempts of reaching perfectionism of some sort with my new stuff”. Your thoughts about this?
Well, I believe you have to be in the correct head space for composing. It takes time… Sometimes you have to listen to the creation a few days or weeks later to see how you feel about it. Having a cool riff is one thing, but connecting the riffs to set up the next riff takes some experimenting. Some ideas come fast, some take time. Or sometimes you can have a riff which seems ok, but when you add the vocals it makes a huge difference. I suppose it´s like an artist who paints. It takes a lot of work to get the final picture a lot of scketching, etc. It´s a bit weird but sometimes your favourite song can sound better at night, or after work, on the week end or after a few drinks – ya know what I mean? It depends on the listener and when they listen to it. Not just my work but any one´s work.
Did your re-location in 2003 – from Montreal, Quebec to Toulouse, Midi-Pyrénées (France), happen smoothly and without any major setbacks – and did it have much negative effect on starting E-Force all over again in France with a new line-up?
I moved to France because of personal and business reasons. Yes, I had to reform the line-up but in many ways it was for the better. The original drummer Louis Leveque came over from Montreal to play a few shows (+1 fest in the USA) but did not want to relocate. Finding new players has not been easy let me tell you. But that is life as rock and roll can be a vicious game.
TRIBUTE TO PIGGY (R.I.P.)
You also ended up doing a Voivod -cover song (“Victory” that is) for MODIFIED POISON, which is an unreleased Voivod -song from their 2001 demo. I assume you sort of wanted this to be your way to say the final goodbye to Piggy, in a proper way, correct?
Exactly, I lived and learned a lot with Voivod and it was just a way to let people hear more of Piggy´s/Voivod´s work in a full production. As a tribute to Piggy, long live Piggy – long live Voivod!!!
Talking about Voivod a bit more if you don´t mind… You knew Piggy (Denis D´Amour) for many years. How would you say his song writing differed from any other musicians´ songwriting from your point of view, knowing how highly unique and talented musician he was all in all? How was it to work with him anyway? Was he any tough and demanding guy when working with him?
Piggy is one of the most unique guitar players I have ever met or worked with, and one of the coolest, easy going persona I have encountered. A real genious, yet humble as a gentle giant. Amazing to work with and a pleasure to be around. He was full of positive energy and a real funny character – almost like a cartoon character at times. I miss him, as I am sure many of us do. Not only musically but as a kind person.
When Snake and Blacky left Voivod, and you were chosen to carry the much respected Voivod -torch (or torches) from then on as a part of their line-up, how much pressure did you feel on your shoulders at that time when joining them because what was naturally obvious, the fans still expected and demanded much from their heroes music-wise?
Well, I just did what I could naturally and honestly. I was quite surprised and still am surprised on how many fans appreciate and respect my contribution that I gave in voivod. Pressure? Not a lot as Piggy and Away were great people to work with, very easy going and enjoyable to be around musically and as friends. But yes, I believe the majority of Voivod -fans admire the original members a little more to some degree. Then again, I have been told by some that they prefer my work over Snake´s. But it´s all good and was an honour and priviledge to be a part of the Voivod -empire. Speaking of which, Away contacted me earlier this year and asked me to play some bass on the next and final Voivod record, along with Blacky and Jasonic, of which I said “YES!!!” I have all the tracks and they sound like… Voivod! At the moment, I am still waiting for which songs to play and when, as in whenever they want to complete the recording, I am ready! To complete the last chapter, as the ultimate tribute to Piggy and the Voivod legacy… so I am told.
THE DAYS WITH VOIVOD
You joined Voivod in 1995, and before that you has played in such bands as Liquid Indian and Thunder Circus. Do you still miss those times when you were a part of those two aforementioned bands that both obviously played totally different stuff than Voivod?
