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Forebear Talks Creative Process, Musical Influences, And More

Abbie Stellar |
April 5, 2015 | 12:34 p.m. PDT

Staff Reporter

Forebear is comprised of (from left to right) Scott Goldbaum, Molly Rodgers, Mike Musselman, and Nick Chadian. (@forebearband / Twitter))
Forebear is comprised of (from left to right) Scott Goldbaum, Molly Rodgers, Mike Musselman, and Nick Chadian. (@forebearband / Twitter))

On March 29th, the locally-sourced band Forebear played at Hollywood’s Lucky Strike Bowling Alley. The group is comprised of Scott Goldbaum (guitarist/vocalist), Molly Rogers (viola/violinist), Mike Musselman (drummer), and Nick Chamian (bassist).

The four musicians (who came together only fairly recently, as of 2014) have banded together to create and provide the Los Angeles music scene with not just their talent, but also with their innate creativity found within the depths of their authentic sound and noteworthy lyrics.

Joining forces with producer Scott Gordon, who has worked with artists like Alanis Morissette and Ringo Starr, the group strikes a chord as fresh, up-and-coming faces.

Prior to their performance, I was given the opportunity to interview the band and find out more about them, their process, and who they are as a group and individuals.

NT: What exactly brought you guys together?

Scott: What exactly? Want me to take this? Exactly what brought us together was that Nick, Mike, and I played in a band with another gentleman several years ago. When that band broke up, immediately I started focusing on playing out by myself a lot. Funny enough, Nick, who was in that band I just referenced, was also in another band and they hit the road and invited me to open a bunch of shows for them. So I had an immediate place to put all of my desire to play live into it. It was a solo project that existed as Wise Cub for a couple years, and when I tried to make a bigger sound out of it I put a bunch of friends together, different ensembles, but nothing really stuck that felt like a collective band effort until it kinda became full circle and not only did Nick and Mike become a part of this, but I met Molly, and bringing that classical soundtrack, influential string element to the band really changed things very dramatically. Over a couple months of working together, just the four of us, no derivative of that, just us, we decided to create something brand new. It’s not going to be the onset of “Scott’s solo attempt.” It’s going to be a brand new effort. 

Molly: Yeah, the songs we were writing were just completely different.

Scott: And to honor that sound change and the line-up definition, we thought we would come together as a new band.  When we thinking about names, we thought well, Wise Cub evolves into what? Paying back to Nick, Mike, and I playing in a band together a long time ago, I always think it’s fascinating to think of the ancestry of bands, where you once came from and where you end up, so looking up words like ancestor and synonyms for that I came across "forebear," which I thought was a bit of a double entendre. You’ve got the evolution of Wise Cub into Forebear and it also paid tribute to the fact that we had a history of playing together for a long time. 

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NT: Is there any certain driving force behind the types of songs you put out?

Nick: I think that the songs that we write, there’s not really one thing we’re generally going for.  We all have really different tastes in music which is cool, because Scott can come in with one idea and it can take on a totally different feeling based on if Molly’s going to play a classical-sounding arrangement over it, or I’m going to play a sort of folk or rock-driven bass line, or Mike’s going to say, “Hey, let’s totally change the time signature and make it weird.” So every song has a different output depending on who contributes more, and our process as a whole is super collaborative so… Uh… That threw me off…

Scott: Let me pick up where you left off then, because I think that you bring up a good point. It almost has to do with at what point in the song’s most infant form is it brought to other people? Ya know, whether it’s a riff that Nick’s just jamming in between us actually running songs we’ve already written? Or if it’s me having spent months on a verse and a chorus, or just the lyrics first, so in terms of the lyricism I have an idea of what I’m putting out there. What tangible message. But in terms of tone and just more of a visceral experience, that’s usually gonna come from the collaborative effort.  We’re really gonna figure out what it is, once we’ve sat with it for several months. Like we have this one song right now, on my part I’m completely changing the lyrics all over again after having worked on the idea of it with the band for over a year now, and after several months of doing it one way it was Mike, our drummer, who just really made it a point to say, “This needs to be completely reinterpreted.” It’s a song of ours that’s currently called "Little Foot," but it went from something that was really rift-oriented to something that had far more of a drone feel to it. And it’s just a lot of different shades kind of evolve over the course of us trying to figure out an idea collectively.

