Forrest York doesnt make a lot of albums but when he
does its always memorable and exciting. Hard to believe its
been 5 years since mwe3.com reviewed Forrests 2013 Rainy
Season, and the underrated guitarist returned in 2018, albeit
under the radar for what is his 2016 album, Elements.
Elements was / is so under the radar that many listeners didnt
even learn till later that it had actually came out on CD. Containing
all the sonic aspects that made Rainy Season so brilliant,
in fact, Elements takes his sound one step beyond. A number
of musicians take part in the Elements sessions, including
Forrests son Ryan York, who adds drums to the albums
magnum opus The Undertow, which clocks in over 13 minutes.
Several other musicians appear adding drums, additional guitars, synths
and more, yet composing all the music, producing all the music and
with his guitars front and center, clearly Forrest York and his unique
instrumental rock sound is the focal point of Elements. Its
hard to draw a bead on where its all coming from, yet, true
to form, Elements combines a range of eclectic instrumental
rock of say, Steve Howe or Steve Hackett, with other sounds drawn
from the Teutonic synthscapes of Edgar Froese and the spacier sounds
of Tangerine Dream, with emphasis on electric guitars. Forrest has
stated his fondness for both Jimi Hendrix and Jeff Beck and fans of
Becks more melodic fusion workouts will take Elements to
heart. Fans of Beck, Hendrix and Howe do the right thing and pick
up Elements by Tennessees own 21st century guitar hero
Forrest York. www.forrestyorkguitars.com
mwe3.com presents an interview with
The Elements Interview
Why do you call the new album Elements? Is it because all the
elements of your sound are in the mix? Seems like it has everything
that is great about your sound in there.
Forrest York: You are correct. The title Elements
refers to the many elements in music. The title song was recorded
with David Adkins on drums and me playing guitar but I went back and
re-recorded my guitars. I really have a great vibe with David, we
play well together.
mwe3: It took a while for your to follow up your 2013 album
Rainy Season. When was the music for Elements written
and recorded and how would you compare the two albums? Some of the
tracks on Rainy Season date back to the 1980s and 90s
so as far as your current music, is Elements more of a now
kind of album?
Forrest York: This record was written not long after my first
interview with you after Rainy Season. But I did not record
it then. This material was written to be performed live. I still have
yet to put together a band large enough to play the big productions
on Rainy Season so I wanted to write material that could be
performed with a small ensemble. I did a couple of live performances
but I truly had no intentions of recording this material. CD sales
are so slow now. I didnt want to make another record.
I enjoy making my videos. I run my guitar shop. Over a year went by
where I had not played nor thought about these songs. And then I just
woke up one day and said I need to record this material. Im
very glad I did! But I didnt want to make just another CD
I wanted to make a vinyl record. Rainy Season was such a studio
production, one guitar track for the verse, a totally different track
and sound for the chorus, yet another guitar for the bridge. It was
fun doing that.
album has several tracks where the guitar goes start to finish all
with the same sound and that same guitar
not a lot of overdubbing.
Undertow is one guitar. There is one spot where one track
fades out and the other guitar track fades in, so for a second there
are two guitars but it is one guitar all the way through. I filmed
it while I recorded it and you can watch it on YouTube!
The song, Elements is the same exact thing. One guitar
all the way through except for one spot where one track fades out,
another one fades in. There is also that background track that starts
the song that plays all the way through. 2 guitars. There are no keyboards
on the song. The synth that you hear is guitar synth, played simultaneously
with the guitar track.
Willow Tree is one guitar up front with a rhythm guitar
and light textural background guitars. The final track, Für
Alisa is one guitar start to finish and actually recorded live
with Sam Baker on drums and Jeff Keeran on keyboards. No big production
at all but there was magic in the chemistry of us all playing together!
I like doing complete guitar tracks. All of my live videos are just
one guitar start to finish. I like solo guitar pieces. What you can
do with six strings
I consider that an art form. Equilibrium
is the exception. It has many many overdubs
many ebows! The
Opening is a pretty big number. I play my guitar horn sound
from the Roland guitar synthesizer and I stack a few of those horns
to make it sound like a horn section.
Last time we spoke you were saying that you didnt care if your
music was marketable, at least in the conventional sense, or not.
And you also called your music alternative New Age. Do
you try to strike an artistic balance on Elements? There are
certain genre-crossing musical elements and at the same it has a kind
of New Age flavor, even though the music is more contemporary fusion
Forrest York: I am so non-music industry. I live minutes away
from music city. (lol) I really dont want to be tied to the
money aspect of the music industry. I just make my own music. I dont
owe any record execs anything. I appreciate your kind words. Genre-Crossing
there are so many things I love. My artistic balance is me just trying
to be happy. Guitar is how I express myself. Weeping Willow,
The Undertow, Elements
the whole record,
performing these songs was therapeutic.
mwe3: Your son Ryan York adds a lot to the Elements album.
