FOREST FIELD
Angels?
(Rock Company)

 

Over in Holland the band known as Forest Field are changing the face of rock with their 2015 CD entitled Angels? Well actually, the band is the brainchild of Peter Cox, supported here by U.S. based singer Phil Vincent. Based in the south of Holland, Forest Field borrows from stadium rock and a heavy, 21st century, New Age instrumental mix. Speaking about working with lead vocalist Phil Vincent, Cox tells mwe3.com , "We both liked working together so much that Phil agreed to become the dedicated singer for Forest Field. Angels? is our third album together. I think it is a shared love for The Beatles, Winger etc that makes us sound good together. We are both from a hard rock / prog-rock musical background. Phil does not need much guidance to work his magic." Apparently, Cox has a thing for big sounding rock arrangement ala Styx or YES and an equal and even more impressive penchant for instrumental music that sounds like Tull or Genesis on their melodic wordless tracks. Receiving the vocal mixes from singer Phil Vincent in the U.S., through the art of internet magic, Peter Cox manages to get a large well recorded rock sound down on the CD that is quite impressive. What’s even more impressive are Peter's guitar chops which he filters in liberally on the vocal tracks and even more on the instrumentals. International rock fans take note: Forest Field has a steadily increasing number of albums out and more on the way. With the 2015 CD release of Angels?, it’s prime time to check out this fine Dutch prog-rock treat. www.ForestField.nl / www.RockCompany.nl



mwe3.com presents an interview with
Peter Cox of FOREST FIELD



mwe3
: Can you tell us where you’re from originally and where in Holland do you live now and what do you like best about it? What can you say about Holland, especially for those who haven’t been there yet and how would you say Holland is different from other Euro countries, like Sweden or Finland for example?

Peter Cox: Well I live in the South of the Netherlands, a province called Limburg. We Dutch consider Holland as the North West of the country and in my humble opinion we Southerners are different people. More relaxed and more into enjoying good food and good company.

The name of the surrounding region where I live translates loosely to Forest Field, hence the name. My house is outside the village near the forest, so it is quiet and peaceful and I like that very much.

Non-Dutch people will mostly think of windmills and wooden shoes, and maybe Amsterdam and the red light district when they think of my country, but that is not how I see it. Many different regions and many different local languages and so on.

And in all honesty, in general I don't think we differ that much from Belgium, Germany or Denmark. Just language and local typical things maybe. Alas I do not know much about Finland. Except for the lakes and the heavy drinking, but that is common knowledge I guess. I have been in Sweden once, nice country and people.

mwe3: When did you form Forest Field, how many albums has the band released who else was involved in the formation and what was the original intention of the band?

Peter Cox: Forest Field was created in 2012, because I was writing so much music and my band Chinawhite was so slow in putting things together. I have a studio at home and wanted to get the music out there and have more control over the speed of things.

Since then we have released 4 titles:

Floating on Air, 2013, a 32 minute ambient track
Pioneers Of The Future, 2013, 13 tracks of ambient progressive rock
Onwards And Upwards, 2014, 11 tracks of ambient progressive rock. Billy Sherwood (Yes, Circa:) mixed that one and mastering was also done in the USA, by Maor Appelbaum.
Angels?, 2015, 11 tracks of ambient / melodic and progressive rock.

Guests so far: Joris Peeters and Aukje Peeters, vocals in Pioneers Of The Future. Sue Straw, vocals on Pioneers Of The Future and Native American flutes on Onwards And Upwards. Phil Vincent sang on all 3 full length albums. And I sang on Pioneers Of The Future and play drums, keyboards, bass and guitars on all releases. I write the songs, mix and master, do the artwork, etc.

mwe3: How did the new Forest Field CD, Angels? come together so to speak? And how would you compare Angels? to your earlier albums and also how did you come up with the title and the album cover art?

