Ronnie Martin (Dance House Children, Joy Electric), Jason Martin (Dance House Children, Starflyer 59), and Randi Lamb (Morella’s Forest 1988, Deer / Dear) originally formed a band called The Chant. They decided that was too simplistic, so they came up Morella's Forest. Ronnie wanted a name with “Forest” in it, and Jason thought of “Morella” based on the title of an Egar Allan Poe story.
As they played local shows, Jason's high-school friend Jeff Cloud (Pony Express, Velvet Blue Music) would come watch them play. They also recorded one demo, paid for by Randi's Mom. According to the story of Morella's Forest by Andrew Horton:
“Morella’s generated buzz based off of their live shows. With their darker guitar-pop sound and gothic fashion sense, they scandalized church concert bookers and titillated youth group kids. Ronnie grew his hair long and wore eyeliner, while Randi Lamb wore a skirt on stage.”
At some point when they changed names, they also signed to Narrowpath Records. They recorded a ten-song album called Tales at Casbah Recording Studio (Orange County, California) in 1988 with Chris Colbert (Breakfast With Amy, Fluffy). Some sources reported that they wanted to re-record it but never did. Ronnie and Jason were just 18 and 16 when Tales was recorded. It was originally scheduled to be released in Fall 1989, but was bumped up to Spring 1990 (and then the Summer). Randi Lamb left the band to form Deer / Dear, who released several songs on various compilations in the early to mid 1990s.
A later band from Ohio wanted to use the name Morella's Forest. They reportedly asked permission from the original band to use the name before officially using it for their band.
Work on releasing the album apparently started around 2011 according to Andrew Horton: “Work on this project started literally 10 years ago. There was a terrible quality cassette back up copy that existed that a few of us worked back-and-forth with trying to figure out how to remaster, cleanup, and then how to bring a whole project together to get this thing out into the world in a way that it deserved. Vinyl wasn’t even on the table due to the quality of the source material. I could name at least four different labels in that period of time that wanted to do it.”
One of those labels was Plastiq Musiq in 2016: “5 years ago, Plastiq Musiq was going to handle the Morella's Forest release and I built a teaser trailer for when we were going to start a campaign building up to its release. You can hear the quality difference as the audio was sourced from the surviving cassette dub.”
Finally inn 2021, Velvet Blue Music announced that they would be releasing this project as “Morella's Forest 1988,” with the album title being Tales. Chris Colbert - who had originally recorded the album - was brought back in to do the 2021 mastering. The BandCamp release had this to say:
“Morella’s Forest is one of the great lost bands, and their lone album Tales – (recorded in 1988) when brothers Ronnie and Jason Martin were just 18 and 16 – has been the ultimate lost album for over 30 years to the handful of people who even know it exists. The two brothers would go on to respectively form the cult bands Joy Electric and Starflyer 59. No track listing or audio has ever leaked out. Its long-overdue release in 2021 feels like nothing short of a miracle or transmission from another dimension. VBM is thrilled to have acquired the rights to this record, and to be putting it out into the world!!!”
Ronnie Martin - Guitars, Vocals
Randi Lamb - Bass
Jason Martin - Drums
Recorded by Chris Colbert