Forstenet interview

January 14, 2020

Forstenet interview

Forstenet is a Danish five-piece progressive and psychedelic rock/metal band, consisting of guitar, bass, drums, Hammond organ and, a highly prominent feature in their music, bass trombone! The main standout point of the band is that their songs are written in their native language Danish, with a singer who practices everything from clean singing, growling, screaming, throat singing and powerful high-pitched falsetto singing. The eclectic vocals combined with heavy progressive grooves and the nordic feel of the band’s mother’s tongue contributes to a quite fresh experience of modern progressive rock/metal.

Would you like to talk a bit about your background? Where and when did you grow up? When did you begin playing music? What was your first instrument? Who were your major influences?

Lauritz Andersen: I essentially grew up in the town of Slagelse, which is located on the island Sjælland (English: “Zealand”) in Denmark. It is found on the western part of Zealand, where as Copenhagen, as you probably know, is located on the eastern site of the island. (Close to Sweden). Most of us grew up around this area of West Zealand, except for Morten, who was born and raised in Bergen, Norway. Some of us also lived other places temporarily, but most of our time in the band has been centered around West Zealand. I for instance was born in the metropolitan area of Copenhagen. Emil once lived in Bangladesh for 1,5 years as a child and so on.

I initially began playing music at the age of nine. My dad played the drums, so that became my first instrument as well. I think what got me into playing music, and ultimately heavy music, was partially my dad and my uncle’s fault. Not that they exactly ever liked heavy metal music. They listened to Creedence Clearwater Revival and other dad-rock stuff. They had a band (and still do) where they played that kind of stuff. One day while my parents were out doing something my uncle basically babysitted me, and had me playing drums in a whole weekend, forcing me to write and record a song called “I Want More Pocket Money” to take the piss on my parents. I think we stole the melody for “Twist And Shout”. I had to write the lyrics on my own, record the vocals and play the drums. I was ten at the time. I still remember some of the lyrics. However, the CD we produced is unfortunately nowhere to be found nowadays. Ever since making what technically was my first rock song, I just fell in love with the whole idea of rock music. I got into AC/DC, which was kind of my gateway band into heavier music. After few years with AC/DC, I got Guitar Hero as a Christmas present when I was twelve, and then I started getting into Rush, Queen, Black Sabbath, Slayer, Kreator, Megadeth… All the music you heard while playing the game. I quickly developed an interest in playing real instruments. So my parents bought me a shitty drum kit to rehearse on. When I had irritated my neighbours and probably my parents with my shitty-sounding drum kit for a couple of years, I decided to learn how to play the guitar. I began learning at the age of about twelve. Firstly I learned completely on my own using some quite terrible app that could show me a few basic chords. Then I learned how to read tabs, as I think most people do. I think “Paranoid” by Black Sabbath was one of the first songs I learned by reading tabs. (Music theory came later…) While learning to play the guitar, Thrash Metal had become my favourite kind of music. I began trying to sing as well. (With my not yet transitioned voice. Yes, it was terrible.) and I started my first project “Poisoner”. This is when it all began.

When and how did you all originally meet?

When forming “Poisoner” I was 13 years old. I believe it was in early 2012. Since I could play the drums and the guitar at that time, I wrote and recorded my very own compositions. I did this until I at some point found the idea of having an actual band quite intriguing. Just the whole idea of having someone to play with, regularly rehearsing, playing concerts… All that stuff. So my first idea was to find a drummer. I wrote out to all drum teachers on the local music school to scout for a drummer. Two guys called me. Firstly one who was very insecure and basically told me he could not play very well and secondly Emil, who was on the contrary quite confident and willing to join the project. (He just had to finish boarding school first). So I waited a couple of months, and then we jammed in the basement of my parents’ house, in a tiny, tiny room. There was just enough space to cram the drums and the guitar amp into it. It was basically a closet. The amusing thing was, I was only 13 at the time and Emil was 16. It is interesting how you can find common ground through music. Obviously it sounded like crap in that basement. But apparently Emil saw something in the songs that at least made him stick around for a while. Well, for what is 7 years now. Time flies.

