LIFE IS WHAT HAPPENS WHILE YOU’RE
making other plans, and sometimes all the
preparation in the world can’t protect you
from things going wrong at the worst possible
time. Since 1996, Doc and Dallas Coyle
made up the lead and rhythm guitars,
respectively, of New Jersey’s God Forbid.
In March 2009, just a few days before the
band was scheduled to hit the road on a
massive tour to support its latest release,
Earthsblood [Century Media], Dallas left the
band after a disagreement with Doc.
“Frankly, it was over something really
stupid,” Doc says, “Even though I’m his
brother, it’s still a little rocky right now.
I’d rather not get into the details.”
Doc started calling everyone he knew,
trying to snag a last-minute replacement.
Shortly after deciding on former Darkest
Hour guitarist Kris Norris, he had the
stressful task of teaching Norris the entire
set list in a few short days.
“We’ve always been a twin-guitar band
with lots of harmonies and varying guitar
parts because it adds a lot more atmosphere
and color,” says Doc. “God Forbid
needs a second guitarist, and we got lucky
that Kris could fill in on such short notice.
I don’t know what the future is going to
hold for us—it’s still a very new situation.”
The future didn’t turn out to be very
bright for Norris, however, as he was
replaced by ex-Himsa guitarist Matt
Wicklund in June 2009. Happily, Doc—
the only constant guitar presence in God
Forbid—filled us in on his style and the
recording of Earthsblood.
What got you into playing guitar?
I grew up addicted to MTV when they
were playing a lot of Metallica, Guns N’
Roses, and Megadeth. When you’re a young
kid, and you see a guy like Slash with his
cool persona, it’s very exciting. You aspire
to be put on that rock-star pedestal. I took
a few lessons, but I basically taught myself
off tablature and playing along with my
favorite records. I kind of learned through
osmosis, and I picked up a lot of stuff from
guys who were a lot better than me. I grew
up in a college town, and some of our neighbors
were musicians. I had a guy give me
his entire metal collection on tape because
he was replacing them with CDs. It was
incredible—an entire catalog of every metal
group you could think of.
What were some of your influences?
When God Forbid started playing gigs,
we got involved in the local Jersey metal
core scene. Local bands such as Hatebreed
and Dillinger Escape Plan brought
a different kind of heaviness that influenced
our style. As I got older, I started
to diversify my palate, and got into Radiohead
and Muse. I’m always interested in
new pop music—both Lily Allen and
Justin Timberlake are on my iPod.
Isn’t that kind of a weird admission for a
Really good pop music is rare, because
it’s so commercially driven. The artists are
so controlled. You have to be good looking,
and have coaches and songwriters, so
the music can sound fake and manufactured.
But, at the same time, I think if you
play metal, but love someone like Britney
Spears, you should say it. There’s kind of
an elitist attitude towards these acts—that
they’re no good just because the masses
listen to them. But, hey, if it succeeds, it
must mean they’re on to something. So
the more uncool everyone thinks a group
is, I’ll go out of my way to listen to it. People
are so caught up in coolness. I’m into
the anti-cool. We were doing solos in the
mid ’90s when it wasn’t a popular thing
to do. Everyone would constantly ask me
why I started playing solos. My response
was always, “Why did everyone else stop?”
What’s your take on shredding?
It’s too easy to play machine-gun riffs
that lack soul, and then you wind up
sounding like some kind of exercise. I’m
not as schooled as a lot of other players,
but I purposely don’t put much technicality
into the playing, because I want the
stuff to be fun to play. Especially onstage,
I want to be able to enjoy the show. I don’t
want to be glued to my fretboard.
What gear did you use on the new record?
We were playing the ESP DV8 Dave
Mustaine model for a while, so when we
decided to start playing 7-strings, we talked
to ESP about it, and they sent us some
Stephen Carpenter models. They were so
good that they became my guitars. You really
get used to having that option of a seventh
string—it opens up different riffs, new
avenues, and songs take unexpected turns—
but much of the new album was played on
the 6-string model because we didn’t want
to use the 7-strings as creative crutches.
I’ve been using SIT Strings for years—
they’re awesome—and my picks are In Tune
1mm GrippX-X. I’ve gotten heavier with
the picks over the years, because I realized
my hand was working really hard, and when
you have a heavier pick, it can sometimes
do a lot of the work for you. There could
be a change in the future, though, because
my hand tenses up a bit more onstage these
days, and trying a different pick might help
The main amp tone on the album is
a Bogner Uberschall. It had that really
nice, heavy-metal high end from the get
go. To get more mids and low-end chunk,
we layered in the Krank Krankenstein.
Live, I’m using the Randall RM 100 with
the Mr. Scary Module, and my touring
cabinets are the Randall Iso Cab and Guitar-
Cable.com Almighty Cabinets loaded
with 100-watt Celestions. They come
built into their own road cases.
Are you much of an effects guy?
I use the Maxon Overdrive to tighten
my tone—which is a trick I think everyone
picked up from Killswitch Engage. It sucks
out a little bit of your bottom end, but it’s
great for that metallic crunchy tone. Another
pedal I love is the Zakk Wylde CryBaby
Wah. Some wahs can be a little shrill and
overbearing at the top, but this one is really
smooth. I use it more for tone—I do a slow
back-and-forth textural thing on the pedal
to sound a little more soulful and less predictable.
Live, I use a Vox Time Machine
Digital Delay, a Maxon Chorus, an Ibanez
Phaser, and a Boss Noise Gate. For a while,
I was feeling a little bit stifled with my leads,
and I think using effects helped me step
outside of my box and challenge myself.