Forever Still are a recent great signing to Nuclear Blast. Heavy, powerful and meaningful, the band have been breaking out across Europe, winning over fans in the process. In January I had the pleasure of speaking to vocalist Maja Shining from the band about their origins, the music scene in Denmark, their album Tied Down and their tour with Lacuna Coil.
Jack: Good morning, thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. How are you doing?
Maja Shining (Vocals): It’s my pleasure! I’m doing very well, thank you.
Jack: How did Forever Still form?
Maja: Forever Still formed when Mikkel (Bass) and I met at a concert and shortly after began talking about making music together. Mikkel initially sent over some instrumental ideas and melodies immediately started forming in my head. We met up and started working on some songs and had great chemistry from the get go. We had the same idea about music and came from a similar place and everything just developed naturally from there. Together we released our first EP, Breaking Free in 2013 and Forever Still was born.
Jack: You’re a band from Copenhagen, what’s the metal scene like there?
Maja: Denmark is not very well known on the international scene of rock and metal. The world knows about Volbeat at the moment and that’s pretty much it. Denmark has a pretty vibrant underground scene, not so much in rock but more in heavy metal, but very few actually make it out of Denmark. Maybe it’s because of our society, where you’re basically nursed and cradled throughout life that many people aren’t primed to work really hard on their own.
Jack: Has being from Copenhagen influenced the band?
Maja: I definitely think we’re all a product of our surroundings to a large extend. Where you’re from, is one of the things that makes you unique and it certainly has an influence on the music you create. Sometimes you can even guess where a band is from just by listening to their sound. Copenhagen brings a lot of cold and rainy, dark days, which is probably part of the driving force behind the more heavy and depressing elements in our music. Getting a lot of time indoors is also the perfect opportunity to spend time alone and dive into your creations.
Jack: What are the musical influences of the band?
Maja: We listen to a lot of different music, but our writing primarily comes from personal experiences and emotions and not so much from other bands. You might be able to hear that our latest album, Tied Down, has been influenced by something other than music as well – I think it’s got a very cinematic feel to it. Not in a cheesy, blockbuster kind of way, but more in a David Lynch, Lars von Trier kind of way.
Jack: In October you released your debut full length Tied Down, are you happy with the response?
Maja: Very happy, we’ve gotten a lot of good feedback on it from both fans and media and it feels great having it out in the world! We went 100% with our guts on this release and I think that’s what draws in the listener.
Jack: What was the recording process like?
Maja: When we started writing Tied Down, we quickly realised that this was going to be different. We had a concept in mind about an individual struggling through depression, anxiety and worthlessness and finding hope and finally breaking free from all the negative things holding them down and in keeping with that idea, we wanted the album to sound like everything was a little broken and falling apart. We chose to record on analog equipment, because we wanted it raw; everything was initial instincts, first takes, no second-guessing and what happened, was what got on tape.
Jack: Why did you decide to do acoustic versions of a few of the songs at the end of the album?
Maja: The digipak version has some extra bonus material compared to the standard jewelcase version including a DVD, which contains music- and lyric videos from Tied Down. We thought acoustic tracks would be an interesting way to expand the digipak album, as it gives the listener a chance to experience the songs in different way, and I think we ended up with three pretty unique acoustic versions of “Scars”, “Save Me” and “Miss Madness”.
Jack: Would you say that Tied Down is a personal album?
Maja: Oh definitely! Every song is written from personal experience or emotion and we’ve tried to portray it in a raw and honest manner. The music is an outlet for us, which is why the topics often are somewhat dark, since those are usually the things you need to work through.
Jack: Why did you decide to do a concept album?
Maja: Our heads were just in that specific place, when we started writing the album and we knew what the overarching plot was going to be from the get go. After a few songs the idea of an actual concept album came to mind and it all just came together in the writing process, as if it was meant to be.
Jack: Forever Still are a very DIY band, has signing to Nuclear Blast changed the band’s ethos at all?
Maja: We’re very happy to have signed with Nuclear Blast and proud to have released our debut album with them. We’ve never been eager to sign with a record label, but after meeting up with Nuclear Blast we agreed that this would be the right label for us. They have given us full creative freedom and they already loved all the things we did ourselves -music, sound, art, photos, music videos- which means we can basically keep going like we always have, but with much bigger support and promotion behind us.
Jack: Last year you toured extensively with Lacuna Coil, how did that go?
Maja: We did and it went incredibly well! They were a perfect fit with us musically speaking and before we got this tour, we asked our fans, who they wanted to see us tour with and Lacuna Coil was in the top three picks, so I was really happy to see it actually happen. This also means, we got to visit a lot of new cities and the fans there, which we’ve wanted to do for a long time.
Jack: How did you first discover Lacuna Coil’s music?
Maja: It may have been, when a friend gave me the Karmacode album for my birthday, when it came out. I might’ve heard about them before that, but this was the first album from them that I really listened to.
Jack: What did you learn from the tour?
Maja: For us it was the first tour of that magnitude and we were confirmed just a month before tour start, so it was a bit stressful, before we went out, not knowing if we had everything under control. It turned out not to be much different to the shorter tours we’ve done previously, which is a good thing. It definitely took some more time planning, but now that we have everything down, we’ll be completely prepared for how to handle the next one.
Jack: What do you like about playing the UK?
Maja: The audience! Every time we’ve played the UK, we’ve always been met by such an enthusiastic and music-loving audience. We can’t wait to be back again, hopefully this year too.
Jack: How did you find playing the Koko?
Maja: This was a first for us and it was by far my favourite venue on the entire 31-date tour. For those who don’t know it, it’s originally an old theater complete with red velvet curtains, balconies and golden ornaments and the vibe of the place was just amazing. People who hasn’t been there should definitely google “KoKo London” and they’ll understand exactly what I’m talking about.
Jack: What are your plans for this year?
Maja: Hopefully another big tour! We had so much fun on this recent tour and I hope we can catch another one in the spring. Late 2017 or early 2018 might even mean a new album from us, and we’ve slowly begun writing for it. I have a really positive feeling about it already!
Jack: Finally, what is the best film to watch on tour?
Maja: We’ve been driving ourselves, so we’ve had a really busy schedule with no time to watch any films. Hopefully in a not too distant future we’ll have someone driving the bus and I’ll let you know about those movies!
Jack: Thanks for your time!
Maja: My pleasure!