Nick: I think the driving force, in short, is to just always be doing something different that we’re excited about. Try doing something that we haven’t heard before. 

Mike: There’s a different point to each song, and when we find out what that point is, that’s what drives it.

Scott: Yeah, that’s the answer. Forget everything up to that point. 

Nick: That’s good. I’m going to start thinking about music that way.

Scott: That’s the perfect answer.

Molly: I feel like I don’t want to play "Little Foot," because I don’t remember…

Mike: What’s the point?!

Molly: … What the new stuff is! Since we’ve changed it, we haven’t flushed out the new version of "Little Foot."

Scott: I think you’re talking about…

Molly: Oh, "Delroy"…

NT: What was it like working with such popular artists like Bastille and Keith Urban? What other artists have you worked with?

Molly: Bastille was cool. It was an acoustic performance, so they had a string quartet. I was part of a string quartet, that came in. They have a new song called “Torn Apart”, you can find the video on YouTube or something, and it was a really cool experience. We worked with Dan [Smith] mostly. He came in and they brought his keyboard, and I was really impressed with how well he knew his stuff and what he wanted. It was a really intimate experience of being able to write the parts right alongside him, literally like half an hour before we recorded this video for Shazam. So it was a cool experience. I worked with Journey. I played a benefit show with then on DirecTV, and they were all really nice. I worked with Kimbra, and she’s an incredible person… Honestly, I can be a bit of snob when it comes to musicianship as a classical player, and I think that I had preconceived notions of, especially pop-artists going into it, and I’ve been really impressed with how people are actually really talented, kind, humble, easy to work with… All my experiences thus far with bigger-named people have been really great, really great.

Scott: The little input I can say is that I’ve been lucky for the few people that I’ve worked with of that caliber, in terms of celebrity, they’ve been absolutely wonderful. They’ve been role models in how they conduct themselves in their element of professionalism coupled with down-to-earthness. It’s really rare, particularly with Keith Urban and Randy Jackson.

Mike: Great skin, smell great. All celebrities smell good.

Molly: I can’t… I don’t know… I don’t recall any particular smells one way or the other. 

Mike: Gotta get closer!

NT: What’s it been like working with Scott Gordon?

(Nick claps)

Molly: He’s the best.

Nick: He’s the man.Yeah, Gordon’s just the guy who worked with Scott when Scott was doing solo stuff. Gordon’s just a cool dude. So, just whether we’re recording music or hanging out… It’s easy. That’s what it’s like working with him.

Mike: Words out of the mouth! Words out of the mouth.

Nick: I love it. I love that guy. That’s like all that can be said. He helps us be creative. He’s open to our creativity. It’s just super easy and collaborative. It’s awesome working with Scott Gordon. 

NT: So what types of music do you guys personally enjoy? Do you feel it plays a part in the making of your own music?

Nick: Like I said, everybody, ya know, so like… We all like different sh*t.I’ll never forget when I learned this bass line to “Sir Duke,” which is a Stevie Wonder song. It’s like the bridge. It’s like this crazy line, and I was really excited when I learned it and I played it for Scott, and he was like, “Oh, cool! That’s funky!” and I was like, “Dude, Stevie Wonder!” and he was like, “Oh! Cool!” And that’s like kind of why I love Scott. Ya know, ‘cause it’s kind of why I love Scott. I want to put the emphasis on kind of. No, haha but I love that like…

Molly: …even though we like different kinds of music, we all appreciate what everyone else likes.

Nick: And because he doesn’t listen to Stevie Wonder or the same [stuff] like I do, and vice versa with other acts. We can be super collaborative. Like Mike always shows the wildest hip-hop. Like there’s this band called Death Grips that’s just insane. It’s really crazy drumming and wild sounds, and there’s this really intense guy rapping over it.  And I love it! And it’s like whenever we’re writing a song and it’s too plain, and Mike’s like, “I don’t like this.” I get why he doesn’t like it, ‘cause he likes Death Grips. So he’d be more out there like that. So we all like different stuff, and it helps us be super collaborative.

