The complete audio of the interview (including parts not seen here) and music by The Forgotten can be found at Sound Scene Revolution. The site is also running a contest where a lucky winner will get free shwag from The Forgotten. The audio can be downloaded off the website or at the iTunes Music Store.
On a decidedly more personal note, I'd like to congratulate Richard for successfully hoodwinking his longtime sweetheart Katie into agreeing to marry him. All of us here at Punknews.org wish them the best.
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So we're here with The Forgotten, if you guys want to go around and introduce yourselves and what you do in the band.
Gordy: My name's Gordy, I sing.
Johnny: Johnny, guitar.
Dave: D. Kash, I play drums.
Nick: Nick, I play bass.
So if we could just start with a brief history of the band, just a quick summary.
Gordy: I used to be in a band called Slip in San Jose, years ago, years and years, almost 10 years ago. So this band Slip, we were good friends with the band from Santa Cruz called Vintage 46. Both Slip and Vintage 46 broke up around the same time. The members of each band got together and formed The Forgotten. That was in 1997 and from there…in four months we recorded an EP of six songs and we took that and got signed to a label, TKO Records in San Francisco. We went on tour with Peter and the Test Tube Babies in '98 and just kept pushin' all the way through. Until I guess about two years ago, we stopped the hardcore touring because I play for another band and I was out there doing that. There's the quick, the Cliff Notes if you will. The Readers Digest.
So earlier this year you guys played a month of shows solid at Johnny V's in San Jose.
Gordy: What was that April?
Dave: Every month in April. Uh, every week in April we played for a month at Johnny V's. It's kind of like a residency, our gift back to the town that's fuckin' been so rad to us.
Now was that just a chance to do something locally or just for fun?
Dave: It was just giving something back to the town. Playing a bunch of shows, working out some new stuff, just having fun.
Johnny: Covers playing some covers.
Dave: Those dates were all about fun.
Gordy: Exactly, Dave hit the nail on the head. There's some things we don't get to do in The Forgotten. We're a punk rock band and there's a lot of covers we'd like to do that have been done by lots of other people over and over and we couldn't really record 'em or anything like that but we did everything from "Rose Tattoo" to a nice William Joel cover. What else did we have out there?
Dave: Johnny Cash.
Gordy: Well that was actually a Neil Diamond tune but Johnny Cash covered it as well.
Johnny: We did the "Eddie and the Cruisers" song by uhm…
Gordy: Beaver Brown Band.
Johnny: John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band.
Gordy: It was our chance to fuck off. We knew that if The Forgotten is playing for a fucking month I mean, who the fuck is really gonna care and come out every night? We don't have that high of an opinion of ourselves, sorta thing. But the place was sold out and that was nice. I mean, every night was packed out. We got San Jose musicians to come up and join us as well and that was cool. We got Dave Baisa from The Odd Numbers, Shawn Packer from the Shitkickers, Mike Valartus (?)from The Kingpins and everything. And it was just really cool to have like a second guitar, a slide guitar and a saxophone backing us up at each show.
I notice, on a national level a lot of people don't notice the South Bay and San Jose in particular.
Gordy: Then fuck 'em.
I was going to ask, being more nationally recognized do you feel you represent that?
Gordy: Represent what, not being known? (laughs)
Well, more about being from the South Bay.
Gordy: Oh yeah, we've got great pride from where we're all from, you know. I mean everyone comes from someplace different. Johnny's Fresno. I'm from Campbell. Dave's Campbell and Nick, god what? Chicago, New Mexico…
Nick: Mountain View , Santa Clara, San Jose.
Gordy: It's more just pride in who we are and that's where we're at. But, you're right, we've always been the armpit of the Bay Area. You know, it's like us and Gilroy no one really respects, you know what I mean? In San Jose we don't have an all age's club. You're not going to see an all age's venue going off that seats more than 100.
We're just hoping to represent this town the best we can and stay true and…little bit of that.
Nick: They kind of frown on it.
Gordy: Exactly, they kind of frown on it. We don't have a place big enough to bring Social Distortion in, to bring Rancid in. It's like there's no House of Blues where we're at. So it does suck in that aspect, that if there's a big show coming to town you can count on it being in Santa Cruz or in San Francisco and that's where you get to drive to and that kind of bites.
Nick: Hoping to change that one day.
Dave: We're just hoping to represent this town the best we can and stay true and…little bit of that.
