Old Forest are slowly putting together our 3rd installment of the 'Tales of the Sussex Weald' trilogy of EPs. The trilogy is about the myths and legends of our region that are the remains of the pre-christian beliefs and local history of the Sussex countryside. It was one of the last areas to be christianised, and the area in and around the city of Brighton is internationally recognised as having a very active (oc)culture, with many secret groups of many aspects of paganism and occultism.
2. You recently where on a long hiatus, what made you decide to split the band for a few years, then make a comeback, also what where you doing the hiatus?
We decided to end activity in 2000 because we had all come to a point where we were having to live in different areas and any rehearsing was impossible. Another major reason is that we werent happy about the lack of communication with Mordgrimm records. It was a chance meeting 6 years later when we discovered that all 3 members had returned to our point of origin and were eager to become musically active again. We met to play some old songs as well as a few covers, and decided it was time again to renew the Old Forest.
3. How would you describe the musical direction of your new material and how would you compare it with your older material?
The new material is musically similar to the demos and the debut album, but is more considered and planned that before. Sonically, we have more in common with Darkthrone and Burzum than with the likes of the more commercial bands.
4. How would you describe the lyrical content of the new material?
The writing of the lyrics has become a much more involved process, requiring an investment much time reading, researching and visiting local sites to discover more about the local history and legends of our area. This is in order ensure our lyrics are both historically and ethereally accurate.
5. How has the reception been to your music by black metal fans worldwide?
Well, of course, it goes without saying that the most important aspect of Old Forest is to remain true to our beliefs in the underground nature of Black metal ; It is not supposed to be popular or trendy, and any deviation from this renders bands like Dimmu Borgir and Cradle of Filth impotent in their works. For the amount of people who have discovered our material throughout the underground world, there has been a very positive reaction. We are often surprised how people come to hear about us, when we dont do any promotion other than to have a myspace page.
6. Out of all the music you have recorded so far, which album or demo are you the most satisfied with?
By far, the most superior and satisfying material has been the current trilogy. It is artistically, musically and sonically our best work to date. The demo tapes still remain a great source of pride for the band - so much so that we have made these available as free downloads from our current label Death To Music productions (www.deathtomusic.com).
7. I can tell by the band name and some of the themes there seems to be a Tolkien influence, which era of his literature do you prefer the more mainstream Hobbit/Lord Of The Rings or the Darker Simmarilion era?
The name was inspired by both the ancient forest that was, until a few hundred years ago, the main feature of the Sussex countryside, and also the works of Tolkien. When people speak of Tolien's work these days, they immeditely think of the recent Hollywood films. These people have genuinely missed the real magic of the books, and instead been fed the hollow visual stimulous which requires no imagination what-so-ever. As any student of the occult knows, the development of the imagination and visualisation is paramount to any success in your workings. I personally feel that the greater period of Tolkien's works are The Hobbit and the first part of Lord of the Rings. Also, the parts concernign the orcs in Lord of the Rings are fantastic, but in general the second half of the trilogy is slightly let down by being over-blown and too pompous to easily retain the attention.
Incidentally, Death To Music productions recently released a demo tape of a band called Orcrypt who wholly encapsulates this atmosphere. I bought one of the 30 copies of their demo tape "The Mirkwood Massacre" last year and immediately knew this was a band who would be a great find for any true Black Metal fan. Rather than let this release be forgotten, I convinced them to re-release it digitally which they have done. It is a genuine classic.
8. What are some bands or musical styles that have influenced your music and what are you listening to nowadays?
The music that inspires us mostly to write the music of Old Forest is the early 90s Black Metal of Burzum, Darkthrone, Emperor, Enslaved, Mayhem, Satyricon and also some of the darker Death Metal such as early Entombed, Bolt Thrower and Gorefest. These bands have a fantastic atmosphere which is long since a memory in metal. That said, inspiration is not the same as influence, and the music of Old Forest is an original entity.
9. What role does Asataru or Paganism play in the music and do you also have an interest in other forms of occultism or the more esoteric side?
We all have an interest in alternative and non-mainstream beliefs ; some aspects of new-age paganism, pre-christian european cultures, spiritual technologies, entheogenic experiences and altered states of conciosness, astral projection and lucid dreaming, old world beliefs and modern scientific research into the fabric of reality. It is rather a mix which goes into our personal philosophies..
10. What direction do you see the music heading into on future releases?
For the future, I think we will be concentrating on finishing the current trilogy. After this, we will perhaps expand on the thematic area of our concept. I am greatly inspired by the literary works of Julian Cope, who has in recent years investigated the neolithic sites of the UK and, more recently, mainland Europe. We also plan to record an EP of straight-forward tune-less ultra-raw Black Metal which has no great concept behind it at all. It is really just a case of what we feel like at the time.
11. What are some of your interests outside of music?
I cant speak on Beleth or Grond's behalf, but my personal interests revolve around expanding my knowledge of this world and others beyond. I have a great interest in history, both in the immediate locality and internationally. My reading ranges from scientific studies through to medieval fiction through to the greek classics. I have most recently been reading the works of zecharia sitchin and Rick Strassman.
12. Any final words or thoughts?
Thank you for your time and questions. For those wishing to download our 1998 demo tapes, or to order copies of our EPs, then visit either our myspace (www.myspce.com/oldforestofficial) or Death To Music (www.deathtomusic.com).