A little after the release of "Those once loyal", BOLT THROWER's fronter Karl Willets found the time to answer my questions which dealt with the album, BOLT THROWER's excellent reputation as a live band and the upcoming band's anniversary. |
"Honour Valour Pride", your last studio album, was released in 2001. Though you're kind of famous for taking your time between albums, 4 years is undoubtedly quite a long time. What happened in these 4 years?
Karl: The band spent some time in 2001 promoting HVP, then got around to writing new material sometime in 2002, the material was near a stage of completion when Dave Ingram left the band in 2003 and it took the band a few months to sort out a replacement vocalist. At this point the songs that had been written where deconstructed/reconstructed several times throughout 2004. It took some time to complete, but I think the end result has been worth the wait.
"Those once loyal" - that title sounds a bit - disappointed perhaps? What do you want to express with that title and is that the basic idea behind the whole album?
Karl: The album title is a reverential nod to all that have helped and supported Bolt Thrower throughout its 20-year career. This includes individuals such as John Peel, and past members of the band and our crew, it also refers to the fans/supporters of Bolt Thrower without whom it would not have been possible.
Is "Those once loyal" "just another BOLT THROWER album" or is it different? If so, what makes it different in your opinion?
Karl: It is a generic Bolt Thrower album, containing all the essential elements that create the Bolt Thrower sound, However on this album the production quality is much better, also the bass sound is more audible than on previous albums, which enhances the overall feel to the album dramatically.
Are you able and willing to give us some details on why Dave Ingram left the band during the creative process for "TOL", after a very successful album and some very successful tours?
Karl: Dave lived in Denmark, the band in the UK, which made rehearsing difficult for a start. Dave had a number of personal issues that he had to sort out and therefore could not give 100%to the band, this is why he left. He is now doing well and has started a band called DownLord, they are playing with us in Denmark/Sweden is April.
As a result of Ingram's departure, Karl Willets, who had been BOLT THROWER vocalist on all of the studio albums except for "Honour Valour Pride", returned to the band. Was he the front man of choice and how did it feel to have him back in the band?
Karl: I have always been the first person in line for the position of Bolt Thrower vocalist. When I left the band back in 1994 there was no animosity or bad feeling, like Dave at that point I just could not give 100%, I did the vocals on the Mercenary album and the band understood my reasons for not joining then. It feels great to be back in the BT fold. Like meeting up with lost relatives in a way! The chemistry within the band is better than ever!
A lot of people say that BOLT THROWER are pretty much like stone - they refuse to evolve - and that your music sounds pretty much the same all the time. Do you take that as a compliment or how do you feel about statements like these?
Karl: The BT sound is constantly evolving, but in small shifts rather than great bounds! We just play what we like to hear; we live by the motto “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it”. It works for us; people know what to expect from us, which in a way is comforting when you live in a world of constant change. We kind of feel that if we changed the sound it would dilute the effect.
As Metalblade Records sent out Promos of "Those once Loyal" with lots of voiceovers to prevent the spread of these songs in P2P-networks, I'll dare to ask you about your opinion on the whole MP3- and P2P-issue. In fact, with "HVP", BOLT THROWER made it into the German charts almost on top of the P2P-boom. Are metal fans different from other music fans? What is your opinion on this situation?
Karl: Call me a Luddite, but I have yet got into the whole mp3/ipod thing yet. I feel that it effects the record companies rather than the bands, in fact free downloads makes the music more widely available, As long as people come to our live shows, that is the main thing. I can see the demise of record labels in the future as an outcome. I don’t know about Metal fans being different from other music fans, but there is a lot out there as was witnessed on our recent tour!
The band exists for almost 20 years already. Could you describe your impressions of changes in the metal scene, especially the extreme metal scene of course? What is different, what is still the same perhaps?
Karl: The scene where I live has changed, as you would expect in 20 years, but it is still alive and healthy which is great to see, from my observations off our last tour there was a wide variation in age group from teens to people in their late 40’s (there even was a 10 year old at 1 of our shows!) there seems to be more women involved in the scene these days which is positive. Good to see people still stage dive!
Is there anything special planned for the anniversary next year?
Karl: We hope to continue playing gigs and maybe release a DVD or something, we intend to take some live footage from the Rock Hard gig! Got to start writing some new songs for the next album!
In January and February 2006 you'll be touring Europe and you're already confirmed for the 2006 edition of the ROCK HARD OPEN AIR. With many fans and journalists considering you to be one of the best live bands of all times and with the band's probably most acclaimed tour so far not that long over, do you somehow feel under a certain pressure to live up to everyone's expectations?
Karl: No pressure! It’s really excellent to get back out on stage and do the thing that I am best at doing! The dates we did in January with Malevolent Creation, Night Rage and Necrophagist where fantastic…killer shows, sell out crowds. Amazing stuff!
I wish you much success for the album and the upcoming shows and would like to thank you very much for taking time to answer my questions.
Karl: Thanks for the support of Bolt Thrower. Hope to see you at one of our forthcoming shows! Grind On…Always!!!!!