Joshua Heinrich has been very busy lately recently putting out a 5in5 EP as premature burial, a single release for fornever, while also new material for a new Black Wedding EP. Tomatrax caught up with Joshua to talk about his various music projects.
Where did the name fornever come from?
It really stems from the early days of the project back in the mid 90s. I found a lot of my songs sort of dealt with the idea that nothing is forever and this longing for permanence that doesn’t really exist. I think there was this sort of base idea that even in my happiest moments, there’s always this underlying hint of sadness because I know that moment is finite and there’s a part of me watching the clock knowing it will end.
What made you decide to use an alias rather than your name?
I don’t think I ever really saw fornever as an alias, per se. I always sort of saw it as its own entity or as a band, even if I was the only member. Maybe it was the fact that I was a big fan of Nine Inch Nails at the time and other bands that sort of had a central songwriter or presence that everything sort of revolved around. I guess I probably started writing and recording rough demos seriously in ’95 under my own name by default, but I pretty quickly started using fornever as a moniker.
I did almost use my real name for my experimental solo project, premature burial, since it sort of stemmed from some academic work I did under my own name in college and maybe some of the soundtrack work I did under my own name, but I guess it started to feel like its own thing, too. I mean, fornever and premature burial are both my voice, just representing different aspects of me. So, the experimental project ended up becoming premature burial, which was sort of tongue-in-cheek, actually. It may have been slightly inspired by the Poe story or the Banshees song, but it was really an inside joke about the number of times I started and abandoned the project before finally releasing the first premature burial album.
You’re just released your latest single for fornever, what’s it like to have it out?
To be honest, I’ve released a ton of music over the years, so it’s sort of old hat, really. I mean, when going through archival stuff this year or last, I took a bit of a count, and I realized that I’ve released over 450 songs between various bands over the last 15 or 20 years or so, not counting another 100 or so non-commercially-released songs/demos from the early years of fornever and tons of unfinished song
fragments on my hard drive and various backups. Just last year alone, I think I had around 10 releases between my bands.
So, to answer the question, I guess when I have a release these days, it’s a bit of a relief to finally call it finished and get it out there. I’m proud of my work, and there’s definitely the pleasure of having it out there for everyone to enjoy and digest, but the mentality is sort of like “Well, that one’s out. On to the next.” I mean, my mind is often already on the next project I’m working on, which I’ve sometimes already started work on by the time the previous thing actually comes out.
You also have other singles planned for release, how will these compare with your latest release?
I literally don’t really know. Well, I have a few songs in progress or brewing in the pot, not sure if they’ll end up as singles or b-sides or something else entirely, but I’m sort of taking things as they come. These days I sort of write as I record, so I’m planning on just plugging away at the next single between finishing up the Black Wedding EP I’m working on and other things and trying to get it out before the end of the year, with a 6th single planned for sometime in the first few months of next year. I mean, so far, the 4 singles (plus b-sides) I’ve released this year have sort of bounced between everything from synthpop to post-punk to synthwave to alt rock…although the songs have all been oddly cohesive, which is both odd and a bit fortunate since I’m planning to compile the singles and b-sides onto some sort of full length album at the end of the series.
I didn’t really approach it with any particular rhyme or reason, though. In fact, after all the stuff I released last year, the main point of the singles series was to sort of break from that pressure and sort of make a series of independent tracks without having to worry about how they might fit into the theme or sound of this larger work. I guess it was also a way to sort of continuously release new material rather than, say, disappear for a year to make a new album. Back to the question, though, I really don’t even know what genre the next single will be or what instrumentation it will use much less how it will compare to this one.
You perform across multiple bands, is it hard to juggle the different bands?
It can be difficult to juggle, especially since I’ve always sort of been a fairly central member of all of my bands where I pull more than my share of the songwriting and play the role of multi-instrumentalist and usually handle most of the production and artwork and all of that. I’ve rarely had any experiences where I’ve just, say, gone into the studio to record vocals or lay down lead guitar for a few tracks and then went off to do whatever. There are other pressures and issues that crop up, too, but I do like having these different outlets for creativity that each has its own voice…and I’m often working on more than one thing at a time, anyway.
When writing do you know which band you will release the music under?
I guess there are occasionally moments where it could go either way, especially with Black Wedding, where there have definitely been a few instances where I’ve said “Well, do I write lyrics for this and release it under fornever, or do I have Julie write the lyrics and release it as a Black Wedding single?” Other times, it’s easy to say “Well, this sounds more like Black Wedding than fornever.” Even though I primarily write all the music for both projects, I think I do let Julie’s musical tastes and lyrics inform the stuff I write for Black Wedding a bit, and I guess I have my own vision for that project, too, so there is sort of a line drawn between the two.
