David Karen Forbes best known as vocalist with Boulevard expands on his singing career and what the future holds with regard to new music and live gigs.
Who were your influences in the early days and have you always wanted to be a singer?
I started listening to different styles of music really early in life. My parents were music teachers and wanted me to hear everything that was out there, well, ALMOST everything 😊 I started singing gospel at five with my family and a couple of guys that I loved were Andrae Crouch and the 5th Dimension. I know, I know, not really a rock background. When I was about fourteen and singing in the church choir (that my parents directed), a friend of mine that came to church there took me to his other church, an AME church that was down the street. That is where I learned about back beat rhythm! We would go there about twice a month and sing our hearts out, man, it was awesome. That’s when I fell in love with R&B, guys like Ray Charles, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Al Green, the list goes on. I also started listening to rock, Kansas, Styx, Foreigner, Queen, & Genesis. The first time I heard the band that changed everything for me, Boston, was the time I knew I wanted to sing for a living. The Boston/Boulevard “Third Stage Christmas tour” was the highlight of my career. Getting to meet and become friends with my idol Brad Delp was truly an amazing honour. Brad and I stayed friends until he passed away. As long as I can remember I’ve always wanted to sing.
Have you ever auditioned for the vocal spot in any notable bands?
I started singing in clubs with my twin brother and our older sister Patty. While recording a song in Calgary that was used by Molson for a men’s World Cup Downhill race in Banff Alberta, the engineer and co-owner of the studio was Mark Holden. I sang in clubs for 10 years and was just sitting down with my wife Karen looking at a calendar figuring out when I would quite touring when Mark called me, another sign! He called me about a year after we met and asked if I would be willing to sing with his band Boulevard because they were looking at being signed by MCA Records and he wanted me to sing for them. So, I guess in a roundabout way I did audition for Boulevard.
You have appeared on a number of albums. Do you have a favourite and why?
I think my favourite non-Boulevard album would be “Charming Grace”. The song “Shining Light” was why Pierpaolo Monti via Alessandro Del Vecchio called me to sing on after not singing for about 20 years. That is the reason Boulevard returned on the scene, Due to that song we were asked to play at Firefest “The Final Fling". I have very fond memories and a wonderful friendship with my Italian family 😊
Do you still get the same buzz out of singing live as you did in the past?
I think more in some ways. I hadn’t sung in so many years I thought I may never again even though it was what I loved to do. Seeing the crowds singing along and smiling is absolutely magical. I just wish I got to do it more 😊
Some vocalists are on strict dietary regimes or gargle with special liquids. How have you kept your voice in tip-top shape all these years?
Well, Jack Daniels and Diet Coke…hey, it’s rock & roll! Actually, I didn’t sing for so many years I think it gave my voice a rest and kept it strong. I try to sing a bit every day to help. I learned that trick from Mick Jagger, he does the same and has lasted for years still sounding pretty damn good.
Are there any musicians that you have not worked with, but would like to in the future?
There are a lot of people I would love to work with. Most of the musicians, singers, producers and engineers that I respect and are friends so I have a good chance of working with or already have. I definitely would love to work more with my Italian friends!
Is there any unreleased recorded material from your days in the bands you’ve been involved with that could be released?
We actually have several but there is a need to make them fit in this age, updating them a bit I think would make us all happier.
I see you’ve just released a solo album. Are there any plans for another Boulevard album?
It was perfect timing for a solo album right now. I had been writing material with a Swedish chap Pete Alpenborg and they were tunes that were a bit more rock than the last Boulevard album. When Steve Price called me and asked if I would be willing to do a solo album I must admit, I had to think about it for a few weeks. When I was told that it was with AORBLVD Records it seemed like a sign from heaven. Then I talked with Paul Rudland and became very excited to work with him. Then he asked me if it would be okay to include Steve Newman to co-produce the album with me. I am a huge fan of Steve and working and writing with him was a dream come true! I am a huge fan of both Paul and Steve and they have become incredible friends. And yes, Boulevard are writing tunes right now. I think another Boulevard album next year would be a good bet.
With the live circuit opening up again, is there a possibility that we could see you performing some live shows in the UK?
We are in talks right now and hope to be in Europe next year. It has been 5 years since our last show over there and we want to come back, European fans are brilliant!
Do you have anything in the pipeline at the moment that you would like to share?
After the rather quiet breakup of Boulevard back in 1991 I was not going to play clubs again after playing in colosseums and arenas so I worked construction for a few years. I found that I wanted a job that made a difference so I became a firefighter, then a Lieutenant on Engine and Ladder 46 in Ferndale here in western Washington State. I retired after 26 1/2 years. I always felt that I wasn’t done singing, that I had more to give and accomplish. Getting the phone call from Pierpaolo to me was a sign that I wasn’t done and neither was Boulevard, so getting to do this interview is an honor to still be in this industry. I know that Mark, Andrew, & Randall all feel the same about the Boulevard “unfinished business”.
Interview by Stuart Dryden