With Grave Forsaken another band from Down Under is stepping into the limelight. Even if it's not a new band, most metal heads won't know them, so time to learn a bit more about them! Thanks to singer Vaughn!
Usually we don't hear much about bands from Australia and so many won't know Grave Forsaken. Please tell us a bit about the beginning!
Grave Forsaken started in 2004 when I got together with 3 friends with a goal to start a Christian metal band. All we really wanted to do was play live and record to anyone who would listen. We started playing very small gigs wherever we could find them and gradually got better. We were all very passionate from day one, so it's been a good 5 years.
Why did you chose the name Grave Forsaken?
Our original drummer Tim Steadman came up with the name. We wrote a short list of potential names and that one just seemed to stick. It actually refers to Christ forsaking the grave by rising from the dead.
This Day Forth is your 3rd album, Destined For Ascencion was released in 2008. Are the ideas for new songs just flow? And how do you write songs? As a band? Or individually?
Elias Salmela (guitars) and I write most of the material. We are always coming up with new ideas either together or individually. Our favourite bands all did their best work when they were releasing a new album every year, so we have tried to follow that pattern. I think you can overthink music, so we tend to get an arrangement we're happy with and record the song at the next possible opportunity. Then we move onto the next batch of songs. We are working on a 4th album to follow This Day Forth as we speak.
What inspires you to write music? Lyrics?
We are a Christian band, so most of our lyrics are inspired by our Christian faith. Occasionally we will discuss political and world issues, but always from a biblical perspective. Musically we are inspired by our favourite classic metal and thrash bands. Personally, I find inspiration from the music of bands like Slayer, Megadeth, Tourniquet and Mortification. In fact, we've often been accused of being a rip off of those bands! While they inspire me, I don't set out to copy their songs note for note. We just write our music and hope people enjoy it.
Your lyrics are based on Christianity... Have you ever faced problems because of your belief?
Not as many as you might think. We are known in our local metal scene as 'that Christian band', but we have never had any criticism to our face. Of course people on internet chatrooms will have a few things to say, but overall the local bands have accepted us. Our message is in our lyrics, and I sing in an understandable style, so no one leaves without knowing we are Christian. We've even played a few gigs with full on black metal bands, and they were actually some of the nicest guys we've met in the scene. Some of those guys will actually bring up the topic of Christianity to us, and we have had some really deep conversations after gigs with other band members. So no, no major problems at all. There is obviously a degree of prejudice, but we knew that would be case from day one, so most of the time we don't let it get to us. I actually think a lot of people appreciate that we have the guts to go out there and do it.
Your album sounds very 80s-like and has an underground touch... Is this the way you wanted it? Are you still into the 80's stuff?
Yes and yes! I'm glad you noticed the underground touch. We wanted this album to sound like it was recorded on a low budget sometime in the early 80's. My favourite thrash albums all have that underground feel and come from that era. I was inspired by early material from Destruction and Sodom when developing the sound for the album. We had the opportunity to make it sound more modern, but chose to go for a very old school feel. We deliberately let mistakes stay on the album because we didn't want it sounding too sterile. In those pioneering days, the bands had a weekend to track and mix, so whatever they recorded made it onto record. Interestingly enough, many fans will point to those early raw albums as the peak of a bands career. We are hoping in years to come people will look back fondly on This Day Forth for the same reasons.
Which bands influenced you when you started? And what are you listening to these days?
Mortification, Tourniquet and Paramaecium provided our initial template in 2004. As we have developed we have been more and more influenced by bay area thrash and German thrash. As I said earlier, Megadeth and Slayer are now a big influence, much more so than in the early days. I also enjoy more straightforward rock bands like Kiss and Mötley Crüe, so a lot of the chorus ideas are inspired by having something that people can sing along too. Of course, we are heavily indebted to Iron Maiden as well, but I can't think of a metal band that isn't.
Which song do you think presents Grave Forsaken best?
I think our two best songs are Warriors Of Light and This Day Forth. Both have a chorus people can sing too, and they both feature some cool guitar work from Elias. It's like trying to pick your favourite child. If I had to pick one I would say This Day Forth, just because it sounds exactly like I imagined it would before I sat down and wrote it. It's all there – the thrash, the lead's, the chorus and the message.
Are any shows planned for you? In case you would get a tour offered, would you be able to do it? I guess, you need to do something else for living....
We always play as much as we can locally, and we have played in Sydney a few times as well (Sydney is on the other side of Australia from us). We are planning on getting to the USA and Europe some time in the not too distant future. Three of us are teachers, so we get a long holiday every December and January. Any overseas touring would probably need to happen during those months. But yes, we would do whatever we could to take any tour that was offered. Though generally these things don't get offered – you have to go out and get them yourself.
As touring outside Australia isn't easy for economic reasons... How much do you use platforms like YouTube to give the metal fans an idea about Grave Forsaken?
We have an extensive list of live footage on youtube. We also do an occasional fun thing called 'Grave Forsaken TV' where we put up an episode about some recent thing that has been going in the Grave Forsaken camp. We haven't had all that many views yet, but we're hoping as more people come to know about the band the views will go up. We've always tried to use the web pretty extensively to put the band out there. So far I think the strategy has been working fairly well. It’s a tough market to compete in out there.
What's next on your schedule?
We are working on a 4th album that will come out in 2010. In the meantime we are playing as many gigs as we can locally and we are always looking for more. We have started making plans to tour around our home state of Western Australia more regularly, and go into country areas whenever possible. So really it comes down to rehearsing, recording and live shows in the foreseeable future.
Looks like Grave Forsaken will keep going and don't let anything encourage them. And who knows, perhaps their next album will bring them abroad...