Wednesday, September 2, 2015

FORCE FED - Longtime Austin Crossover Metal still on the Attack

Starting in 1990, it is great that long running band such as Force Fed is still active. You’ve had a history of many different line-ups with the unfortunate passing of an original member. What drives you to keep the flame lit?
 (Matt/Bass) Well, we certainly haven't kept it lit all this time. We had reunited several times in the past couple of decades; sometimes for a few shows and sometimes for a couple of years. At the beginning of this year we all decided to do another reunion show, but something about this time was different - maybe all the stars and planets aligned, maybe it's just that we're all in a place in our lives where we really want to do this again and do it right. This time, we didn't have to do anything to keep the flame lit - it seemed to flare up on its own, brighter than ever. (Scott) I think when I left to join deadhorse we were on the verge of something... getting a record deal, killing each other, imploding, something... We were getting all these offers to open for touring acts, so I felt like we were getting close. We only played Austin and Killeen, we hadn’t even played San Antonio or Dallas or Houston. We were very green and didn’t know how to take the next step. Anyhow, I left deadhorse in 96 and tried to get the original Force Fed lineup back together, but Lance bailed for whatever reasons, Matt was playing in Rubberhead or I got my cousin Jason Feeney to play bass, and Leroy Pitman to play guitar and that was another version of Force Fed.. then we stopped around 2000 and got back together around 2004 still without Lance, and we played until I formed P.N.D. with Ronny, Greg and Kurt. Then we got back together again in 2012 with Lance, and played 3 shows...Then I approached Lance about playing the Austin RED7 show and it being our final show. He agreed. But something happened about 4 or 5 rehearsals in and we decided to keep playing and write a new album. (Matt) One of the things that helps is that we all feel like these songs sound as good now as they did years ago, and people seem to respond to them better than ever. Another thing is that we have a lot of material that we really want to record and put out there. All that makes it so that we almost feel compelled to keep this going.

I read that your name is derived from the Prong album Force Fed. I also saw that you received blessing using that name from Tommy Victor and company. How did you come in contact with them? 
(Scott) Yes, that's true. I started seeing Prong at the Backroom in 1990 during their Beg to differ tours. I went back and found their Primitive Origins and Force Fed albums and just loved the rawness, speed, gang vocals, short songs, short solos etc. We got to meet Prong in 1994 at the Austin Coliseum on their Cleansing tour when they were opening for White Zombie. We all got to go hang out backstage while White Zombie was on stage. Then we all went to the Backroom and hung out and had drinks for several more hours. We opened for Prong in 2004 i think. Over the years, Tommy Victor and I have become pretty good friends. We talk all the time, when he comes to town we usually go have dinner or drinks, He's always been super supportive of us and is just really an all around good guy, a great guitarist, songwriter... I love the guy and am happy he's still writing albums and touring with Prong and Danzig.

Your music is definitely an amalgamation of many extreme styles (thrash, hardcore and punk). You said in the early nineties people were somewhat confused about your mix of styles. These days that is no big deal, but back then the shows were definitely more separated regarding genres. Can you elaborate more on those experiences you had early on?
(Matt) In '93 and '94, when we were playing out a lot in Austin, all the bands in our scene were either Testament/Sepultura clones, shitty Orange County punk wannabes, lame pussy versions of LA glam/cock rock, or some sort of generic hardcore where every song sounded the same. Those bands all seemed (for better or for worse) to have a clear idea about what they wanted to be, and they stuck to their guns trying to sound like it. Our tastes in music were all diverse, from thrash and crossover to NY hardcore to skater punk to classic hard rock/metal to country, and I think that really came out in our songs. We didn't try to sound like anyone. Of course, at the time we weren't good enough to actually sound like anyone other than ourselves...  
The main credit for our sound and musical direction really needs to go to Scott, who was and is our chief songwriter. It would have been easy for us to write Testament songs and sound like everyone else, and we probably would have had a better reception at first, but Scott was adamant about not doing that. It took a little longer for people to get us - people generally don't like things that they don't quite understand - but once they got it, people really responded. I think we all like the fact that we can't be pigeonholed like other bands - we pretty much sound like us, and that's it. 
(Scott) I think Matt nailed a lot of it on the head. The punk crowd thought we sounded too metal and the metal crowd thought we sounded too punk. I personally drew a lot of inspiration and influence from East coast bands, especially early Prong, S.O.D. and Carnivore. I also started getting into more grindcore and death metal like Carcass and Coroner. Lance and I both loved the Venice beach bands such as Suicidal Tendencies and especially Excel. and of course Crowbar and DRI...and AC/DC, Sabbath etc...

