Interview: Bolt Thrower

BOLT THROWER – interview by Rinaldo



The relentless rumble of double-bass, the snarl of distorted guitar, this could only be one thing: Death Metal, or possibly something out of hell. A stalwart of the scene has been Bolt Thrower, hailing out of Birmingham, England. The group has been waving the flag of straightforward, no apologies metal for years. They emerged during the mid 80’s and have lasted with little line-up changes until recently departing with pervious singer Karl Willets, for former Benediction singer Dave Ingram. Bolt Thrower moves out again, with their newest release, Honor-Valor-Pride to be released on January 15, 2001 and followed by a supporting Europe tour.

Rinaldo: So where are you at right now?
Dave: Denmark, Copenhagen, I live here now.

How long you lived there?
D: About four years.

So how long have you been with the band?
D: I’ve been with bolt Thrower.I’d say its been three and a half years. I was in Benediction before, I left them, it would have been March ‘98, about three months later, three and half I’d say, Bolt Thrower phoned me, asked what I was doing, `cause we’re friends. I said I’ve quite Benediction, they were like, holy shit, we need a singer, do you want to join us? I said sure, it was the perfect moment for me. Bolt Thrower been one of my favorite bands since their first album, “In Battle There Is No Law”, so I knew all the stuff, knew the songs, knew all the lyrics. Just imagine being asked to join one of your favorite bands, that’s what it was for me; its an opportunity I would not miss. Very proud that they asked me, proud to be here.

Is there any pressure joining a band like Bolt Thrower, with the legacy they have?
D: There’s no real pressure from outside, we put the pressure on our selves. We strive to obtain what we get, and its hard work. We discipline our selves, that gives us the pressure; its from within, rather then from any outside source. If anyone tried to give us pressure from outside, we wouldn’t care. Bolt Thrower is Bolt Thrower, we’ll do what we do, no compromise.

How do think your band fits into the death metal scene these days?
D: be honest, I don’t think we think on that level. Again, we don’t compare ourselves to other bands, we don’t take influence from other bands. If they take them from us, fair enough, that’s up to them. We want to keep our own originality, our own identity; and to take influence from other bands is to take part of their identity, and we don’t want to do that. So it’s difficult to say how we fit into the rest of the scene. Well, I can tell you we’ve been around for fifteen years, so we have a lot of experience; where as a lot of the bands around today are very new, and have little experience. There are pitfall traps out there, we know to avoid them.

Then who are the influences that you do have?
D: A lot of old stuff. Punk. Black Sabbath, that’s influence for Bolt Thrower. Discharge, things like that. That’s the stuff we play on the tour bus. That’s stuff I listen to as well. People would think since I came from Benediction that I must just be into death metal, not true. I listen to punk as well. Just before I joined Benediction, I had long dreadlocks. You know, I was into the cross core side of hard-core, crusty music. So people label you, but they should really ask what your influences are, I can actually listen to any type of music. I’ll say any type, I’m not talking about plastic pop music, you know that sort of shit. But music that’s been written from the heart. You can hear that in the song and I can appreciate that people have taken the time and effort to write it, and create it from the heart. That’s how it needs to be appreciated. The first band I heard that I got into was Black Sabbath. I was seven years old when I first heard “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath,” so that gave me my heavy metal head and I’ve had it the rest of my life.

Have you heard of Chuck Schuldiner’s death [Dec. 13 2001], who has been given much credit for the direct formation of the death metal scene?
D: I have heard about it, during a previous interview today. I have heard that Chuck passed on, and its a damn shame because he was a great guy, he was a great musician, and grand-fathers of the death metal scene. Its a big loss.

When are you guys going on tour?
D: Yes, we’re doing a tour in January. We do the first show in London, then we go across Europe. So in a weeks time, I’ll be travailing to England, meet up with the band, rehearse, and off right on the tour.

You’ve obviously toured with Benediction, so does this tour stand as anything new for you? Is this going to be just another tour?
D: Well no tour is just another tour. This isn’t the first time I’ve been out on the road with Bolt Thrower. I actually toured across Europe with them for the Mercenary tour three years ago. Since then we’ve done some festivals and a mini-tour with Fleshcrawl. So it’s not a new experience although there are new venues on the tour and that will be new experiences for all of us. Every show is new because you never know what could happen, what could be brought up, what situation could be thrown at you. Which makes it exciting. I’m into that. It’s hard work and problems are there to be solved.

Looking forward to any particular country or venue on this tour?
D: We all ways look forward to Holland. We’re not actually playing here in Denmark, but on a latter tour we may well be. I’m looking forward to that. Here in Copenhagen, I’ve got a lot of friends and I know they want to come down and party with us. That would be very cool.

Make it a sort of home coming party.
D: Of course. And also we’re doing one show in London, on this Euro tour on the 9th of January. Its the first time Bolt Thrower has played in England in seven years so that should be interesting. We’re looking forward to that one.

How come they been so long out of England?
D: Well, Bolt Thrower will play where people want us to play and apparently the last time they played in England not many people came. So they said, we’ll go somewhere where people will come, where people want us to play. And that’s on the continent. So the whole of Europe, the shows are wild, and that’s just perfect for us.

