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 Interview - Views: 1333

Karl Willetts of Bolt Thrower
Interviewed By: Kevin Page
Date: 2/10/2007
Transcribed By: Kevin Page
View All Reviewed Media For This Artist

Bolt ThrowerKP: Are you working on new material yet?

KW: Well, yeah, it's a good job you called and it looks like we are going to be pretty much writing the album now. Baz already has a few riffs ready to go. We bandied a few ideas around last night, so hopefully we'll have a new album out by the end of the year to follow up the success we had with the last album and push on from there.

KP: Have you decided on where to record and who will produce?

KW: We are definitely going to go back to Sable Rose Studios where we recorded our last album. It's like a second home to us really, we feel quite comfortable there. Andy Faulkner (producer) is pretty much part of the band really.

KP: What would you say was different about your last album, Those Once Loyal, than previous releases?

KW: All the songs are probably better structured. The bass sound is better. Overall, the way that the songs fit together, the production. The songs were re-written so many times by Baz. He wrote an album, scrapped it all and tore out the bits he liked and wrote it again. It took a lot of time. Then when we went in the studio we really took our time. It paid off.

KP: It's strange you say that, since it was very calculated and thought out, but I felt that this album brought back the more "looser" feel that you had on For Victory.

KW: A lot of people have likened it to our albums in 1994-1995. It's pretty much on par with 4th Crusade and For Victory. For me, coming back into the band, I worked on my vocal style. We took all the elements which we knew were successful on previous albums and poured them all together. We had a long time between albums that we pretty much knew the pressure was on for us to not come up with a generic Bolt Thrower sounding album.

KP: What made you want to rejoin the band after leaving for so many years?

KW: After a pretty disastrous US tour in 1994-95, I wanted to go back to the university for three years. Got my degree in Cultural Studies, which is very nice, but absolutely useless for getting a job. Then I got married, mortgage, blah, blah, blah. Had a normal job for about 4-5 years, that didn't suite me whatsoever. I was working in insurance and kinda resented it. I came back in 1998 to do the Mercenary album because they asked me to. They asked me to rejoin the band, but my head was in a different place and I couldn't commit 100% to doing it. I'm always going to be the first choice for the vocalist of Bolt Thrower. It's kinda my job really. So with that thought, it really didn't take me much thinking to grab it and be welcomed back with open arms. It's rare in life to get two chances to do something that you enjoy.

KP: So you were an insurance adjuster?

KW: Yeah, a Total Loss Adjuster for about three years, writing estimates on cars, all day, every day. Whenever the engineers went out to look at the cars and determined the damage was more than the value, we then researched the value.

KP: I've done that myself in my earlier years as well.

KW: It wasn't what I wanted to do with myself, so when Baz called it was great.

KP: It's the most un-Death Metal job you could have.

KW: Oh, completely (laughs).

KP: Since Metal Blade is not giving you any tour support for the US, was this something they promised when you signed on with them?

KW: Yes, it's all there in black and white. We were to get tour support for any territory which was "new" for us. We were quite surprised and felt it was shortsighted that they pulled tour support for America. America we consider a new territory since we haven't been there in twelve years. So we're dealing with that at the moment. The next album might be with another label but I won't say anything more than that (smiles).

KP: Did you already have a tour set, dates, bands, etc.?

KW: Yeah, we had a tour planned with Malevolent Creation. They are top blokes and we were really looking forward to it. We had organized our schedule around it for six weeks. We're thinking of negotiating our way out of the contract. Getting signed to another label wouldn't be a problem as we have a few already sniffing around us.

KP: Who do you like less these days, Metal Blade or Earache?

KW: Fucking Earache. On a personal level we get along pretty well with Metal Blade. Earache is just an "Assache" as I call them. They've re-released Realm of Chaos with a new sleeve without our permission and a compilation album Who Dares Wins without our permission. They are not liked by us and have no respect from me.

KP: When you get back around to touring the US, what bands do you want to tour with?

KW: We've got to do it with Malevolent Creation, it's as simple as that. It's our #1 choice, since we had such a good time with them in the past. Immolation would be great, they helped us out on our last time in the States.

KP: Tell me about the "wheelchair guy"?

KW: (laughs) Ah, the wheelchair guy. He's truly amazing. It was my first gig back with the band and we played at a club on the German/Dutch border in early 2006. I was nervous as I hadn't been on stage since 1994 and I see this guy crowd surfing towards me in a wheelchair. The picture had made the rounds on the internet and magazines and when we saw him again on the 2nd leg of the tour, he was unaware of his newfound notoriety.

