Kickass blues, soul, rock, reggae, a lil jazz and folk sounds. Inspired with whiskey and the dream of not having a real job.
Ian: I createdThe Forest Lights just before the pandemic hit. I’ve always had that kind of luck.Weplayed our first show a week before Chicago’s quarantine started. I’ve used some of the songs I wrote indifferent bands I’ve started over the years. I’ve played with a bunch of different musicians and I’m really thankful for the experience they’ve given me.
Rob: I got connected with Ian through a mutual friend, I understood they were looking for a bass player who could be plugged in quickly and be versatile, and I kind of fell in love with the band the first time we played together. I was in a weird spot personally as a musician where I was constantly wanting to be in a band and take it seriously, but hadn’t done so since high school or even before. All it took was the right connections, and immediately upon moving back to Chicago I got hooked up with The Forest Lights.
Ian: We were brainstorming on band names for a while. Band names are hard to come up with because all the good ones are already taken. Another challenge is that we didn’t want the name tobox us increatively. Sometimes a name creates assumptions about the music, and we don’t want to be held to anexpectation of a specific genre. We like to create good music, regardless of style, and we’re prettyeclectic.As for the name, The Forest Lights, it just sort of came to me and we liked the sound of it. Personally, I think it has a feeling of adventure and wonder but also serenity
Rob: What I love about Ian’s songwriting is that there’s no way to categorize what kind of band we are in one word…rock, I guess? But there’s so many sounds and inspirations he clearly draws from as a songwriter, and we as a band all have grown up loving music of hugely different styles, and you can pick up bits and pieces of all of it when we record or perform. You can also tell how wide our inspirations are by the covers that we play…everything from Hendrix to 90’s grunge to 2010’s pop. It’s awesome.
Ian: I guess Rob sums it up pretty well. We like to mix it up and draw on all the influences we have. Good music is good music, regardless of genre. As time goes on, you’ll see a lot more variety, too. We already have a ton of stuff written that we just need to record. Rob is also such a talented and knowledgeable musician that it’s brought new dynamics into my songwriting. Just keep listening and you’ll see what I mean.
Ian: I really love Chicago; I do. That said, playing original music is always going to be more of a struggle than being a cover band. In the beginning you have to beg your friends to come, and then hope that over time you’ll attract new fans.
Plus a lot of venues in Chicago rip off the bands and try not to pay out – you have to keep a close eye on them. It’s a lot of work, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Nothing beats the high of playing a great show.
Rob: I wish I knew how to answer this better, but since I joined the band during the pandemic I don’t really know firsthand! What I do know is that some of my favorite shows I’ve ever been to have been for local bands in Chicago…there’s a special kind of energy about them. I love performing so much and can’t wait to be back up on stage.
Ian: I know, and we’re working on it. We’ll be releasing an EP on there within a month.
Rob: Spotify is coming, stay tuned! I know I speak for Ian when I say that we’re extremely picky about how we sound on recordings, down to the very fine details, and we want anything we put out there to sound exactly how we want it to sound. This takes longer since we’re producing everything ourselves. But it’s always been a goal of mine to have music on Spotify so it’s coming!
Rob: Ha, the first periscope stream we did was a trail run, at best…we sounded awesome in the room that night but the technology didn’t do us any favors in broadcasting that quality to the world. Oh well! We’re excited to explore live streams like that on several platforms, since during this pandemic that’s the closest we can get to a real live show.
Ian: Thanks! To Rob’s point, that was our first livestream. Murphy’s law will of course be a factor, and we had some internet issues. It will be fixed for the next one. We’ll be performing a lot more livestreams during this pandemic, so just follow us on Twitter/Facebook to see when they’re coming up!
Rob: Social media is absolutely crucial in this day and age, especially now that we can’t play anything live. The band depends on social media to stay afloat until we can perform live again, and we know that, which is why we’ve expanded our footprint on the internet and will be releasing a bunch more content in the next few months.
Ian: Personally, I’m terrible at social media. Fortunately, my girlfriend Julia (who is also our band manager) is awesome at it, and Rob helping out a lot. I’m trying to get more involved, and over time hope to figure out what I’m doing.
