HHH: First off, how did you guys get your name? It is a pretty interesting moniker for a band like this....I'm also wondering what necessitated the change from Forte (the band's original name) to the more American spelling of Fort?
Andy Walker:At first, we were just getting together up at our drummer's pad for a few jams here and there between surfs… At the time, George Christie, our guitarist had a bit of a thing for these pain-killers called 'Fortes'. He had a sore back or something like that… It seemed fitting at the time to name the collective after a high-strength, mind-numbing pill. What's in a name anyway? Something short, to the point. Something easy to remember. Something without 'The' in front of it. Turns out that a few people had the same idea in places that we planned to release the record, so instead of a name change, we just dropped the E. Now it seems we're named after 'a strong place occupied by troops'. And that works I guess….
HHH: You guys sound a lot like Clutch, the Sword, and maybe a little Kyuss, at least in my opinion. What kind of music inspires you to write, and what is the hard rock scene in Australia like?
Andy Walker:There are five of us in Fort. Five guys with pretty different taste in music! We tend to draw from a lot of stuff. I would say that our biggest influences are from bands that we play with, you get a real idea of where they're coming from when you spend time with a band on the road. And if they are rocking it live, then that is definitely inspiration enough to incorporate a little of their sound into ours. So yeah, Clutch, Nebula, Brant Bjork and the Bros, Fu Manchu, The Hard-Ons, they've all played their part in influencing the Fort sound. But then again, so has Lee Scratch Perry, AC/DC, Sabbath….! The rock scene here is alive and well. It is a lot harder for a band to cover a lot of ground in Australia. The distances between cities is huge as is the price of fuel. But we all manage to get around. If a band is good and the members are prepared to go the extra mile to play their music to people, then they will succeed in Australia.
HHH: Still on the topic of Clutch, you guys did a massive tour with them not so long ago. How did that come together, and how was it playing with one of the world's most criminally underrated bands?
Andy Walker:We have been in contact with the guys from Clutch for quite a while. We had tried to tee up a tour out here a couple of years back, but for whatever reason it didn't work out. I caught up with Jack, their manager, in New York last year, and with the help of Atlas Agency (Australia) we put the tour together. They are a really cool group of guys to tour with and they put on a rockin' show. And Clutch fans are sooo dedicated. We had people following the tour and coming to every show. Good times!
HHH: As I said previously in my review, your band is very talented at mixing things up evenly between hazy, spaced-out moments of mellow bliss and more sludgey hard rock that is pretty raw and aggressive. How do you play so well to both camps and is this a conscious decision the band thinks is an integral part of the Fort sound?
Andy Walker:Yeah, we like to play with dynamics in our music. I think an all out 'balls to the wall' Fort album with no space, could be a little hard to take, and we would probably get a little bored playing it like that too, it's good to keep things interesting. I dig the spacey moments in Fort tunes. Makes the rumbling even bigger!
HHH: You named your debut album In a New Light. Is there some greater message there, like perhaps redefining music or a particular rock scene? How did the name come about?
Andy Walker:No, nothing as profound as that. More along the lines of still being out and about when the sun is rising. In A New Light was our second release, and it does have a more refined sound than 'Tripping in the Vast Exterior'. So I guess maybe a redefinition of the Fort sound…???
HHH: Being featured in Rolling Stone Magazine is considered a sign of having "made it" so-to-speak here in the States. How did that happen for you guys and what was it like?
Andy Walker:It's always good to be shown a little appreciation, especially in such a public display. But its also a fact that the press can be a bit fickle too. We seem to have a good balance. We have never been called 'rock's saviours' or 'the greatest band on the planet' or anything like that. But we have been praised here and there for the hard yards that we have done, which is always good.
HHH: Your music is pretty heavy, but I'd say it is still accessible enough where it could make a minor splash on radio, not unlike other Aussie imports like Wolfmother. Are you hoping to move in that direction, or would you rather be a bit more underground?
Andy Walker:I still want you to respect us in the morning. But it would be a shame if Fort remained so underground that nobody even got a chance to make up their own minds. I think that we're going to just keep making the music that we wanna make with out our potential 'success' as the driving force. That said, it would be nice to tour internationally without leaning on our credit cards, if you know what I mean….
HHH: Closing time!!! What kind of things does Fort have planned for the future? Any tours, new albums, etc.? Here's your chance to say whatever you want to the world at large!!!
Andy Walker:We have just spent the last 6 months tracking our new record. Mixing is planned for late 2006 and release in early 2007. We will be touring off the back of that for sure. Depending on how well the record is received in other countries will dictate our touring schedule a bit. But if all goes to plan, then we should have a busy couple of years ahead of us!