interview with Forsakken

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What´s the name of your band? Billy: Forsakken

How was the band formed? Billy: I was in a band called Shadow Zone, then in it's offshoot named Black Rainbow. Those where the first time I was ever in a band with girls. Even though those bands didn't work out, I came to love the sound of a female voice with heavy metal guitar riffs. So I formed Forsakken to continue forward with that sound I came to love.

Can you tell about your band?

Billy: Well, firstly our name....I was reading an article in a metal magazine about Dokken when my dyslexia kicked in and instead of reading "For Dokken, the addition of a new guitarist marks the start of their next era." My eyes saw "Forsakken, the addition of a new guitarist...." I kept asking myself who the hell is Forsakken and where is the article on Dokken? Eventually my dyslexia kicked off and I read the article right, but that moment stuck with me. So when the time came to name my band, as a sort of inside joke I named it Forsakken. It's misspelled on purpose because that's what my eyes saw.

Brittany: Other than being fans of Dokken, we're a female-fronted heavy metal band based in New York City.

Where are all band members from?you usually play?

Billy: On stage to the left or right of the drums....ha ha ha. Ok. I guess the real answer is New York City.

Brittany: We tend to stay in the New York area.

How do you get psyched up for a gig?

Billy: I listen to the bands before us. I also hang with my own band and I guess we feed off each other. Plus someone usually buys me a Corona. That helps.

Brittany: My vocal exercises usually help me get psyched up.

Mike: Listening to other cool bands on the ride to the gig.  Everyone has their own songs that get them psyched, so whether it’s Metallica, Five Finger Death Punch, or KISS….there are certain tunes that just get you pumped.

Ugur: Beating things around me with my sticks 

What are your goals with your music?

Billy: For me, it hasn't changed. I still want to make the music I want to hear.

Brittany: As a woman, I not only want to make music I want to hear, but I want to make music that helps further push the boundaries of expectations of female vocalists in metal.

When did you decide to go all in for the music?

Billy: Ha ha ha...I sometimes stop for a moment during sound check and wonder how I ended up on that stage. I don't know if there was ever a specific moment. I think I just do what I love.

Brittany: I guess when I realized music was the one thing that would keep me sane. "Sane" being a relative term.

Is it easier to get your inspiration from older bands or from bands more modern?

Billy: For me, modern bands come and go with the trends but the all-time greats are the all-time greats for a reason. Their music is timeless. So I tend to draw a lot more from them than the flavor of the day bands. But there are a few modern bands I believe will be all time greats one day.

Brittany: Both, actually. I get inspiration from older bands because they did it best. But I also get inspiration from modern bands that I find doing an awesome job in their art. Some modern bands, usually lesser-known ones, do something I'd like to be doing, and that inspires me.

Mike: Yeah, the earlier bands are what do it for me.  While there are some great newer bands, there are so many older albums that you put on and they still holdup today.

What are your sources of inspiration?

Billy: Early Savatage, Iced Earth, Dio, Mercyful Fate/King Diamond, All eras of Black Sabbath, and Motorhead.

Brittany: KISS, 80's and early 90's Queensryche, Black Sabbath, Dio and those classic bands. To dig a little deeper: Chastain (Leather Leone is a goddess!), Vicious Rumors, Grim Reaper, Benedictum, Rock Goddess and Detente.

Mike: KISS, Van Halen, Aerosmith, Motley Crue, Poison, Metallica.

Ugur: Dream Theater, Testament, Slayer, Iced Earth, Megadeth, Lamb of God, Led Zeppelin, Pantera, Savatage, Obituary, Death, Animals as Leaders, BTBAM

What's the first step when making a new song? Billy: A new song comes to me all at once. Usually it happens in my sleep. So the first step for me is to wake up. Ha ha ha ha.

How do you feel about the downloading of music instead of buying albums?

Billy: I think both can coexist. When I download it's because I want just one song. When I buy the album it's because I want the whole thing including the artwork.

