Elitist Records keep churning out quality releases. Among those is a particular band that goes by the name of Forest Stream. Hailing from Russia, these guys create some of the finest black/doom metal I've heard in quite some time. I contacted band member Sonm to talk about some issues surrounding the somewhat mysterious Forest Stream and their debut album "Tears of Mortal Solitude." As you'll see, Sonm provided me with more than adequate answers and many, many surprises along the way that make this quite an interesting interview!
To start, I'd just like to say that I was more than pleased with "Tears Of Mortal Solitude." A great listen, if I may say so. If you could just start by giving us a brief overview of Forest Stream and their history?
To start, we'd like to thank you very much for what you have said about our band. You feel much better every time you hear people say good things about what you do, no matter how shitty your day is! So, thanks a lot. As for our history, well, there is not much we could tell you and we could tell you really a lot at the same time. Some moments we've been through could seem to be really funny, but most of them hardly can summon anybody's smile. I (Sonm) met Omin in 1995 and we decided to start a band due to a lack of good music. Without any doubt the nineties were a great time with some of the greatest bands ever. Katatonia, My Dying Bride, Emperor, Dimmu Borgir and others were inspiring us but we needed something different. Katatonia wasn't heavy enough, My Dying Bride was too slow, Emperor was almost about what we wanted but a bit over-complicated, and Dimmu Borgir was, on the other hand, too simple! So, the golden middle was finally found and we called it Forest Stream. I am not saying we are something in between these bands; it is just sort of a feeling we get from our music.
So during the summers of 1996-1998, Omin and I were building houses and making money to buy some equipment for the band. Being not very welcome by the local authorities we had to build our own place for rehearsals, a garage that reminds me of some kind of a catacomb. Anyway, we were playing facing hills of rubbish and rotten vegetables, because we weren't really lucky with the place, and soon after the garage was built some assholes made a scrap yard right in front of our gates. That was kind of inspiring too! I don't think any Western band can say they have experienced something like that. Yeah, some black metal guys could burn local churches or kill someone, or had just problems with cops or something. I bet rotten potatoes, rats, rain, and human indifference annoyed nobody, but us. I'll never forget the day when we finished our garage. We were sitting and playing Omin's ancient acoustic guitar cause that time we had no electricity, just concrete and rime, as well as those morons, who have stolen almost everything in 5 months after we completed the studio. That was pretty tough time though. After we got robbed we stuck a dog's skull against the wall right above the garage gate and swore to fight until the end. Fortunately, Omin kept his guitar at home so we sat down to record our first demo called "Snowfall."
That demo was meant to be our visiting card for local clubs, but we then decided to send it to webzines and labels just for fun. The message we got from the music and especially the production was pretty clear to us: "Maybe you are good people, but your stuff sucks!" To our surprise we got a lot of good responses including a short message from Italian label Code666: "We could have a deal if you would re-record your stuff guys!" But instead of doing that we rushed to record our second demo called "The Last Season Purity" and somehow something went wrong, so Code666 said they were disappointed with that. Personally I couldn't believe that. The new songs were the way better that the ones from "Snowfall." In fact they still are!
Being damn depressed we had no choice but to upload everything on mp3.com and then to hang ourselves on the huge tree in front of our house. While making a good rope, we were also playing live in Moscow and its region and then got a very strange message from somebody called Lee Barrett... (damn that's already a lot)... so to keep it short, he offered us a deal and we got signed to the brand new division of Earache he started, Elitist Records. After being unconscious for about one month (we were damn happy!) we finally got to work on our first album, "Tears of Mortal Solitude." And here we are!
What where you trying to achieve with "Tears Of Mortal Solitude"?
Well, one could think about some messages to the mankind, some black magic interference with the parallel universe, but I'd say that we weren't trying to achieve anything special. It is just like you wake up and say "what a nice day!" Our album just says, "Look, life is more complicated than you think it is." It depends on the listener. Some would hear just music, some more than just a couple of not very bad tunes, and others simply wouldn't like it at all. Music is a creature. I don't think nature achieves anything particular with every bird, butterfly, spider, etc. They live for some supreme idea none of us are aware of.
What's the most important thing to Forest Stream? Emotion, atmosphere, musicianship, originality, or is it something else?
Again, that depends on the listener. What drives you when you make friends? Some kind of sympathy, I think. I prefer to consider my band as a living thing. It is interactive. The more you give the more you get out of it. But after all, I think that we have a special feature. We play an intelligent music. That's the most important thing. At least that's what we are trying to do. I don't know whether it is successful or not but that's what I would call our main goal.
When listening to Forest Stream, you can pick up on some influences. Who or what do you think has had the biggest influence on shaping the sound of Forest Stream?
Our parents, our friends, our country, our climate, Emperor, Katatonia, My Dying Bride, Septic Flesh, Dimmu Borgir, Endura, Lustmord, Diabolical Masquerade and classical music. So if you would mix everything adding some pepper, patakis, garlic, onion and beer and fry it for about half an hour, the output will be worth to be called Forest Stream! I don't know. We have a lot of influences, but which one is the most striking... that's damn difficult to say. Probably the situation when we were stuck with the band without money and others were provided with everything to play their nazi shit. That was really like a cloud burst.
How have those influences changed over the years? How have things changed for you guys since you started out in 1995? Or at least from your first demo which didn't appear until quite some time after.
