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An Interview with Shadi Omar Al-Khansa of Forming the Void

Forming the Void of Lafayette, Louisiana is not only one of my personal favorite bands in the delightful world of sludge/stoner/prog, but they just might be one of the hardest working. Just a year after the release of their second full-length album, the acclaimed Relic, the quartet is releasing a two-song split with Pyreship in March and their third album, Rift, is due for the summer. Indy Metal Vault caught up with Forming the Void guitarist Shadi Omar Al-Khansa to get the latest scoop on their contribution to the split, the upcoming album, and the fun odds and ends in between.

Indy Metal Vault: It’s already been a year since Forming the Void’s last album Relic was released. How do you feel about the way it turned out in hindsight and how it’s been received by the music community? 

Shadi Omar Al-Khansa: We’ve been really pleasantly surprised by how well it’s been received.

IMV: The band is already planning to release its third full-length album Rift this summer, and is releasing a split with Pyreship in March that features a new song “To the Wolves.” Was there a sudden burst of new material written after Relic came out, or was it more of a case of having preexisting material to work with?

SOA-K: We started writing for Rift shortly after we finished recording Relic. While recording the new album, Pyreship approached us about doing a split, so we took some time away from working on Rift to write and record “To The Wolves.” That was the first completely new song that we wrote with our new drummer, Thomas.

IMV: When listening to “To the Wolves,” I noticed that it is more straightforward compared to your previous material, particularly with the almost bluesy riffing style. How would you describe the writing process for the track, and was there a conscious attempt to make it sound different?

SOA-K: “To The Wolves” was the first song we wrote completely with our new drummer, Thomas. He’s a rock&roll guy through and through, so we wanted to write something that was geared towards his strengths.

IMV: Will “To the Wolves” appear on Rift, or is it exclusive to this split? If not, is there anything on Rift like it or is the song its own thing?

SOA-K: “To the Wolves” will only be released on the split.

IMV: Going along with that, how would you describe Rift’s overall style?

SOA-K:  After Relic, we wanted to write more songs that would add drive to our live set. Thomas joined the band a few weeks before recording and the whole thing came together organically. Overall it’s a little less meticulous and there’s more energy and ‘feel’ this go round.

IMV: I’ve noticed that going back to 2015’s Skyward, you guys have a penchant for one-word titles. How do you guys decide your album titles and what is the significance to each one? Any recurring ideas or attitudes to them?

SOA-K: We tend to choose a title that represents a common theme in each album and the use of a single word had a striking effect when you find the right one.

IMV: What are the band’s goals for the rest of the year and possibly going forward? Is there anything on the group’s bucket list that still needs to be checked off?

SOA-K: We’re hoping to keep playing shows further from Louisiana. We’re getting used to making some long drives and taking more time from our day jobs, which has been great. We want to keep the momentum going in hopes of getting to Europe next year. We’re getting riffs and ideas for the next album, so hopefully we’ll get that squared away before the end of the year also.

IMV: Relic closed out with a strong rearrangement of Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir.” How did that come together and were there any other songs that were considered at the time? Also, any chance of doing something similar on Rift or any future outings?

SOA-K: We had been wanting to do a cover for a while. Something that influenced us all and that we could adapt to fit our sound. We have such a mixed bag of influences so nothing really resonated with everybody until the idea of ‘Kashmir’ came up.  We were very happy with how it turned out, and luckily it was well received. We’ve been talking about how we might push our luck even further next time though, so just stay tuned….

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