Peter Cox: I like working with a theme. Once I find a theme I like, I sit down and write down phrases that link to that theme. Those become the base for the instrumental songs. Next I look in my archive for songs that could fit in and the rest I start writing based on the phrases I have. I challenge myself with thinking of certain moods I want to create and then start working on a song that does just that. Maybe unconventional, but for me it works. I always have enough music I can use. And sometimes I push a track to a future release. Or even another band or project.

Angels? is a more rockier album than before. As a whole that is. All albums have at least a portion of rock in them. I am in essence a guitar player after all. Although I also have had piano lessons!

Since the theme this time is relationships and my belief that those need work to last and even then you get no guarantees. It is something you have to take serious, but I am also all for having a bit of fun with it. So I talked with artist Juan Manzanares about the idea of a pretty lady, that also had a touch of evil in her. I think what he came up with is pretty funny. Police tape, hand cuffs and the wings on the wall...

So those wings made me change most of the titles for the instrumental songs, and in the end I feel the whole works like a charm.

mwe3: Angels? features a stellar mix of rock vocals and a number of great spacy rock instrumentals. I read you like to focus on the instrumentals. Do you feature both instrumentals and vocals for variety? I guess in rock, variety is the spice of life, although some clearly favor the instrumentals, which are quite unique.

Peter Cox: You know, originally I never imagined having someone like Phil on board. So the idea was to find some guests for the vocals because a lot of people prefer that. I always wanted to do the instrumentals. Those are just things I come up with all the time. And they go all around the place. Spacey, solemn, groovy, intimate, you name it. I feel the true purpose of progressive music is to explore and experiment and not be afraid to boldly go where no one has gone before. There are just no limits to imagination and that is how it is supposed to be.

Since Phil has joined I have added the Earthshine project (www.earthshine-music.com) and that is one hundred percent instrumental music. Here I put the songs that have no or very little guitar. Except for occasional acoustic guitar work. Very relaxing music...

But there will always be instrumental songs on a Forest Field album too. They are part of this band's sound!

mwe3: How did you meet Forest Field vocalist Phil Vincent? I hear Phil lives quite a ways from you. I guess his vocals on Angels? comes to us care of the internet? Tell us something about Phil and his unique singing style. He sounds made for Forest Field! Be great if you guys could do some shows in the US, but I guess I’m dreaming again!

Peter Cox: Phil and I go back a number of years now. I wrote him a mail once saying I liked his albums so much and he was very kind and asked which ones I had and which not. So he sent me the missing ones and in return I offered to build him a website...

That is how it started. I don't think at the time Phil knew I played music, but someday I accidentally sent him a YouTube link of me playing guitar and he liked it very much and said we should work together some time. So when I started Forest Field I reminded him and he was able to do 3 songs for the first full length album Pioneers Of The Future.

We both liked working together so much that Phil agreed to become to dedicated singer for Forest Field. Angels? is our third album together. I think it is a shared love for The Beatles, Winger etc that makes us sound good together. We are both from a hard rock / prog-rock musical background. Phil does not need much guidance to work his magic. I only provide a single vocal guide and it never seizes to amaze me what he comes up with. His multilayered vocals are so rich of ideas, I get Goosebumps every time I hear a new track coming in.

And you are right, it is an internet created recording. Phil lives in Rhode Island in the States, so we are literally oceans apart. I record the song in my studio, send it to him with the guide vocal, and in return he records his parts in his studio and returns his tracks to me. I put it all together and voilá, song ready!

We would need a big fan base to ever consider playing live, that is our harsh reality. Obviously I cannot reproduce the music on my own, so I would need to hire a band to get that working... But you never know, big dreamers never sleep.

mwe3: Holland has such a rich history of rock and rock instrumental music. Would you say Dutch music affected your music on different levels? The interesting thing is that Holland excels in both rock (Kayak and Earth & Fire) and instrumental music (Focus, Trace, Supersister). Tell us and the readers something about the wonders of Dutch rock and why Dutch Rock is so underrated.

