Bay Area Metal Scene recently conducted an interview with guitarist Steve Smyth (FORBIDDEN, THE ESSENESS PROJECT, ex-NEVERMORE, TESTAMENT). An excerpt from the question-and-answer session follows below.
Bay Area Metal Scene: Many people remember the news that broke when you had to leave NEVERMORE a few years back due to some health issues. It's great to see that you've apparently been quite busy since then. Fill us in a bit on all the projects you've been working on lately.
Steve: "Thanks, man! I feel much better now. It's been just over 3 years now since the illness hit, and I am now on my way to being three years post-kidney transplant.
"This was a heavy thing to go through. I was born with only one, didn't know it, and lived a very busy life, and the diet and lifestyle that can sometimes go with the lifestyle we live out there as metal musicians didn't exactly make it any easier on my body. I was in three bands effectively at the same time (NEVERMORE, DRAGONLORD, and my instrumental project, THE ESSENESS PROJECT), and was trying to accomplish recording three bands at the same time. This was 2005. It took a lot out of me, but we got a lot done that year. Little did I know the failure had started a year of so before then. There were signs and all, but I didn't realize that's what was going on. It took a badly sprained knee, and blood test while in the hospital, to finally realize that I was going into failure. More on that later.
"I am currently with FORBIDDEN, and we're writing a new album with them — really good heavy, progressive, thrashy metal, FORBIDDEN style!
"It feels really good to be playing thrash metal again, something I have missed, and I am looking forward to working further with the guys very soon on finishing the writing process for this album, and recording in early 2010. We released two songs already — 'Adapt Or Die' and 'Hopenosis' — and got a great reception for each upon their release, which I am really happy about! And those out there who liked what they heard, haven't heard the rest of the songs we have yet, but trust me, it's going to be heavy, and it's going to be FORBIDDEN!
"I am currently living in the U.K., and have put together a new band over here, with a great lineup. which I will be announcing soon enough. I basically was writing songs from the time I fell ill to now, and have about 10 songs in various stages right now, and with my friend and guitar player, Jamie Hunt (guitar, ex-BIOMECHANICAL), we have put together a lineup that I feel will surely devastate, once we get all of these songs in place! I am working on this in addition to FORBIDDEN, and the closest I can peg the style is that it's in more of a progressive thrash metal vein, seven-string oriented, but with some different influences in there as well!
"I am really looking forward to getting this moving along in 2010, in between my commitments to FORBIDDEN.
"I also am writing another album for THE ESSENESS PROJECT with my bandmate in this, bassist Steve Hoffman. We released our debut album, on my own label, Two Louder Music, in late 2007, and got a pretty good reception, then toured briefly on it, and got a good reception, and figured, what the hell, let's do another! This was a project Steve H. and I were doing back in the early '90s in the Bay Area, with Atma Anur on drums, and we did a four-song EP that saw limited release back then. So, we chose a song or two from those sessions, and a later lineup, and decided to complete the album, starting in 2004, and finishing in early 2007. The odd thing was, I was able to complete the album as a result of my illness! So, a lot of the song titles are reflections on what I was going through, and the music reflects this as well, I feel perfectly.
"The music for this next album is going to be a reflection of where Steve H. and I are now musically, and we have a lot of ideas, but the biggest thing we're focusing on is the song, as we did on the debut. The difference being, there's been a lot of time past between the writing sessions for that album, the recording of it, the release, to now. We've got a lot to say this time, and I have talked to a number of people about doing special guest sessions for this as well, as there are a lot of musicians I would really like to jam with, and this allows us to meet on a common ground, and get some jamming happening! We've already started writing, but it's early days, so I would figure we're going to write through the early part of 2010, then shoot to record starting in summer. That's the plan for now."
Read the entire interview from Bay Area Metal Scene.