KP: Did Baz and Gavin really form the band over a toilet at a hardcore gig?

KW: (laughs). Yeah, they were taking a piss. I forget which gig it was actually. But I was the roadie at that time and the vocalist left about three weeks before they were going to record the 1st album, In Battle There is No Law so I got the job, way back in the day.

KP: Are you ever going to release the copy of Honor Valour Pride with your vocals on it?

Bolt ThrowerKW: When I rejoined the band I wasn't really comfortable doing things since I had been away from it for such a long time. So it was just an exercise to see if my voice could do it. But we have no plans on officially releasing it. We might release tracks of it on the website for download, but not an official release. In a way that would be a bit rude to Dave (Ingram). And that would be a backward step, we want to look forward.

KP: What is your favorite Bolt Thrower album and why?

KW: For Victory. I never got to perform it live though as I left before the European tour. But since I was doing this for such a long time, at that stage I was pretty confident in what I was doing. It had a very varied vocal style on different songs which brought out the best in my voice. And the new album as well, definitely, getting back to it after all those years. But they are all special for a reason though.

KP: Baz, Gavin and Jo have remained steadfast with the core Bolt Thrower sound. What makes them stay true and not wander off into wankery like so many bands feel the need to do over the years?

KW: Sometimes bands that we know and love have changed their sound, which really disappointed us. So we are quite aware of the sound that works. Anything else wouldn't be Bolt Thrower. When you buy a Bolt Thrower album you know what you are going to get, which is quite nice. We do get criticized and people say "all their albums sound the same". Well, that's kinda the point really. That's what we try to do. Why change the essential qualities of what we are? If you lose that then you lose your identity.

KP: Who are your musical/vocal inspirations?

KW: When we started out there really wasn't much going on besides us, Napalm Death and Carcass. So we kinda started a new genre of our own. But we were pretty much influenced by punk/hardcore/anarchy bands like Crass, Antisect, Discharge and Axegrinder. When Slayer's Haunting the Chapel came out I had never heard anything like that before with that style of guitar playing. We were punks and heavy metal was alien to our upbringing. And other bands we heard like Venom, Slaughter and Metallica. So we took the elements of musicianship from metal and the aggression of punk and poured it all together.

KP: You ever going to write about anything besides war and battles?

KW: Um, no (laughs). I don't see the point in trying to. A lot of the songs on the last album are not specifically about war. "Entrenched" you can view as your position in life. The battlefield you can equate to your everyday life. We talk about war but not in an always good, always bad type of way. We talk about the psychological effects of it. It's like an eternal thing of mankind, it will always be with us. It's more relevant now than it's ever been really.

KP: Ever any talk about adding more grind/blast beats back into the music (ala "Realm of Chaos") ?

KW: No, I think we covered that. We're older now, it's easier to play the slower stuff (laughs). A lot of the faster stuff doesn't really work now in our set, it's pretty much mid paced. I can't really see us going back to that sound but you never know.

KP: Are you a war "buff" into the history and collecting memorabilia?

KW: Yeah, Gavin and I are really into it. For the last album I did quite a lot of research. "At First Light" I wrote the basics of while sitting in Trafalgar Square. I went to Belgium, visited the graves there. So I'm quite interested in the history and tradition, read a lot of books about it. A new song called "Enshrined" is about the First Recon Marines in Iraq, which will be on the next album.

KP: Looking back, do you ever wish there is anything you could have changed or altered?

KW: There's always things you could change, but we try to build on what we did and not look back. It's an experience and you learn from it. So, no I don't think we'd change anything.

KP: Who is the most unexpected Bolt Thrower fan you've encountered?

KW: Many many moons ago there was a footballer called Vinnie Jones, who's now an actor over in the US (X-Men: The Last Stand; Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels). He's really really famous for being a violent player. He stated in an interview that he always listened to Bolt Thrower before going out on "the pitch" to play. So that was quite nice to know.

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Lash Count: 4

   Earache Records 2/15/2007 4:49:40 PM 

   Permafrost 2/12/2007 2:51:46 PM 
The Vinnie Jones story is awesome. Damn, Bolt Thrower are just a cool friggin' band!

   hermitspancho 2/11/2007 11:38:22 AM 
last album was a classic and i for one cant wait for the new one . Bolt Thrower are the most genuine band on the DM scene and everything they do has a touch of class .

   scooper 2/10/2007 9:36:02 PM 
huge fan. glad to hear the bastards haven't got them down. we're patient in the states, karl. whenever you can make it work, we'll be there.

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