Brittany: I also think both can coexist. Sometimes, I admit, downloading seems necessary when I can only find an expensive import of an album by some obscure band I just found that doesn't exist anymore. But I buy albums when I can and they're more readily available.

What would be your dreams for the band? 

Billy: My dream would be to have my music heard by millions. Playing a big festival in Europe would be nice too.

Brittany: My dream would also include playing a big international festival. I'd like to be heard and respected by millions as well.

Besides your own music, what genres and bands do you listen to?

Billy: I love Badlands, Obituary, and 80's Metal. I never get tired of Iced Earth and Dio. I also listen to movie soundtracks. Old classical music is a little played out for me, even O Fortuna. But I still like classical so I listen to movie soundtracks, especially horror movie soundtracks. I've been into ReVamp and Pyramaze lately. They're both cool too.

Brittany: You might regret asking me this one...hahaha. Within metal, they run the gamut from hair metal (Cinderella, RATT, Baton Rouge, Wildside) to black metal (Beherit, Aura Noir, Darkthrone) with the occasional grindcore (Cripple Bastards) and a bunch of stuff in between. Outside of metal, I'm into classic rock, pop of all eras, r&b, gangsta and old school rap, classical, jazz (especially bebop), electronic stuff (especially trance), country and bluegrass. I try to keep myself really open to different genres.

Mike: My taste in music is so varied…when I had a CD collection it would freak people out because there’d be rock, metal, country, disco, pop, new age, jazz….everything!  I’m still like that now, but my heart will always belong to 80’s rock.

What do you hold most dear?  

Billy: My balls. I hold them most dear and most carefully.

Brittany: I don't come across too many deer around here.

Mike: My wife and family.

Ugur: My lovely wife and my soon to be born son

What would be your greatest fears for the future?

Billy:Alien Invasion! Someone releases the Kraken!

Brittany: That Billy winds up being right.

Mike: Sharks….Sharknado would be an absolute terror for me!

When you are on stage, what do you fear most then?

Billy: That my belt isn't on tight enough, that the cops raid the bar before my best guitar solo, and that one of my ex-girlfriends shows up front and center with a kid dressed just like me.

Brittany: Falling. I've come close, but haven't fallen on (or off) stage yet.

Mike: My fear is legit….that I pop a string.  I’m notorious for busting strings even though I use my fingers instead of a pick.    That’s why I always bring a backup bass, tuned and ready to go.

Ugur: Not being able to keep time steady throughout the entire set

What songs and what years were they released? Billy: Geez...now to remember. Um. In 2005 we released a demo with Accursed Angel and Visions Of Death. In 2006 we released another demo with Soul Stealer, Never Back Down, and Legend Of The Overfiend. We also released a live Demo with seven songs. In 2007 we had a Limited Edition Sampler with Morningstar Necromancy and new recordings of two other songs we had released before. We had a ton more demos after that....I can't remember them all. 

Have you been part of any other projects? Billy: I've made one movie, The Infernal Room, and have been in several others. I was on the reality tv show Survivor: Cook Islands. I've done pro-wrestling, and have performed with several famous musicians at various shows. I've done more but I don't like to brag. Ha ha ha.

Have you been in any other bands?

Billy: Xerpents, Crystal Sorcerer, The Blues-Rock Concoction, Shadow Zone, and Black Rainbow.

Brittany: Not really. When I was in my teens, every band I joined or helped form never made it past jamming. One band told me they wanted to change from hard rock to electro-punk and we all decided I should leave. I eventually stumbled upon Forsakken and the rest is history.

Mike: Oh God….I’ve been in some doozies….Electric Fun, Thunder Perfect Mind, Dirty Magazine, Midnight Angel, Love Sex Devotion, Sour Mash….all fun bands with shitty names! LOL!

What do you work with outside of the band and the music?

Billy: I do a lot of charity. I'm still involved in reality tv as well.

