TAKE NO PRISONERS – interview with UK Power metal band Black Forge

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Black Forge are a three piece band from Somerset, UK… ‘We have a real mixture of influences from Motorhead, Pantera, Corrosion of Conformity even System of a Down. We do love 3 piece stuff though, so any power-trio gets special attention from us every time’.
Full line up is Chris Pilmore (bass) Chris Phillips (drums) and Matt Walpole (vocals and guitar) who takes up the story…’We got asked to play a wedding (yeah a wedding!) out in the sticks in deepest darkest Somerset near where we live. They said to play our ‘normal’ set, don’t change anything for the wedding they said, so we did just that. The highlight was the congregation including the bride’s grandmother, well into her 80’s, bopping to our cover of Dope’s ‘Die Motherfucker’.
(Checked it out …not exactly Rage Against the Machine ‘Killing in the Name’ but in that ball park with lyrics…..’I don’t need your forgiveness, I don’t need your hate, I’m not sorry… Bang your dead’‘Then as if it couldn’t get any weirder at the same wedding a burlesque dancer took her clothes off while we played the backing music! It was proper hard to concentrate with nipple tassels twirling around next to you I can tell you!’

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How did you get into music ? ’I’ve been noodling around on guitar since I was 9 and I think it was seeing Guns n Roses at Wembley Stadium when I was 11 that stirred something inside. I also played in a few college bands through my teens. I then joined the Army and hardly jammed for over 10 years. It was during a tour of Afghanistan when it really dawned on me how ingrained in me my love of metal was. My iPod kept me sane for all those months as no matter where I was I could find my own sanctuary. When I moved back to the UK from Cyprus I started going to gigs and before long the bug bit me again and I had to get myself playing. So I got some refresher lessons on the ol’ geetar and met Chris Pilmore on the internet and we just started thrashing stuff out. Bit of covers, bit of writing, neither of us had done anything like this before and the rest as they say is history’.

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When did you start playing gigs and what venues did you play ? ‘We just started playing locally to start with. Like I said we weren’t ‘connected’ in anyway, we knew literally no-one of influence, so we’ve had to play the long game to get into some of the venues and festivals we play now. We started in pubs and bars in the south west, often centered around Bristol and began very slowly to build a following and work our way out. We’ve been up to Yorkshire, Birmingham and Leicestershire and done a fair bit in South Wales since then’.

Are there any other musicians/bands who you admire ? ’I’m not gonna list famous bands that we’re fans of because ultimately I don’t really know how or what those bands went through to get where they are. But I do see a fuck load of bands on the underground scene who regularly blow my mind with talent that dwarfs anything the X-Factor can produce, yet don’t get the recognition they deserve. Many of them we are pleased to call our friends. Like Fury from Worcestershire – amazing powermetally kind of thing. We’ve supported them a few times and I’m consistently blown away by the virtuosity, and songwriting craft of this band. Witch Tripper are relatively new still, but fuck me those boys have rocketed through the underground scene through nothing other then pure graft. They have toured and toured almost all year, solidly, and I know they’ve made serious sacrifices to keep it going. But what a live act and what killer riffage…. love em. Their success thus far is wholey deserved’.

Where do the ideas come for your songs ? ’Anyway and everywhere really. On Your Conscience which has yet to be properly recorded and is our normal opener, was penned while I was in Afghanistan and is a serious dig at the sinister side of soldering. The acts of war and killing that society actively creates and encourages but accepts no consequence for. Whereas I am the Dark is the soundtrack for any nightmarish ghoul and is very much a piece based on fantasy horror and imagination. So much less profound but still just as fun to play. But whatever we create it is always from the heart. It may sound cheesy, but its the truth. We write and create what WE would like to listen to ourselves, its genuine and we couldn’t be any other way. We love the fact that our music appeals to people, but it’s us that must believe in it first and foremost otherwise we’d just be phoning it in – and as far as I’m concerned that is the worst sin of all in music’.

What is your experiences of recording/studio work ? ‘Arrrrrgh! Its tough. First we are a live band. That’s why we started playing music. So the studio is not somewhere where we feel at home. Although we love the results once all the hard work is done. We find it hard because as a live band we’re used to adapting, improvising, going with the flow, but in a studio you’ve got to be clinical. 100% accurate otherwise the playback will magnify all your imperfections 10 fold. So we work hard beforehand to ensure our shit is together before we start work. The other thing is that as an underground band funds are always tight and recording is done to budget, which always increases pressure on getting stuff down quickly so as not to waste what little funds we have available. But that’s life for most if not all bands nowadays, as I think the days of record labels simply chucking millions of pounds around for young bands to record albums in LA with lines of cocaine and 75 hookers are definitely on the decline. We’re usually grateful for free coffee and a hobnob!’.

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Have you filmed any TV appearences or music videos ? ‘Na – no TV as yet. With the exception of our drummer (Chris Phillips) we’re not exactly a pretty band. All bald and hairy! So TV stations are not queing up to get our mugs on the box just yet. We’ve definitely got the perfect faces for radio! But we are in the process of working on 2 videos for I Am the Dark and Into the Blackness, both tracks from our debut EP. These will be ready soon hopefully’. (Listening to a live version of ’Into the Blackness’ the track was loaded with heavy bludgeoning riffs via Anvil/early Black Sabbath. Matt’s vocals sound like he’s been gargling a jar of metal filings while the bass and drums pummel the song to the finish. You get the feeling that every song will be beaten into submission).

What are the future plans for Black Forge ? ’We love doing this, and we would love to continue growing our friends and fans so that we can keep bringing our #purewestcountrymetal to the world until one or all of us drops dead. On a more recent projection, we’ve got a new EP in the pipeline for 2018 and we’ll be hitting the festivals hard’.

To contact the band check out the pages on social media – Facebook, Instagram and on You Tube.

Interview by Gary Alikivi December 2017.

Recommended:
WARFARE: No One Gets Out Alive, 8th October 2017.
Kat Gillham, Highway to Hell, 31st October 2017.
TENTATION: Over the Mountain, 5th January 2018.
OBSIDIAN: Bomb Tracks, 8th January 2018.