Interview with Forbidden's Craig Locicero: Taking The Thrash Out
Forbidden is a classic thrash band in every sense of the word. Their roster has included members of Slayer (Paul Bostaph), Testament (Glen Avelias), Strapping Young Lad/Fear Factory (Gene Hoglan) and Machine Head (Robb Flynn), but through it all, guitarist Craig Locicero has kept the Forbidden sound anchored down with brutally precise riffs and shredding solos.
The band went on hiatus in 1997, and aside from a one-off appearance at the Thrash of the Titans benefit concert, they lay dormant until 2007. During that time, Locicero drifted away from metal, but now he's back. Forbidden's latest, Omega Wave, also features Steve Smyth (ex-Nevermore), and it sits right up there with the band's touchstones, Forbidden Evil and Twisted Into Form, as a bona fide Forbidden classic.
How did you approach writing metal again after not playing it for so long?
With a fresh, clean palette. I haven't been playing metal, per se: I've been playing hard rock stuff and writing different kinds of music. So going back into it after not having exhausted all my metal ideas, it was just really cool. It was a very enthusiastic process for me. I jumped into it feeling happy to do it finally, after figuring out basically what I wanted the subject matter to be. In my imagination I try to envision something first before I start writing the riff. That's just me personally, but that's how I do it. But it was a lot of fun embracing the metal!
Well, there are some emotions you just can't really convey in other styles. I can't imagine an angry pop song, for instance. Metal is the sound of how anger feels.
Yeah! It is the sound of that feeling. I think most likely, more people understand that than don't understand that, but a lot of times I think it gets lost in translation, and especially between the generations. We had younger fans when we were coming up and it was a pioneering genre, and it was different. Lyrics were much simpler: God, the devil, Ronald Regan, nuclear war; very few resources that we really pulled from. The Cold War was part of it but the paranoia of things hadn't fully engulfed everybody yet because we hadn't really started realising the level of corruption. The internet has kind of brought that heightened sense that you're being lied to. It's just a very interesting time we live in.
What amps are you using these days?
I've switched to EVH 5150III amps. When I tracked my guitar for the record I used my Gibson Les Paul to track the rhythms. I have many, many Les Pauls, but I have one I really like that has some real bite to it. I ran a dry DI signal at the same time that I'd use a Mesa Dual Rectifier or an old Peavey 5150, and my Langer preamp, which is a prototype that I used back in the day with Forbidden. I thought it was pretty cool but I wasn't getting that punchy midrange that I really wanted - that cracking, picked mid. Luckily we got an EVH 5150III, and of course it sounded great, and I've been using that ever since. That's a great amp, man. You can put everything straight up the middle and you've almost got exactly what you're after - it's in the hand after that.
And what axes do you use? I see you with Deans a lot.
For all my solos on the record I used the Dean stuff I have, but I use multiple guitars in the studio. I'm really into the classics. I like Les Pauls, Fender Stratocasters and Telecasters. For my hard rock stuff I use Les Pauls. Live it's no problem to use Deans for all the stuff. I use arch-top MLs live and they're really, really nice. They're great guitars and my tech swears by them. I have no problems with my guitars whatsoever.
Peter Hodgson is a journalist, an award-winning shredder, an instructional columnist, a guitar teacher, a guitar repair guy, a dad and an extremely amateur barista. In his spare time he runs a blog, I Heart Guitar, which allows him to publicly geek out over his obsessions. Peter is from Melbourne, Australia, where he writes for various magazines as well as for Gibson.com.