Interview with vocalist and bassist Eric Forrest
Interview conducted by Luxi Lahtinen
Date online: June 10, 2022
E-Force, led by Eric Forrest, who was with Canadian scifi-metallers Voïvod from 1994 to 2011 as vocalist and bassist, have been keeping their wheels turning for 21 years. They have recorded five studio albums, with different lineups, during that time. The band's latest album, Mindbender, was released by Danish label Mighty Music, on November 18, 2021, and has received many rave reviews in different metal publications around the globe.
The last time The Metal Crypt had the honor of speaking with Eric was in 2014 when they were about to release their third full-length album, Curse (...of the Cunt). It was about time to catch up with Eric again and talk about the latest entry in their discography, as well as many other things related to making the album, touring plans, today's "fast food" music culture, etc. - and just a little bit about Voïvod, of course!
Eric kindly shed light on the topics we were curious to know more about. Read on!
How's life, Eric? Is everything good in spite of the pain and agony that this pandemic brought to our lives with its many restrictions...
Eric: Doing OK, thanks, despite this pandemic/scamdemic situation we are all going through. A lot has changed. We are just getting organized as far as future shows/tour etc. are concerned since our recent release, Mindbender, came out in November 2021.
A LONG JOURNEY
The last time we talked about your band, E-Force, was in 2014 and crazy amounts of water have flowed down the river Seine. It was when you guys released your third album, The Curse... . Quite a lot has happened in the E-force camp since, including lineup changes, the band's fourth album Demonikhol in 2015, and so on. How would you sum up the last eight years?
Eric: It's been an interesting journey for us. Lots of hard work, sacrifices, about 200 shows in 16 countries, and a few lessons learned, of course. It's a long way to the top if you wanna rock 'n' roll, you know, LOL! It's a very overpopulated business, however, so I cannot complain about what has been achieved through the years.
You recorded Demonikhol with drummer Krof but he decided to step away from the band. What was the reason for that?
Eric: Due to personal reasons we decided to part ways. He became very distracted. Let's just say in his personal life... any idea? Yes, exactly... LOL! He was very motivated to tour, which we did do a lot of actually, but there is also a lot of sacrifice and communication needed beforehand and he just didn't seem motivated enough, unfortunately! It's too bad but that's life, I guess. I wish him all the best, though!
RECRUITING NEW OLD BLOOD TO THE RANKS
How did you find Patrick Friedrich (on drums) and Sébastien Chiffot (on guitar) to join the ranks?
Eric: Patrick has engineered and produced four E-Force albums already, plus we played in a few cover bands together, so it made a lot of sense to have him play the drums for E-Force. We have a certain brotherhood chemistry within the band, and we are very productive when we need to be. Sébastien is from a Toulousian band called Evilness whom I had seen perform a few times and offered him a chance to tour outside of France of which he jumped at without hesitation and he's a part of the Mindbender album as well. Nobody is 25 years old anymore [*LOL*], so the personal life can be busy, too. However, we always find the needed time to do what we need to do.
Do you feel they were on the same page with you since day one about how you wanted to keep the band's sound in a certain mold, making sure it remained recognizable and familiar for the fans of the band?
Eric: Well, they knew my history, so I explained my vision to both members on day one in terms of the music I want to create and record/perform, etc. They are well aware of who is the captain of the ship. However, both members add and contribute to make it a team. Patrick and I share more music similarities while Sébastien is much younger but that goes with generation stuff, I guess. However, he is down with everything that's happening within the band.
It's always nice to have a bunch of creative musicians around you. How much have Patrick and Sébastien contributed to the songwriting process of the Mindbender album? Did they impress you with how talented they were as songwriters?
Eric: Well, I composed/demoed and did lyrics/music for eight songs, co-wrote a song with each of them and, of course, the Voîvod cover. Patrick added the drums after he got the hang of where the songs were going and added what was needed with a drum machine and then he did all the songs with real drumming after bass, guitars and vocals were completed. I also played the rhythm guitar on six songs and Seb did the rest, adding some killer and spooky tones and solos and we even had 4-5 special guests do guitar solos on this record. Dan Baune (Lost Santuary), Jim Mclean (Mortal Annoyance), Vincent Agar (the French answer to Yngwie Malmsteen) and, last but not least, Javi Flz (in Graveyard, a true rhythm guitar insect). Everyone basically added something to the record creatively, artistically and accordingly. I sincerely admit Mindbender is the best-sounding album to date, courtesy of Patrick. These guys are really great players, so I knew it would turn out cool before we even started recording the album.
