It is with great pleasure that I again interview A Gentleman’s Club A Forest of Stars! Your new album, A Shadowplay for Yesterdays is upon us and the material is impressive to say the least! Tell us some general facts or fictions about your third full-length! How long have you been working on the material?
Curse: I worked on the lyrics on and off over the course of about two years, give or take. There were horrendous periods of writer’s block and general confusion – but thankfully everything came together in the end! Vaguely amusingly (to myself at least) was the fact that I was put under medication early last year, and one of the myriad pills and potions was called Lyrica. Bizarrely, once they had taken a thorough hold on my system, the writer’s block disappeared and I began to spout lyrical gibberish once again, so I am grateful for that section of my convalescence at least!
What was the mindset when you began writing or production for the material that is on A Shadowplay…? Did you have a goal or an idea firm in you mind’s eye, either lyrically or musically? Why or why not?
Curse: We set out from the very beginning to put together a cohesive concept album – we came up with the general idea of a person at odds with himself and all around him; at a loss of both self and mind. We then set about creating a tale around him and his flirtations with madness and the dead. I think it was quite a mammoth task to put it all together, but personally at least, it all fell in to place with something resembling ease.
The material on A Shadowplay… is lavish, layered and demands a multitude of listens, especially for someone as myself who tends to listen to large amounts of ‘bestial black blasting’, atonal and monotonous. A worthy relief it is! How do you keep fresh with songwriting, as your previous full-length materials where nothing less than epic, decadent and equally exhilarating?
Henry Hyde Bronsdon: I think that losing one member and gaining several more (more of which below) probably made a significant difference to the songwriting process this time around. It’s good not to repeat oneself too much, and to progress and grow.
Is it just me or are there extra members to the Gentleman’s Club? I seem to count a few extra faces in the pictures since our last conversation…have there been manifestations and vanishings we should all be aware of?
Curse: We were most unfortunate to lose a founding member in a grim barbecuing accident, and were forced to replace his myriad talents with those of three new members. We were humbled to welcome into our ranks Henry Hyde Bronsdon on guitar, vocal, second synth and production / mixing duties; Sir Gtx. Grimshaw on guitar and vocal duties and last but by no means least, Sir Titus Lungbutter on low frequency abuse duties (or bass if you prefer!).
HH Bronsdon: One of those new faces is mine. Sorry about that.
When we spoke previously, Mister Curse discussed lyrics being dark but not necessarily evil. What constitutes evil, where is the threshold between ‘dark’ and ‘evil’? I found the material to be mysterious, which many often confuse as evil…
Curse: To put it very simply, and to crib from the esteemed Anton LaVey, ‘Good is what you like, Evil is what you don’t like.’ This is my attitude to the world in general, and always has been. I believe that as long as a person maintains a set of standards, then be as you are. Without light we would lose all the shadows.
How was the studio experience on A Shadowplay for Yesterdays? You had spoken previously of recording layers upon layers and then stripping away to see what best fits the album. Was there a similar case here on the new album? Was a producer involved? Why or why not?
Henry Hyde Bronsdon: I am the most recent recruit to the Club and have been heavily involved in the recording / production / mixing. Myself and the Gentleman co-produced the record. We worked on constructing the album from the demo stage, through to the recordings of each member’s performances. I then mixed and mastered the record in my home studio, with the aid of everyone else’s ears at various points. This has been the first time the Club has been able to handle all of the album production stages ‘in house’ as opposed to sending it off to third parties to finish. There were indeed layers, and layers, and more layers, of recorded tracks to be mixed. Not much was stripped away or left out – hence the characteristic dense sound of the record. Hopefully the results are adequate, to people’s ears!
Previously, when comparing and contrasting The Corpse of Rebirth with
Opportunistic Thieves of Spring, the latter was spoken of as being a continuation of the former. Would you say the same for your new album?
Curse: I would certainly say that each record is a continuation from the prior. Sort of logical progression if you will. We simply write about what is in going through our minds at the time of conception, whilst keeping an eye on what has gone before.
With the success of you previous albums, you no doubt were given the opportunity to perform your mystical rites before an assembled audience of sizable proportions. How would you describe the live incantation of the Gentleman’s Club?