Gordy: But these towns too, we've been here for a while and it's all about the streets, the bars and so we go back and forth with it. Everything we write about, we write about the streets we live on. That's where the sound comes from and the lyrics come from and all that shit.
Well San Jose may not have the best all ages scene but there's certainly a great bar scene at least.
Gordy: That's all there is to do. You can go to a movie, you can go to a bar or you can go to the comedy club.
Johnny: Christmas in the Park.
Gordy: (laughs) And Christmas in the Park.
So it was this year that the documentary came out called Punks Not Dead and you guys were featured in that, right?
Dave: Well we haven't actually seen it, so we don't know where we're at in it. (laughs)
Gordy: Yeah, Susan filmed, did she film that shit or did we send it in?
Dave: We sent her a lot of live footage and stuff.
Gordy: She hit us up at Punk Rock Bowling out in Vegas, which is something we do every year. She hit us there and filmed some other stuff there. She filmed me getting an I.V. in a hotel room from my buddy. (laughs) I was a little dehydrated and he was like, "I'm a paramedic I got I.V.'s" and I was like "Fuck it, let's go!" He took a few from the ambulance, he thought we might get dehydrated.
Gordy: Yeah, and it worked. I mean, I guess I could have drank some water but it just seemed like fun at the time.
Johnny: Nothing better than a good I.V.
But as you haven't seen it…
Gordy: Yeah, we haven't seen it. Susan Dynner the person who put it out with Apparition Films is an amazing fucking human being. You can check out her website for Apparition and Punks Not Dead the movie. She's a really cool person that single handedly put this together. Her concept was really rad because she included bands like The Forgotten, who have been around for a while, have a name but don't necessarily have the money. So she got everyone from +44, to Rancid, to The Exploited and didn't focus on The Clash, the Ramones or The Pistols, because they've got enough press. So it was a really interesting idea for a fucking documentary I thought. We can't wait to see it.
Well I was going to ask how it felt to be in that, but as you haven't seen it…
Johnny: It feels great. (laughs) No, honestly I was honored just to be asked just to have anything to contribute to that. I'd like to think it wasn't just the whole I.V. thing. I'd like to think it was a little bit of our music. (laughs)
Dave: I'm sure she cut us out.
Gordy: I did an interview for it too. I was in Pomona and sat down, I was out on tour with The Bastards at that point, but sat down with her and did an interview for The Forgotten. I hope that made it in. It explains where we're coming from and how we do feel about the punk scene and what we feel the word "punk" means. As Johnny said it was a big blessing to even be included in such a thing because it's what we've dedicated our lives to (none of us are young men) and we've dedicated our lives to this shit and it's cool to be included.
You guys have gotten to tour with some of the long time established acts that are almost considered legends like GBH, Circle Jerks, Anti-Nowhere League. How does it feel to be out there with these bands you listened to growing up and share the stage with them?
Gordy: Dave, you're the big music aficionado.
Dave: It's pretty good. I mean, I remember the first time we played with the Circle Jerks me and Gordy were like, "Dude, this is pretty killer". (laughs) We're like snapping photos with Keith…and his hair. (laughs) Going on tour with GBH was like, I can't even express how rad that was. Those guys were super cool, that was a great fucking tour.
Gordy: You get set up to fall almost, because when you do meet your idols it can go one of two ways and why should it always be great? But we've been very lucky. Our first tour out in Europe one-third of it was with Agnostic Front, one-third with The Business and who was the last third?
Dave: U.S. Bombs. I had just joined the band, I was 18 touring with all these bands, you know? Dream come true.
Gordy: It's just cool to be able to meet all these people. To do all that and it just makes it worth it. We don't have the fucking paycheck. In this band we've probably spent more than we've made. But, that right there makes everything fucking worth it.
It's got to be nerve racking because these are bands that you love. Do you ever worry they're going to be like, "Aw, you guys…"
Gordy: No, we're good. Fuck no, we don't worry about a damn thing. (laughs)
Dave: If Colin [from GBH] can stand out there and do it at his age we'll be doing it.
Gordy: Absolutely. Every time Jock [from GBH] would laugh, his teeth would come out of his face. (laughs) So, if they're doing it, we're doing it.
So I was doing some research for the interview and one of the quotes I came on, I think Gordy said it, was, "a lot of musicians who decided to play punk. We're punk rockers who decided to play music". How do you feel that comes across in your music, or what bands are musicians who decided to play punk and what makes you different?