Brittany: Everything I do is pretty much tied to music in some way, even if it's not this band's music. With the little free time I have outside of my job, I work with music licensing and music production/mixing.

Ugur: Wall St, the infamous

What would you do if there was no music?

Billy: Cry out like Darth Vader at the end of Revenge Of The Sith."Noooooo!" Ha ha ha ha. Probably do Pro-Wrestling.

Brittany: Find a way to make some. 

Mike: A world without music is like a car without gas….it doesn’t work!

How important are your fans?

Billy: They are Very important. I love seeing them at our shows or voicing their affection for us on social media.

Brittany: Extremely important. They're a big part of keeping me going.

What's the funniest/most memorable thing a fan has done for you?

Billy: To this day, one of my favorite fan moments was meeting a fan that traveled from another state to come to one of our show and he knew all of our songs. Wow!

Brittany: Actually, at my first gig with Forsakken, a fan gave me a plastic necklace with Jolly Rogers all over it. It was a little random, but I still have that necklace hanging in my room!

Mike: From my first gig, a couple of my buddies threw their underwear on stage at me….thank God they weren’t used!

Where do you rehearse? Billy: Astoria Soundworks Studios. I've known those guys for 12 years.

Name 2 of your own songs you like at the moment?

Billy: Never Back Down, Method To My Madness.

Brittany: Crimson Oath and Soul Stealer

Mike: Soul Stealer & Visions of Death

Ugur: Morningstar Necromancy, End of All Things

What do you feel is the best live band you've seen?

Billy: Dio. That man’s voice could fill an arena. RIP RJD!

Brittany: It's really hard to answer these kinds of questions because I've seen so many great shows. I mentioned Stryper earlier, another is Yngwie Malmsteen. That was a great show.

Mike: KISS.  All hail the Gods of Thunder!

Ugur: Dream Theater 

What drives a band that isn't all that famous and renowned to try to make a living on their music and to keep playing?

Billy: Love for the music we play.

Brittany: Passion.

Do you have any webpages?

Billy: www.forsakken.com We have more....what are the other ones guys?

Brittany: We have a Facebook, too. www.facebook.com/forsakken

Ugur: www.reverbnation.com/Forsakken

Any pearls of wisdom for all other bands out there?

Billy: You've got to love this. Every aspect of it. Even the tedious stuff. If you don't then you'll find a reason to quit at some point.

Brittany: He who goes to sleep with itchy ass wakes up with smelly finger.

Would you like to add anything else?

Billy: Yeah, follow my personal twitter @RealBillyGarcia

Brittany: Oh, we're sharing twitter handles? I'm @BritMetalQueen if you care to follow. 

Describe your show, visually and musically

Billy: Loud. Ha ha ha ha. We make you pump your fists and go horns up!

Brittany: Loud, yes. Visually, sweaty. Damn lights.

How do you view the music industry of today?

Billy: The music industry is too top heavy in my opinion. There are so many bands that are awesome but don't get the time of day from the powers that be in the industry. We're left to organize gigs and festivals ourselves and get our music out there with little to no support from the high rollers.

Brittany: The music industry of today makes us rely the strength of the underground and local scenes, which is both good and bad since social media has shown niches that almost any artist can serve. Of course, that also leaves over-saturation as a possibility, if that makes sense.

Mike: Ugh, don’t get me started…..the music industry is so flawed.  Because the labels go with the latest “flavor of the month,” and falling into fads, so many bands have tried to change their style to fit in with what the labels want and what they’re pushing, and they wind up killing their career.

What advice would you like to give other bands?

Billy: Have a vision and bring it to life with your music.

Brittany: Be a unique product of everything that inspires you.

Mike: Don’t change who you are to follow a fad.

What are the biggest obstacles for a band?

Billy: Time, money, opportunities, talent. Ha ha ha. But they one that you can't get around is desire. 

