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
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?
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 hed 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
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 youre inside anything from a cathedral to a metal
mwe3: What guitar companies are doing the best work as far
as new guitars, both electric and acoustic, these days in your opinion?
Whats 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 todays
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?
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. Its
got that very Hendrix-y kind of feel. Can you say something about
that track and the guitars youre 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 Ive 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
mwe3: Another Rainy Season highlight, Somber Soul
is somber sounding but its 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 thats the synth like sound on the
track? Its got an eerie feel but overall the track is quite
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. Thats 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?
Thats 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.
So whats next for you as far as musical activities, writing,
recording, performing and all things guitars? I hope we dont
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
Thanks to Forrest York @ www.ForrestYorkGuitars.com