Forebear: An Indie Sound Feature

We’ve all heard of Rock and have at least listened to a variation of this genre once before. Most of us associate it with loud thuds, heavy drums, and guitar riffs.

PC: Forebear
PC: Forebear

Now, tie in cinematic music, classical sounds, psychedelia, and garage rock and you may end up with a very odd grouping. But when was great music ever unimaginative?

What was once a solo project for lead singer and guitarist Scott Goldbaum soon became a very “specific and collaborative effort.” Mike Musselman, Molly Rogers, and Nick Chamian joined Scott in creating what is now Forebear. The group has been around for two years, gradually making a name for themselves in California.

Forebear have produced an innovative construct onto traditional rock music, exuded by their experimental sound, smooth singing, and rich vocal layers. Their juxtaposed blend of sounds coupled with their blunt lyrics make for some reflective music, as seen in their latest single “Delroy Lindo.” It touches on the false hopes of California, a harsher and more honest look at the illusions associated with Hollywood dreams.

Stream “Delroy Lindo”

I recently got a chance to chat with Scott about their latest single “Delroy Lindo,” their upcoming album Good God, and the importance of cinema and performance art in their live shows.

The Indie Sound (TIS):  You all individually have experiences working with so many artists, like Randy Jackson. How did you go about getting together and forming Forebear?

Scott:  Man I wish I had a way cooler story. It’s really not all that interesting yet. I’ll think of a cool lie eventually, but in the meantime, I can tell you that just by constantly immersing ourselves in live music, we crossed paths. Forebear features four of us (Molly, Scott, Nick, and Mike). There’s three of us, the three guys, who are from a band that played together when we were growing up in the San Fernando Valley called The Harm. So when that broke up, we spent years apart. We still supported one another, but by the time we put this band together, 3/4 of us had a great deal of chemistry that were from our formative years.

TIS:  And then Molly came along with her skillset.

Scott:  She’s so amazing. Yeah, she was introduced to us and I brought her in. Originally, Forebear evolved from a solo project of mine and I was recruiting people that I thought were great. I found out about her because she plays the violin and the viola. So, I brought her in the studio, and then we tried to get some of the things that we were doing in the studio to manifest themselves in live performance. She was just so fantastic that we got her to sing in the band and start playing keys and before you knew it, she was co-writing. That was all hands down with the evolution of this solo project becoming a specific, collaborative effort between the four of us now. It’s been that way for about two years.

TIS:  I know you have some experience in a band called Wise Club. Have you taken anything from that and used it here?

Scott:  Yeah. That’s a really interestingly phrased question. And only because people typically bring up Wise Club relative to our band for one reason and that is to point to how Forebear came from that.

“I think that for how much I am involved in the music industry, as a hired gun, as a music director, as a songwriter, as a music teacher, there is something to take from every opportunity when it comes to applying it to something you love.”

So Wise Club was definitely something along the lines where I learned a lot and I wanted to do those things that I liked about what I did again. But more than anything, I think because I was much younger than I am now, I learned a lot about what not to do. I will tell you that, Wise Club is the antithesis of Forebear because Forebear really champions the results that come from letting go of one uncompromised decision, and instead, replacing that with the collaborative effort that comes from the people that you’re surrounding yourself with. They’re really talented and you trust their taste. That sort of trust is extremely difficult to come by. Four people who share equally amongst themselves and don’t let pride get in the way. That’s for sure.

TIS:  You guys describe your music as Cinematic Dirt Rock and Future Rock, which is both unique and new to me. Why did you choose to define your music in that way?

Scott:  I think the best range that could be found between the four members would stand between Nick Chamian and Molly Rogers. With Molly, she grew up not only studying classical violin since she was four but she was really immersed in listening to cinematic music. I remember one of our first outings we took together was to see John Williams at the Hollywood Bowl and since then we’ve been going to see classical music regularly.

On the flip side, you’ve got Nick Chamian who grew up playing every instrument he could find in a garage and maximizing the edge that came from a guitar, an amplifier, a bass, a drum kit and spending hours upon hours and days and weeks playing in the garage. I think that that juxtaposition or that range creates something with this sort of lush edge, hence the Cinematic Dirt. So when you see us play live, I say between Mike and Nick, you’re going to see this incredibly intense rhythm section that’s really methodical but also not afraid to lean into that edge and at times overpower everything. The melodies are secondary to what the rhythm section is doing, and at other times clearly, the cinematic element stems completely from the melody whether that be my fingerpicking coupled with Molly’s string and stuff like that.

“You’ll just see that we find the balance between the light and the heavy so to speak, and it tends to marry itself pretty well after being in a relationship for two years.”

TIS:  Would you consider your music a combination of very different genres?

Scott:  Maybe. Clearly, we’re trying to use words to describe ourselves so that we can have some level of specificity when people are trying to get to know what we are before they even listen to our music. I think Cinematic Dirt Rock is a good representation of that, and I think Future Rock stems from the idea of wanting to bring more musicality to digestible music. A lot of popular music kind of falls, as you were describing, as a combination of genres, but it’s a little overt. There’s not as much nuance or subtext to the combination of pop and reggae or rap and rock. Whereas, I think what we’re trying to accomplish is a little more fusion and even just musicality because we all love music so much and we do love so many different genres. It’s a matter of finding what our filter is as Forebear and then just putting all of our pace through that filter. We’ll find every opportunity to do something musical and couple that with something digestible.

“Its got to be something that while we’re playing it and while we are looking back at it, inspires us. Every bar. It can’t be something that makes us yawn, or feel like we’re doing it in order to fit into a genre.”

