Forrest Isn’t Dead – To The Contrary, They Are Alive And Kicking.
When music means life or death, it really matters. Forrest Isn’t Dead holds the artform sacred. He has turned to it for strength, hope, and light. Now, the Atlanta-born singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist shares the same sentiments through a haunting and hypnotic hybrid of alternative, pop, and rock twisted up with just the right amount of electronic mystique and glitchy beatcraft. He’s quietly connected with listeners, generating millions of views and streams and landing on coveted playlists such as Spotify’s New Noise and New Music Friday and more. Now, he presents his vision without filter on his 2022 debut album, The End of Everything [Madison Records]. We recently spoke with Forrest Kleindienst about the band and new album.
You’ve got a new album out.
I do! September 16th.
Sweet. Let me ask you about putting the album together. Waa it one of those things that you decided to put out an album or did you have a collection of songs and decided to put them together as an album?
My whole life, even as a kid, making an album was a goal for me. I didn’t not want to make an album. Even since I was seven years old I though, “Oh my god, I can’t wait to make an album.” That really wasn’t an option, and it’s funny because my team and I were talking maybe we’ll make a five-song EP, and I’m like, “Naw, we’re gonna do an album.” So, yeah, it’s really exciting to finally be doing it.
Is there something that holds the songs together that makes them an album instead of just a bunch of random singles?
There’s like an underlying theme of life and death – kind of like a rebirth, but a metaphorical sense, like just becoming a better person and the old you die off. Funny enough, before we started making any of the songs for the album I wanted to name the album Life, Death And All That’s In Between. I kind of ended up writing about that, but we ended up changing the name to The End of Everything and felt that was a little more dramatic and on par with the brand.
Do you see yourself as a recording guy or do you prefer to play live? You had mentioned that you rather put out albums instead of singles.
I love playing. Actually, I love both equally. Making a song is like doing a puzzle – putting the pieces together until you get the final product. I enjoy it in that sense and liv there is an energy you don’t get like anything else. I definitely enjoy both, and I think personally I feel our live shows really highlight the song instead of just listening to the song.
When performing live is there a song you look forward to playing than others? I realize you’ve “given birth” to all of them and they’re like your children.
Yeah, that’s a hard one. Honestly, we cover “Hand That Feeds”, which is funny because it’s not one of ours. I look forward to that. I really like doing “Wash Away”.
What song does the crowd react best to?
I noticed at my shows “Fire” gets a reaction. It seems like people really gravitate towards that one.
When writing music, where is one of more surprising places that you have found inspiration?
When we started the album, we did it in the basement of my keyboardist, Wes’ house. I just record in weird places. My song “Deputy Bones”, I actually made that song in the guest room of my mom’s house and a couple of songs I made at my house. I actually made “Goodbye” in my closet. I don’t know why, but I was in the closet with my headphones and made up that song. (laughs) But most of them have been up at the record label.
How did you put your band together?
It actually was going to start off as a solo thing and then I met Wes in 2014. He was actually my mentor back then. He taught me a lot about production, and then about 2015 I think Matt, our guitarist came about and the three of us made music together. And Joey didn’t join us until the last year. It just kind of happened naturally. We got really lucky with the people we got surrounded with.
I was wondering, because the lyrical content of your music is very personal and definitely deeper than a lot of the music you hear out there.
I wouldn’t say that. It depends on who you’re listening.
What I’m saying is you would have to have a lo of trust in the guys you brought together to bring the songs to fruition the way you envision it.
Yeah, yeah, definitely everybody plays a part. There’s also a leader aspect to it that as far as me having creative direction with that and it also helps a lot in the creative direction. It also helps – I’ve been in a lot of bands in my life and it helps when you have the one guy, even if it’s not the singer who has a little more control over the creative direction as to having five guys all be like throwing ideas together. We’re all producers as well. Everyone in the band produces music, which is very helpful an not I just know how to play bass and that’s it or guitar. We all add something to the table more than the instruments we play
Is that a help or a hindrance? You’ve got all these creative minds around, but you’re also have a technical side. Do you guys debate over which direction to go on the technical aspect of putting together a song?
I wouldn’t say we fight, but there are definitely plenty of conversations about what is the right or wrong decision in making the song better or producing the song. We’re all pretty good about not arguing and just making the song the best we can. Like I said, my position is more of a creative director role within the creation of the music, so that kind of helped, too.
What I read about you, you started out in music when you were really young. You were encouraged by family members. Was that something they saw that you were naturally drawn to?
When I was like three years old my biological father and his roommates were in a death metal band and whenever they practiced and they would be over at my dad’s house they would put me on a stool and they would like play Korn. I would be like three and four years old playing Korn songs with the band. And I probably had a lot of direction of me getting in a band. There was never a moment even as a child when I didn’t want to do music ever. I started with drums when I was six and I took off from there.
When writing songs what comes to you first, the melody or the lyrical content?
Kind if both because I kind of don’t write my lyrics down. I do sometimes, but for most songs I kind of say what first comes in my mind and record that. Our song “Here We Are” was a first take only take straight through without any prewritten anything. It’s kind of I approach it like a rapper does than a typical band scenario.
When an idea for a song comes into your head that ended up totally opposite than originally conceived?
Almost every time I feel like. We try hard not to stick to our initial thoughts and we kind of prefer to just let it build to whatever I’s going to be. A good example too, is our song “Paper Kingdom”, which isn’t out yet. In the song at the end it has this altro movement. The thing is we looped Matt’s guitar part on accident for like two bars and we’re like that sounds cool. We just put that at the end and the entire finale of the song around this accidental loop of him playing guitar.
Do you see music more of an emotional outlet or a creative one? I realize some consider creativity can be considered an emotion.
Definitely both. Like I said, I play guitar, bass and drums, too. Singing is the only outlet I have. It’s definitely both and a lot of the lyrics are introspective and personal. I do music for an emotional gain, but I really enjoy creating as well.
The album came out September 16. Where do you go from here? The album is out. Do you planon doing a lot of touring? Does the songwriting process ever take a break so you can go out and be a musician and play out?
Yes and no. It’s never done working on music. We’re already working on the second album and we’re already far along as far as that is concerned. I just like making songs. It’s like not a chore for me. It’s very enjoyable. I jus keep going and going, making the songs. It never ends. It’s an ongoing process. I love making music.
– Dave Weinthal
Forrest Isn’t Dead performs at Cherry Street Station on September 17.