Peter Cox: I am sure many people know at least a couple of songs that are originally Dutch, “Radar Love” or “Venus” anyone? But for me my major influences are American - The Tubes, Blue Oyster Cult, Canadian - Rush, Saga or English - Uriah Heep, Deep Purple, YES. Just a few examples!

I agree there are many great Dutch bands… music is not meant to be a competition and certainly Kayak and Supersister are among them. “Sylvia from Focus is a stunning track, and Jan Akkerman is a excellent guitar player. There is a lively neo prog scene with a band like Knight Area doing well. A band that probably no one outside The Netherlands has heard of is Het Goede Doel (The Good Cause). Very melodic almost pop like music, but with some serious prog undertones.

Over the years we also had several outstanding rock bands. Golden Earring, Sleeze Beez, Vandenberg, Terra Nova, Zinatra come to mind.

I don't know if Dutch music is underrated; the biggest problem I see is distance. For a Dutch band it is pretty hard to tour the States for instance. So without heavy support from a big record company and thus sales to match that is a no go for many.

mwe3: What’s your background as a musician? When did you start studying music and is guitar your main instrument? Tell us something about your favorite guitars that you record with and the keyboards too that are featured on Angels? Are you something of a gear head or do you consider yourself first, mostly a composer?

Peter Cox: I started making music when I was 9 I think. I started with bugle, a brass instrument. I played with the local fanfare brass band for 15 years and played numerous gigs in- and outside the Netherlands.
I convinced my father to buy me a guitar when I was 14. My first band gig was as a bass player however. I also had some organ and piano lessons and played both keyboards and guitar in my first proper band. But I think with over 30 years of guitar playing, that is the instrument I am most comfortable with.

Well, if you own over 15 guitars, 4 amps, a couple of 4*12 cabinets and also some bass guitars, it is hard to deny that I am somewhat of a gear head. But I can also say that my live set is about 15 years old now and still does everything I need it to do. For the studio I like to work with various setups to color the sounds. My fave guitars are from Paul Reed Smith, beautiful instruments with sound to match. But I also have Ibanez, Yamaha, Fender, and some other things like a dobro from Gretch.

Keyboards is much simpler, just 1 master keyboard and a ton of plug ins in my Pro Tools studio set up. All the classic sounds (hammond, wurlitzer, piano, rhodes) and a whole bunch of synthesizer sounds!

As you will have understood I am no stranger to playing live, hundreds of gigs in fact. But now I am happy to be in my studio and write songs, record and release them.

mwe3: Do you follow new bands these days or are you mostly interested in the classic rock bands, like YES and Focus etc? Who are some of your favorite guitar players, keyboardists and composers? Seems like rock music is hardly 50 years old yet!

Peter Cox: It is fair to say I am heavily into music. When I am not writing and recording, I think I am listening to a CD. Anything from the 1960s to yesterday! Metal, rock, prog, but also some pop and classical music. It just never gets old. And I am old fashioned, I still like to buy my music!

Personal favorites are many. To name a few: Rush and all its individual members, Ian Crighton, Steve Vai, Steve Lukather from Toto, Steve Morse, John Lord, Jorn Lande, Ronnie James Dio, Ken Hensley, Mick Box, Jeff Porcaro, Thin Lizzy, Whitesnake, Adrian VandenBerg, Francis Dunnery and It Bites, Threshold or more modern bands like Godsticks, Red or Biffy Clyro.

I like songs that manage to convey emotion. I am not so keen on musicians who like to keep showing off their technical capabilities, no matter how impressive they are. John Sykes once played a guitar solo with Blue Murder that consisted of about one tone. And it was magical!

mwe3: Tell us more about your love of instrumental music. You seem to be expert at combining rock and new age music with a kind of Euro-centric Dutch sound. How many instrumentals are on the Angels? CD and which came first? There’s so many great instrumental tracks on Angels? I’m thinking about track 10 “In Excelsis” which is just stellar! I can hear something of a Mike Oldfield influence on some of your tracks. I guess Oldfield is still the bench mark for the self-producing instro guitarist!

