It’s a beautiful Saturday afternoon outside the Palladium Theatre in Worcester, MA. But after playing an early and criminally short set at the New England Metal & Hardcore Festival’s second day, Doc Coyle has no time to relax in the sun. He’s rushing around outside of the venue trying to make sure that each and every interviewer gets a chance to speak with him or his bandmates. And for a guy who had just been onstage a few hours earlier, he’s doing a pretty damn good job keeping his band on track.
Metal Insider was fortunate enough to pull Doc himself aside outside the Palladium Theatre for his last interview of the long day. During our chat, Coyle spoke about life after their latest album Equilibrium’s release, his love for the history and origins of heavy metal, and the learning experience that came following his brother Dallas’ departure from God Forbid.
Equilibrium has been out for a few weeks now. With all the work that went into the recording, how does it feel now to have the album released?
Yeah, in a lot of ways our work is kind of done as far as the album is out of our hands, and it’s up to people to decide whether they like it and how the word of mouth spreads. It has to develop its own life. Right now we’re about playing, and the playing live experience is different than the album and it’s its own thing. You have to kind of cultivate that and really, it’s our job to represent those songs as well as we can. But in terms of how it’s received, it’s either going to happen or it’s not. It’s cool either way.
I mean, it’s been getting great reviews. I think it’s one of the best of the year to come out so far.
I like it! [laughs]
Does it at all feel like “Ah, job well done!”?
I mean, I feel very satisfied. I listen to the album and I’m very happy to hear it, I enjoy listening to it. You want to be proud. I think a lot of times you do records and you’re like “Ah, I don’t like that part!” I mean, I like all of our albums, but with age you listen and go “Oh, that’s not as cool as I remember it being” or maybe “Oh, we probably should have shortened that song!” But it feels good right now. I’m sure I’ll be not liking something about the album in a year, but maybe not. Maybe this is our classic, I don’t know. Like I said, you don’t know what it is, and that happens with a lot of albums that become big albums. People don’t necessarily know from the start that, it develops a life of its own and the people will decide.
This album marked a lot of firsts for the band, most notably the first with guitarist Matt Wicklund and without Dallas Coyle. I know Matt brought a lot of energy to the band, but what was the biggest difficulty with making the transition from working with Dallas to Matt?
It’s funny, Michael Amott from Arch Enemy actually wrote me a message when Dallas left just to give me some support since his brother [Christopher Amott, guitarist] left his band [twice]. He just wanted to say “Hey, I know it’s tough. I had to deal with the same thing.” One thing he talked about was [how] there’s just a short hand when you’re playing with your brother, where it’s not even verbal. I don’t have to write things down to show him, I can just go “Oh, it’s like this!” and he can go “Oh, ok!” It’s almost a little psychic thing going on there. But with Matt, it’s just kind of learning their intricacies and getting him up to speed with certain things that we do that are a part of our style so that me and him sound better together.
But from a writing standpoint, it was seamless. We wrote together really quickly, we worked together really well, and he brought a lot of creative energy and songs. He wrote a lot of material. So that was kind of the foundation of how things started. He just wrote a lot and really shaped the new album in a lot of ways. I don’t want to say more than me or more than anyone else, but that might have been what got us over the top and I think made us a band that writes better songs.
At the very least, I remember seeing you guys at Mayhem Fest 2009 and I caught your set today, and it seems like he has always been in the band.
Well, he’s been in the band for a while! It’s been in here for three years. That’s a long time.
The album also marked God Forbid’s first with Victory Records. I know it’s only been a few weeks since Equilibrium, but are you pleased with what’s been done so far?
I’m very pleased. They’re a very motivated company. They are very happy with the album, they’re very excited about the album. There was a lot of enthusiasm from the get go. And I think they’re just really about moving it and energy; accelerated is almost the way I think about it. It’s still early. And we’re business partners, we both have to work hard to make it happen, and I think they’re with us. They’ve invested in the band, and you have to work hard to protect your investment. And hopefully things will keep going. I’m not into those conspiracy theories about labels. Musicians really like to play the victim, but a lot of times they just do… you sign a piece of paper and two years later you decide you don’t like it, then that’s on you. We signed a deal we like, and they’re doing a lot of things that need to happen for the band.
When the band was deciding on labels, did the idea of DIY ever come up?
Yeah. There was some other deals on the table that were more DIY, where a lot of it was on us, and maybe certain royalty things worked more in our favor. But ultimately we thought we needed a label that had a staff and machinery already set up so that they could mobilize a lot of promotion. If we had to do that on our own, we might not have been as affective. And they pretty much have what they do down to a science, and we’ve seen it happen. And with this album, with the band being away for a while, we could have put it out on our own, but honestly might not have made the splash or might not have gotten to the network of people we needed to get out to. We kind of have to make a big noise with this to let people know “Hey, we’re still here!”
I’m sure you’re tired to hear about this, but I’ve got to bring up the “Djent tweets.” First of all, were you surprised of how those tweets exploded on the web, and how it was covered by so many sites?
Honestly, I almost feel like it’s maybe 10,000 people that look at all of those sites. I don’t know if anyone even cares [about] what I say, even if they put it on the headline. Ultimately, I think the conversation is more entertaining for me. I was more trying to basically alert people that even if you think it sounds like that, I thought it was perfectly fine, but just that’s not the album. We didn’t make a left turn to try to fit in with whatever is going on. I wrote this song [“Don't Tell Me What To Dream”], and if you say it sounds like that, ok! We were doing shit like that on our last album [2009’s Earthsblood], but you didn’t hear that! [laughs] Now that that scene has cultivated itself and those bands have come to prominence, and people like to attach you to whatever’s currently going on in it, that’s fine. Honestly, I think the “controversy” food for thought. It gets people talking and ultimately it’s a good thing. I have no problem with being associated with something that’s new, fresh and exciting.
Would you call such labeling, though, as limiting in a sense?
All genres, all labeling is limiting; unless you use vague ones like “heavy metal.” So by that virtue, you just deal with it, and I find it a little fascinating. In a lot of ways, I’m a metal history nerd. I like to know where things come from, I like to know who influenced who and how that stuff really happens. If you’re younger, you don’t know as much, you don’t have that background, you’re not doing all of that work. I don’t really blame them, the younger you are, that’s just usually how it is. You can’t blame someone for being ignorant on the fact. You can only educate them, but they have to be open to it. It’s just the way it is.
I find that interesting because there’s so much available to us online, so you’d think it would be easier for people to educate themselves.
Well listen, there’s more information but there’s still only 24 hours in a day. I love it, I try to absorb as much as I can. It’s a little much, but hopefully one day it’ll be like the Matrix where you can just download, and [in a Keanu Reeves voice] “Oh, now I know kung fu!” And I get to learn French in one download or something. So until that comes, just absorb what you can, and learn what you’re interested in. Any given hobby, whether you collect comics or you like a certain TV show, it’s the same thing. When I was younger, I was definitely obsessed with that stuff. So it was important for me to know my history.
[picture by Laura Desantis-Olsson]