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Forbidden Metal: Frontman Byron Davis Gives the Low Down on God Forbid

By David Carr, Contributor
Sunday, March 29, 2009 @ 5:26 PM

ďÖoutspokenness shows that musicians can be intelligent and have something more valid to say than I want to party or other nonsense.Ē

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UPDATE: Since this interview was done, God Forbid has officially announced the departure of guitarist, Dallas Coyle. Read the announcement here.

When it comes to serious, modern heavy metal, look no further than God Forbid. The band combines brutal rock riffs, pummeling drums and vocals that sound like the end of the world is upon us. Formed in 1996 in Brunswick New Jersey, the band is considered by many to be one of the leaders of the so called ďNew Wave of American Heavy MetalĒ. Their 2005 release IV: Constitution of Treason was a concept record dealing with the apocalypse. Their current disc, Earthsblood, picks up where Treason left off when it comes to bone crushing guitar riffs and intensity. While on tour promoting Earthsblood I had the privilege of chatting with God Forbid frontman Byron Davis. While on a break from their relentless tour schedule, Davis eloquently waxed philosophical on his band, politics, their outspoken guitarist and their legion of fans known as ĎThe ForbiddenĒ.

KNAC.COM: Now that the disc is out, how are you feeling about the finished product?

DAVIS: I am very happy with the final result. I think the new record speaks volumes about the work ethic of my band. We still believe in what we are doing, and we enjoy what we do even after all this time. Once again we have proven that we are a band that believes in progression and we will not go quietly into the night. I love my band very much, they are my extended family. We take care of each other and our own. I am looking forward to playing the new songs live and converting more people into the GF family known as the Forbidden.

KNAC.COM: On your new disc you seem to be using more melodic sounds and passages. Did you make a conscious effort to temper your brutal sound with more melody?

DAVIS: Well our band has always been a mixture of brutality with melodic passages; itís just been that our philosophy is to only do things that we deem are right and appropriate for the music we write. Basically if it doesn't work we don't force it into the music to be trendy. Our music, I can honestly say, comes from our heart and with the growth of each member it allows us to delve deeper into our bag of goodies to push the limits as far as we can without disturbing the integrity which is God Forbid.

KNAC.COM: IV: Constitution of Treason was a serious concept album. Does the band have plans to do another concept record?

DAVIS: I can honestly say I don't know, we didn't start out intentionally writing a concept album. It grew into that lyrically and we went with it. Again, I say we do not purposely set out with an idea on anything except creating a great GF record. But who knows, it depends on the state of mind that we are in as to whether we will write or not write another concept album. I think though that the current events at the time were influential with the lyrical writing of Constitution of Treason. Once we had heard about the death of Dimebag, I think that is when the idea was awoken. We are very proud of that record and the direction it has allowed the band to grow in. I am proud we could write a concept album that had relevance unlike some concept albums which speak about dragons, dungeons, demons or folklore.

KNAC.COM: Your guitarist Dallas Coyle has been very outspoken on a couple metal websites in recent years. Do you think this has had a positive or negative impact on the band? Are you all supportive of Dallas shooting from the hip on hot button issues?

DAVIS: Dallas is a grown man with his own opinions. I may or may not agree with some of the things he says but being an American he is guaranteed his right to say what he thinks, thanks to the Constitution of the United States. So what can I really say about it? I think though that his outspokenness shows that musicians can be intelligent and have something more valid to say than I want to party or other nonsense. Being in the positions we are in I feel it is important to speak with substance. You have the capability of reaching massive amounts of people, so why not say something worth saying? I will always be supportive of his endeavors whether they may be right or wrong in your eyes. He is like my brother. This is the philosophy of our band, to treat each other and everyone around us with respect. But don't get it twisted, if you do anything deemed offensive there will and can be consequences, but we always hope for the best.

KNAC.COM: I spotted you on a PSA on Fuse TV about getting people to register to vote a few years back. Did the past election bring you hope? Are you excited about our new President?