Brittany: Getting the music out there to more people, which I guess requires time, money, opportunities and talent. 

What is best/worst with playing the clubs? Billy: The best is that there is a place to play even though you're not Iron Maiden or Metallica. The worst is some places expect you to draw like you're Iron Maiden or Metallica. Ha ha ha. Their expectations are getting steeper. 

Tell us about upcoming gigs and why we should be at them?

Billy: Every Forsakken show is a good time with great music.

Brittany: We don't have any scheduled gigs coming up, but when we do, show up because you'll have a good time and rock out.

How would you describe your sound in one sentence.

Billy: We are like what early Savatage would have sounded like if they were from the current New York City metal scene and Jon Oliva had a sex change.

Brittany: If Mercyful Fate and Chastain had a super group, this is what it would sound like.

What is your favorite crappy instrument?

Billy: The kazoo. I can play Eddie Van Halen's Eruption on it.

Brittany: The triangle. Why not?

What was one of the most quarrelsome times for you in the band?

Billy: Every time someone quit. But that's most metal bands. Isn't it?

Brittany: Yeah, every time someone quits the band, especially after you thought it was a great fit, it gets very frustrating.

What’s your Pre-show ritual?

Billy: Chug a Corona, scratch my balls, cuss like a sailor for no reason, then bitch at the sound guy to turn my guitars up louder than the last gig. If people's ears ain't bleeding then it's not loud enough damn it!

Brittany: I drink tea and water and complain that I'm the only one in the band who can't drink alcohol before a gig because it will dry my throat. Everyone else laughs at me.

Mike: Pee.

Who does what in the band?

Billy: I play lead and rhythm guitars. I was born in New York City and raised in Miami but my parents are from the Dominican Republic.

Brittany: I sing, scream and growl on occasion. I was born and raised in New York City.

Mike: I play bass, born and raised in Queens, NY, but now living in NJ.

Ugur: I play the skins. Born and raised in Istanbul, Turkey. 

What was the ambitions of the band when you started? Billy: Mainly just to make the music we want to hear. Ha ha ha. Isn't that the best reason to start a band?

Could you explain your music to someone that haven't heard you?

Billy: We are traditional heavy metal with a female lead singer that's unafraid to sing kind of lyrics that most only associate with male fronted bands. There's no soft rock disguised as metal here. Ha ha ha. Just horns up true metal.

Brittany: We're a traditional heavy metal band with thrash and death moments thrown in for good measure.

Mike: I describe us as Dio meets Sabbath, with a female singer.

Where was your first gig? Billy: Well, unofficially it was at Astoria Soundworks Studios in Queens, New York. We invited family and friends to come over to our favorite place to rehearse. We charged $2 per person to cover the cost of the rehearsal studio. It was fun which was the point. But officially, it was at The Continental in Greenwich Village, New York. I still have that show on video. I watch it from time to time and am surprised at how professional we were for a first real gig. And I didn't screw up that much. Ha ha ha.

Where was the latest gig?

Billy: At Mr. Magoo's Pub in Bronx, New York. It was a charity show to raise money for the Bowery Mission which feeds homeless people in New York City. Headbanging and getting drunk to help others. Sounds like a win/win to me. Ha ha ha.

Brittany: It was pretty fun, too. Part of the bar went to the Bowery Mission as well, so I think we encouraged getting drunk more than usual!

Who writes your songs?/Who writes the music who writes lyrics?

Billy: I write all of the music and most of the lyrics. Though I'm starting to ease up on that a little. I asked Brit to rewrite the lyrics to one song and Ugur and I have rearranged some songs recently. Michael gets to put his spin on the bass as well.

Brittany: I rewrote the lyrics to one song, but I've tweaked a few lines in some other songs.

Who has the best since of humor in the band?

Billy: I think we all have a good sense of humor. What do you call a nurse with dirty knees? The head nurse!

Brittany: We all have a good sense of humor, especially because I think we can all laugh at ourselves from time to time.