No, not at all. Liquid Indian was a cover band. Thunder Circus was kind of Maiden/Anthrax vibe. I also played with Entropy for a few weeks before my Voivod audition. The guitarist in Entropy is Dan Lauzon, a good friend from Toronto of whom joined E-Force in 2001.
You also toured quite a lot with Voivod, doing f.ex. this co-headliner your with Neurosis. What are some of your best memories from the tours you did with these Canadian metal legends, and overall from the time you spent with Away and Piggy?
It was an honour and priviledge let me tell you. Like I said earlier, I lived and learned a lot. Best memories? Too many to mention… Although the Dynamo´96 fest was a great experience – as well as supporting Iron Maiden (the "Ed Hunter" tour´99) in Canada. I will never forget it!!
As a darker side of touring, many musicians have unfortunately met their destiny on tours when something bad happens on the road. You also injured yourself pretty badly in Germany on the “Phobos” tour when a tire blow-out turned your van over, resulting in multiple injuries all around your body. I guess that particular heart-stimulating experience learned you something how fragile a human life is after all; you can get killed by a snap of fingers if it´s so meant to be…
Yes, life is precious, so enjoy the ride while you can. Meaning the ride as in life!!
When you formed E-Force in 2001, how easy, or difficult was it for you to switch off the role what you did in Voivod, and to form E-Force and have a whole different musical approach to it?
It was not easy… but I did not really have a choice. I did not quit Voivod. In March 2001 we had a band meeting and they told me that Voivod is finished, for every one. Well, I did not believe it for a minute. That version of the band had kind of run its course. We were at a low point $-wise, and a few realities got distorted in a big way! I had a feeling that Snake was on his way back. I can even recall leaving Piggy´s apartment with Away saying “Why don´t you give your friend Jason a call? Voivod cannot be finished…” Well, I was right. But at this point looking back, there were no hard feelings. It was their band and what they wanted to do. That’s life when you join someone else´s group. I think they were better off with Snake and Jasonic giving Piggy a few more victory laps considering his unfortunate departure. E-Force was and is a bit different from Voivod but still has the Voivod influence, no? About it…. but was very difficult to create, continue, etc. etc. As today, it is not a big band. But that´s rock and roll.
E-Force´s music is basically kind of ´back-to-the-roots´ type of thrash, so could you even say that you enjoy doing this type of stuff even more than what you did with during your Voivod days? I mean, did you miss more aggression and brutality back to the music when you started E-Force?
Well, the music is heavier than say what I did or what Voivod has done recently. I prefer the heavier type of metal. But still love the NEGATRON/PHOBOS music. The Voivod demo 2001, the songs are more ANGEL RAT type vibe, of which is cool but not my favorite Voivod. When it gets released (Voivod DVD along with some vids/live footage in the future – so Away tells me) you will understand what I mean. I love all kinds of music but prefer to play heavy thrash type music.
E-FORCE – BREATHING STRONGER THAN EVER
The line-up you currently have in E-Force – you on bass and vocals, Cyril on guitar and Alsvid on drums, sounds like a very tight package all in all as each of you have a strong musical background as a musician. What could you say, are some of the best assets of your fellows band members, Cyril and Alsvid, as far as both of their abilities for the band´s songwriting are concerned?
Alsvid joined the band a year ago. He did not play on the MODIFIED POISON record. But live, he is one of the best drummers I have ever played with, plus he has a lot of experience and understands the business reality as other past musicians didn´t and don´t have a clue. Cyril is a very talented young man. He comes from the “guitar hero“ background. I basically guided him in terms of direction. He would say ”oh, you mean like this?” and play a riff. I would say ”yes, just like that” so his ideas were very cool, and he followed my vision. Although, he still has a lot to learn. But then again, don´t we all…
Alsvid (aka Yannick Herrara) will make his debut appearance at Bidache Metal festival on October 27th 2008 with E-Force, which is arranged in the South-West of France. As it´s gonna be his first live appearance with the band, is he primarily trying to learn most of the songs from your MODIFIED POISON album as it´s your latest album which you are promoting now – or, is he such a quick learner that it´s no problem for him to learn to play some songs off your debut album EVIL FORCES too, plus some Voivod songs as well?