After we had jammed for a couple of years, a lot of people went in and out the band. Finally at some point, Lasse, joined the band as a bassist. Lasse was originally a guitarist, but since we already had one, Emil persuaded him into playing the bass. It was quite hilarious, because Lasse never really was into Thrash Metal. Already back then he enjoyed Tool, Porcupine Tree, Primus and the like, and was definitely not into the whole unclean vocals business. However, when Emil asked him to play in the band, it was because they had played to some event at their high-school together, and Emil said something like “I have this band. It is kind of like Metallica…Wanna maybe try to join it?”, and Lasse was like “Yea, that sounds interesting, we can do that”… And Emil had mentioned little to nothing about who I was. So the first day Lasse had to try out for the band, it was his 18-year-old birthday, and Emil and Lasse came and picked me up from school. I had long hair, bullet belt, leather jacket, that angry metal-guy-look, and you know, I was young. 15 years of age. Lasse and Emil were both 18 at the time. I wonder how exactly Lasse’s first impression of me might have been… Anyway, we went home to the “heavy metal basement” in my parents house and began to play. Lasse had never heard the music before, and it was nothing like Metallica. It was more like Kreator and Slayer: Growls, screams and fast, aggressive riffs. It must have been hell for him, hahaha! However, Lasse stayed around for some reason and played bass with us for a couple of years. With this line-up we recorded the EP “Disobey”. Our secondary guitarist at the time, David, left the band after a year’s time with concerts. Lasse took over as a guitarist, and we had Morten joining the band as a bassist. Morten was 52 of age when he joined the band.

It’s also a quite remarkable story how we hooked up with Morten. While David still was in the band as a guitarist, we had one concert that Lasse could not attend to since he was seeing David Gilmour in Germany. A must-see experience for him. The concert we had to play was at the local venue called Badeanstalten (“The Bath House” in English). It’s an amazing venue. It was quite an important gig too for us at the time, or at least we felt so, since we were support for a larger local name. We just had to play that concert somehow, with or without Lasse. Well, so the story goes like this: Weknew Morten from earlier on, because Emil and I actually used to arrange concerts for “Badeanstalten” as volunteers, and Morten works there as a production technician, who does lights etc. The whole reason we got this “booker-job” in the first place was because we once asked the boss of the place if we could play a concert. And she said something like”Sure, as long as you want to be part of arranging concerts for other local bands too!”, and so we did, because playing a concert felt really important to us back then. Emil and I were to continue this dead project called “Mixtour” which was about promoting upcoming bands in various genres. Contrary to what the name suggests, it wasn’t exactly a tour, just a one-night-gig thing. So after putting up our first couple of Mixtour-gigs, we had talked to Morten a couple of times. At first glimpse he seemed like an angry asshole, whom we could not understand, since he is originally from Bergen, Norway and now speaks this weird half-danish half-norwegian sort of language. However, we knew that he played bass, so we visited him at his job and asked if he could fill in this one night to which answered “Of course, boys.” Completely without hesitation. We rehearsed with him before the concert a couple of times, but he didn’t really make it to remembering all the riffs, so in some parts we asked him simply to play an E pedal-note, hahaha!! – The perks of playing thrash metal! However, the gig went fine, and after it we were back to our normal line-up. Then David left the band after a couple of concerts, Lasse took over the guitar, and then we really needed a bassist. Firstly we tried out a friend of Lasses to join, who was at the same age as ourselves. Turned out he had tenosynovitis. Too bad. We kept on trying really hard finding someone our own age, because at the time everyone in the band thought it was quite strange having a 52 year old guy in the band. But eventually we realized we were out of options and we decided to try out Morten, hahaha! So we texted him and asked if he could come to the rehearsal room to “jam”. We would not really reveal what it was all about. But I think he knew somehow deep inside what we were going to ask him about. He came down in our rehearsal room (which was no longer a basement by the way), and he played a some songs with us. After playing a couple of the songs we asked. “Well Morten, are you in?”, and he just stood completely paralyzed, petrified if you will. He did not speak at all for ten seconds (Maybe a new record for him?). But then he said “Are you serious about this?”, seeming quite negative, like he did not want in. He was hesitant… “Well I have to think about it…” But then exactly 1,02 seconds after that statement, he hastily said “Yes, I’m in! I’m in!!”. – “So you are sure you do not want to think it through, Morten?” we asked and he was like “God no! I’m in!! I’m in! Just on one condition: I will accept you as you are, and you will accept me as I am.”, and then he continued mumbling some Norwegian words we probably did not understand until he said: “I am with you all the way, as long as it isn’t suicide or marriage!”, and so it was settled.