Peter Cox: This may come as a shock but I hardly know anything from Oldfield except for some of his vocal tracks and albums. Still someone I have to discover more deeply.

I am sure the oldest instrumental song is "Message For A Messenger”. The base for that track was demoed in the early ‘90s! I re-recorded it completely and changed a lot in the arrangement, but the guitar melody is that old for the largest part.

And I cannot say I have listened to a lot of instrumental music either. The exception being classical music and Messers Satriani and Vai, Who are in a whole other field I think.

Instrumental music for me is easy in a way that I am completely self reliant. I write and record everything and when I am happy, it is finished. No one to discuss things with, just me. And I love to sit down, choose a tempo and a certain feel, often based on a title, and then try to match that with a song. Sometimes I go a bit crazy. Like with “Left At Cloud Nine”. I open with a 4 part vocal harmony I did myself, and then the synths and acoustic guitar take over. That is a left turn ha ha, where the opening choir sounds a bit angelic don't you think?

Am I an expert? Not in my opinion. But I am free of certain concepts and I just create what feels right to me! For me it is also hard to tell what style something is, I was never good at pinpointing specific genres.

mwe3: Are the other Forest Field albums mainly instrumental or vocal based? Where do you get your instrumental ideas from and can you tell us something about the Rock Company record label you and Forest Field record on? Do they have other artists and instrumental rock artists too? What are your favorite instrumentals that you wrote and recorded? I hope you’ll be doing more instrumentals moving forward!

Peter Cox: Floating On Air is all instrumental but only available in digital formats. Pioneers Of The Future has 7 instrumental songs, each representing a day of the week, and 6 vocal tracks. Onwards And Upwards has 11 tracks and like on Pioneers Of The Future the odd numbered tracks are instrumental and the even numbered are vocal tracks.

With Angels? I changed that. Tracks 1, 3, 6, 8 and 10 are instrumental although my voice can be heard on 3 and 6. That leaves 2, 4, 5, 7, 9 and 11 as the vocal tracks.

Rock Company I founded around 1987 with my band mates at the time. It ended up in my hands so now all my music is released on Rock Company. My progressive hard rock band Chinawhite has 4 releases now and we are working on album 5. Earthshine, like I said is my all instrumental project and there are 2 albums available now. And we already discussed Forest Field earlier.

On the label's website www.rockcompany.nl you not only find all available CD releases but also over 40 non label CDs for a special price. Have a look. And there is a very friendly flat shipping fee. Our releases can also be found at CDBaby and on iTunes, Amazon, Spotify etcetera.

I am proud of all the music I wrote. You cannot choose between your children! There is a time and a place for every one of them as moods vary a lot. Since I love writing them, you can be certain there will be more in the future. In fact, the third Earthshine album is currently being mixed and the songs for the next Forest Field album are also written and even recorded for a big part! Rest assured, there will be more instrumentals...

mwe3: So what do you and Forest Field have planned for later this year and into 2016 already? Have you any concerts coming up? The clock keeps moving! What new dreams and future aspirations do you have for Forest Field moving forward and looking ahead?

Peter Cox: For now we hope we can get as much people as possible to listen to our music and hopefully buy it as well. We need the support to be able to continue. It keeps growing with every release and the reactions have often been very rewarding. That is such a stimulus to keep going. I hope next year will see the release of our next album. I know I want to and am already preparing for it. Like I said earlier, concerts are a no go at the moment.

Phil has asked me to record guitar solos for 6 of the songs on his freshly released Tragik Come And Get It CD. Melodic hard rock, and some really good songs there! Check it out on CD Baby.

I am also looking into expanding the Rock Company label. There are some things brewing, but it is too soon to tell. Just keep an eye out for news via our social media...





 

 
   
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