What is the by-product of a powerful force that has no regard for the consequences or the repercussions? Thousands upon thousands of adoring fans.
Swiss extreme duo Bölzer are unlike any other in the metal realm right now – primal yet innovative, provocative yet decorous. And a need to get to the bottom of this two man wolf pack was at the forefront of my mind… It was a test of the nerves to get to the nitty gritty with Okoi Jones last week as he did the rounds with the Australian media outlets on the band’s first headlining tour down under….
Now the band have been here before so knowing what you know, what are your expectations this time around? “We are really looking forward to coming back first and foremost. We’ve got a growing fan base in Australia, we’ve got very passionate and fervent fans so that is something we are very appreciative of. Due to the circumstances it will be quite a thing for us to fill a headline position, but we’re willing to do that and see what comes of it”.
Bölzer have had time to reflect on the first album release, Hero, so what was the gravitational pull in this new album in particular – where did you focus the most? “I can’t say there was a specific focus – it was just anything I am feeling during the writing process, that period; and it just comes out and influences everything I do and it’s like jumping into a pool of energy during the time of writing and everything revolved around it; every waking hour of the day until I’m finished! Then I can step back out and look at things objectively and focus on the next job at hand. This time, I think we’re just really happy with the results. We wanted to do something different to Hero – we want to do something different each time; to challenge ourselves and see where we can take things and I think we’ve achieved that. We’re just waiting on the mix and master to get things rolling”.
The new material, being two to three years on since Hero, is sure to be highly anticipated as over the last five years the name Bölzer has just spread like wildfire. So for those playing at home, what do you feel is the draw card to Bölzer and the massive amount of fans it has been gaining over the last few years? “I guess people just like our different take – it often gets thrown into the pot of black, death metal. We share a lot of bills with black and death metal bands. I would not call ourselves a black metal band by any standards or a death metal one for that matter but they are genres we enjoy a lot absolutely, we feel acquainted to them by a certain sense but I think perhaps we’re just doing things a little differently. Also the fact we’re a duo – it can be quite a challenge, so people may want to see function or disfunction” [Laughs]
I have only seen Bölzer the once; back in 2015 when the band supported Behemoth and Watain in Sydney, and immediately I heard the material incorporating a lot of styles; not necessarily all black, not necessarily all death – though there’s quite a big doom anchor there – the music is quite pioneering yet also primal – how do you achieve this balance? “I don’t know [Laughs] I couldn’t answer that on any intellectual level. It’s something we both feel acquainted with. Expressing ourselves in a raw primal manner – at least music is one medium where you’re allowed a lot of freedom to do that. It’s not as if a man can go out in today’s society and express himself in a primal sense [Laughs] – you can live out a lot of energy in music and art, positive and negative. It’s a healthy, cathartic thing for sure and I guess if you have the ability to tap into that energy source that’s great and it’s something you can definitely nurture and improve and I guess that’s what we try and do”.
The sound achieved is attributed to being a duo? Do you feel any more working parts might miss the boat? “I would dare say so, it has a deciding role for sure. We’re left to our own devices. It all comes down to how we write things. We give ourselves a lot of time for it to take place, then the material can gestate and ripen on its own so we won’t force it. At the end we’re happier with the results this way”.
Taking your time, the smartest approach – what challenges do you encounter personally when writing for Bölzer? “Well, I’m pretty critical of anything I do and I think my drummer (HzR) is also, I think that’s part and parcel with things taking more time then they might with someone else who is less discerning. We don’t like to be faced with something we regret later. Something that is unripe in nature and does not possess that which we feel. This is an ongoing challenge but one we willingly take on. Travel can be very demanding – balancing work, your private life so neither suffers. We decided early on to not be a full time touring band, we would rather have a bit of a contrast to this whole circus. Your creative output is thankful for that and the material benefits from this”.
So when can fans get their hands on this new material and what trip are we going to go on with this new release? “Stylistically it is just us [Laughs] I think the recording quality and the songs themselves are far more mature. There is a lot of organisation going on regarding the structural, logistical and business side of things. We are undergoing a few changes as a band, there are many matters to be decided on in the coming months so I think we can expect it to be released later this year, just prior to the European tour, all info will be announced soon though”…
You’ve mentioned the negative and positive aspects of art and self expression – all the criticism and controversy that the band has gotten over the years; do you feel society is hell bent on painting all extreme bands with the same brush at times? “We’re experiencing – by we, I guess the extreme metal genre as such – are experiencing a lot of attacks and negative press and opinion from many different sides and I think it comes down to the fact that people in all walks of life in society at the moment are quite discontent with what’s going on – there is a lot of rubbing going on between extremes and not many people are taking the time to think and be a little more centrepole. It’s easy to spring on an extreme opinion, you can be left or right; I am a friend of neither really – I like to take the hard road and consider things from all levels and I think that’s essential in all decisions one makes. So, for a lot of people to see things they don’t understand, combined with a short attention span, we’ve been raised to account. It’s due to sitting in front of a screen all day. I think they’re all deciding factors and people not being prepared to think things through – anything that is different and out of the ordinary suddenly needs to be labelled and put into a category to understand; I mean that is a primal trait we possess, we are animals, we need to categorise things to see if they are a positive or a negative or a threat – or not. But I think it’s our duty on an intellectual level, all of our capacities pending, we should take more time to look at things. Sure, there are a lot of idiots in the fucking metal scene, there is no doubt about it – a lot of opinions I most certainly don’t agree with but I think a lot of people are being faced with unwarranted attention. One needs to experience things first hand or at least research it very concisely before making an opinion and choosing to slander someone else’s life or work”
So how do you combat against this as a musician? “There have been a lot of misconceptions with us in the past simply regarding some of my tribal tattoos. I have some sunwheels on my body, as well as many other things from different cultures. Due to the mere fact that some symbols were misused during a short period of history, being World War Two, has brought people down the base level I was referring to before; sensationalism and jumping to an opinion before thinking or researching things – to label us or me as being some kind of promoter of white supremacy or racist ideals was initially very shocking of course as I have African roots, my name is African, my father is half African, so it speaks for itself but a lot of people chose to ignore that, which was even more shocking but I think a lot of people have woken up to that fact that we have nothing to do with politics whatsoever”.
Bölzer replace Deströyer 666 as headliners on the forthcoming Australasian dates:
May 28th – Auckland, Whammy Bar w/ Exordium Mors + Pervertor
May 29th – Wellington, Valhalla w/ Stalker + Pervertor
May 30th – Brisbane, Woolly Mammoth w/ Blackhelm, Graveir + Eternal Torment
May 31st – Sydney, The Factory w/ Diocletian, Bastardizer + Tyrannic
June 1st – Melbourne, Max Watt’s w/ Diocletian, Denouncement Pyre + Blackhelm
June 7th – Hobart, The Brisbane Hotel w/ Ruins + Blackhelm
June 8th – Adelaide, Enigma Bar w/ Blackhelm, Abstract the Light + Convulsing
June 9th – Perth, Amplifier Bar w/ Wardaemonic + Solum