Ask people who frequent indie rock clubs in Taiwan about their favorite groups these days, and the name Forests (森林合唱樂團) is likely to come up.
For the past year, this trio of slightly nerdy-looking male twenty-somethings have been winning over rock club audiences for their very noisy but melodic take on rock ‘n’ roll, not to mention their intense, on-stage energy.
Forests have just completed its first full-length album, The Moon is Man (see page 12, of the Aug. 28, 2012, edition of the Taipei Times for a review), and have just launched a mini-tour of Eslite Bookstores across the country, which continues tomorrow night in Tainan.
The buzz surrounding Forests took off in earnest when the band served as the opening act for Death Cab for Cutie at its show in Taipei in March. Death Cab frontman Ben Gibbard posted on his Twitter account that Forests’ show was “best thing I’ve seen in a long time,” further cementing the band’s street cred.
None of this has been a surprise to Sky Tai (戴杏芳), a musician and the promoter behind Death Cab’s show in Taipei, who has also brought other notable bands from the West to Taipei such as Broken Social Scene and Deerhunter.
“Forests have a unique mojo, and I’ve always felt their performances were very special,” she wrote in an email written to the Taipei Times. “Whenever I have them as the warm up act for [international bands], I always feel that they’re up to the same level.”
Crank it up
Before Tai decided to offer to help Forests by becoming its manager, she says she was already a big fan of the band in its previous incarnation as Boyz & Girl, in which the three “boyz” — guitarist Jon Du (杜澤威), bassist Tseng Kuo-hung (曾國宏), drummer Lo Zun-long (羅尊龍) — worked with female singer-songwriter Ban Ban (斑斑), aka Bambam Lin (林以樂).
All shows are free; for more information search for “Forests 森林合唱樂團” on Facebook
Tomorrow, 10pm to 11pm, Eslite Bookstore, Tainan, B1, 181-183, Changrong Rd Sec 1, Greater Tainan (台南市長榮路一段181-183號B1), tel: (06) 208-3977
Saturday, 8pm to 9pm, Dream Mall Eslite, 3F, 789 Jhonghua 5th Rd, Greater Kaohsiung (高雄市中華五路789號3F), tel: (07) 812-9808
Sunday, 3pm to 4pm, Eslite Bookstore at Park Lane (誠品台中綠園道店3F書區), 3rd floor, 68 Gongyi Rd, Greater Taichung (台中市公益路68號)
09/28, 8pm to 9pm
Eslite Xinyi Music Store (信義誠品音樂館), 4F, Eslite Xinyi Store (誠品信義店4樓), 11 Songgao Rd, Taipei City (台北市松高路11號)
Boyz & Girl put out one self-titled album (see page 14, June 10, 2010) before disbanding due to personal differences. Lin has gone off on her own and performs under the name Skip Skip Ben Ben, while Du, Tseng and Lo have found their niche as Forests.
The connection between Boyz & Girl and Forests is easy to hear. Both bands like lots of reverb, extremely loud, distorted guitars, muffled vocals with barely audible lyrics. But whereas Boyz & Girl emphasized dreamy and abstract soundscapes laced with eerie sound effects, Forests is more straight-up modern rock.
The trio’s sound is ear-piercingly loud — Du’s guitar playing swims in fuzz and distortion — but the music is just melodic enough to keep your attention, with song structures that run the gamut from post-punk a la Joy Division to Iggy Pop-style blues rock.
Capturing the moment
Du, who is also the band’s lead vocalist, says Forests takes an off-the-cuff approach to songwriting. They work out their songs by recording themselves jamming in a practice studio and then going back and picking out the parts that sound good.
“Honestly, we don’t know what we’re doing until we listen back,” Du said with a laugh during an interview with the Taipei Times earlier this week. “I feel like when we’re creating [songs], I would consciously try not to be conscious in what I’m doing.”
“Boyz & Girl’s record was more of a self-conscious record for me, where I was trying to fulfill my idea of what someone else listening to the record would be.”
Forests had a simple plan for making The Moon is Man. “We just wanted to make a rock ‘n’ roll record,” he said, adding, “This time we were just like, ‘let’s capture the moment.’”