“Trombone thrash metal band”

Then after a year or so, we forced, what was at the time exclusively my friend from high school, Troels into the band. It all began as a joke Morten came up with, that it would be hilarious to have trombone with us live, playing with the thrashy riffs. Well, the joke became reality, and we played a couple of shows as a “trombone thrash metal band”… At this time my musical influences had changed a lot. I began being more and more into alternative and experimental music. My musical influences were not just thrash metal bands any longer. I had begun singing with my clean voice in my new compositions, and the music overall had become a bit more “progressive” and psychedelic. We told Troels he had to play keyboards in the band. Firstly he did not want to, because well, he didn’t play keyboards at all. He sucked at it. But we liked him, so we forced him to do it anyway. And he finally bought a keyboard and ultimately things worked out. Glad it did!
This is the true story of Forstenet. These days, however, we lie about that we are just a father and his four sons who have formed a band together. Just to make it all brief and more comprehensible. Now you know why!

Have you made any changes to the lineup since you started or is this the original lineup?

When we founded Forstenet, it was because we were tired of the name “Poisoner”. We did not feel like it fit our musical direction any longer. So we broke up Poisoner and formed Forstenet. The final line-up of Poisoner is the current lineup of Forstenet. So no! This is in fact the original line-up of Forstenet! Yah!

What does the name “Forstenet” refer to?

When creating “Poisoner”, it was literally just a name that sounded cool. Or well 13-year-old-me thought so. It had no meaning, no relevance. When we decided to change our name, we put a lot more thought into it. We wanted something to represent our new musical philosophy, which was about evolving, not doing the same thing over and over again. Producing eclectic music. Using all of your inspirations, not just some of them. We came up with a bunch of shitty names, that I won’t even bother mentioning, but Emil came up with “Forstenet”, which means “Petrified” or “Turned To Stone” in English. We settled for it. I did not like it at first, but it grew on me. It was actually quite hard finding a new name! Especially Morten found it difficult and yelled: “I do not care what the fuck our name is. For fucks sake, were it up to me, we could just be “The Toothbrushes”, I do not fucking care!”… When further discussing what the name could mean, we really found it to be a great fit for this project. Because virtually it means so much. Initially Emil came up with it, because he thought it was the opposite of the names I came up with. My names were related to evolving, progress and so forth. Emil said “Why not “Forstenet?, It means exactly the opposite of progress. It is absolute stagnation!”.

We then discussed the name further, how ambiguous it actually was, how well it seemed to reflect upon the lyrics of the music, as well as how it may mean something in a global context… And help set the stage for such discussions: What is evolution? What does it even mean to evolve? What about the human mind, how is that restricted or even petrified? Our collective consciousness, how much has it in reality evolved since the beginning of humanity? And so on and so forth!

It was also important for us to have a name you do not necessarily associate with heavy music, because honestly, I do not know where this project is going to go in the future. None of us do. It could be anything, and I do not wish to break up a project and form a new over and over again. I figured it would be nice to just put all my creative energy in one project. Therefore we kind of settled for a name that could be exactly that.

Quick question: – If you saw the name “Poisoner” on some festival poster, would you think that it was psychedelic rock? Or would you immediately think “that’s probably a death metal band”. Yeah, I thought so. We kinda wished to prevent that! Hahaha.

Is anyone part of any other musical project?

Emil is part of the psychedelic rock band “Skifting”, which is his good friend’s dad’s band! I myself had tried to make some side-projects a couple of times. They were all terrible. I guess I figured I do not have the need for a side-project, since I can put all my creative energy into Forstenet. That’s in a way very nice.

Morten has been in several bands and projects before (Since he is old…). He briefly played in a popular Bergen-band called “El-Regn “trombone thrash metal band”. He has also played with Mercyful Fate’s old drummer Kim Ruzz back in the day. However, none of us except Emil has any secondary musical project at the time.

FUN FACT: Lasse once searched for another band to play guitar in, while we were playing Thrash Metal. I recall he made some Facebook posts searching for “A psychedelic or progressive rock band”. But then came thi swhole “changing direction thing”, and he stopped looking. He is very happy these days about playing in the band. Or at least I think so.

How do you usually approach music making?

Well, usually it is me writing the songs on my own. On our debut album ‘Ephemeros: Virvar we have written “Dissonans I / Dissonans II” in cooperation, but the rest of the songs are composed and arranged by me.