Curse: I would say that our performances tend to vary from the somnambulant to the shambolic, sometimes even venturing into the direct and succinct – we can never be quite sure what will happen at any given time…
HH Bronsdon: More tremolo arm. More delay pedal. More string breakages. More sweat.
Your debut, The Corpse of Rebirth, was self released, later released by Transcendental Creations. Opportunistic Thieves of Spring was also released by Transcendental Creations. Now you have joined the ranks of Prophecy Productions alongside groups such as Alcest and Secrets of the Moon. How has the label switch affected the Gentleman’s Club?
Curse: Transcendental are a great label, and treated us very well! Our move to Prophecy seemed like a very logical decision; given their wonderfully varied musical roster and their genuine, honest and creative approach to releasing music, we felt that we should feel most at home within their ranks – and indeed, we do!
I notice that you have 3 full-length albums to you credit but no EP releases, splits or otherwise. Why the strict policy of only producing Long Playing Phonographs?! Are extreme bands not required to have a long list of rare and out-of-print, xerox demo cassettes?
On that note, does the Gentleman’s Club consider themselves an ‘extreme’ band? Oh, won’t you please define and pigeon-hole your sound with at least one genre label so I know how to tell the kids how great you are?! Personally, I think you transcend most earthly titles but who am I to judge…Curse: I would not say that there is any policy in place – just that we have worked according to situations at any given time. I can see no reason why we may not look at producing splits or EPs at some point.
Curse: I would label us as extreme simply because our approach is limited only by what we want to include in our sound and releases. Some people may say that we are not extreme enough, but I would say that personally, as a lyricist and vocalist, that my intention is always to include extreme subject matter and situations in my work.
HH Bronsdon: Personally I have no real idea of what is meant by ‘extreme’. It’s a very subjective and relative term. People used to think the Beatles were extreme, and Elvis before that. I think it’s best to focus on making the music you want to, and to allow others to do any pigeon-holing.
I hope to never forget that when we spoke previously and I labored long hours to print our conversation in Forbidden Magazine’s paper incarnation, Mister Curse was one of the few to actually purchase a copy rather than demand a free issue. I am still grateful for that and want to know your opinion on paper vs. webzine, CD vs. mp3, underground vs. funderground and what ‘support’ means to a band like AFOS!
Curse: Thank you. I would never have dreamed of demanding a free copy of your publication – I know how much of your own time and energies you put in to it, and wanted to make a small contribution back! I can see the validity of both paper and web based magazines, and understand that printed / pressed media is in a rough patch due to the ease of availability of digital alternatives. I for one will always be of the school of thought that much prefers a physical item in my hands rather than an intangible collection of zeros and ones. Having babbled all of this, I would certainly not want to give the impression that I am against MP3 and webzines – we know that a lot of interest in our little band has been generated by digital information and downloads, and we are grateful for that. As for underground versus funderground, I don’t even know what funderground is – but based on it’s name I am sure that I would oppose it!
Are there other projects that members of A Forest of Stars are involved in or are you all strict initiates
of the Gentleman’s Club? Why or why not?
Curse: Without saying too much, there is indeed something on the horizon that several of us are working on with a great, great friend of ours. More information to follow!
HH Bronsdon: I am involved in a solo acoustic folk project, using the alter-ego Duncan Evans. No recordings are yet available, but this is soon to be rectified. I will be playing around the UK later this month.
Divulge us at least one secret of your inner circle! The degree structure is steep and the knowledge lectures command our upmost dedication and discipline. Share with us a little known fact of the founding of the Gentleman’s Club, a pre-stage ritual of ill-repute or the like…
Curse:I always take care to ensure that I have voided my bowels before taking to the stage. I’m sure that no one would want to bear witness to a howling induced follow-through incident!
What are future plans for A Forest of Stars? Do you have leftover material that will manifest on another release in the near future? Live incantation and seances?
Curse: Further writing, recording and touring are in our futures. As for leftovers or other such releases, we shall have to wait and see – you never know what existing offcuts may or may not end up fitting well in to future work…
I think I have troubled you enough for one summer, may fortune smile upon you still! As you leave us, grant us your final words of wisdom!
Curse: Thank you, Sleepwalker, for taking the time to question us on our works. Open the eye to the sky!
HH Bronsdon: Thank you!