With premature burial, it’s a lot easier since that project has a totally different sound and stems more from my studies of experimental electronic music in college and maybe some film/videogame soundtrack work, I guess, as well as having starkly different influences. I think premature burial is a lot less mainstream and a lot more conceptual. That said, last year, I started working on a fornever track for an experimental compilation on Silber (which will hopefully be out soon), but, after recording it, I was sort of like “This sounds nothing like fornever. It totally sounds like premature burial. Should I resurrect that project?” At that point, aside from remastering all the albums in 2011 with some unreleased material on the ritual reissue, I hadn’t really recorded anything new under premature burial since 2003 or 2004. So, basically, I ran it by Brian John Mitchell (of Silber Records), decided to make it a premature burial track, and that eventually led to the 5in5 EP I recorded this year.
As for other past bands, there’s been some crossover, but it’s often a case where there’s enough distinction between the sounds of my various bands that I sort of know which song will work for which project…or it maybe depends on who I’m working with and what they’re contributing to the band.
You’ve put out 5in5 EPs as part of Black Wedding and Premature Burial, was it hard to complete 5 songs in 5 minutes?
I actually did a 5in5 EP under fornever, as well…so I’ve done 3. It wasn’t really that hard and ended up being more intuitive than I anticipated. They all came together really smoothly and quickly, oddly enough. I mean, I think with all 3, I sort of approached the 5in5 idea as sort of creating a 5 minute “piece” broken up into 5 “movements” or something…where there’s this progression of 5 songs that sort of have this narrative and blend into each other. I mean, the premature burial one was probably the most diverse of the 5 in that each part has its own very unique instrumentation, with a couple of more standard songs that were sandwiched between a processed violin piece, a processed recorder/tin flute piece, and an ambient processed guitar piece. On the other hand, it might have been the most cohesive and focused, thematically or conceptually, of my 5in5 releases.
How did making a 5 minute EP compare to your usual release?
I’m not sure it was radically different, really. Like I said, with the songs flowing into each other, I was sort of working with the mentality of it being sort of a 5 part, 5 minute composition. So, I basically mixed all of the songs into one 5 minute piece (or, in some cases, recorded bits of it into one 5 minute track) and then chopped it into the individual 5 songs at the point where one started fading and the next came in. So there was maybe a bit more of a collage thing happening, and things were maybe a little more formulaic and precise in terms of , say “Okay, I want a 30 second instrumental interlude between these two tracks.” It wasn’t a radical departure for me, though.
You’ve also been working on another EP for Black Wedding, how has that been going?
The music’s recorded and mixed. I just have to get the vocals finished up. I’m actually hoping to get it out this month or next. It’s sort of an interesting EP, because it’s based on some of our earliest unfinished songs/demos from around 2003/2004, around the time we formed Black Wedding…stuff I came across while going through old backups last year while doing some reissues and 20th anniversary stuff for fornever. The partial fragments I came across were really good, but I guess we put out the early version of “control” as a promo single sometime in 2004 and sort of moved on with new material without looking back. So I sort of decided to write the missing parts and finish the recordings and then got Julie on board to write lyrics for one of the songs that was lyric-less. So it’s sort of an interesting blend of where we were like a decade ago and where we are now.
Do you ever listen to your own music?
Sure. I mean, sometimes, it takes me a while after a release before I can listen to something objectively…you know, after listening to it probably hundreds of times during recording and mixing and mastering. So it might take me a few years before I can go back and listen to an album and fully enjoy it from a pure “listener” standpoint, but I listen to my own stuff here and there. I think I’m particularly fond of the instrumental albums I’ve released under fornever, which I’m maybe a bit more detached from simply because of the lack of vocals.
What other music do you listen to?
This might be the toughest question of the interview. I have a playlist of some of my early musical influences up on Spotify that might give some insight:
It only goes through the early days of fornever, though, and doesn’t even begin to touch all of the stuff I listen to, which probably hits everything from new wave to shoegaze to goth rock to darkwave to indie rock to grunge to modern pop to some hip-hop to post-punk to synthpop to trance/dance/electronica to industrial to some metal to…well, I’m sure I’m leaving out a ton of genres and subgenres, but you get the idea. If you looked at my CD collection or recently played list on Spotify, you’d probably think they were compiled by a dozen different people sharing an account.
Actually, here you go…a second totally haphazardly ordered 3 hour playlist of some modern favorites and influences I was working on as sort of a sequel to the original influences playlist…
So, there you have it. I’ll see your question and raise you 6 hours worth of music in the form of playlists.