Foresta rose to metal prominence with crossover revivalists Municipal Waste, a band that celebrate self destruction, set it to ripping riffs and encourage in-concert boogie boarding. Now joined with fellow Waster Phil Hall plus Paul Burnette and Ryan Parrish, both formerly of Darkest Hour, Foresta is set to release Iron Reagan's nineteen song debut Worse than Dead, a record that espouses a bleaker and more vicious worldview than we've seen from him before.
In order to see why Foresta has gone from being a party-maniac to just the regular kind of maniac, Punknews features editor John Gentile slipped a taser in his back pocket and met up with the vocalist where they talked about his new band, the concept of violence in harder music, and getting killed by GWAR.
A lot of bands get asked very serious questions about their song meanings, their influences and their intentions with music. But in regards to your bands, Iron Reagan and Municipal Waste, people always seem to ask you about drinking, partying and just generally getting wasted. Do you wish that you got asked more serious questions?
Nah, not really. It doesn't frustrate me. I know that we're a lighthearted band that has a good time. We try to make fun of people that get too serious. It got a little frustrating after Municipal Waste's The Art of Partying. People who didn't even know us would interview us and ask us stupid questions and I think that's what led us to do a more serious album after that, and it kind of didn't feel like ourselves so we back to ourselves and made a more party-based album.
But, Iron Reagan is being touted as more serious and darker.
The songs are shorter, more punker, more aggressive sounding. It's like a more pissed off version of Municipal Waste. We're still growing as a band. We've only been together like a year. We're still clicking as a band. Writing with Ryan and Phil is great and we're still growing. We just recorded for a seven-inch like last night and that has already progressed and it's turning into its own thing instead of a version of Municipal Waste that's just more pissed off.
So, Iron Reagan is rapidly evolving?
Yes, definitely. We're still getting used to playing with each other. Well, not me and Phil, but Phil, Paul and Ryan. You know, Paul and Ryan played in Darkest Hour for over ten years. Me and Phil have been playing together in the Waste for eight years. So, it's two pairs of guys that have been playing together for a long time colliding. Everyone is still working it out. We're having a lot of fun, and that's why we wanted to do it.
Why do you think that you are angrier on this release than past records?
It's a different outlet. You can't get too serious with Municipal Waste. I mean, you can, and I do, I take Municipal Waste very seriously. Something about the music just makes you want to take it to a darker place. Some lyrics are super serious and some lyrics, like when I'm writing lyrics with Ryan, it's very inspiring. It's helping me write a different way. There's nineteen songs. Some songs I'll write about stuff that I experienced in childhood. Some songs are about just what's going on now, like how difficult it is to get health insurance. There's so many songs, it's all over the place.
You talk about how Iron Reagan lets you cover a lot of different topics. Did you feel backed into a corner with Municipal Waste?
In some ways we did, but, I don't think it's a bad corner to be in. I could write a million songs about having a good time. Municipal Waste has sort of a fantasy element that you could take in any direction. I wouldn't really say that it's a corner. We can write stuff about wizards. I love that shit. I wanted something more hardcore influenced and darker.
Does Iron Reagan have a conceptual goal?
No, we never really had a conceptual goal. We were just friends that just wanted to play together. I don't think I've ever had a band that had a conceptual goal. It's always been like, 'This is how this sounds' and 'This is how this fits together.' I never really sat down and was like, 'This is where I want to go.' It's more like, 'This is what's bothering me right now!' What really kicked our asses to start playing together was I grew up with the drummer. My old hardcore band and his punk band used to play together in high school in Richmond. We never played in a band together. We talked about it forever. I've had the idea for Iron Reagan for like three or four years, the idea for a hardcore band. Then it all kind of came together.
People have said that your music has traces of the Cro-Mags and Exodus. Cro-Mags have songs about things such as violence and nuclear war that although are upbeat, have a very dour message. By contrast, Exodus sings about nuclear warfare like it's an awesome party and would be a great time. What is the angle that Iron Reagan takes with regard to violence. Take for example, your song "Cycle of Violence."
For that song, it's definitely more of a sad or pissed off perspective. I was talking to my friend this morning, and there was a shooting just down the street. It can be pretty bad. In Richmond, it hasn't been that bad lately because of the college taking over everywhere. Just coming up from that whole perspective in the city, that's where that comes from.
Now, you're a big fan of the herb, correct?
Not really, very rarely. The other bandmates in both bands are pretty much into that. I'm a beer league kind of guy. I'm more of a whisky kind of guy. I drink a lot of whisky.
Fair enough, but still, guys that drink a lot and guys that smoke the ganja are often characterized as lazy ne'er-do-wells. But, you guys are incredibly prolific between your many bands. Is that stereotype unfair?
Very. Phil—he doesn't get stoked when I talk about his drug use—Phil is one of the most productive individuals I've ever met. He does Iron Reagan, Municipal Waste and Cannabis Corpse. He just flew home from London two nights ago with Cannabis Corpse. I guarantee you that he is in a practice space right now working on something and we have Iron Reagan practice tonight. He smokes more weed than anyone I know. I think that's a stereotype because the guy is one of the most productive guys I know and he's a chimney.
What other misconceptions surround you and your bands?
I definitely think that it's a misconception that we're stupid people that get fucked up all the time. Also, that we're lucky to be where we are. We worked really hard to get where we are. I've never worked harder at anything in my life. That's one of the things that drives me crazy. Also, that we're just dumb drunks that don't deserve to be where we are or that we are just dumb drunks that don't have anything to say. People don't realize that there actually is cleverness to what we're doing.
I think that's true, but that gives rise to another point. The covers of Iron Reagan releases and Municipal Waste releases are done in a very '80s style. Do you ever feel that you are unfairly painted as a retro-band?
I kind of hate that. Nobody calls The Strokes a retro rock band. I don't understand why thrash music and certain style of punk get tagged with that retro thing. It's not like thrash stopped existing and then came back—well it did in a way—but it was always there. I'm used to it now. But, I'm like, 'Really, why aren't you calling these other bands retro? Why aren't you calling this group a retro hip hop group because they are rapping over a Rick Rubin beat?' That just drives me crazy. Thrash is now for me. It's blood for me. It's just the stuff that influences me. Corrosion of Conformity and Pushead artwork, that's what I like getting out of it. Looking at song titles and lyrics and contents of songs. That's the stuff that influences me. It's not a throwback. I just don't think it's retro. I just think that it's something that exists.
You know, you and I have something in common. Our first concert was the Beastie Boys. What was that show like for you?
I went and saw the first show of the Check Your Head tour. It was the break after Paul's Boutique. I was the first person there. I got to meet them because I was there so early that their bus pulled up. I didn't really meet them, because I was too scared, but they all said 'Hey, what's up?' as they walked by. Rollins Band was there, too!
You also toured with GWAR, the band of intergalactic marauders. How did you survive that? I thought that they killed everyone they meet?
I actually got killed on stage!
Oh, so they must have resurrected you??
Yeah, of course! I'm actually pretty good friends with them, now. I'm getting old now. They've been around forever. We've just grown to be friends and watch the Super Bowl together. I actually drink with Balzac the Jaws of Death all the time.