Mindbender was released by the legendary Danish label, Mighty Music, on November 19, 2021. Before you signed a deal with them, was the band out of a record deal or did you just want to explore other options that were out there to find the best possible solution for the band?
Eric: Demonikhol was the last release from Mausoleum Records in 2015, so being between members/labels I decided to do a "Voïvod Revisted" tour, which turned into the 30 shows in eight countries experience with Javi Flz joining us. After our last tour and final shows in 2018, it was time to do a new album, which did take a long time to complete, and this Covid shit didn't help much either. But in a way it did because we had to finish it and Mighty Music seemed the best alternative for us so, so far so good [*LOL*].
THE MAUSOLEUM YEARS
How would you sum up those Mausoleum years? Did you get the support from them that you were looking for or were your expectations simply way too high regarding this aspect in your deal with them?
Eric: Well, Alfie (Falckenbach R.I.P. 2016) treated E-Force pretty good! I mean certain things could have been better but could also have been worse at the same time, you know what I mean? The music business is very competitive these days, so I really consider myself lucky [*LOL*] as it is not easy for any band to make a decent living out of music these days. After Alfie's death, the label went under, hence our new label Mighty Music became the new home for us.
Going back to the Mindbender album for a couple of questions, as it's been out for some months now, how happy and satisfied are you with all the feedback?
Eric: Well, the reviews from the media have been overwhelming, which is a great thing. People tell me they really like the album, so that's always pleasing to hear! It's definitely the best sounding E-Force record to date, that's for sure! A lot of time and effort was spent with this album, from the songwriting to the recording, and I can tell you we are all happy with what we have achieved so far. It's a labor of love and a victory when completed, released, etc. - like a sports trophy on the wall [*LOL*]! I've got 13 of them, and five of belonging to E-Force! ;)
Naturally, as you have history with the legendary Canadian sci-fi metallers Voïvod, it's obvious that people can tend to compare your doings with E-Force to Voïvod. Does it bother you sometimes? Do you feel like screaming at the top of your lungs, "c'mon people, just listen to our stuff and realize it does not have much to do with the current sound of Voïvod" or something along those lines...?
Eric: I will always be the ex-Voïvod guy and it's not a bad thing at all believe me [*LOL*]! It was such an honor and privilege to play with Away and Piggy, as well as performing songs from the Negatron and Phobos albums to this day. People still love that stuff, which feels great, of course! Yet just because I'm the ex-Voïvod guy, that does not mean huge tours. Money never comes easy to me. It still is a lot of work for me to stay in the business despite the ex-Voïvod tag that I carry with me all the time. But it has certainly helped me achieve certain things in my career, in one way or the other. Voïvod is in my blood [*LOL*]! Some riffs that I composed almost sound like Piggy had an influence on me. ;) Well, the truth is he still does...
But then again, the current Voïvod sounds nothing like E-Force, that's for sure! E-Force is more about that thrashy and black 'n' roll, sound-wise.
You had a record release party for Mindbender on November 18, 2021, that people were able to follow online. Did it go as planned and how was the turnout? Would it be something you'd do again?
Eric: The Mindbender record release party went very well, thanks! However, we did not perform songs live. It was just a listening party with people getting a chance to hear our new album and watch the new video. About 50 out of 60 invited people were present. Online people? Not sure, but yeah, it was still lots of fun and yes, we would do it again for sure!
Does the album title, Mindbender have some deeper thought behind it?
Eric: The Mindbender album is kind of a concept album, in that all the songs deal with the same subject, that being conspiracies, hypocrisy, and mysteries. I like to write lyrics that certain people can relate to what I am saying/writing and find some sort of connection to their personal experience and personal vision of life. We are all humans and have had good and bad times, etc. It's kind of funny though how some songs can take on a whole new meaning depending on perception. Ironically enough, some songs on the album fit the Covid situation, depending on how you look at it. ;)
You shot a video for the song "Hellucination" off the new album and it is pretty spooky and scary, to say the least. What is it all about?
