Updated: Oct 20
By: Brett Hoag
Photography: Enrique Sanchez
Hail Los Angeles Metal Heads! I am at LA Gates of Metal Festival III with the opening act. Winners of the 2022 South Bay Music Awards Album and Song of the Year, SoCal's own Ninth Circle. I first met Frank at a Metal Hall of Fame Gala in 2018. This was the first time I had an opportunity to see him perform live with his band. They were nice enough to sit down with me after their set. Let me introduce you to Ninth Circle. We have Frank Forray on bass, Dennis Brown on guitar and vox, and the new guy, Captain Black, on skins.
Thank you for sitting down with me today, guys.
Our Pleasure. Nice to meet you in person!
Who's band is it? (everyone points to Frank) Why is everyone pointing to Frank?
D: He is the DVS (Riot V) or the Steve Harris (Iron Maiden) of Ninth Circle.
Who writes the lyrics?
F: I do. I write 90% of them and sometimes Dennis will throw some in.
How does your writing process work? Do you (Dennis) come in with a riff, or does Frank come in with a riff and some lyrics? How does it all come together?
D: Frank will have a riff; he plays guitar as well. Actually, he will usually do the whole thing and a lot of times, I will have like one riff, or he might need help on a verse or a chorus and then I'll help him out and vice versa. F: We take two avenues in writing. One path is I will generally go off on my own and write. I'll come up with a portion of the music that is the main riff or chorus.
Do you write on a guitar, piano, or bass?
I rarely touch my bass except in rehearsals or live shows, so interestingly enough, I mostly write on a classical guitar. Then I transcribe it to Electric and show it to Dennis and he's like, "Ah, I hate it" LOL
Are you trained in classical guitar?
No. I'm somewhat lazy and there are three actions: get the electric guitar, plug in and turn on the amp, whereas I can just pick up my acoustic. I will generally write a whole piece of music, sit back and think what it's about, come up with lyrics, and then show it to Dennis. And he goes, "Well, why are we singing about space aliens?" LOL D: Hey, that only happened one time! F: And so the other avenue is that some of it is very collaborative where Dennis will have a portion of music, or I will. Then, we will show it to each other and work on it from there.
How long have you guys been together?
D: I've been playing with Frank since we were sophomores in high school (late 80s).
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And Captain Black, Sir. How long have you been in the band? I follow Frank on social media, so I know you are relatively new.
CB: A little more than two years.
Ok, so you've been around long enough to write some music with these guys, but first, let me ask you my go-to drummer question and there is a correct answer (not really). Krupa or Rich?
CB: Oooo, that's a tough one. I'm going to say, Rich! (bell rings) and we have a winner! LOL
When these guys come in with new music for you to lay the beats down, what is your approach? How do you do that?
CB: This is actually a pretty straightforward process for me. For me and my approach, I get in there and start listening to what Frank put down. It's usually pretty raw, so I just get in there and listen. I might ask him, "What do you hear in there?" and put something in like that. My idol is Neil Peart, so his licks and thought process will undoubtedly influence what I do.
What are your hands doing? What are your feet doing?
The fills are going to be what they are going to be, but the rest of that? I want to play what the music is going to convey best. I don't want to overdo it, and I don't want to underdo it. It just depends on what that feeling is like and I go by that feeling as I know that is going to be the thing that fits.
When is the new album coming out?
F: We will let you in on a big scoop! We started in November of '21 and about six months ago, we were at 18 songs. It's probably the best batch of songs we've written yet. Then Dennis said, "Hey, why don't we write about six more?" Then we would have enough for possibly two. So, we will see. Right now, what we are doing is we are concentrating on one and we will probably have some that don't make the cut, or we will have some leftover, which will get us closer to getting two records out.
So, what is wrong with a double album, Sir?
It's a record company decision. Who are you currently signed with? We are presently with Pure Rock Records, a sublabel of Pure Steel Records out of Germany.
Are they good to you? Are they promoting you? Are they doing what they should do?
Yes. It's a very good partnership for us. They are great. We get all the Bratwurst and beer we want. LOL You can't complain there!
It's about six to eight months out. We need to finish it, we are very close. We have to get drum tracks and finish some backing vocal tracks. Then we give it to the record company and they put it on their schedule for release. Once we had it over to them, it's out of our hands.
Where are you recording? Where is your studio?
Redondo Beach, CA
Where can people see you guys live? Any upcoming gigs?
D: We don't have anything scheduled at the moment. We are hunkering down to finish the album. F: This is the last gig of our Summer Breakout Tour 2023. We started in May up in Sacramento and basically just did a giant beer run down the state of California. LOL
How was the tour?
D: Fun, it was great. F: Great turnout from the fans. Thank you all! Capt. Black: We had a lot of younger fans, which was great to see. Yeah, that is cool.
Where are the younger fans coming from?
D: We benefit a lot from MySpace and the internet.
To wrap it up, is there anything else you want to say to the Metal Heads out there?
D: We would like to thank everybody who came out here to Gates of Metal Festival III today. We started the Festival mid-day for day number one. F: We took time out of the studio to come out and play for the fans, especially at a festival like this. This gives us a really good connection with the fans. So, the next time we can give back to the fans, it will be a record.
Alright, that sounds awesome! Thank you so much for your time today, gentlemen.
All: Our pleasure!
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