DAVIS: Yes I think itís very important to speak up when it comes to voting. Itís really important for several reasons 1. If you don't exercise your right, you have no right to complain about the way things are. You canít complain if youíre not willing to help change things. 2. Being a minority and hearing stories from elder family members about how it was when they were coming up and the struggles they faced trying to receive their right to vote is intense. To not vote is slapping them in the face for all their hard work. Iím very excited that Obama is our president. It is a very bold statement. I think that this shows the proper representation of America. The whole idea of what our country is based on is the belief that anything is possible. I am very supportive of our new President and I look forward to knowing that yes we can; yes we can survive, yes we can achieve and yes we really can make a difference in the world.

KNAC.COM: Who were some of your earliest Heavy Metal influences growing up? Who inspired you to become a metal frontman?

DAVIS: I was inspired by the greats; Iron Maiden, Metallica, Anthrax, Slayer, Pantera and Megadeth. As far as a frontman I would have to go with Phil Alsemo, Tom Araya, Joey Belladonna, and Dave Mustaine. I just think these men have distinct voices, and by that I mean as soon as a song, any song by these bands come on you know who they are. They definitely pushed me in a direction to want to achieve my own distinctive sound in my own voice. With so many bands out there doing aggressive music and stealing riffs and songwriting tactics from each other its good to know there are some things that can never be taken away, such as your own style of delivery.

KNAC.COM: Has race been an issue with God Forbid and if so how?

DAVIS: I have been asked this question time and time again and the question gets boring every time because there is really no way to answer it honestly. Thatís like asking me the total number of racist people living in the United States or anywhere else for that matter. What do you think? Do you have a problem listening to God Forbid because we are black? Does it make you upset that a band of minorities can write heavier music that what is considered to be the norm; a metal band that is white? I have met very few racists who have said that they don't like me because I am black and the ones I have met, hadn't stuck around long enough to validate their personal view to me, or do anything in my presence to make a point. I think our worth is determined by the music we write; straight honest music for people who enjoy music. Besides you canít see my face on the radio, cd, mp3 player, but you do hear me. HA!

KNAC.COM: In your opinion have things gotten better, stayed the same or gotten worse for Black musicians in hard rock and metal?

DAVIS: Again in the end I canít answer that. Black people are playing music because they love it not because itís the cool thing to do. Like anything else you can blame racism but really in the end you can only blame yourself if you don't succeed. Never give up and believe in yourself and your own talent. Most of the people I run into never mention that I'm Black. They either say they like what I do or they don't. To each his own. I canít be bothered to worry about something that I cannot change. I live with the cards Iím dealt and try to change them up when I can but will always remain true to myself and those around me.

KNAC.COM: Tell me about playing Ozzfest. Whatís the best part of being on that tour?

DAVIS: Playing Ozzfest was amazing! It truly is like summer camp hanging out all day long around music, friends, and obviously girls! I spent a lot of time watching the bands from the crowd and walking around taking in the whole experience. What's better than that? I think there were several highlights from that tour, but I have to say playing in front of huge crowds and having bands you admire come and see your performances and actually being able to have conversations with them and kinda see how they are as people was amazing! Not to mention running into OZZY at catering, HA!! He is the hardest, coolest man in metal. I had a lot of great times, but I think the really good times I will keep to myself because they are my own personal memories that will live with me until the day I die.

KNAC.COM: What was the toughest part of being on Ozzfest?

DAVIS: I think the toughest part of Ozzfest is the time slots but it works out. People are there from the beginning of the day until the last note of the headliner. There honestly is nothing tough about it really, except for self control!! Itís a big party that really never ends.

KNAC.COM: You will be on the Rockstar Mayhem festival tour this summer. Who are you looking forward to see on that tour?

DAVIS: Yeah, we are very excited to be doing Mayhem! Iím looking forward to seeing Manson. I hear he puts on an amazing show. He is the only person I have never seen perform so it should be very exciting. I look forward to the festival and hanging out with the bands I haven't seen in a long while. Good times once again. Music, friends, and women; you gotta love the combination!!

KNAC.COM: After the summer tour whatís next for God Forbid?

DAVIS: Well we plan to continue supporting our new record, possibly headlining and touring the world some more. Who knows we may even write another record!! The possibilities are endless.

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