FORREST YORK
Rainy Season
(Forrest York Guitars)

 

Nashville guitar proponent Forrest York strikes instrumental rock gold with hs 2013 CD Rainy Season. Thanks to his Forrest York Guitars enterprise, Forrest is renowned as a guitar maven in Murfreesboro, Tennessee and he puts his vivid guitar imagination to work on a CD that combines a range of instrumental guitar sounds within a near indescribable mix of free form New Age meets hard rock guitar fusion workouts featuring multi-instrumentalist Ryan York. A kind of late period Hendrix mood prevails on an album where carefully coordinated guitar soundscapes take precedence over melody and form and rules are meant to be broken. Commenting on Rainy Season, Forrest adds, ‘I just wanted my favorite pieces on it even though the record is all over the place. This is my life's work. The solo record I always wanted to make. It covers a lot of ground because I've covered a lot of ground.’ One of the essential instrumental guitar-based CDs of 2013, Rainy Season breezes by on a cool wind of sound for the senses. www.ForrestYorkGuitars.com


mwe3.com presents an interview with
FORREST YORK



mwe3: Forrest, your new album Rainy Season is a masterpiece. Where did you get the inspiration to combine such a wide variety of guitar based sounds? Would you describe your sound as rock, jazz or a new variety of electric Americana Fusion music? What did you set out to achieve on Rainy Season?

FORREST YORK: Thank you for the kind words. I basically had two choices, pick a sound or a few sounds that compliment each other and produce a cohesive, and marketable record. Or pick my best songs regardless of how different they are, and not worry about it. I think if I were on a label, they would have wanted choice one. I just wanted my favorite pieces on it even though the record is all over the place. This is my life's work. The solo record I always wanted to make. It covers a lot of ground because I've covered a lot of ground. Two of the tracks go back to the 1980s and a couple from the ‘90s I just didn't have the means to properly record them back then. It's hard to say what to call it. Perhaps alternative New Age. What I really wanted to achieve was just to make something I would be proud of.

mwe3: For some reason, while listening to the Rainy Season CD I thought of Jimi Hendrix and how much he’d love this album. How important are your guitar influences and what guitarists had the greatest impact on you during your formative years?

FORREST YORK: Jimi was the man. Not only did he revolutionize electric guitar playing and change our perception of what is possible on guitar, but he was also a recording pioneer. “All Along The Watchtower” changed everything for me! The notion that Jimi would dig my work is very sweet. To have someone like that tell you they like what you do would be big, Jeff Beck is pretty much the man today. He does things that are impossible just like Jimi used to. Beck is my biggest influence. I like his phrasing and his creativity. Steve Howe is another huge influence. Truly one of the great rock guitarist but also a brilliant writer. He co-wrote most of that Yes material. Steve Hackett, another big influence. Super creative early solo records. Gilmour and Page, profound recording artists.

mwe3: Where were you born, where did you grow up, where do you live now and how important is your environment on you and your musical inspirations and directions?

FORREST YORK: Born and raised and currently residing in middle Tennessee. I don't think anyone would ever listen to Rainy Season and guess that it came from just outside Nashville but there's diversity here. I was introduced to Klaus Schulze and Tangerine Dream in Nashville. And Yes was always very popular here as well. And there are so many fantastic guitarists here, the bar is high.

mwe3: Can you say something about some of the other musicians who play with you on the Rainy Season CD? And who else would you cite as being instrumental in the making of the CD, the musical side, the technical and even the CD cover art which is great too.

FORREST YORK: Bruce Tanksley played drums on a three tracks. We have actually played and recorded together since the 1970s. He is a fantastic progressive rock drummer. Andy Vincent played the drums on “Smitten”. He is more of a groove player. Super fun to play with. Keyboardist, Seth Timbs co-wrote “Smitten” with me. I knew him when he was a kid. I recorded his first album when he was 14. Brilliant songwriter. William Jarvis played violin on “Fields Of Incentive”. William is a concert violinist that loves progressive music. Johnny Bellar played the dobro on “Travesty In Virginia”. I used to engineer old time country and bluegrass albums that Johnny was a session player on. He was so good and he would say to me, I can play your stuff too. The final track, “Shepard's Pie” was actually an experiment where I posted my guitar part on line and asked anyone, to play along with my guitar and record it and email it to me. I received over a dozen tracks. I listed the names of the precipitants in the liner notes. It really did turn out better than I thought it would. My son Ryan was my biggest help on Rainy Season. He played drums on four songs, and bass on “Smitten”. He also took care of all of my hardware and software issues, there were many, as well as doing the computer graphics for the CD. Rick Hawkins, Murfreesboro's own Andy Warhol did the cool "shaken" photography.

mwe3: Can you mention some of your favorite guitars that are featured on the Rainy Season CD? What sonic enhancing effects do you like to tailor your sound and how about the amps featured on the CD? There a lot of amazing processed guitar sounds on the Rainy Season CD.