I can't say that they've changed quite much. Probably the changes are more up to us: our self-development, feeling and understanding of music in particular and in common. Personally, now I'm more into classical music and monk choirs. Somehow that just blows me away, and I'd like to try something like that in future. I mean combining several things together. First, of course, we have to find monks who will agree to sing blasphemous songs. Don't be surprised if we end up like a gang of mad heretics! By the way, any idea about how a sinful flesh goes with a fire? Hope they are not that friendly to each other! As for the second part of the question, well, many years have passed. Now we are old and fat. We all have families and at least ten kids. Sometimes we meet each other to watch some stupid movies or have to go to a barbeque picnic. Wait, what am I talking about? Well, that's not about us, really! I should switch my TV off! Actually we are still young and very often hungry. What is being 23-24 years old? It is just about to deal with your acceleration-pedal only. We still don't think about the brakes. Many things have changed of course, but they are not about the music.
As I understand, your debut album "Tears Of Mortal Solitude" is actually the first part of a trilogy. Please explain what this trilogy is and what it means, as well as what it represents.
Okay. It's all rather weird and complicated. There is some mystery in it. Omin and I were behind everything, which is now called Forest Stream. And you know, it wasn't just about the music we liked or we were going to play. There was some kind of an idea about what the whole story was about. We needed to play because we were lacking ordinary words for saying what we wanted. So our music became an additional tool for our self-expression. And at the same time my mother and sister got into religion. I was totally screwed by that and kind of created this opposition. Of course you know what would be the best opposition for the Christianity. But then when I got older I understood that both ways are way much too stupid. The Devil and Christ are just one stupid fairy-tale, but we say that a fairy-tale has a link to the truth. And then I simply decided to listen to my heart and also to the surrounding world. You know, maybe I am sick but what I was totally blown away by what I have managed to hear. A soft melody, which I have never ever heard before was streaming down from everywhere: the trees around me, the skies, the sun. That made me think of the third truth. It was like somebody invisible said to me, "Yes, one can think about the God and Devil, one can believe to what the Bible says, but wouldn't be that ridiculous to live according the words of a guy who used to live 2000 years ago?" The world is changing every day and it has nothing to do with what people used to think about God or Devil. Moreover, what they think of them doesn't make them that. Just open your heart for your eyes to see. Then with nightfall that soft melody turned into a majestic choir. I don't know. That time has changed me completely, and since that the darkness attracts me more. That's just the way I feel. And I have more sympathy for the dark religions than for Christian stuff. I mean I am not religious, but my way of living and understanding things is more close to what would be the opposite to the cross.
And that's what the trilogy for. Three constituents of the darkness, beckoning, enigmatic, and calling: the darkness, which never fails to excite. It is full of emotions, feelings and music telling you about the universe. Pure Sorrow, Majesty and ultimate Fury or Hate, Demons bringing the thirst to develop further on, to fight over and over for the knowledge. The physical evolution is over, yet the mental one has yet to begin. One can get it as he wishes, enough said.
Elitist Records is kind of made a name for itself as being a label that signs bands that are a little bit more original, or bands that bring something new to the scene. How do you think you fit into that equation?
You know, we have a good saying in Russia: every new thing is just a well-forgotten old one! That's how it works. We are not trying to fit any equations. We just play what we like, what is in our thoughts. Maybe that's new, considering that huge wave of commercialization. We don't care about money at all, cause we all have good jobs to live. Music is a real hobby for all of us and we are doing music just for music and just because of music. But "singing scientists" is funny and interesting as well. Maybe that works even better! So, honestly I just don't know how it is. They just pick us up, maybe because we are original having no originality among all the extremely original bands? Indeed if you have a lot of multi-colored chickens the white one would be the most visible! No I mean, that would be the case for sure! I just hope that we are not picked up for a soup!
What do you think of the other bands on Elitist?
We respect them all no matter whether we like what they play or not. We think they are excellent people and support them. Hope they get only better in time. Lee Barrett has created a good family atmosphere! But some of his kids are so crazy, because they spend too much time on quantum physics.
Because you're doing a trilogy of albums, should we expect each one to follow the same style, or does Forest Stream plan on reinventing themselves with each album?
Aha! And what if I refuse to answer? Hah! No, I really would like to keep that tiny secret. Let's put it that way. They will be different! The third CD will close the circle. But all of them are different parts of one substance. Do you remember the ancient Greek philosophers Socrates and Plato? They were proposing the four-five elements: Water, Air, Fire, Earth, (Ether), and we propose Sorrow, Majesty, Hate. That's our own philosophy we live according to, so none of these items to be raised twice.
How important is it for you guys to progress as a band and not write the same album over and over?
There is no sense to write the same album over and over again. You live and you see how everything is changing around, and you change too. There's no way to repeat what was written if it goes from your heart. And one more thing: we decided to make things separate. The whole concept was created long before the band was found. So many things are still to be said.
What lyrical concepts does Forest Stream like to cover?
The answer is humanity, individuality, which is about to vanish forever. People are losing their names, their faces. So many lives are just wasted. Every day you read about hundreds and thousands of people dying all over the world just to get substituted with others. That's my opinion though, and most of people think differently I think, but I feel that some magic is fading away from the world. Something is already missing. This fragile between good and evil is about to be upset, because somehow people started to judge what is good and what bad without thinking about that. Trust me, the response from the balancing force will come soon. I am dealing with the laws of the nature every day, and I am 100% sure that if something runs out of control, it is to be fixed. But somehow it always costs a lot of human lives. That's what we sing about. The humanity, which is about to be lost...
Lastly question: what's been the best thing about getting your band signed to a respectable record label and finally getting a debut album out?
That's simple! It is just great when you feel someone likes or needs what you do. That makes you feel so great that I'd risk calling it one of the best feelings I have ever experienced. Your life is not wasted! What can be better?
I thank you for your time, and I can't wait to hear what's next from you! Anything you'd like to add?
Well, thank you very much for your time. Sorry if my answers sound a bit sad or boring. I have a hard time nowadays, but nobody should care about that cause it is meant to be this way, and only music says, "Look, life is more complicated than you think it is." Cheers!
Entered: 6/22/2003 4:16:17 PM