I usually, as most other people, get the ideas from jamming on my guitar. Sometimes I get the idea for a melody inside my head, when I am showering or some shit, and I figure out how to play it on instruments, or make up chords for it. And usually once I have the raw idea, I can very quickly get a visionary idea of how the song structure is going to play out. Sometimes I just need one single riff to predict “Oh, guess this is going to be an 18-minutes song”… I usually record demos when I have the song structure and overall idea settled. Then I change things underway. In the past I used to record the drums myself manually when doing demos. These days I write them down as sheet music, and then I import them in what I consider to be one of the most helpful composing tools ever: Superior Drummer 3… I guess I just love well-written drums so much and therefore sometimes the parts I write are quite advanced. You can’t just use a standard beat from some sound library somewhere. You have to do it from scratch. So I write the rhythms out in with plenty of details, with fills and that sort of stuff. Takes a shitload of time, but it is worth it. And Superior Drummer makes it sound like, well, almost like a real drum kit. This allows one to make really great demos. Then I record guitars and bass through DI, vocals and keys. Unfortunately I can’t play the trombone. Yet. But I do think it into the music and see if I can write some good voices for it.

Forstenet (photo by Mads Sabroe)

Can you share some further details how your latest album was recorded?

Ephemeros: Virvar has been recorded a couple of different places. It is funny because the name “Virvar” means “Chaos”/”Disorder/Confusingmess”. You could say the process of recording was quite a mess as well…

The drums were recorded in Media Sound Studios, which is a very beautiful studio located on Amager, near Copenhagen. We also recorded acoustic guitars here, and re-amped a couple of electric guitar solos. This went very well and very smoothly actually. Minor bumps on the road as always, but nothing really worth mentioning!

Fun fact: We slept in my uncle’s rehearsal room during the recording session (we named it “THE ROCK BASEMENT”). It was cold as fuck sleeping there on our tiny, thin sleeping pads, but it was also very cozy in someway. In Danish we would use the word “hyggeligt” to describe the atmosphere. There was something special about recording all day long, and then getting “home” to the rock basement and sleep among guitars and amps, hahaha!

The guitars and bass we recorded ourselves as DI-tracks. At first we thought that we could record the guitars in our rehearsal room by our own. But there was simply too much noise! (Poor electricity) So after a week of ditching work and school to record guitars, we ended up trying to fix ridiculous electricity problems and got nowhere with it (Worst and most unproductive week of the entire process). Then we finally found a solution to the issue and we decided to re-amp the guitars through our own amps at our friend Bjørn’s studio “Ragnarok Studio”. This was a very pleasurable experience and highly recommendable!

Forstenet (photo by Mads Sabroe)

The vocals were recorded partially in our rehearsing room, and in my own bedroom. Sorry neighbours.

It was a shitty process actually. I fucked up my voice several times, because time during the recording was just so intense and packed. Too many deadlines, too much pressure. It took my voice quite some time to recover from it. Luckily my voice is in good shape these days. I think I never really became a 100 percent satisfied with the result. But well, it’s out now, and there’s no changing it andthere is no point in whining about it! It’s just so difficult with vocals, you know, because you never feel like it’s finished. You could always have done something differently.

The hammond organ was recorded in Troels’ bedroom. Sorry Troels’ bedroom.

Lasse’s guitar for “Dissonans I / Dissonans II” as well as the bass trombone were recorded in Olsen Audio. I wasn’t there myself, since I was recording vocals, but I think it was an alright process for the guys. I believe they had some technical issues out there, but in this band, we always have that, so it’s nothing worth mentioning really!

All in all, we have been many places to make it all happen. It’s been a mixed experience overall making this record. Somethings have been really fun and gratifying. Othert hings have been really difficult and draining! But that’s probably how it always is in processes like this. One thing is for sure: It took a damn lot of time!

Something that definitely did not make it easier is that it was all virtually DIY. We manage everything by ourselves. And the more you get into the different aspects of being a band, the more work you realize you got to do, the more you have to manage! It isn’t just playing a couple of songs, releasing them on Youtube or Spotify or whatever and expecting that will get you far. It is tough work. Doing all the legwork completely on your own. Everything from promotion/campaigns, to design, to production, getting distribution deals, writing thousand of emails, and so on. There is much more work and much more responsibility to it than you would immediately think. For example, Lasse has made all of our designs (Artwork was by Simon Gardarsson, but all that stuff you need to do on a PC, he has done it!) Emil and I have done a lot of the general management things, such as writing Emails, promotion, making decisions about production, getting distribution etc. Troels has made the music videos etc. Overall, it’s been really, really busy and every member has definitely had a moment or two of stress. But it’s also been an amazing journey in a lot of aspects. It took us a year getting this record out. A year of tight deadlines and hard work. Now it’s here. None of us would be without this experience. We have learned so much from this, and we are looking so much forward to making a new record as soon as we can!