How did you choose the other musicians who play on the CD including
engineer Jimmy Mansfield? Are they the same musicians who play on
your Rainy Season album?
Forrest York: Ryan did a great job on the record. He only played
drums on this record. He played drums and bass on Rainy Season.
He really made the song, The Undertow! I wanted him just
to play ride cymbal, he totally turned it into the big monster that
it is! And he had the flu when he recorded it! Jimmy Mansfield is
a wonderful engineer and he has a studio large enough to do what we
need. We did The Undertow there and a few of the other
songs drum tracks. Seth Timbs played on the first record and the second
but he and I have played music together for over 20 years. Same with
Bruce Tanksley, who played on both records. Bruce played on Cell
Division as did Jon Grimson who also played on Rainy Season.
Abe White played on both records. So I do like to use the same people
over and over. The musicians on Cell Division, Seth, Jon
and Bruce, as well as Abe White all played with me in a band, These
Are Houseplants . We are on YouTube.
The track Weeping Willow is somber yet quite elegant sounding.
Does that track span genres? Seems like the entire Elements
album so tastefully crosses a number of musical / guitar genres.
Forrest York: Weeping Willow was the crowd favorite
live. It is very tender. I do a style of hybrid picking where I use
a pic and my finger nails. Nails sound completely different. It is
also one of the few songs of mine that is in a major key! Minor is
actually my happy key, lol.
mwe3: How about the Elements track Equilibrium?
How did you settle on that track title? Is it because the song is
very evenly keeled in its unfolding?
Forrest York: Equilibrium is a quirky track that
kind of changes keys back and forth, there is an equilibrium when
you play it as you bounce between modalities. I love it and it is
very natural to me but I understand its odd to some people.
mwe3: Do you mind people comparing your guitar sound to that
of Neil Young, albeit in an instrumental guitar music setting? I know
we spoke about Hendrix last time but has Neil Young heard your guitar
music? I think he would totally enjoy it. What other guitarists, current
or otherwise do you draw inspiration on? Do you like living in the
now more than in the past, at least as far as music goes?
Forrest York: You mention Neil Young and that is interesting,
I have had several people tell me that I remind them of Neil Youngs
soundtrack to the movie Dead Man with Johnny Depp. You are
kind to put me in conversations with Jimi and Neil Young. But, I totally
live in the now... although I feel Elements is like a 1970s
album. I want to be new and fresh with my guitar. I dont want
to sound like anybody else. I will say, that I draw from other musicians,
they dont have to be guitar players. I can be very impressed
and influenced by a cellist. It has more to do with how they play
and how they make me feel.
think Undertow is very unique and original, Ive
never heard anyone else use the ebow and get that sound. It is my
technique of using the ebow along with the slide guitar. Ive
done this since the 70s
The Undertow was unique because I had an accident and
cut my finger and was unable to play the guitar other than slide guitar
for a few months. So I played my ebow slide every night, I played
The Undertow every night. I was obsessed with it. I had
already performed it live twice but now in the studio, I became one
with it. I dont know how else to say it. That guitar track is
what my soul sounds like.
mwe3: Do you mind people calling you a progressive rock recording
artist? Do you think your music falls into way too many categories
for a descriptive term yet is progressive rock still a valid comparison?
Forrest York: I will proudly accept the label of progressive
rock. I grew up on YES and Genesis and I played in a band with Bruce
Tanksley that was truly progressive rock. Multiple parts, multiple
sections, mixed time are the ingredients of prog. My music today perhaps
does not meet these guidelines but I am from that school and my music
is adventurous. The biggest difference now for me is I like to groove.
I dont want the song to jump around and change rhythms and time
signatures. I just dont feel it like that anymore.
mwe3: As a modern day recording artist, what do you like best
about the internet and do you think its fair in the way musicians
cant completely control the exposure of their music? How can
it be leveled to make it more fair so artists can survive at least
Forrest York: Beethoven said, that what makes it great also
makes it weak. Its big and beautiful and wide open! But trying
to make a dent, trying to stand out is difficult. In the old days,
record labels and their A&R guys would decide what everybody gets
to listen to. Today is better than that.
What were some of the guitars used on the Elements recording?
Last time around you were talking about the Yamaha SG2000, the 1962
Gretsch Country Gentleman and your custom Strat. Have there been some
new additions to your guitar arsenal in these past few years?
Forrest York: Nothing new, all of my favorites. The Yamaha
SG 2000 on all of the ebow parts. Theres a lot of guitar synthesizer
on this album songs like Elements, Willow Tree,
Fur Alisa, The Opening. All done with my custom
Strat with Roland pick up.
mwe3: Forrest I was saddened by your auto accident last year.
Is that why it took a while longer to get your new album Elements
out there? I dont know if you want to tell us about this
harrowing episode or not.
Forrest York: I
had a head on collision with a dump truck!
I wasnt wearing a seat belt. I was in a coma for while... I
am lucky to be alive!