One of my all time favorite Death Metal bands, BOLT THROWER, is back with an awesome new release, "Those Once Loyal", and an extensive European tour, packing the houses, and once again delivering their brutal, hard driving Death to the forefront of the Death Metal world. For the better part of two decades, BOLT THROWER, has soldiered on through many lineup changes and ups and downs, goods and bads, but always delivering the heavy, hard driving Death throughout. Now, with Karl, Barry, Gavin, Jo and Martin solidly back together, the thunderous roar of BOLT THROWER is once again a driving force in the Death Metal world. I sincerely appreciate one of my all time favorite vocalists, Karl Willets, for taking time in the midst of their European tour, to share some good words with me.
TELL ME A LITTLE ABOUT WHERE YOU'RE FROM ORIGINALLY AND WHAT THE MUSIC SCENE WAS LIKE GROWING UP THERE.
I grew up in the suburbs of Birmingham. There was a fairly healthy music scene in the city throughout the 80's with a variety of good venues and promoters operating. I started going to punk and alternative gigs in my late teens. There was one now legendary venue in Sparkhill; Birmingham called the Mermaid, which all the upcoming bands like Napalm Death and Bolt Thrower used to play at regularly. When I joined Bolt Thrower in 1989 there was a particularly good metal scene in Birmingham that revolved around pubs called the Costermongers and the Pen and Wig.
AT WHAT POINT IN YOUR LIFE DID YOU BECOME INTERESTED IN MUSIC AND THE WHOLE ROCK LIFESTYLE?
I was always interested and aware of music, my father ran a musical entertainment booking agency as a spare time job back in the 60's/70's.. So I was always around musicians. Also, my older brothers (I have 3) were all involved in bands, so I had a taste of it from an early age. I clearly remember going to gigs like Crass, Antisect and Sacrilege when I was 16-17 and being moved by the sheer power. Thinking like yeah I'll have some of that please!
WHEN AND HOW DID YOU DEVELOP YOUR SKILLS AS A MUSICIAN?
Skills may be pushing it a little! I can only say my vocal technique is almost an instinctive primal thing. I can't deliver it without the music. I got my taste for performance through being a choirboy in my early teens (It paid a hell of a lot better than doing a paper round. You could rake it in at weddings!) I remember having to do a solo as my voice was breaking. It was awful and I never went back. But I remember the crowd being receptive and encouraging, which I liked a lot.
WHEN AND HOW DID YOU AND THE OTHERS MEET AND HOW DID BOLT THROWER FIRST COME INTO EXISTENCE?
I joined the band after the original vocalist Alan West left in 1989. The band was originally conceived in 1986 and recorded 2 demos. My mate Whale was the drummer in the band at the time and they needed a driver/roadie, which is how I got to meet up with the band. For a biography check our website: www.boltthrower.com.
YOU'VE HAD A STORIED CAREER AND TGOD HAS BEEN A FAN FOR A LONG TIME. CAN YOU GIVE ME SOME HIGHLIGHTS AND/OR LOWLIGHTS FROM THE PAST TWO DECADES.
Personal highpoints are numerous. Hearing the band on John Peel for the first time was amazing, recording and releasing the first album was incredible, touring Europe is always a pleasure, going to Australia was certainly memorable. Low points are few, our roadie dying in a crash, having our backline stolen in Newcastle, shit UK gigs losing money, a disastrous US tour where me and Whale left the band.
HOW DID YOU ALL COME BACK TOGETHER FOR THE NEW ALBUM "THOSE ONCE LOYAL"?
Dave Ingram whom joined the band in 1998 parted company with Bolt Thrower in 2004; Baz gave me a call and asked me if I was interested. I clearly remember being overjoyed with the offer. I was at a point in my life where I really had no clue what I was doing. So the chance to do the one thing that I really enjoyed again was an offer too good to refuse!
TELL ME ABOUT THE MAKING OF THE NEW ALBUM. THE WRITING, THE MUSIC ETC.