How would you describe your sound?

One word: Versatile.

I am very inspired a wide range of artists and things. I promise you, I have much material written that sounds nothing like our debut album whatsoever! However, if I have to describe our currently released music, I would say it is something in the vein of Black Sabbath, Porcupine Tree, Opeth, Pink Floyd, Enslaved, Voivod, Frank Zappa, as well as the the danish artists Steppeulvene and CV Jørgensen. A lot of people say my vocals sound like either Jeff Buckley or Matthew Bellamy from Muse, so I guess that is worth considering when describing our sound as well. Personally, I do not particularly like to call it a certain genre. I find it very tough to do so. Nevertheless, other people have described it as everything from psychedelic rock, progressive metal, stoner rock, doom metal, punk-rock to gothic metal… Heck, one guy even called it a “musical!” Hahaha.

What kind of process do you have at mastering material for the release?

Our Mastering Wizard is called “Tobben Eriksson”. He is one of the coolest and kindest guy alive. He is a long-time friend of Morten. Basically he works his ass off up in rainy Bergen, while we correspond with him via the internet.. I have never even heard of a guy who works half as effectively as Tobben, and I have never worked with anyone so cooperative and constructive. He is one of the most self-critical guys alive and he has a crazy sense of detail. He has worked on his own guitar sound for what. 40 years now? And he has not found it yet. Hahaha. Anyways, he does a really great job. His masters always sound great, and I sincerely hope he will stick around for the next couple of albums. It is always a pleasure working with him.

What are some future plans?

It is naturally a very good idea to play some concerts after releasing a debut album. That is our primary focus now. Nonetheless, we are all, especially me, I think, extremely excited to put out more music. For me, it can only go too slow!!!!!

I have material for approximately 5 albums at the moment. I have over 40 songs in the making, where half of them are somewhat done, and the other half are sketches. Some songs are 30 minutes, others 15, others 5… So yeah, are definitely going to release more albums, as fast as possible! One album every year, would be nice, wouldn’t it?

What we need though, is the economy and energy to go through such a process again. So it will perhaps be a year before we begin with that.

Let’s end this interview with some of your favourite albums. Have you found something new lately you would like to recommend to our readers?

Alright. This kind of stuff is always tough for me, but if I have to think of some all-time favourites, something that immediately comes to my mind is Frank Zappa. I want to say Joe’s Garage. But I can’t do that without saying Hot Rats, Apostrophe(‘) and One Size Fits All as well. That stuff is just so good. The arrangements are just outrageous. Especially on Hot Rats and Joe’s Garage. I don’t know how that man was able to do what he did. But he did it.

If you want some danish prog history, I recommend you checking out The Old Man And The Sea by The Old Man And The Sea (interview here) … Songs like “Monksong” pt 1 and 2… Yeah. So good! I love that album. The hammond organ is amazing on this one. Great atmosphere throughout the album. Very obscure, however it seems to be well recognized by the prog community.

Since this is a psychedelic-focused magazine, I feel like I should recommend something a bit more psychedelic? Well, in Denmark psychedelic rock is called “Syrerock.” (Acid Rock), and we have a couple of bands here you may or may not have heard about. One of the most influential ones is Steppeulvene. They made a record called HIP (1967). The songs are really good. They may not be all that psychy, but in Denmark, they are largely associated with. It was the first rock record ever to have danish lyrics. It is very special. Some of it resembles some thing psychy, but it is not the drony-fuzzystuff, that you would perhaps associate with psych. However, IF you want it more psychy, check out Young Flowers. They made a record called Blomsterpistolen in 1968. There are both English and Danish-sung stuff in there. They were also very influential here. In fact the bassist/vocalist Peter Ingemann from Young Flowers play with guitarist from Steppeulvene Stig Møller these days. So the two mentioned bands are in someway related, you could say.

Lastly, I wish to give credits to a crazy band that actually came and played to those Mixtour events I mentioned earlier. Grow Fins they are called, (Yes, you guessed right! A Captain Beefheart reference). Be sure to check out the song “Dissno Cinema” from the album Giveitawayinator. It is completely crazy. Plenty of whacky guitar pedal noise. Never seen a local band guitarist have so many pedals! You can trip your ass off to that shit, that’s for sure!

Thank you for taking your time. Last word is yours.

You’re welcome! I do not think I have any words left but thank you! It’s been a true pleasure.

– Klemen Breznikar

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One Comment
  1. The Triumph of the Thrill

    Nice interview, Andersen's enthusiasm is charming.

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