Over the years you have played shows with some real heavy weights in the music scene (Motorhead, Prong, Crowbar, Carcass, Napalm Death, Obituary, etc). What was your most memorable show? I’m sure you have some interesting stories.
(Matt)Back around '97 we opened for Obituary at a club in Houston. After our set we were hanging out by our van drinking beer while Obituary was on stage playing their set. Suddenly, in the middle of a song, the side doors of the club burst open and the bass player, still playing the song through a wireless, comes running out with a roadie right behind him. He turned around and faced the wall (still playing), and suddenly hands the bass back to the roadie (mind you, he still has the strap on, so the roadie has to kinda reach around in front of him to grab it), who proceeds to start pounding on the strings like crazy to keep the song going. Then, while the roadie is playing, the bass player whips it out and takes a piss on the side of the building! He finishes up, shakes and puts it away, then grabs the bass, jumps back into playing the song without skipping a beat, and they both run back into the club. Needless to say, he got a standing ovation from all of us. Quite possibly the most entertaining part of the night. 
(Scott) For me and Lance it was definitely opening for Motorhead at Sneakers for their 1916 tour. It was just Motorhead and us! Lance was shooting pool with Lemmy while we were waiting on more PA to arrive from San Antonio. Motorhead’s tour manager brings Lemmy a bottle of Jack Daniels. He opens it and draws a slug of it. Then takes a shot. While he’s shooting, Lance picks up the bottle and draws back a long slug. Their tour manager comes over to me and says "does Lemmy know him? Cause he never lets anyone drink out of his bottle!” I say, well he knows him now. That single show changed everything for us. People were coming up to us and asking us what it was like to tour with Motorhead. They had no idea who we were. I'm telling people we're from Austin, we've been playing for three years!!! After that show we started getting weekend slots and started getting to open for all those touring bands you mentioned.

You stated that a new album is in the works. Can you give more details of when it will be released and what the listeners can expect?
(Matt) Right now we're in the process of deciding on the songs, arranging, thinking about the overall concept for the album, etc. If things go as planned, it will sound like us, only better. We've got a lot of material to work with (including a few covers that we do better than the originals), and we are all expecting this to be the best recording that we've ever done. We are hoping for a release before the end of the year. 
(Scott) I think you'll hear a lot of our early influences, like Sabbath, some of the slower trippy stuff. At this point we have about 8 or 9 originals were trying to button up. I think it'll blow some peoples minds when they hear it. And yes, hopefully it'll be done this year.

Do you ever have any difficulty balancing Force Fed with your other musical endeavors?
Force Fed is the only music that I’m doing right now, so it’s no problem for me. Practice time does make it hard for me to keep up with the new “My Little Pony” episodes, so there’s that…
(Scott) Not really. PND is on hiatus since DRI is always playing. Deadhorse is pretty relaxed. Greg, Argo, and Allen all have separate bands away from deadhorse too.

Thanks for the interview. Please take the final word.
It's been 25 years and Austin still can't kill us! We're like the cockroaches of metal, consistently rising from the nuclear fallout of the dead music capital of the world. Oh, and feel free to use "Cockroaches of Metal" for the name of your new band. 
(Scott) What Matt said. Thank you for taking the time to interview us.