What's good/bad with the band?/What genre do you feel you are?

Billy: What's good about the band is that we make new traditional metal. What's bad is that we're not signed so not enough fans hear our music. As for genre, I like to say just Heavy Metal because to narrow it down just limits creativity. Where's the fun in that?

Brittany: What's good is that we all bring something slightly unique to our sound. What's not so good is that, yeah, we aren't signed and haven't reached as many people as we'd like to. We always call ourselves Traditional Heavy Metal, but we draw from a bit of other metal sub-genres as well.

Why did you pick that particular style?/What are your songs about?

Billy: This style speaks to me. It's what I love. It's good music to me. The songs are mainly based on fiction, literary, cinematic, whatever. We have a song about, Milton's Paradise Lost, another about John Carpenter's Prince Of Darkness, etc.

Brittany: Our songs all boil down to evil, hell, death and war, because that's in the roots of heavy metal.

Do you write your own material or mainly covers?

Billy: We are an original band that does covers here and there. Ha ha ha.

Brittany: We mainly play originals but we all love to pay tribute to our heroes, so we throw in covers here and there so we can share our influences with others.

Have you made any albums?/If yes what are they?

Billy: We've release a lot of demos in the past but currently, we are working on a full length album called Warn All Ye Sinners. We should rename it Are We There Yet? Ha ha ha ha.

Brittany: It's a long process, but we know it'll be worth it in the end!

Do you have any clips on YouTube?

Billy: Sure.

Brittany: Yeah, we've got some great fans and friends who have filmed us at many of our gigs. Here's one of us doing our album's title track, Warn All Ye Sinners: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l4D74f9KdLk

What got you started in music?

Billy: As a teenager I heard the song Juke Box Hero by Foreigner. I saved up my lunch money, went to a pawn shop and bought my first guitar. When I got home, to learn my first song I turned on the radio and recorded the very next rock song that played. It was Black Sabbath's Iron Man. That really spoke to me. So I called up the radio station and asked who sings this song...I didn't know any better than to ask who sings instead of who plays. The people on the phone misunderstood the question and thought I was asking who's currently singing for Black Sabbath. They answered Dio. In hindsight it was actually Tony Martin but whatever. So I went to the video store to buy any Dio concert I could and came home with Special At The Spectrum. The first song was Stand Up And Shout. I had never seen a rock concert before so it took me that whole song to get over the shock of what I saw. Then the next song was Don't Talk To Strangers. It was while watching Dio perform that song that I decided I wanted to play in a band.

Brittany: I was raised on KISS, Anthrax, Queensryche and Alice in Chains. My dad has also been singing in hard rock and heavy metal bands for as long as I can remember. I eventually picked up on the music played for me by these other bands and delved deeper into other rock and metal genres. My dad brought me to my first concert when I was 8: KISS, Ted Nugent and Skid Row. I've been going to concerts ever since, and that definitely pushed me to want to perform. My dad's singing definitely played a role in getting me started, since he would take me to his band practices when I was little. To put it simply, being surrounded by music pushed me to get started.

Mike: I was working for a well-known music/electronics chain back in the 80’s, and I worked in what was then known as “the Record Department.”  We played music all day, sold all different types, and I just got bit by the bug.

Ugur: I was introduced to hard rock and heavy metal by my best buddy at the age of 15 and initially picked up guitar just to find myself struggling with Metallica, Megadeth and Pantera tabs. 

At what age did you start playing?

Billy: I was 15 when I bought my first guitar.

Brittany: I always liked to sing, but I started taking vocal lessons when I was 9. I jammed with a band for the first time when I was 14.

Mike: I was 19 when I bought my first bass, and I still have it.  A cheap, entry level Yamaha BB300 that I have done so much to….rerouted the pickups, added a D-tuner…I’ll never part with it.

How old were you guys when you first stood on a stage?

