BOLT THROWER – In a world of compromise, some don’t!
Bolt Thrower. The name stands out from the crowd as one of the few who has made it through the industry for over 20 years without selling out or loosing focus. So when the chance came to talk to Gavin during the Inferno festival and find out how they managed to keep going I was more than happy.
ET: You have been at it for 20 years now as a band. What is your motivation to keep Bolt Thrower going?
GAVIN: To see the end. I have never seen the end of anything before. I always start up, but… I don’t care what it’s like ether. That is what I am looking forward too.
ET: When you are on the road or home relaxing, what do you enjoy listening too?
GAVIN: I listen to Rammstein a lot right now, Venom, Voivod, King Diamond. Every band member would have said something different.
ET: Sounds like you mostly listen to the same music you did 10-15 years ago.
GAVIN: Yeah, the old music is always the best. Mostly on vinyl if I can.
ET: Nothing of the new metal?
GAVIN: No, nothing! He he he.
ET: You recently recorded and released your new studio album. Those Once Loyal, what do you think of your effort on that album?
GAVIN: The effort? Pretty good. Probably not the best one, but
ET: Best one being?
GAVIN: I don’t know. Production: maybe For Victory, songs: depends. But the new one we thought was a pretty good standard, but we also knew we could have topped it straight away at the time. We did fuck up the production a bit, made some mistakes in the last two weeks so we knew that production wise we could walk all over it.
ET: Is the song writing a team effort in Bolt Thrower?
GAVIN: It starts individual, but ends as a team effort. Barry writes all of the guitar riffs and structures it and then the team sees it. Then they can change it or wrap their ideas around that. It is nice to have one vision, and to work around that vision. But it goes down as a team vote in the end, same as if the tracks make the album or not. When we made Those Once Loyal we had 25 songs to choose from. This means we threw away 15 songs.
ET: Did you really throw them away or will they be released later?
GAVIN: No, we threw them away. We still got some old songs lying around unused that we like, but right now we just want to tour a bit. Except the tour in January we haven’t toured for fore years. Still a lot of countries we haven’t been to.
ET: Those Once Loyal is your third album on Metal Blade after a long stay at Earache. How have they been treating you? How long is the contract?
GAVIN: The contract is for 5 albums. Maybe we get to the end of it and maybe not. Metal Blade has got a pretty good promotion. But they support their bands on tour, which we don’t particularly like. Right now they are pumping a lot of money into metal core and buying bands on the ozz fest. They see that as a new scene coming and they’ll pump it in. But they will lose in the end, because metal core aren’t selling a lot of records. They sell out shows and sell a lot of merchandise, but they do not sell too many records. But that’s where the main finance of Metal Blade is going at the time. So we are always going to struggle anyway.
ET: Yeah, but Bolt Thrower is a band that has always been there. But you have never sold out and made it to the commercial top. Bolt thrower has always been good, but has never really broken through the barrier and gotten a lot of attention.
GAVIN: But we could go through the barrier tomorrow, we could have done it fore years ago, but you know what the barrier is right? Do all the festivals and make videos. Then you will be big.
ET: But then you may end up sounding and acting like Metallica does now.
GAVIN: He he he. Exactly………. the problem is that all the bands we were into went really shitty. And they did that because they went looking for the new stiles. Thinking they were going to cross over into other music genders. We never wanted that. We wanted our band staying exactly as it was. And as we have kept most of our members for most of the time, and pulled back some of the other members at different times we have retained quite a strong unit. This is probably our best unit so far, it may not have created the best album, it may not be the best live, but we know it’s the best line up for Bolt Thrower, so everybody decided that this is the line up. So if one member leaves now, we will end the band. No more replacements. This is the final line up. Everybody is getting alone fine and wants to do this. We got a nice tight unit with the crew locked in as well. We are all best mates; otherwise we would not be playing music and touring together. You don’t want to be sitting on the tour bus with a lot of strangers thinking “who the fuck is he?” I don’t waste my time on people I don’t know. If I don’t know them they don’t matter, coz I would have known them if they did.
ET: I presume you have had to answer this a lot but what happened with the departure and return of Karl?
GAVIN: To start with the departure, Karl was going into another lifestyle, getting married and such. He still hasn’t finished his two degrees in university. He wanted to do that, so we were sure he was going to change his life around. So he pretty much went in that direction, but we kept in contact with him the whole time. After all he was a friend of ours. On Mercenary we asked if he could come in and do the vocals on the album. He did that, but couldn’t really commit himself at that point, but it bridged the gap so when we asked him to come back after that we didn’t ask him to stand in again. It was like either you come back as a fulltime member or you don’t come back at all. It was the best way, to get Karl back as a total member. Its weird, you always see your ex-members as more worthy than new members.
ET: I don’t find that so weird. Ex-members have made a contribution earlier; they have passed the test and proven themselves.
GAVIN: Exactly, or they wouldn’t have gotten in in the first place. The drummer we pulled out as well. We pulled another drummer in for Mercenary because our drummer was fucking around a bit at the time. The drummer we had was probably more technical but he didn’t fit in with the rest of the band. It’s as simple as that; you can be as good as you want, but if no one likes you there is no future in the band. Were playing simple music now, we want a solid drummer. Someone that you can spend time with. It can’t be all about the music, I am only going to be on stage with him for an hour, I might sit with him on the tour bus for 14-16 hours. You better like him or he’s just wasting a seat. We spend so much time together, but we do outside the band as well. If the band isn’t doing stuff the band members is still hanging out together getting wasted and things like that. We are all friends, the best way to be.