Interview: Forest Park

Forest Park wasn't a band on The Banana Stand radar this year, but after booking Your Rival for a July 30th recording, we were glad to have been introduced to the group, who released a very strong and haunting four song demo EP in December of 2010. Together, the tracks on the album are some of the most promising work from a local band I've heard in several months. The story goes that Maya and Katherine starting playing music together in 2006, but didn't solidify as a group until the summer 2009. Cyrus joined the band in the winter of 2009, and Mike came aboard in the winter of 2010 when the demos were recorded. Academics and a trip to Africa have delayed the band working as much as they may have liked, and so, their show at The Banana Stand will be one of the first complete recordings of the group. You'll want to be there. -A


How long has the band been together in its current form? How did it come together?

Maya: I first met Katherine when I was around fourteen and she still lived in Anacortes, Washington. We both were the type to spend a lot of time on our own in our rooms making shitty recordings of “endearing” music. This being a less popular hobby for younger girls we naturally clicked and she sometimes came down to Portland to visit and play music together. When Katherine moved to Portland in 2007 to go to Lewis & Clark we started our first band together, Teeath. Teeath was fun and a good start, but it didn’t neccessarily sound like the music we spent most of our time listening to. This is why Forest Park formed.

Cyrus: Maya asked me to come play music with her and Katherine in the summer of 2009, after like four practices we played our first show and I became addicted to the sound they we’re creating, and I’ve never looked back.

KP: It was just me, Maya, and Cyrus for a while and we would play and it sounded good but it was missing something.  We decided after much thought, to get a bassist. That’s when Cyrus introduced us to Michael Campbell. I was kind of reluctant to have a bassist because I was just so used to playing guitar with Maya and felt it might overshadow us. But having bass in the band really adds to the dynamics and has made me work harder at creating those dynamics.

How would you describe your sound? What are your key influences?

Cyrus: We sound like a bunch of kids that hate doing nothing. As Mike says, there are a handful of noodles, a sprinkle of emotion and then some punk ass beats.  It’s also really loud and really quiet at the same time. As far as influences go . . . 

KP: Cat Power, Do Make Say Think, Genevieve Castree, Julie Doiron,Thanksgiving, Emily Haines, Electrelane, Like A Villain, Eluvium, Mt. Eerie, Kusikia, Takhoma, Kickball, friends who are motivated, fashion movies, living in my head, Anacortes, and Grouper.

Cyrus: The Mercury Program, American Football, Maserati, Caspian, This Will Destroy You, Scraps of Tape, Envy, Explosions, Broken Social Scene. Things that my friends create, people who are just as confused as I am . . . 

Maya: The Microphones, American Football, Cap’n Jazz, Little Wings, Algernon Cadwallader, Do Make Say Think, Total Bros, Broken Social Scene, Avi Buffalo, Penpal, Boyfriends, Headphones, Talkdemonic, Dragging an Ox through Water, Kickball, author Raymond Carver, painter Leon Gollub . . . nostalgically remembering shows of the past but also looking forward to the future.

Mike: Death Cab, Girls of Mars, hard bodies. 

Tell us your thoughts about recording live. What makes you interested in recording live at the 'Stand?

Maya: Recording at the Stand is a great opportunity for bands like us. As a band, most of our energy goes into playing music together and writing songs and it can be easy to overlook other important organizational things such as recording and what not. As a result of this, we don’t have any real releases to give out at shows or promote our band with . . . and when we cut a song out of our set it is lost forever.

Cyrus: It’s just playing music with your friends and what’s better than that? The Banana Stand is doing a great thing! It's giving an opportunity for bands to have really good sounding recordings for free. That's almost better than playing music with your friends, almost!

Katherine: I’m interested in recording live because we’ve never really heard what we sound like recorded. It’s always good as a band to hear from an outside perspective especially if you want to keep moving forward as musicians.

Mike: I'm stoked. We need some recordings love.

What's your favorite memory of a live show? Least favorite?

Cyrus: My favorite live show was a show we played at FOC Fest! Maya, Katherine and Nsayi (Kusikia) put together this amazing festival. We didn’t play super good but I felt more in touch with my band than any other show… The festival was about supporting the women of color musicians in Portland to help make the community more inclusive. My least favorite shows were the ones that I had to stress out about! 

Maya: One time this guy fell and his head was just laying on my pedal . . . and he didn’t move it. And I didn’t move it. He was just laying there. I think he’s okay . . . He’s a good guy.

KP: My favorite shows are always the shows where the PA is loud enough for people to hear the vocals. That just makes it all the more comfortable for us I think.

What are your favorite live albums?

Cyrus & Mike: The John Byrd EP by Death Cab For Cutie.

Maya: I’ve had Mirah’s College Park is Always Ready to Party for a long time and it’s nice every once in a while. DMST live tracks are always good.

KP: I don’t really listen to that many live albums but I really love the Gossip’s Live in Liverpool album. There’s just so much energy there.

What other projects are you all involved with?

Cyrus: Pardee Shorts!

KP: I play drums for my friend Fabi and another friend, Nsayi, plays the bass. I’m also starting another project with Nora of Typhoon and Glass Teeth, and Maggie of Youth.

What are you working on lately?

Cyrus: My brain.

KP: I’m doing two internships right now. One with Tom Tom Magazine and the other with the National Indian Child Welfare Association. I just graduated from college and am taking a year off to just do anything and most importantly, to do music. After that, I think I’m going to law school. But for now, I’m working on being productive in my life.

Maya: Making videos, life drawings, ten second long animations, taking pictures, etc. I am all over the place when it comes to art . . . but I’ve been thinking a lot about how I could combine visual arts with music . . . oh, and art school . . .


Thanks to Maya, Katherine, Mike, and Cyrus for answering questions, and for coming into record on July 30th, 2011. Be sure to RSVP on Facebook if you're coming to the show. You can find more about Forest Park on Bandcamp, Myspace and Facebook. The photo contained in this interview is by the amazing Jordan Strong, please check out his work.