Billy: I was 19 in a South Florida band named Xerpents. The gig was at a merengue club that wanted to make extra money on a Wednesday so they had a rock night. That band was one and done. Ha ha ha. After the gig, everyone got an ego and we broke up shortly afterwards.

Brittany: My first real gig was actually with Forsakken. I was 21 at the time. That was only a year and a half ago, though. I'm the youngest one here.

Mike: I was either 19 or 20, and I played in a local YMCA

Ugur: 16 when I was admitted to our high school band as a lead guitarist.

What year was the band started? Billy: 2002.

Best/worst gig you've played?

Billy: For me the worst gig is easy. Forsakken was in Penn Laird, Virginia and we were told that as headliners we would have about 90 minutes to play. The day of the gig our set time got cut down to 45 minutes. Then after the second song we were told we had 10 minutes left. The place was a high school auditorium and was 2/3 full. We did our part and drew an audience. The promoter just did a poor job of running things. It left me feeling bitter the whole drive back to New York City. I love Virginia and want to play there again. I just won't book with that promoter ever again. As for the best gig, that depends on when you catch me as to what's my opinion on that. But my favorite date for a Forsakken gig was 6-6-06. Now that's metal. Ha ha ha.

Brittany: The best gig for me was my first gig with Forsakken. The energy from the crowd was just great. I don't have a worst one that sticks out in my mind. I wasn't in the band for that infamous Virginia gig.

Mike: Worst gig for me, was probably last year.  We got to the gig early, and we were there on the side of the stage, waiting for the sound guy to give us a sound check.  We’re waiting and waiting, and finally he comes to us and says, “You know you’re cutting into your playing time.”  We were like, “Dude, we were waiting on you!  You see us right here!”  So we rushed onstage, he didn’t check us, and basically cut our set short.  He was a dick.

What places will you be playing in in the immediate future?

Billy: We're in the studio recording an album. We don't have anything booked but we've played Blackthorn 51 in Queens, New York so much and have done so well there that they are always contacting us about playing there again. Thank You Queens!

Brittany: Hopefully we'll be playing in a recording studio next.

Where have you played from then till now? Billy: Let’s see if I can remember everywhere. The Continental, Cbgb's, Don Hill's, Blackthorn 51, Sullivan Hall, Penn Laird High, Soundworks, Decalaf's, RVP's, The Sloppy Coochie, South Coast Winery, Mr. Magoo's Pub....There's lots more but I can't remember them all.

Which band is the best you´ve seen?

Billy: Iced Earth. I've seen them many times but Ugur and I saw one show together that was just awesome!

Brittany: I don't know if I can narrow it down to the best right now, but one that comes to mind is Stryper, just for their musicianship. I don't necessarily connect with the lyrics, but their musicianship is amazing and they put on a great show.

Mike: Hands down, the gods of thunder…KISS!

Ugur: Dream Theater and Fates Warning

Is it always the same songs live?

Billy: Nah, I don't remember ever playing the same set twice in a row.

Brittany: Nope. We have some staples like most bands, but we try to mix it up every time.

What has been the best/most promising gig so far?

Billy: For me, every time I play I live my dream and shut the Nay Sayers up. Ha ha ha.

Brittany: There's usually at least one promising element to every show I do.

Have you had any bigger tours from start to now?

Billy: I wouldn't call it a big tour but we had several gigs in a row outside of New York City a while back. We worked our way down the east coast. That was fun.

Brittany: Not since I've been here, but I'm hoping for one when our album is done!

How big crowds do you usually play for?

Billy: Crowds big enough to make me grateful, small enough to make me feel we can do better.

Brittany: Our fans differ in size and we don't like to judge. Oh...I don't think that's what you meant...

What are the plans for the rest of the year?

Billy: For starters, we need to finish our album.

Brittany: Finishing the album would be our top priority. Anything we get done after that this year is gravy, but I'm hoping for a nice gig or two if we can.

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