Sorry about the misprint but his first show was in 2007. He is a pro. Learning all the songs past and present with ease. The E-Force/Voivod stuff is very very easy for him to play compared to the other drum beats he played/plays in say Enthroned/Forcination, etc etc.
As it´s the already known fact, you have played a selection of Voivod songs on E-Force gigs as well. What particular Voivod songs have found their way to your live set then, and why you actually chose to play those particular Voivod songs in question in the first place?
Because they rock!! Songs like "Insect", "Project X", "Nanoman" and "Rise" are on the set list. Fans of Voivod will probably never hear these tracks ever again, so why not?
What kind of plans do you have for the end of the year, and for 2009 gigging-wise? Do you have any plans for your own headlining tour, or anything like that?
Headlining? Ha-ha… no. It´s possible for an Euro tour next year as a support act, but until it´s confirmed I prefer not to mention with whom. Time will tell, we will see what happens…
As E-Force have done a bunch of gigs on the French soil since you relocated from Canada to France, could you recommend some of the cool places for bands in France where they should try to get their gigs booked for – whoever may need some assistance for playing shows around France?
No I cannot. But I would suggest looking on Myspace or Yahoo for local promoters/venues, etc. etc.
BANDS LACKING OF THEIR OWN SOUND
The metal scene was quite different in the 80´s and ´90s than it´s nowadays. However, many people think that many metal bands lack of their own sound and identity nowadays, and therefore it´s kind of hard for everyone to become interested in new bands due to their breathless strives for something more original and unique that could better grab people´s attention than what some of these bands are doing these days?
Yes, you are correct. It´s very hard to be original these days because in some ways it´s all been done. So, I believe you have to just go with what you want to play and follow your influences and create as honest and natural as possible. E-Force is not the most original band but it still kicks ass. If you are a fan of thrash metal with a side order of “shreddzilla”, then the MODIFIED POISON record is for you!
How familiar have you become with today´s French metal scene since you found your new location from Toulouse, France, 5 years ago? Are there some worth mentioning, young talented bands in your area that you think that people should really keep their eyes on in the future?
Yes, a band called E-Force, ha-ha!! Well, there is a lot of talented bands. But for me none that give me a big feeling like when I listen to say, Witchery for example, know what I mean (I guess I do ~ Luxi)? I mean Ultra Vomit are cool, Fleshdoll, Angelizer, Senor Flores, etc. but their music is not my favourite style but may be cool for others.
What about E-Force? Could you even say E-Force have become as some sort of local heroes in France whose name seems to go from one´s lips to another´s?
Perhaps in some ways, But really I am just like any other musician, as in still creating and performing… just like any other band. So I guess that depends on who you talk to, too.
Whenever E-Force will record again, could you already say that your style of thrash remains the same – no matter what´s the lastest hype or trend in the metal scene could be at that time? E-Force´s soul ain´t for sale for €€€, correct? ;o)
Thrash, yes.. But we will add a few things here and their to expand the band a bit. Like some church organ keyboards, samples, more guest appearances… stuff like that. But it will have a heavy thrash/black sound definitely!!
What are you personally expecting from 2009 regarding E-Force? I guess your own headlining tour might be on your ´wish list´ pretty high in the rankings indeed…
Just to keep playing and yes a tour would be nice!
I think that´s it this time, so let me thank you sincerely for all your efforts to get this interview done, and sharing your thoughts about E-Force, Voivod, etc. for the ever curious readers of Metal-Rules.com. So thank you Eric very much again for this opportunity to interview you and all the best with your future efforts with E-Force. Thrash on…!
Thank you for the interview!! I would like to thank all the fans past and present for your support! Hope to see you all sometime in the future. All the bloody best, cheers Eric.