The whole process took some time, but the end product is really clearly worth it! The whole recording process was intense but also very pleasurable, the chemistry really works in the band, like back in the nineties. Once the riffs where formulated to create the structures of the songs I worked on the lyrics and timings along with Gav, making small adjustments throughout the whole process. The pressure was on to produce a generic Bolt Thrower album, which I think we successfully achieved.
YOU'RE IN THE MIDDLE OF A HUGE EUROPEAN TOUR. HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE BACK ON THE ROAD WITH ALL THE MEMBERS AND HOW ARE THINGS GOING SO FAR?
The first leg of the tour which consisted of central Europe lasted for 30 dates and was phenomenal. It was killer to be out there playing gigs. It felt special, almost like a homecoming! We all feel particularly triumphant and victorious.
HOW DO THE CLUBS AND THE CROWDS DIFFER TODAY THAN IN THE PAST, OR ARE THEY PRETTY MUCH THE SAME?
We try to stick with clubs and supporters that have supported us in the past, clubs that we enjoy playing at. The crowd on the last tour was definately the biggest we have played to.
Consisting of old school Bolt Thrower fans to younger kids, they where as wild as ever. Possibly wilder. We had a guy in a wheelchair crowd surfing at our first gig in Enschede, Holland.
WHAT BANDS DID YOU GROW UP LISTENING TO AND WHAT ONES ARE YOUR FAVORITES TODAY?
Call me stuck in my ways, but I still listen to the bands that I grew up listening to, Bands such as Trouble, Candlemass, Axegrinder, Antisect etc. They still remain my favourites there is very little other metal that challenges it.
HOW DO YOU SPEND YOUR FREE TIME WHEN NOT TOURING OR IN THE STUDIO?
For the past year it has been fairly busy doing Bolt Thrower, but in my free time I go and support my local football team, Birmingham City, who aren't doing very well this season! I am also into scooters (vespa/lambretta) I currently have a Vespa PX200. I like to read, mainly contemporary fiction and drinking down the pub with my mates!
DO YOU THINK, WITH THE SUCCESS OF THE NEW ALBUM, THAT THE BOLT THROWER LINEUP WILL STAY INTACT?
I can confidently say, that after the reception the band has had from the last tour, all our intentions are to carry on doing what we love doing for as long as possible. We all had such a blast! The whole experience has been 100% positive for Bolt Thrower.
WHO ARE YOUR SUPPORTING BANDS ON THE TOUR?
On the first leg, we had Malevolent Creation, Nightrage, and Necrophagist playing with us. We are still confirming the other bands for the second leg. At the moment Gorefest will be playing.
I NEVER HAD A CHANCE TO SEE BOLT THROWER LIVE, BUT I HEAR THE SHOW IS AWESOME. WHEN MIGHT I GET A CHANCE TO SEE BOLT THROWER IN THE STATES?
We'd love to get our asses back stateside, but we haven't had any suitable offers. Our last visit to your continent was terrible so we are wary of coming over and getting stiffed again! Hopefully we will get there in the not too distant future in some form!
WHO WOULD YOU LIKE TO BRING WITH YOU ON A US TOUR?
Well, we had such a good time on the last tour with the guys from Malevolent Creation, it would be fantastic to hook up with them again. That would be excellent!
HOW IS YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH METAL BLADE RECORDS?
They are pretty good as a record label. They have promoted the new album fairly well. It is difficult for labels having to contend with downloading at the moment.
WHAT CAN WE EXPECT FROM BOLT THROWER OVER THE NEXT FEW YEARS?
We are going to carry on playing gigs as often as possible because we enjoy it so much! We will start working on new songs soon, so maybe a new album in the not too distant future.
Thanks for your time. I absolutely can't wait to see you guys in the States. You know Tgod will be there front and center sweatin' and stompin '!!!!!!!
Nice one&look forward to seeing you there!
If there is anything else you would like to add, please feel free.
Big respect and thanks to all our supporters. Those Still Loyal. Grind On!!