FORREST YORK: There is nothing funner that tracking guitars. I have several, not the super expensive collectable kind but all of them are special and inspiring. Just selecting which guitar for a given track is fun. I try to keep them all set up with fresh strings so that I can grab a guitar on a whim and it's ready. Perhaps my best guitar is the one I've owned the longest, Yamaha SG2000. I bought it new in 1978. I used it on the distorted guitar solo on “Aurora Borealis”. The main guitar on that song though is a vintage 1962 Gretsch Country Gentleman. Dreamy pickups, bright and sparkly yet rich. I played a different Gretsch on “Somber Soul”. A newer model with much warmer pickups. Another guitar I play a lot and used on “Travesty In Virginia” is a custom built Strat with midi that I use with my Roland guitar synth. I have been using guitar synth since the 1970s with the Arp Avatar. So many tonal possibilities when combining electric guitar and synth. I played the horn sound on “Sundance” with this rig but then played the same horn sound run through a Rat pedal to distort it on parts of “Supernatural”. The classic clean Strat sound on “Supernatural” is a '74 Strat. The amps used were Crate Clubs. The more punchy parts were mono and the dreamy tracks like “Travesty” were two amps in stereo. A big part of my guitar tone is this awesome ADK tube mic I used. It especially shines on the clean sounds. Processing is always fun. Sometimes stringing analog pedals together is cool and sometimes it's done in the computer. My fave computer effect is Altverb. It can make you sound like you’re inside anything from a cathedral to a metal drum.

mwe3: What guitar companies are doing the best work as far as new guitars, both electric and acoustic, these days in your opinion? What’s new and interesting for you on both the new guitar market and the vintage guitar or collectible guitar scene?

FORREST YORK: It's hard to say anything good about today’s guitar manufactures. They cut every corner and compromise every step just to make an extra buck. The exact opposite of how guitars used to be made. Builders used to search the planet for the best woods. Pickup makers searched everywhere for the best magnets. Nobody does that today. I like Rickenbacker, they still make the same guitar in the same plant they did in the 1960s. Gallagher Guitars in middle Tennessee is still making amazing guitars by hand. The custom Strat with midi that I play is built by local builder Mario Martin at the Guitar Mill. Tom Smith, a builder in Nashville that has rebuilt a couple of guitars for me is a true artist. I prefer local builders and older guitars. The manufactures that I admire today are the software developers like Mark of the Unicorn. Always pushing the envelope. That's were the pride and the passion is.

mwe3: Some of the tracks from Rainy Season feature video clips that can be seen on your You Tube page. The video for “New Grand Master” is excellent. What was the inspiration for that track? It has a Far Eastern kind of effect in both the sound and the video itself has multiple images of Japan. Is that like the duality of the Far East? The meditative versus the harsh reality of 20th century war? Interestingly enough you have the Japanese Strat on that track. How important is “World Music” in your own sound?

FORREST YORK: My friend Todd Adams did this video for me so I can't speak for him as to its meaning. I just love Eastern music. You could call this Eastern Rock. (lol) The title is a funny story. It was written and originally recorded in the 1980s back when we used tape. Often a reel of tape was reused so when I had bought a brand new reel of Ampex Grand Master for my new tune, I labeled the box “New Grand Master”. I didn't have a name for the song, that's just what was on the box. Also, I never even made the connection of the Japan Strat and this Far Eastern sounding piece. I love that Strat though. It cost only $400 and I play it more than any of my electrics.

