Swiss extreme metal band Bölzer have burst onto the scene in the last few years taking crowds by storm as a duo with a unique take on black, death and speed metal. They are set to play the upcoming Siege of Limerick alongside Primordial. Ahead of their trip to Ireland, we chatted to Okoi Thierry Jones (stagename KzR) about Ireland, the origins of their name and their Irish label Invictus Productions.
<<<GP>>> You've previously described your name as a “a chaotic strike of energy” why is that?
Initially when we formed the band it was a word or term that I had been thinking about and contemplating and it seemed very appropriate at the time for what we were doing. I guess some years down the track you adapt yourself to that principal of the band name in some way. It’s a concept that isn’t foreign to us, the celebration of natural forces, something very chaotic in an essence but also creative and decisive.
<<<GP>>> Your songs primarily focuses on individuality as opposed to the cliché of darkness and evil. Can you expand on why you choose this path?
Our themes are not often revolving around religion, demonology or many of the darker themes you find within extreme metal. There’s a lot of dark subject matter in my admittedly cryptic lyrics sometimes. They’re not really straight forward and some of them are quite abstract. For me, it covers a lot of terrain. I deal with a lot of personal dark issues as well and that’s just as negative as it could get. I am moved by a lot of negative happenings in the modern day and age. I guess that is probably what moves me to create something more positive and forceful. It’s a good change.
<<<GP>>> Is there a message of "better yourself" in your music?
Yeah precisely. It’s definitely dealing with that; bettering oneself and improving trying to attain something unattainable, hence the name.
<<<GP>>> Do you think being a duo allows you to portray you and Fabian's individuality during your performances?
I guess. I don’t see us as being important on stage though. I would rather like to think that we successfully transpose the energy that is contained within the music or execute the songs in a way that this energy will be received well or understood. Sometimes that happens and sometimes it doesn’t. I think the shell of the person performing isn’t important to me. When I attend gigs that leave a memorable image with me then it’s really the music that’s moved me and sometimes the visual aspect ties into it but it isn’t the core of the performance for me.
<<<GP>>> Are there any benefits of being a duo?
Oh yeah, for sure. There’s pros and cons as you’d expect. I am sort of the main song writer, but I rely on Fabians input a lot because he has a very cool head on him and I’m kind of the reverse. Sometimes I rely on him to steer me in the right direction. He has a very valuable input.
<<<GP>>> So it’s kind of hot versus cold?
Precisely haha. It’s kind of to be expected from those cliché sort of duo relationship sort of things right? We are one of those I guess.
<<<GP>>> You are known to use a ten-string guitar, unusual within metal. Are there any non-metal influences that inspire your music?
Oh yeah, there’s many different musical styles outside of metal for us but I wouldn’t go as far to say we take direct influence from any of them. That’s something I really try to stay away from as much as possible. Regarding the ten-string guitar, I was always fascinated by the acoustic-chorus nature twelve-string and I began to wonder if there was an electric model. Lo and behold there was, the ‘BC Bitch’ was one of them, which was played by a number of metal musicians too.
<<<GP>>> I believe Dave Mustaine had one?
He did, he used to play one in Metallica but I don’t think he used the additional four strings so it was mainly for the shape of the guitar I guess.
<<<GP>>> It has a wild shape, really stands out on stage.
Yeah I haven’t played that specific one in a few years but I’m happy with what the ten-string can give me.
<<<GP>>> Does this unique sounding guitar allow you to explore more sonic ground live?
Yeah we use two guitar amps and a bass amp. There are some pedals too. The bass sound is generated with an octave pedal.
<<<GP>>> Regarding the studio sound, Hero's production is clear and atmospheric yet chaotic enough for the underground fans to appreciate. Is this important to you?
We are definitely trying to achieve an atmosphere. I wouldn’t say “Hero” is my favourite type of production though. It was just within a time and a place in what we were doing. It’s vastly different to the demo and the EP’s before it. I think you just have to give the songs the credit their due during their writing, recording and performance stage. The atmosphere is of the essence and I dare say the next batch of songs will sound quite different to the album.
<<<GP>>> Speaking of which, when can we expect new music?
We are taking our time as always. I don’t like to force the writing process but it’s coming along and I like the direction it’s taking. It won’t be an album at first, perhaps one or two shorter releases.
<<<GP>>> You're headlining Siege of Limerick with Primordial. How do you find playing in Ireland?
It's our first time in Limerick. Ireland is always great man. We love it! We have a lot of friends there. We used to come over out of band related duties to celebrate New Years and stuff. We have a good rapport with people there. We really enjoy playing there for sure. The line-up is fantastic. I’m looking forward to sharing the stage with some good friends. I’ve heard some great things about the festival too.
<<<GP>>> Presumably you're playing Siege via your Dublin based label Invictus Productions. How did you come into contact with them?
We met Darragh prior to our demo being released. We got to know him in Dublin and used to hang out with him during New Year's. We used to go into the shop ‘Into the Void’ a lot. He’s a great friend of ours and has backed us from the beginning.
<<<GP>>> Bölzer is currently creeping out of the underground into the mainstream. Is it important for you to stay within one or do you believe it is possible to have a foot in both?
Well that’s a very good question, probably one of the best of the bunch you’ve asked haha. It presents a juxtaposition which is obviously something I’ve thought about. Of course I want to take my band, my music or whatever I do to it’s highest limit. Then there’s the question of where do you belong. Where is your heart? In the underground or ‘the mainstream’. I would say a healthy balance is the key. A lot of good conscience decision making is the solution to that and I think we’ve done quite well until now making those decisions and we will continue to do so in the future. I dare say, I would like to get a little bigger but it’s like as you said we are not out there to achieve stardom so the fate of the band will decide itself haha. We have principals. I would rather terminate something early than let it fade away. I would rather go out on top, as one would say.
<<<GP>>> Bands often leave the ‘underground’ and their ego goes through the roof. How do you keep your feet on the ground?
Absolutely, staying modest is very important to me but at the same time I feel the ‘underground’ or the ‘scene’ is very restrictive and there is a lot of self imposed boundaries put in place by the scene. We never adhere to any of that. The ‘scene’ itself is of disregard to us so we will just continue to do what we wish. The band is also quite young as well, we’ve only performed live for half of the time we’ve been together. I see a lot of productive years ahead.
Bölzer play the Siege of Limerick on the 27th of October in Dolans.
Tickets available now SOLD OUT.