Essex born Melodic metallic quintet Forever Never are back! Earlier this year they ended their 3 year hiatus by smashing sets and packing tents at Takedown, YNOT and Isle of Whight festivals, their comeback single ‘Never Giving Up’ spending 9 weeks in the Kerrang! rock chart and their next single ‘One Life’ is looking to eclipse that.
We grabbed frontman Renny to talk, Toontrack, influences and the Forever Never takeover
We know you’re a fan of Superior Drummer, and the EZX and EZmix packs. What originally got you interested in the Toontrack products?
Originally all my songs were programmed in Tabledit (midi tablature editor), and then after getting my first Pro Tools setup, I acquired some kick and snare samples which I had to manually cut and paste across whole songs. When I found out about the original “Drumkit From Hell” – it felt like my dreams had been answered. I could use my midi editor (Tabledit) and then export midi drums into Pro Tools which I could then run through DKFH and have real pro sounding drums on all my demos. That’s where I originally became aware of Toontrack, and then when I upgraded to Superior 2.0, my life as a songwriter became even more pleasurable.
Which of your songs really show case the use of these products?
Every single Forever Never demo has used Toontrack products for drums since the very beginning. Of course, for the finished products our drummer Sam records the drums but having the demoed program drums as a reference makes the whole process go a lot smoother. Having a polished sounding drum sound even for the demos makes all the difference when pitching song ideas to the other guys in the band and our team. So although the use of Superior Drummer has not featured on any finished product that we have released, it is still a massively important part in the creative process.
I use the Metal Foundry expansion along with the Andy Sneap Producer Presets most frequently. I have always loved Andy Sneap’s drum sounds, so to be able to use the presets to get somewhere in that ballpark is always a great help!
We’re also aware you enjoy Drumkit From Hell to make your sound. Music tech have described this as an “easy way to create complex, authentic beats”. How far would you go in agreeing with this statement?
I think the best thing about it is just how real you can make your drums sound. If you put enough time into changing velocities and experimenting you can end up with some truly genuine sounding drums! You literally cannot tell the difference sometimes between a real kit and a Toontrack one.
How much ‘know-how’ do you have when it comes to using computers and the technical side of music production?
Well, I’m a singer and a songwriter first and foremost, so for me quickness and ease of use is important. If I have an idea, I want to get the idea down as quickly as possible and with some the pre-programmed MIDI that also comes with Superior, they enable me to get started a lot quicker – and then I can go back and fine tune and edit the drums to how I hear them in my head a little later down the line. I’ve used Pro Tools for about 10 years now, so I’m fairly knowledgeable but I would say vocal production is what I specialise in above all else. That’s why I love Superior, it’s simple enough to use straight out of the box, but if you want to go more in depth you can do this with a bit of extra time.
In regards to your sound, who have you taken major influence from, since you formed in February 2003?
To be honest, this has changed a lot over the course of 12 years. From Meshuggah to Machine Head, to Michael Jackson and Michael Bolton (yes, truly). Musically I draw on influences from both within and outside of the rock world, and hopefully that helps to create something slightly more original in the end. A lot of people pick up on my vocals as being one of the defining features of the band as well – and that’s probably because I’m certainly more inspired vocally from OUTSIDE of the rock world, with some of my favourite singers being MJ, Terence Trent D’arby, Seal and R Kelly to name but a few.
haha! Yes Billericay has had a few, and lets not forget our mention in the Ian Dury song! I’ve performed locally acoustically a few times for my solo stuff – but haven’t done for a while. Essex in general has really suffered over there years on a live music level. 2002 saw the demise of the Army and Navy in Chelmsford which played host to so many bands on their way to success, and several venues have closed since. The Harlow Square is also closing at the end of the year, and it really only leaves Chinnery’s as a venue for up-and-coming bands to get heard. It’s a shame! Hopefully Essex can have a bit of a revival soon.
What would be your best piece of advice for those wanting to get into the ‘Melodic Metallic Rock’ scene?
Well firstly I’m not entirely sure there IS a scene under that bracket haha. We sort of feel like we fall somewhere between the rock scene and the metal scene, but I think nowadays more important than anything else is being able to pull off live what you put down in the studio. I have to admit I have rewritten lines in a studio if I feel like I’m never going to be able to pull it off onstage. I would say for any band in general, plenty of practice and having a tight drummer makes a hell of a difference. If your drummer is laying down a tight framework, everything else falls into place so much easier.
And any tips on what NOT to do?
Don’t get ahead of yourself, be realistic with your targets and don’t underestimate how much hard work it’s going to take. That’s a surefire way of getting disappointed and disillusioned.
We have our next single released 20th November, called ‘One Life’ and the video is hitting TV channels from this weekend. We have a launch night headline show for the single on the 17th November in Camden at the Barfly which should be fun too. After that’s done we’re in studio mode getting the new material up to scratch and looking to record our 3rd album at the start of 2016. As we’ve had such a long break since our last original album, we feel the new stuff is really going to be a massive step up for us in terms of the songwriting and overall sound. It’s gonna be fun, so keep in touch with us on the socials!