Gordy: Well, I'm not out here to talk shit on anybody, so I'm not going there and I definitely don't want that quote to be misconstrued to make it look like I don't think that our band are musicians. Everybody in this band is a musician, they've become musicians but for us it wasn't like, we're a glam rock band one day and then we decide to change our name and do something else and go a different direction, or make our songs more punky or produced. It all came straight from the heart and our love of punk rock. That's why everyone started playing. I mean Johnny, what at the age of 12 you started playing bass and guitar?
Gordy: And that was just straight love. That's where it comes from.
Johnny: And there's no conscious like, "What should we play this year? How should we write it?" Just straight across, what comes out of your heart is what goes on tape.
Gordy: And you can see who they are, the musicians who decided to play punk rock. Some of them have made tremendous fucking fame for themselves doing it and stuff like that. But, any fucking lifer in the scene is going to be able to see right through that shit, and it's not going to be in their record collection.
So you guys recently rejoined TKO Records.
Gordy: Yup and in the short month that we've been on TKO Records we've have more interviews and attention coming at us than in the last three years. They're good friends, we're all on the same page and we both believe in each other.
There's a lot of, so called, punk labels that aren't taking a chance these days, they're only going to go after the guys who sound scan in the hundreds of thousands and that's a bunch of bullshit.
Dave: The Forgotten started with TKO, it was their second record. We're family with those guys. We go way back.
Gordy: The bigger the label, the bigger the distribution usually. But then there's a certain thing like caring and artist relations. Those are the technical terms for it or whatever. Basically, they're our bros who are willing to take the chance. Cuz we're fucking punk rockers and punk rock ain't sellin' today. And we ain't gonna change and this label's not gonna fucking change and that's what's nice. There's a lot of, so called, punk labels that aren't taking a chance these days, they're only going to go after the guys who sound scan in the hundreds of thousands and that's a bunch of bullshit. Punk rock is for the fucking kids, it's always gonna sell. As long as there's a Republican in the White House, punk rock is gonna be fucking selling.
So with the switch in labels is there any plans for a new album or are you working on one already?
Johnny: Yeah we're writing a new record right now, we have been for the past year, I'd say, and demoing it. We're just about ready to record here after the turn of the year. (everyone pauses and looks at Dave)
Gordy: Feel like talking David?
Dave: I wrote all the songs. (everyone laughs)
Johnny: Dave, what do you feel these songs sound like, how do you feel about these songs? Can you give them an insight, a little bit?
Dave: No, it's top secret. (laughs).
Johnny: Okay. Nick, how do you feel about the songs? Can you give them any insight?
Nick: I mean, I haven't been playing with The Forgotten that long but I love it, I think it's killer.
Dave: Oh yeah, you're fired. (laughs)
Nick: Apparently, I just got fired. Seriously, it's killer. It's rad. Kind of a new direction from older records but it's still in the same vein.
Gordy: Exactly, some things are new and some things are kind of like returning back to the same vein that we've done before. Every one of The Forgotten's albums have sounded dramatically different from the last one. The first one was kind of, I don't know, mid-tempo, then you had kind of the hardcore album that came after that and everything has changed on every album. And, everything we've done with the European releases and everything like that, everything's got a different feel to it. A different recording, a different song writing vibe and this one, I think, is an amalgamation of all of that and that really makes us happy. Hopefully it's gonna make other people happy and it'll move a couple units.
Nick: There's like some straight punk rock and roll songs that are that are like mid-tempo, just fucking rocking. Then there's some shit that's just the old, in your face, kick your ass type of stuff.
Gordy: Exactly and Johnny and I were talking one night after practice and he brought up a really good point. He was saying that he's always enjoyed the punk rock that's had rock 'n roll in it. I thought that kind of sums us up, in a big way. You're gonna get a couple GBH or Discharge [like] songs but everything has a rock 'n roll swing to it, that we do. This guy's writing it and that's what he likes, ya know?
So it's been almost, what, five years since your last album of all new material came out?
Johnny: Three years.
Well Control Me came out 2002, right?
Dave: Control Me came out when? (laughs)
Johnny: It came out September '02, right?
Gordy: But, The Forgotten singer is like a total loser and he keeps leaving and playing with this other fucking band. (laughs)
Dave: We've had other set backs too, like line up changes.
With that amount of time do you feel any pressure about it?
Dave: We're still having fun and as long as we're having fun we're gonna be doing it.
