A Forest of Stars Interview with Curse, TS
Kettleburner and the Gentleman
1st November 2014
Interview by Caitlin Smith
A Forests of Stars may have been simmering below the surface of the British black metal scene now with their unusual mix of black metal and progressive, all brought together by the downright strangest of minds, but it wasn’t till the release of their latest record A Shadowplay for Yesterdays back in 2012 that this band really made some serious headway out of the underground. Arriving suited and booted in their finery and bringing with them a healthy dose of dark humour, we sit down with Curse, The Gentleman and Mr TS Kettleburner to get to grips on what really makes this group of time travelling musicians tick.
For those who don’t know the band, could you give us a brief introduction?
G: You could say post-good? [laughs]
C: Depressive suicidal black metal yeah? [more laughter]
TS: In all seriousness, I’d say it was a mix of black metal with a progressive influence with a bit of liveliness in other aspects. A fair few visual treats and things like that.
G: Yeah, yeah exactly. It’s a backbone of black metal and just everything else mixed in over the top, a little bit of folk here and there.
How do the band come into being?
C: We been talking about it since about 1994, but we never actually got round to anything. It took us a while to meet the right people and once we did…
G: We met Dom and Katie who is suspiciously absent as always.
C: Once we all found the right people we got on with it and that was it. It was a bit of a slow start.
G: It was in fairness, we were doing another band at the time and it was just meant as a fun little thing we did at the side and then that accidentally just took off really.
TS: After a few port drinking session we had an album and that was it.
G: I think really unfortunately we need to make it sound more epic. There was some movement of forces and four elements or something but no it was just friends getting together.
C: Fell into place.
Obviously you guys are influenced by the Victorian era, you’ve got the look. So what is it about the era you love so much?
G: This is all my fault. For a start because I’m a bit of a victoriaphile. The one thing we took for the band and the whole reason we started the band off was we took occult stuff with all the séances and that was a starting point. The band is about the dichotomy of the era, which is how you have the double standard in place. How they would have the strong moral system of ‘do as we say, not as we do’ thing. You’d have all the magnificent things of the era, all the great exhibitions and all the exploration and all the wonderful advancements for mankind and you had this extreme crippling poverty, you had this massively over oppressive class system, you had horrendous things like that.
We love the idea of that complete juxtaposition of the two things being able to work exactly at the same time and never clashing. It’s that mixed up with that love, that spiritual occultism especially in the 1880s with the evolution stuff kicking in which started to make people question more about Christianity and things like that. Of course there was still a really strong Christian movement but then people actually going ‘is there a god? and if not there must be something else.’ That’s when the spiritualist movement was born and then theosophy and that.
TS: Seeking an answer to these very important questions.
G: Yeah exactly. We couldn’t even pretend to say that that is what we manage to crowbar all into our band. It’s also the fine claret and the opulence and the opiates and everything like that. The excess and the stupidity and that… and dressing up! Although it wasn’t dressing up to them I suppose, it was just normal clothes.
Are there any particular themes that pop back time and time again?
C: As a rule its all sort of death and discrepancy, a bit of black humour, a lot of bodily functions involving various religious figures and things like that. Misanthropy…
G: As in the condition, not the label.
C: Maggots and doom.
G: Rebirth as well.
C: Yeah there’s a sort of uncertainty regarding death and where you go. Opposition to organised religion, as ever… Generally arguments for and against death and where you go after that or where you don’t go after this.
G: The wider universe as well and our place in that wider universe.
C: Conspiracy and mistrust for authority. I know it sounds political but it isn’t.
There’s 7 of you. With so many members does this prove difficult for rehearsals or shows?
TS: The practicality of It does prove challenging sometimes. The reliability of said members has improved over time.
G: Yeah we’re all kind of vaguely professional now aren’t we…
TS: We attempt to be anyway. As it goes, it can be a challenge getting everyone in the same room sometimes and were very proud to say today at Damnation everyone will be in attendance.
G: and it looks like they’ve actually made the stage a lot bigger. We were on the same stage a couple of years ago and it was so cramped. This time they seem to have made more room on the stage, thank god, because we’ve come back with more equipment now!
TS: We should actually fit fingers crossed.
G: Fingers crossed! We’ll see.
Are you excited to return to Damnation Festival this year?
C: We’re happy to play it again yeah.
G: The stage that we’re on, it’s like all our friends are there: Wodensthrone and Fen and Falloch and people like that. It’s just an insane amount of amazing British black metal. Of course there’s Winterfylleth and there’s Anaal Nathrakh and stuff like that as well so it’s an amazing best of the best British black metal thing. It’s amazing.
TS: And all of it in our hometown as well. Absolutely great festival to pop around and have so many great friends around us both backstage and in the crowd as well so it makes it very special.
G: And we get to see Ahab!
You’ve just mentioned the British black metal scene. Do you take an interest in following it? What do you think of how British music is progressing at the moment?
C: Personally I don’t really follow anything. There’s the occasional band that sticks out for me. That’s not to insult anybody but I’m in my own little world, I’m insular, stuck in the past. These guys may well be different.
TS: As times gone on there been some great bands we’ve played with and I think its been very commonly said that I think British black metal is in one of its finest stages right now. The success various bands have had has been testament to that, there’s been some really great bands we’ve been playing with.
G: We started doing black metal about the same time for some reason, about 2007 or 2008, we’ve had Wodensthrone and Winterfylleth and Fen and all these people and then Falloch and they’ve all come along at the same time and everybody’s grown up together. There’s a nice golden age come along with all these bands at the moment. We’ve played lots of gigs with all these guys and done little tours with them and everything.
TS: We’re very happy to be riding on their curtails basically.
C: We’ve met a lot of nice people and we’ve been well treated.
What’s next for the band?
G: We’ve written and recorded the album and its going to be out early next year. It’s all done; we’re just sorting all the artwork and the video. Then we’re going to be doing lots of gigs and touring so we’re right on the precipice. We’ve just got another gig after this and then were wrapped for this year. Then it’s quickly into rehearsals to learn all the new stuff there and then a big promotional whirl next year. So were basically right on the precipice of that.
Is there anything you’d like to say to our readers?
G: If you bought our album we’re sorry [laughs]