Scott: Yeah, I think the collaboration thrives in that if I were to… in kind of coming from one core place that may fundamentally differ from say Nick’s place, as far as songwriting and taste is concerned, but where it overlaps is really, really rich, and where it differs it’s what makes it sound unique compared to, perhaps if I brought a singer-songwriter-oriented tune with a higher-gun bass player who’s worked with a lot of top-notch singer-songwriters. It’s just it’s interpreted differently. I spent so much time personally in the singer-songwriter world that I’ve strangely started to… resent isn’t the right word, but it’s the first word that comes to mind because I find myself wanting to go toward the alternative, and that’s where my three band mates really help carry me and motivate me to go. By working with these people in particular, it’s called attention in the past where I’ve relied so much more on conventions and almost, formulas, whereas now there’s some level of pop sensibility, but really we’re trying to push our music and this crazy amount of taste when we’re all putting our minds on one stage together and pushing it to the edge. Then as we’ve talked about recently, maybe taking a step back. 

NT: How do you decide the titles of your songs?

Molly: Sometimes, they’re just completely arbitrary. They’ll have nothing to do with anything.

Scott: Yeah, and I wanna say that’s been for like, when you think of the songs we’ve put out there, we have some working titles, ya know reference titles ‘cause like I said it can take a long time to work on a song so we’ll want to have something to refer to it by. But for me, oftentimes, like I’ve been really drawn to poetry that doesn’t have the title listed as the most obvious hook, but rather a word that’s nuanced, yet secretly possesses the most amount of weight. 

Molly: Yeah, sometimes if we’re working on a song that doesn’t have lyrics yet then we’ll call it something random and we’ll end up writing a song sort of about that.

Actor Delroy Lindo, best known for his roles in "Malcolm X" and "Crooklyn." (@SGouater / Twitter)
Actor Delroy Lindo, best known for his roles in "Malcolm X" and "Crooklyn." (@SGouater / Twitter)
Scott: Yeah, that’s true. We present challenges to ourselves in all different ways. Ways we don’t even realize we’re doing. Like we had a working title for a song called, “Delroy Lindo” and he’s this incredible actor…

Nick: He’s a great actor. You’d know his face if you saw him.

Molly: I didn’t know who he was till I saw the picture.

Nick: Yeah, I didn’t know who he was. I’d just heard the name.

Scott: Oh, that’s funny!

Nick: It was just a name that was in my head. 

Scott: So we referred to this song that we have as "Delroy Lindo" for a long while before I came up with lyrics. I watched him act, and watched some scenes that were particularly gripping, so I based a lot of the lyrical content around his work and actually made a song inspired by the emotion he put into what he does. The song will always be called "Delroy Lindo" for what it’s worth. 

NT: Do you guys find that you end up doing the music first and then the lyrics? Or does it just depend? 

Scott: Yeah, it just depends.

Nick: There’s no formula for any specific song. It could be anything.

Molly: Sometimes, it’s like we’ll just be playing around jamming, before/during practice and then we’re like, “Oh that’s cool! Let’s keep going with this idea.” And it’ll turn into a song. Sometimes he’ll [Scott] will come in with a riff, or I’ll have some chords in my head. Oftentimes, he [Scott] comes in with something he’s been working on, or teaching his students for years, and it’s like as a riff, a guitar riff, and we turn it into whatever film score-like creation it turns into. 

NT: Which song is your favorite from the EP and why?

Mike: From the EP that you have available… "Cusp." 

Nick: Likewise.

Mike: Why? I think that it encapsulates the most about what the band sounds like, or I want it to sound like. I get to do the things that I think I should be doing in a band. 

Scott: Not you as a drummer, but you as Mike Musselman?

Mike: Uhh… As a drummer?

Nick: Mike Musselman is a drummer…

Scott: Well, I mean I ask because you went to school as well. And I’m not somebody who went to school to learn guitar, but I share the same theme with you. That song to me I feel really at home in, because I feel like I’m doing something rather unique to my style of playing. It really cuts through in that song. As monotonous as it is, whatever I might be able to add that’s a little bit unique as a guitarist really cuts through in that song compared I think to the other songs on that record. So yeah, "Cusp." I also get to sing very differently than I tend to. "Cusp" for me was a song that really prompted this direction, and as Mike says, I think it does the best job of embodying what we’re about on that EP that you’re referencing. However, we’ve got four other songs coming out at the end of May if not the top of June, our second EP coming pretty soon.

NT: What would you say is the coolest thing you’ve done so far as a group?