What’s different between Europe form America in terms of how many people turn out for shows? It seems like the scene doesn’t get supported as well here in America.
D: I’m thinking, maybe its because America is one country, and its so big. I mean it is big. The whole of Europe would fit in to America twice, at least on my map it does. I think Europe has so many major cites, I mean capital cities, its not as big, and people aren’t as spread out. Maybe, maybe, this is just theory, I suppose. It just seems like its not supported as much. But the people are there. There’s probably in fact more people, but they are so thinly spread.

How was the experience writing Honor-Valor-Pride?
D: It was a new experience, because previously I’d write on my own, lyric wise. Now I write a sort of structure, and then get a song, and write the lyrics to the song from the structure how I would see it. Then I would go round to Gave and Jo’s apartment. They’d play the song and I go through the lyrics and we’d sort of ricochet ideas from each other. Eventually something would come out of that. Even if it was one line, even one word. Then we would have this improved work. The lyrics, I’d have to say, were co-written by my self, Gave, and also Jo as well. Which is great, you know, they always say that two heads are better then one. Well three are better than two.

Is it still as rewarding as a writer to be involved in this sort of collaboration?
D: Yeah, because I’d start with the structure, and then I’d move onto the song its self, and it would be my lyrics that would ricochet the ideas out of Gave. So, I’m still within the creative process. And to me, when that happens, when the creativity starts to flow, it can only make the song better. That’s what I’m aiming for. And that’s what Gave and Jo, and the rest of Bolt Thrower, that’s what the whole bands is aiming for. To make the songs 110%. So it’s ideal.

Does Bolt Thrower try to stay away from labeling what kind of music you play? Or do you think it fits in well within a given category?
D: It depends on your point of view and your point of view at the time. Your point of vision, I’d say. I don’t label it, but then at times I’ll just say something, oh death metal. You know, but the one thing you can say about the music is its powerful, and its aggressive. What ever. You have to put even the smallest type of label to it, to anything. You do have to, but to me, it’s an extreme form of music. There will always be a call for this type of music. There will always be people who want to hear power with heavy guitars, drums, vocals… you know vocals that tear into the throat, stuff like that.

Are there any other bands you listen to within the “extreme” genre?
D: Obviously a lot of older stuff: Amebics, Vioviod, Black Sabbath again, especially with Ozzy, killer, oh and Ian Gillan when he sang on the one album with Black Sabbath that was something special [Black Sabbath, Born Again, 1983]. Nowadays, I quite like Nile, quite into that. I’ve heard a couple of tracks from the new Emperor album, that’s pretty good. Also, Iniquity, they are excellent, I mean they are friends of mine, and they do live just down the road form me. Its not because we get go out and get drunk together, its because they are good musicians. If I thought they were bad, I’d say they were bad, but they are not.

Any chance of Both Thrower coming to America anytime soon?
D: There is always plans for that and we spoke to the record label well before this album was recorded. They said ‘yeah, we’ll get you something in America’. We want to come. We’ve also talked about Japan and Australia, but because we’ve been to America before, that’s probably a greater chance it’ll be in America. I’m not sure when, I couldn’t give a date or I couldn’t even give a season that it would be. We want it to be in the near future. I would suggest that we should make it spring or summer. Like we were talking before, America is a big place, so your going to go from one extreme weather to another in a couple of weeks. That’s enough to screw a body up.

Any places in America you’d particularly like to perform at?
D: Anywhere in Chicago.

Why is that?
D: I’ve been to Chicago several times. I sort of lived there for a few months back in 89 and 1990. It was just the coolest place. Great people, wonderful city. I just loved it. We played at, damn, I forgot the name of the club we played at in Chicago, its wasn’t the Gooses, but I’ll think of it soon. But right opposite was this Mexican take away little restaurant place called Aurandas and they used to do the best burritos I’ve ever tasted. I still remember that, its on a street called Belmont. Anyone from Chicago reading this, go over to Aurandas and get a burrito, vegetarian, even though I’m not a vegetarian anymore. They were just splendid.

So what are you doing to prepare for the tour?
D: Because I’m so far away from the band, that obviously rehearsals are a little difficult. I’m waiting to go over to England because I’m going to spend a little time over here. My family, my mother and father are here in Denmark. They came today to visit through the Christmas time. Then I fly to England on the 31 of December, and I’ll probably go straight from the Airport to rehearsal. We’ll have like, seven or eight rehearsals which will be enough because here in Denmark, the band told me which songs we’ll be playing live, and I’ve just made a tape of the whole set. I just listen to it when I’m at work or I’m out shopping, or whatever, so I’m rehearsing all the time. I’m very strict with myself, very disciplined. I only listen to Bolt Thrower before the tour, so I get to know the set. Then when we’re on tour, after the very first show, after the very first gig, I take a lot of tapes and CD’s with me. Then I can indulge my self with all the music I’ve missed in the last two months.

What do you take on tour with you?
D: Lots of Black Sabbath, lots and lots of Black Sabbath. Nile, but the rest of the band won’t let me play it, because they really aren’t into the Nile stuff; its a bit too extreme for them. That’s cool, I understand their tastes to, and they do understand mine. They do know I like the extreme music. Lets see: Winter, Macabre, Slayer, lots of Slayer, Carnival, I could go through my whole CD collection, because I could take it all with me really. Couldn’t take them all, that be alot

Messages to the masses?
D: Lets try an be nice to each other this year. There’s just one guy we need to be nasty to, and then we can all have a bit of peace, I think. At lest until Bolt Thrower comes to town.