"World Music" is very important to me. I love different sounds, rhythms, textures and modes and it is very American to mix it all together and make something new. A friend that had studied African tribal rhythms over there was bothered that I combined African and Indian sounds and he said "It's not African or Indian" I said it's new York! We talked about guitar influences yet regardless of instrument, no one has influenced me more that Peter Gabriel. He is the pioneer of World Music.

mwe3: How about the track “The Non Prophet” which is one of the great tracks from the Rainy Season CD. It’s got that very Hendrix-y kind of feel. Can you say something about that track and the guitars you’re featuring?

FORREST YORK: It's mostly my midi guitar through stereo Crate amps and a big, fade in brass guitar synth sound. They combine for a huge sound. There's a bridge section that I bring in 8 guitars at once but the bulk of the tune is a single guitar part. The fretless bass is actually the guitar synth also.

mwe3: One track not from the Rainy Season CD is the track “Stained Glass”. That track is nearly New Age in scope. What guitars are you using there? What do you think about New Age music, guitar wise and also can you say something about the video you have up on your site for that track? It has the most amazing footage of earth from deep space I’ve ever seen.

FORREST YORK: “Stained Glass” is a New Age piece influenced by Philip Glass. It was intended to be on Rainy Season. There are no guitars on this track. I have several pieces without guitar. I could do a pure New Age record without any guitars. The first track on the CD, “Aurora Borealis” was written and recorded several years before without guitar in mind. It was all keys and a friend suggested I add guitar. It is my favorite tune to play on guitar and it still amazes me that I didn't think to play it on guitar until I made this record. It's in the key of E and everything! The video for “Stained Glass” is HD NASA footage. I borrowed it. (lol)

mwe3: Another Rainy Season highlight, “Somber Soul” is somber sounding but it’s quite majestic sounding too. What inspired “Somber Soul”? Tell us about the Gretsch on that track. How many tracks are on that track on the CD and how about the wine glasses effect and it that’s the synth like sound on the track? It’s got an eerie feel but overall the track is quite brilliant.

FORREST YORK: Thank you so much. It's a fave of mine also. “Somber Soul”, another one written on keys and not intended for guitar. Also, another one inspired by Philip Glass. There is only one guitar in the entire song, a new Gretsch. I tried a couple of different guitars before settling on what I have. I recorded that old Country Gentleman but the tone didn't work for this tune. I also recorded a vintage Teisco on the track but wasn't happy with that tone. There's not much overdubbing. A synth bass, 2 keyboard tracks, 2 wine glasses and Ryan on drums. The wine glasses are cool. I have these glasses that are so resonant and beautiful. I thump on them every time I pick them up. I actually plunk all kinds of things. Always looking for sounds. After a while I started thinking about putting them on the song and to my surprise, they were actually in tune with the song a 3rd apart, exactly the notes I needed for sampling. It was perfect. I think I subconsciously knew to put those wine glasses on there. Interestingly, those glasses were accidentally broken recently, and not by plunking.

mwe3: The Rainy Season track “Travesty In Virginia” is another highlight of the CD. That’s the track with the dobro of Johnny Bellar and you play everything else? Can you fill us in on that track and why did you call it “Travesty In Virginia”? That’s another song that has an excellent video on your Facebook page that really enhances the overall sonic impression.

FORREST YORK: Travesty in Virginia has been around since 1990. It was just an idea I was kicking around when my son's kindergarten teacher asked me to come play for his class. Her name was Virginia Travis and she was such a good person and a very good first impression into school for jr. I had to solidify the tune a bit and I don't know that I would have finished it if not asked to perform it then. So I chose that title for her. Unlike “Somber Soul”, “Travesty” has over 100 tracks. And I spent an entire week while I was on vacation recording the main guitar part. I think that is my most soulful playing. It took me nearly a week just to find that place. It is my most commercial piece. John Dilberto and Echo's has played it often nationwide. I would love to do a big production video for it.

mwe3: So what’s next for you as far as musical activities, writing, recording, performing and all things guitars? I hope we don’t have to wait too long for another CD from you!

FORREST YORK: I am always writing and recording. My son and I just finished a big 13 minute avant rock piece called “The Undertow” and we put it out on you tube . It features slide guitar played with the ebow, just like I did on “Little Star”. Ebow has it on their "favorite videos" page on their website. My biggest plan is to actually put a band together to play this stuff live. I wish I had one together now to play a few electronic festivals this summer.


Thanks to Forrest York @ www.ForrestYorkGuitars.com

 

 
   
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