Scott: Make it, make it this far.For me, I really think the coolest thing we’ve done is… I’m so in love with this band. Like I wrote this out one day, because I love it so much. I love these people so much. There’s this small, incalculable amount of paranoia at all times that I’ll lose it. Because I think some of the hardest parts about being in a band is really creating a band of people who you can rely on both in terms of live performance and in terms of tastes and in terms of delegation. We never talk at anybody. We’re always listening or communicating with each other. But I’ve been in so many bands and I’ve worked with so many people that I’ve come to value this real sense of permanence and fulfillment in these four people. Everybody in this band is indispensable and if we added another person to the equation it would be a very different form. So, for the first time in my life I’ve really come to fully appreciate the extent of arriving at what feels like, a lot of people say in a cliché sense, that when you’re with the right person you’ll know it. I think that parallels and is often more profound in a relationship that involves multiple people. Being in a band there’s a lot that you endure. You have a lot of shows when you’re playing to absolutely no one, and to go through that walk with people whom you love and trust and who you feel you’re meant to do every high and low with in life. That to me can’t be topped. So I’m just riding that way. That’s just me really speaking for myself. I’m glad you asked ‘cause it’s been on my mind and I haven’t really voiced that to these people in the room right now, but there you go guys!

Nick: Love you too, man!

Scott: That’s my answer, maybe there’s a better one.

Nick: No, that’s great. I agree. We’re just working really hard at trying to do something with this project and get it heard. 

Molly: It’s a long road to be in a band. We’ve so far to go, so far. It’s cool that I don’t dread doing it with these guys.

NT: Kind of fun question: In high school, were you popular or nominated most talented? Or something to that effect?

Forebear logo (Forebear)
Forebear logo (Forebear)


Molly: No, definitely not.

Nick: Molly was homeschooled. I was nominated the class clown. It was funny, I knew Scott a little bit through high school through mutual friends. We didn’t go to the same high school. Mike and I went to the same school, but I was afraid of Mike. He was a metal kid. He had long hair and wore eyeliner. 

Molly: You wore eyeliner in high school? No way!

Nick: He always had a crazed look in his eye, like he was always wide-eyed. In my eyes, he never blinked. [To Mike] In my vision of you, you never blinked. So I was like this little drama kid and I was like, “I do not want to mess with that guy. He’ll mess me up.”

Scott: Speak upon that, because when I think of Mike Musselman in high school, I didn’t know you then, I knew of you, but we were on different sides of the San Fernando Valley, but I could sum it up in: “Did. Not. Give a fuck.” 

Mike: I didn’t give a fuck because I didn’t know what real life was about. Now I have a glimpse of that, and now I cannot give a fuck for a reason. There’s a place in the world for me. There’s a place in the world for a guy like me. This is it. 

Nick: In the back of the Lucky Strike. Or the front!

Mike: I was very popular in high school, by the way. (laughter) Really though.

Molly (to Scott): You were popular in high school, weren’t you? 

Scott: Sure, I mean I liked a lot of people. A lot of people liked me. Got along.

Nick: We were popular, dude. I was the same way. Let’s not beat around the bush. No no, but it’s a different thing with being popular and sort of being liked. Like I played football in ninth grade, and then I was a drama kid. So I just knew everybody I think.

Mike: Yeah, there were different crowds. 

Nick: But I wasn’t like a popular guy.

Molly: I was the nerdy homeschool kid that played classical music and practiced five hours a day, and no one understood that. I grew up in Kentucky. Played computer games and watched "Lord of the Rings." Not at all like my life is now right… A little bit. Maybe the video games, "Lord of the Rings" is still a thing.

NT: What do you do in your spare time? Do you have any hobbies?

Scott: I was just talking about this. That’s why I think the answer to your question for what’s the coolest thing we’ve done so far, is figure this out. Because this is all we ever do. For me, it’s either I’m teaching guitar, voice, songwriting, I’m rehearsing with the band, I’m riding alone or with other people. I mean it’s just been this for now.

Molly: It’s very rare these days for us to either to not be rehearsing on a night or (not) have a gig on a night.  

Scott: We’re with each other anywhere from three to five times a week. 

Mike: That’s music. I live with a guy I write music with. I came from a rehearsal. We had dinner, now we’re playing a show. I have a show tomorrow night. I have a show Wednesday. 

Molly: I’m a freelance violinist/violist. If we don’t have rehearsal, it’s probably because I’ve got a gig or he’s got a gig. It’s a good thing we like it.

Scott: Oh, and learning different instruments for me has been something. 

Contact Staff Reporter Abbie Stellar here. 



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