Rob: That’s all Ian. I consider myself a pretty good musician but I attack music in a completely analytical, left-brained way…I really don’t think I’m creative at all, especially when it comes to writing lyrics. I stick to writing solid bass lines that bridge the drum rhythms with the guitar harmonies, and taking my solos when I get them 🙂
Ian: Unfortunately with this pandemic, there aren’t a lot of options for places to go when I need a break. Sometimes I’ll just have a couple of friends over to have some drinks and let loose. Sometimes I’ll do something physical like running or martial arts. When I need a break from producing/recording, sometimes I just take a break to sit back and play guitar for fun, with no agenda.
Ian: I don’t really have a ritual. I usually like to have a couple of beers and just try to have fun. It’s important not just to play well, but also have fun and really put on a show. If you’re not having fun up there, the audience won’t have fun watching you.
Ian: It’s funny…I never thought about it until people started telling me we have a Chili Peppers sound to some of our songs. I like to blend rock with funky riffs, so it makes sense. I think a lot of the folk sounds come naturally to me, too. I just write what I feel, so I haven’t really analyzed it.
Rob: Definitely one of the more obvious inspirations of ours. I think Ian’s voice has RHCP vibes, and comparing my bass playing to theirs is a HUGE compliment so I’ll take it!
Ian: Sort of. I’m no physicist, but as I understand it time is a dimension that can be experienced differently based on the spacetime distortion of gravity, or the relative speed between two objects. So we can potentially experience time differently if the conditions are right, which is kind of like time travel. Am I just being a giant dork right now?
Rob: Maybe science gets there eventually…but for now I think we have some more pressing problems to solve!
Ian: I’ve wanted to visit Montreal for a while. I also want to visit Quebec city for Carnaval. I’m going to check it out once this pandemic is over. I’d also like to thank you guys for inventing poutine and making great maple syrup – two things I love to eat!
Ian: I love Rick and Morty. Trailer Park Boys is great. Just binge-watched The Queen’s Gambit on Netflix, which was pretty good.
Rob: I kinda have a void in my life right now as far as TV shows go…I like to have one really dumb, funny, background noise sort of show, and one really smart, pay attention to every second sort of show. Right now I have neither. Taking suggestions!
Ian: Stressfully, haha. I think I’m just always behind on both.
Rob: I think our bio on a lot of our social media platforms contains “inspired by whiskey and the dream of not having a real job”…which is true! But it’s the fact that music is a passion of ours, not our job, that makes it so cool, I think.
Ian: We’re going to be releasing an EP to Spotify soon. After that we’ll be releasing a full album. In the meantime we’ll be making a lot of videos and livestream shows on social media, so keep an eye out for them.
Rob: Lots of internet content, like we talked about earlier. Follow us everywhere so you don’t miss it. And the instant Chicago opens back up and it’s safe to do so, catch us on as many stages as will have us up there.
Just follow us on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram). We’ll be publishing a ton of content over the next few weeks including new songs. We’ll also post about any upcoming releases or events. Thanks so much!
Vocals, Guitar, Keys/Synth
Ian Phillips is a life-long musician from Chicago, IL and founder of The Forest Lights. As a child he grew up playing classical piano, and began playing guitar as a teenager. He has a passion for playing every style of music, which shines through in his songwriting. He believes in developing technical ability but without losing sight of what music is all about: creating a shared experience of genuine feeling. Some of his influences are Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Foster the People, Rodrigo & Gabriella, Red Hot Chili Peppers and more.
Rob St. Claire
Bass, Guitar, Backup Vocals, Percussion
Rob St. Claire is a 26-year-old multi-instrumentalist from the Chicago suburbs who plays mostly bass for The Forest Lights. He grew up playing percussion and jazz guitar in school bands all the way through college, but since high school never played in a band “for real” until now. Rob loves performing, playing every instrument he can get his hands on, and using his ears and music theory knowledge to make stuff sound cool. His favorite musical artists are Cory Wong, Jon Bellion, Vulfpeck, Boston, Zac Brown Band, Snarky Puppy, Toto, Daft Punk, and All Time Low. Rob has two engineering degrees from Purdue University and works in the acoustics field full time. When he’s not working or playing music, catch Rob on the golf course or around the game of volleyball in some capacity.