Gordy: We kind of…in a certain respect, we don't give a fuck. Yeah it would've been great if we had albums coming out all through out this but for whatever reasons, and for all the reasons, we couldn't. So, we are charge. This next album, and what's going to happen afterwards, the live shows, the touring, everything that's going to be going off this album are going to be events. They're not just going to be things going on, albums being released. We are so wound up right now. We have so much fucking shit to get out. Everyone's going to see. By April of next year, people are going to see this.
If I had just said, "Hi I'm Gordy from The Forgotten", [Joe Strummer] would have said, "We were just talking about you last night". And it could have been a conversation, instead of me just, posthumously, sucking his cock.
One of the last questions I want to ask, I read this about five or six times in interviews and reviews, do you guys ever get tired of The Forgotten being used as a pun?
Dave: [We get] the whole, "oh, I forgot your name".
Gordy: "I forgot already!" And that's fucking rough. It's really rough when it's someone that you want to like. Like when you meet on of those idols like we talked about earlier and they come up with that. Oh, wow I've never heard that before, you're so fucking witty! This is our fucking 10 year anniversary in '07, I never fucking heard that. You're amazing! You must be in Mensa you fuck. (laughs) God, it fucking gets frustrating. Everyone thinks they're the first one to fucking do it. It gets a little rough.
Dave: But Gordy, who was it who said The Forgotten was the best punk band name he's ever heard?
Gordy: That would be Joe Strummer. Joe Strummer said that he thought The Forgotten was the most amazing name for a punk band in this day and age. Especially with the music, though I don't think he ever heard us, the music we're doing reflects that too. We do play, that's why the name's there, we play a forgotten style of punk rock. We're not gonna fucking jump on the Dropkick Murphy's bandwagon and start doing Irish songs. We're not gonna jump on anyone else's thing. It's what we listen to, that old English and American sound that was happening way back then.
Johnny: That whole punk without a spin. Without a dedicated direction. Just playing punk rock and not trying to force it down a little road or sell a certain market.
Gordy: No one's ever going to be able to say, "That song doesn't sound like The Forgotten" or "That album doesn't sound like The Forgotten", because we shoot from the hip. We do what the fuck we want, because punk rock is about individuality and that's where it's going to go.
And if Joe Strummer likes your band name, that kind of trumps everything else. There's nothing else that can be said after that.
Nick: It's a big compliment.
Gordy: Exactly. We had a really big blessing with Joe Strummer. If we could do a little story time right here. We were out on tour and I think the last place we played was Arizona, in Phoenix and we were driving home and we found out that Joe Strummer was playing. He just played in San Francisco and we missed him and he was playing in The Troubadour in LA. So, we had five nights. We made a call and we managed to get tickets in. The tickets ended up being VIP tickets and The Troubadour has a VIP bar upstairs to one side of it. So, from our VIP bar we're looking at Dave Foley, from Kids in The Hall, and all these other celebs and stuff. We can look out the window and look across from us and we can see Strummer's dressing room. So, we see him pacing back and forth and we're like, "wow".
We hit the show and the show is fucking amazing. He played just about every cover The Clash ever played. It was fucking awesome and afterwards he came to our bar. So [during the show] we all went down their to sit on the floor to watch him, of course, because we're not going to sit up there and watch him behind glass or whatever. It's fucking Strummer. We actually got to hang out with that guy after the show and that for us was just fucking amazing.
That's how we found out about the whole The Forgotten thing. I had in my mind, I knew I wanted to meet Joe Strummer, I wanted to shake his hand but I was shithoused. So, when I first tried to walk over to him I tripped over an end table and end up on my ass. So, I got up and acted like I wasn't headed over there. (laughs) Tried to play it off, which I'm sure I didn't.
Dave: Nah, you didn't.
Gordy: But when they threw us out of there at four o'clock in the morning or whatever, I had to meet him. So, in front of the stage, I just walked up and shook his hand and I said, "I'm not gonna tell him I'm in a band," because I'm sure everybody does that. I just said, "Hey man, my name's Gordy. Thanks for being you, otherwise I wouldn't be me," and I was stoked I shook his hand. Well, we get in the van and we drive the rest of the eight hours back home. I hit play on my answering machine and it's my buddy Lars saying, "I was just hanging out with Joe Strummer last night when he was in San Francisco. I told him about your band and he said that The Forgotten was, hands down, the best name for a band". I was just like, so if I had just said, "Hi I'm Gordy from The Forgotten", he would have said, "We were just talking about you last night". (laughs) And it could have been a conversation, instead of me just, posthumously, sucking his cock.