Schultz & Forever – Debut Album Grand Guignol – Released Feb 23rd via Big Oil Recordings
Listen To New Single ‘Backwards’
“Expressive and ridiculously infectious” – Stereogum
The debut album from Schultz & Forever has been a long time coming, but Jonathan Schultz (the man behind the musical moniker) has spent the time exploring and delving into his artistic core. The writing process has been free, wild and joyful.
Schultz & Forever’s three EP’s to date have each been a creative leap – a stylistic jump from release to release. The debut album is no exception – here Jonathan Schultz’ voice unfolds theatrically in contrast with the low-key, slacker singing of the previous EP, Broadcast Dynamics. It’s yet another chapter in Schultz’ development, and includes one of the songwriter’s most catchy songs to date: Backwards, which Stereogum, described as “A dramatic track that is also a hell of a lot of fun”.
Grand Guignol, ‘the theatre of the great puppet’, sounds virtuosic and neither voice or single instruments are hidden – everything is clear, hand-played and tight, but it’s existential conflicts and feelings that are being dealt with. The entirely private is revealed in a very immediate way.
In the video to Backwards, Schultz is a croquis model: “I wanted to show, in a naked and honest way, who I am at this point in my life – and I feel that I’ve become a man since my last release.” he says. In this way, the video works as a metaphor for both the single and the entire album with its croquis positions and movements that symbolise death and rebirth.
Grand Guignol is a coming-of-age album in an extreme sense. Everyone can relate to breaking away with the ideas and convictions they grew up with, and to stand on their own two feet. But for Schultz, growing up has been a revolt against the very foundations of his beliefs. He was raised a Free Church Christian, and spent his school years in Christian schools. It wasn’t until college that things changed:
“That was the first time I heard about the Big Bang as a scientific theory, and felt my beliefs slowly starting to crumble,” says Jonathan Schultz. “Instead, I had to find meaning in music, art, and literature,”
“Music had a central role in my new understanding of myself as a heretic. Nick Cave, in particular, taught me that un-Christian thoughts are OK. Biblical themes run throughout the album, and at one point the narrator throws the towel in the ring, and acknowledges that Jesus has lost. It’s the protagonist’s angst in a dystopian reality, where evil triumphs over good.”
The album isn’t a complaint, but rather a personal journey and revolt: “My childhood was and is full of love, care, and attention, and I’ve never felt victimised. I understand why people find security and meaning in the idea of God, but I’ve never needed that security.”
Grand Guignol, with its dramatic title and images; it’s angst, doubt, fear, and religious fascination and condemnation, and Schultz’ doing away with all of his previous beliefs, ultimately feels like a victory. In the end, the listener is left with a feeling of catharsis, and of having arrived in an exciting place: of approaching stability.