So if I were to describe the music that we fit into, I think Alternative is a really safe bet. Bands like Dirty Projectors, Minus the Bear, and Unknown Mortal Orchestra. At the same time, Molly has played with and we worship artists like Kamasi Washington and Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly is probably one of our favorite records of last year. So yeah, it’s a matter of establishing that filter that I think can only come from first of all, being in a band with multiple people who aren’t hired guns but people who are rehearsing every week for years at a time in order to have that filter and then saying despite all these different genres and music that we listen to, whatever we end up doing, it’s put through that filter.

TIS:  So getting into the lyrical side of things. Your music can be classified as very honest and blunt at times. Would you describe yourself as a lyricist first?

Scott:  I can tell you that I really appreciate that question. I think I would have used to.

“I had really great collaborator and really good friend who said something to me once. It was, ‘Remember that you are not a guitarist. You are not a singer. You’re not a lyricist. You’re a musician.'”

I think he said that just to allow me to feel comprehensive and have hope. When you kind of limit yourself to one thing, you run the risk of hitting a wall and plateauing. Music is just, especially creatively, it’s this beautiful abyss that you never see the end of. Since I was a kid, when I was 13, I only learned the guitar to support words and then put melody to those words. I certainly care about the lyrics just as much as all the musicality, there’s no doubt about it. I spend so much time on the lyrics. They do come first, but it’s my job to keep things really comprehensive and to try to not limit myself to just being a lyricist. I will tell you that I value the lyrics so, so much. When I was a kid, I grew up listening to a lot of Conor Oberst and Bright Eyes. The way that he [Oberst] talks about his songs is that every chorus progression is precious real-estate. So make sure that you’re saying something that matters. You can keep the same chorus perhaps, but make sure that every little bit is intentional. Not often do you hear us just making vowel sounds with our voices. You know, the “oo’s” and the “ahh’s” sections of the song.

“Every word is precious real-estate.”

So yeah, that definitely does matter to me and that might be at the heart of me as an artist.

TIS:  What was it like working with Eric Lilavois on your new single “Delroy Lindo?”

Scott:  Oh man, it was great. Working with Eric is like working with a big brother. You know that he is a fan of yours and that he’s looking out for you. You also derive so much with him from having him around. One of the things that we could have done with a song like that had we taken it elsewhere is overproduced it. He wanted to make sure, after having seen us performed at places like the Lyric Theatre in L.A., that we really captured the energy we were creating in our live shows in the recording studio. So we recorded that song to tape and we kept things really organic. We mixed it all to analogue. Working with him, he kept me really accountable to the lyrical content.

“He saw how important the song’s content was, so you didn’t need too many bells and whistles to exude its authenticity. You could just keep it in its purest form and it would affect people.”

In short, it was great. It was like having a family member supervise it and be there. He just made it feel as if we were delivering the message effectively. I think we created a really great track together.

TIS:  What can we expect to hear off your upcoming album, Good God?

Scott:  What you can expect to hear from that, as far as the lyrical content…it spans. Politically, I was more well-read than I had ever been. The remaining songs really delve into a lot more global issues rather than interpersonal issues. So, we reflect quite a bit on that, lyrically. And then dynamically, like I said, the record was all done live to tape. We got to experiment in an amazing studio called, London Bridge Studios, where some of our idols like Pearl Jam recorded Twenty and Blind Melon recorded their self-titled record. So dynamically, what we were able to accomplish was pretty spectacular. As far as the lyrical content especially, we cover a lot different topics ranging from gun control to the Syrian Refugee Crisis to reflections on people who have had a hand in helping raise our band over the course of the last two years but who are no longer a part of that process. Somehow, we managed to sonically link them all up together, and as a result of that, we’re calling the album Good God.

TIS:  You don’t hear that in music often. You’re talking about a lot of things that really relevant today. I really appreciate that.

Scott:  Thank you for saying that, but to your point, you do hear these things addressed in essays and in poetry.

“I think that as somebody who has the opportunity to imbue meaning into songs with words, lyricists should take the opportunity to reflect that way.”

We were really happy that we got the opportunity to do that. I kind of needed it. We work so hard and so frequently together that I kind of was just shedding what I was feeling into these song and a lot of that was reflecting on these issues. If you’re well-read on what’s going on around us, even nationally, let alone globally, they found their way into these songs. The ones I’m most excited about personally are the ones that speak to those issues as opposed to my interpersonal ones.

TIS:  What kind of style do you all incorporate, or hope to incorporate, in your live shows?

Scott:  I don’t tend to see a lot of films in the movie theater, but if there’s a film that’s meant to be seen in IMAX, I really look forward to going to it. That goes to say, that with our live shows, sonically it’s such a production that we’re trying to bring about a cinematic harmony to that with the use of a lot of lights and performance art. We’re preceding and ending a lot of our shows with poetry that is recited by one of ours. We recently opened our last set with our drummer’s [Mike] 81 year old Brooklyn grandmother reciting his poem, and we did a whole production around that. So it’s got a cinematic quality to it to make sure that people are coming out. I think what people can expect to see from the live shows in short is something that moves them, that’s pretty cathartic. It’s not as happy go lucky as things that are categorized by familiarity are, but it’s a bit of a purging. I would say like a melodic, edgy purging.


You can catch Forebear live at the Silverlake Lounge July 11, 18, and 25. Each show will be free.

They will also being playing at the Bootleg Theatre September 2nd.

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