Eric: "Hellucination" is a song about something evil that does not exist in one's life, yet it does exist, just hellucination [*LOL*]? No, not at all! A friend of Patrick's by the name of Chloe did the video for us, which was on a low budget, but she did an amazing work! The evil chick in this video is my girlfriend Elga Zaki. She had some cool props and ideas, and we just went with it, shooting some cool stuff and voila! Now I feel like David Coverdale [*LOL*]!
UPCOMING LIVE RAIDS
Do you have anything concrete planned as far as summer festivals and club gigs are concerned?
Eric: We have a gig coming up in Toulouse on May 22 and a festival in France in September, which is yet to be announced. Also, we have a few dates booked for next year and a European tour planned for early 2023. I can't wait to play live again. I am just hoping nothing will get canceled, but we will see what happens...
For many, performing for an audience is one of the reasons people become musicians in the first place. Is that one of the reasons you keep the band going as you cannot live without a real live crowd?
Eric: I have been playing in clubs since 1985. Playing rock 'n' roll is kind of the only thing I know how to do somewhat well [*LOL*]. I don't know what else to do. I also play in cover bands, which is a lot of fun, and I can get my bills paid. I hope I can continue on this path in the future, too.
How do you deal with "hyperactive fans" who may want to get too close physically? I am referring to the people who don't leave you alone after a gig and it feels like gum stuck to your shoe...
Eric: I personally have not had that problem. I love the fans and as long as they show some respect, then all's good. Then again, I am not as popular as Mike Tyson [*LOL*], so I could say the more fans around me, the better!
A few years ago, we played in Valencia in Spain and there was a fan who drove six hours from Portugal to see the E-Force "Voïvod Revisited" set plus, the guy was wearing a Voïvod shirt from the Negatron tour, too! I was very impressed! Driving six hours just to see us playing live? Wow, some people won't even do that for Maiden or KISS [*LOL*], so I decided to give some of my time to him, let him take some photos, etc. I felt honored and overwhelmed with his true dedication, so thanks to him again.
I am curious to know if there is a typical E-force fan or would you say all kinds of people can be seen at your gigs?
Eric: All kinds of metal fans basically. Most of them know Voïvod anyway [*LOL*]. I suppose it depends on the gig or country, but you can see fans of thrash metal, heavy metal and black metal at our gigs for sure!
OF THE "FAST FOOD" MUSIC CULTURE
What's your opinion about today's so-called "fast-food" culture in the music business when people tend to listen to a song here and there from various music service platforms and don't concentrate on full albums anymore?
Eric: In my opinion it is a bit surreal. I remember a few tours ago when we were in Barcelona, Spain, for a few days. We stayed at this guy from the support band's house. It was actually his parents' place who luckily were not there [*LOL*]. They had a party, and these guys were changing songs every 30 seconds like it was a normal thing for them to do [*LOL*]. Nevermind, but not playing a complete album, but just maybe a full song off it at best?! HELL NO...!!! [*LOL*] I was thinking "now WTF is this?!" Hehe, talk about the new generation of fast-food music. What a funny yet odd experience.
Looking further into the future, how much have you planned things like when to tour, record new songs, etc., or is that something that requires spontaneity from you guys because forcing things doesn't serve anyone's creativity?
Eric: Well, like I mentioned earlier, a few shows this year are already planned and, hopefully about 25 shows on the upcoming European tour next April/May, which we are still working on. We are working all kinds of new ideas here and there and I still have my cover bands (my day job, LOL!) Time will tell. However, I am looking forward to being back and playing E-Force shows again. The last one we did was in December 2018, but we are ready! [*LOL*]
I guess that's all I had in mind for this conversation, so thank you Eric for your time in answering my questions and in the very same breath, I want to wish you all the best with the band and other activities in your life. Any closing comments to wrap up this conversation?
Eric: Thanks so much...!!
I would also like to thank all the fans, both from the past and present! Hope to see you all on tour! Check out www.eforceofficial.com for news and info! Cheers, Eric
|Other information about E-Force on this site|
|Interview with vocalist and bassist Eric Forrest on March 1, 2014 (Interviewed by Luxi Lahtinen)|
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