After Roadburn and Stockholm Slaughter, it is time for one more trip abroad this spring because what do you do if your resident photographer is residing in Copenhagen for a while? You check the concert calendar and book your flights. So, this Saturday the way will lead to Pumpehuset to see Swiss BÖLZER along with Denial Of God and Serpent's Lair. And before BÖLZER will unleash their maelstrom live energy, KzR took time to have a short chat about live shows, beauty and future plans.
The Metal Phenomenon: Could you introduce yourself and describe the path of BÖLZER shortly?
KzR: My name is Okoi Jones, dutifully bound to guitar and voice within the duo BÖLZER, my better half being the percussionist Fabian Wyrsch. Since forming in 2008, this band has become an abstract conduit for our more primal thoughts and feelings, perhaps even allowing them to evolve into a creative force via an extreme metal medium.
TMP: You just returned from Roadburn Festival. How was it? What did you take away from the festivaL, specific bands performances?
KzR: It was a pleasure as always! Walter and his team never cease to amaze...incomparable organizational standards, an endless abyss of artists old and new and many fine hop-juices to be had. I do find 4 days to be a challenge socially but it is nevertheless rewarding given the memorable performances. There were many from this year’s lineup that I enjoyed such as Valborg, Zhrine, Oranssi Pazazu, Hypnopazuzu, Chelsea Wolfe and some I missed but discovered later such as Pontiak, which I have been listening to ever since haha.
Bölzer live (Photo by Marcin Pawłowski)
TMP: Soon you’ll be on the road with Denial of God and Serpent’s Lair in Oslo and Copenhagen. How do you prepare yourself for live shows?
KzR: We usually rehearse quite intensively until a set of shows or a tour and come show day I visualize the stage and rough flow of the songs in my head etc. Preperformance rituals are more of a private matter.
TMP: You have generally been touring all around the world, Israel, Greece, the US, Latin America… what is a successful live experience to you and does it differ around the world?
KzR: No technical issues before or during the show, an attentive audience and most importantly the necessary energy exchange between the essence, us and the spectators.
TMP: You have generally received good reviews and praise for recordings and live shows. Did you expect such reactions when the band got started? Were you ever worried you could not deliver to justify the hype or that interest might subside?
KzR: The initial growth in interest surrounding our demo 'Roman Acupuncture' and the EP 'Aura' was quite unexpected but I never felt it had anything to do with hype. Hype is an entirely different beast, usually festering around releases of questionable substance, with a band being at the right place at the right time with the right people. We did/do not really fit any of these criteria so I still fail to see what all the fuss is about. And on that note, no we never doubted what we were doing.
TMP: There are of course also different voices - a while ago back in November 2016 you shared a negative review on BÖLZER's Facebook page which I found both surprising and hilarious as I don’t think I’ve noticed any other bands doing that. Why did you share that and how do you generally deal with criticism?
KzR: And so there should be! Unfortunately, I have little empathy for unintelligible critique or the impotent attempts of the under-achiever to pull down the stronger man as a flaccid reflex for his own deficits and lowly predicament. Sharing that was perhaps futile and it is something I generally refrain from doing but sometimes it’s fun to jump in the pit with the worms.
Bölzer (Photo by Ester Segarra)
TMP: I’ve heard the music and I’ve seen BÖLZER live before and it is basically impossible to not get drawn into the maelstrom of energy that is unfolding. How do you build this intensity and density, infuse the songs with it while still keeping things very “groovy”?
KzR: Not sure but thank you! We just work on something until it feels right. We like music to have impact and the potential to carry the listener away to another place. We write what we would like to to hear I suppose whilst giving our thoughts and feelings a medium or means to expression. Groove is definitely an important component within this process.
TMP: To me the voice/the vocals are a strong focal point in your music, they stand out to me more than with other bands - they somehow seem to float above everything while also being an organic part of the whole organism. How do you see the connection between music, voice, lyrics, words, languages?
KzR: For me the two are inseparable and are to be treated as equals within the greater context so I do not give my voice any intentional „special treatment“ or the like. At least this ought apply to someone who has an interest for the intricacies within music and language. Both disciplines share a similar set of applications from tone and rhythm to structure and grammar.
TMP: I find a very primal, raw aspect in your music and live performances but then the different topics, philosophies and such you bring up in your lyrics are sophisticated, intellectual. Is that a conscious decision and how do you see these two elements in the big picture, life and the cosmos in general?
KzR: It is anything else than a conscious juxtaposition but most wholesome things in life are. Our friend Manos of Skull & Dawn from Athens recently told me after a show that he finds our music to be a compelling mix of Dionysian and Apollonian forces, where the groove-laden primal drive is kept under control by a more austere voice of authority (or something to that effect). I find his analysis to be rather apt if I may be so humble.
Bölzer (Photo by Eisa.ch)
TMP: Then there are the melodies (e.g. during the “Our tongues are burning…”part of the song Hero) that are somehow strong and fragile at the same time, and also of a (melancholic) beauty to me. What does beauty mean to you?
KzR: Beauty to me is quite a broad term, nevertheless integral to any notions of passion, wisdom and the eternal struggle. The beauty that I acknowledge and savour is that reflected within the realms of nature and man’s basic faculties and not the hideous, hollow idols of modernity. Quality art tends to second this idea, at least within my experience.
TMP: What is BÖLZER's aesthetic vision?
KzR: To remain faithful to ones inner voice and grant it both audience and destiny.
TMP: This is kind of a “What was there first, the egg or the chicken”-question: Does your need to create music and hence BÖLZER come from the need and desire to search, explore, and possibly understand this life and universe, or do you get on that path through the music?
KzR: I have been posed this question before and my answer is once again one of congruity. I believe this to be one of the many blessings (or curses) of existence, ever generous, presents us with.
TMP: And I ask you the same question I asked Schammasch’s CSR: It seems that in the past few years, there are suddenly more good Swiss metal bands appearing. Why do you think that is – are there suddenly better Swiss metal bands around than let’s say before 2008 when I was still living in Switzerland or are international audiences just more aware - what is you view on that?
KzR: Trends are cyclical, they come and go. So do bands and their respective scenes. I think there will always be great bands and equally atrocious ones at any given time or place. Naturally trends exist due to man’s herd instinct and his desire to „belong“, endowing him with safety and identity. The upside being some individuals will feel compelled to supersede their mediocre surroundings for better ground.
TMP: What are BÖLZER's future plans?
KzR: We have many exciting performances and collaborations ahead of us and are currently working on new material.
Thank you for your interest/support and the quality questions! See you in Copenhagen.
And everything Bölzer can be found on Bandcamp and Facebook