Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Blessthefall // Interview with Beau Bokan & Eric Lambert & Live Review

Blessthefall has had a pretty busy 2013. After playing on the main stage at Warped Tour all summer they’ve just released new album ‘Hollow Bodies’ and are back over in the UK on a headline tour.
Est.1987 headed down to Leeds Cockpit to check out their live show and we sat down with vocalist Beau Bokan and guitarist Eric Lambert to chat about the new album, on stage injuries and their love for Nandos...

Heya guys. The tour’s just started in the UK after you guys being in mainland Europe. You were in Birmingham last night- how was it?
BEAU [Bokan, vocals]- Yeah great. It feels great to hear English speaking people [laughing] and I feel like they’re more responsive here, they just get it a little more. Not taking anything away from Europe but it feels a little closer to home. Oh, and there’s Nandos and Wagamamas, so I feel comfortable.
ERIC [Lambert, guitar]- Main priority [laughing].

You’ve been playing on the main stage of Warped Tour all summer - Warped is a hard slog but you guys must be pros by now, did you enjoy it?
ERIC- [laughing] Yeah we’re pros. No, but it was probably one of the best tour’s that we’ve ever done. It was the first time that we’ve done the main stage the entire tour; it was crazy. We didn’t really know what to expect, we didn’t know if people were going to show up but it ended up just being consistently crazy every day.
BEAU- There’s some bands that end up on the main stage that shouldn’t necessarily be there for whatever reason, like a favour or something like that, and you can tell. If not a lot of people are at the main stage then it looks bad and we were like “We hope we’re not that band”.
ERIC- If you’re that band then everyone else on the tour knows it [laughing].
BEAU- But it was awesome

Was it a good lead up to the album release? And you released the single ‘You Wear a Crown But You’re No Crown’ as well.
ERIC- It was the best build up to a release we’ve ever had.
BEAU- We’re going to surround our releases around Warped Tour from now on [laughing].

Your shows usually get pretty crazy with Beau hanging from things and stage diving; during sound check are you sussing things out to climb up on?
ERIC- Beau is definitely the king of that. He’ll look at something and wait for everyone else in the room to notice that he’s looking at it and he’ll just have an ear to ear smile on his face.
BEAU- I’m looking like, “I can do that” and they’re like “We know”.

Have you ever badly injured yourself on stage?
BEAU- Yeah, in Kentucky, like three songs in…
ERIC- He crawled off stage…
BEAU- I fell and smashed my feet and I literally couldn’t stand up. I crawled along in front of the barrier and I looked up at Eric and just shook my head and the door was right next to the barrier and I just crawled out.
ERIC- He crawled out and As I Lay Dying’s trailer was there and he laid out on it and we were still kind of playing, but I went out to check on him and it was bad.
BEAU- I’ve played really sick and you always manage, but this time I was like, “I don’t know what’s wrong with my feet, I can’t stand up, I can’t do it”. We were back at it the next day though, I was on crutches.
ERIC- He would crutch out on to stage and we’re be like “Dave, don’t turn on the lights until after the intro” and it gave Beau enough time to get out there and hide his crutches and then he was right in the middle with one foot up and pretty much stayed in that spot.
BEAU- I felt like an old man, like what Ozzy would be like on stage [laughing].

So the new album ‘Hollow Bodies’ came out in August and marked a new sound for Blessthefall. Were you nervous releasing it, with it being the most you’d invested in a record in terms of changing things up and experimenting?
ERIC- It was nerve wrecking earlier on, but even before we released it, when we started showing people, we started getting such a positive, consistent response from friends that we trusted. We put so much work into it that we didn’t give people a reason not to like it.
BEAU- It was a lot of hard work; we recorded it three times and we’re at the point where if we don’t put out a good record then no one’s going to care anymore.

Is that why you decided to go with a new producer, Joey Sturgis, on ‘Hollow Bodies?
BEAU- We loved who we’ve worked with before, but I think the biggest battle we had is that the past two records sounded a little too similar. We were trying to figure out our sound then because we had a different member for every album. ‘Hollow Bodies’ is the first time that we‘ve had an album with the same line-up twice; we just niche together a lot better now.

In a genre like this there’s often fast turnover of bands so I guess it’s testament to you guys that ‘Hollow Bodies’ has done so well and that you can keep coming over here touring…
BEAU- Yeah, longevity is very rare nowadays, so it’s definitely a good feeling. There’s all these other tours surrounding this one, the market is very cluttered, there’s a different band playing every night here, so it’s cool to see that we can come out and people are going to come out. Hopefully we can keep building our fan base out here because we love the UK.

On tour we hear you guys like video games…
ERIC- I think the biggest thing is Mario Cart when we’re on tour; it gets competitive, you probably wouldn’t want to sit in the same room as us. Elliot’s [Gruenberg, guitar] definitely the biggest gamer though.

And I can’t let you leave without mentioning Nandos…
BEAU- We just walked over to see what time they closed tonight to see if we could make it over after the show.

How hot do you get your chicken?
ERIC- I get it like extra hot with the extra hot sauce on it [laughing]
BEAU- When he’s eating it, I like breathe it in and I’m like “Can you sit over there?” [laughing]. But yeah, I just do lemon and herb.
ERIC- Nandos is the best thing about coming to the UK, apart from the shows [laughing]. But it’s something we all look forward to greatly. We need a Nandos Black Card; unlimited Nandos and Starbucks, that’s the dream [laughing].

And here’s what happened when Blessthefall took to the stage…

After spending the summer out on the road in the US on Warped Tour, Phoenix quintet Blessthefall is getting back into the swing of being the headliners and are back in the UK doing just that. Playing main stage on Warped for the entire summer, and with an acclaimed new album under their belts has definitely made them come back more confident and aggressive than ever. Their fighting spirit, combined with the fact that the entire venue is a buzz with anticipation at their arrival on stage, makes for a pretty exciting and spontaneous live show. Chants of “Bless the fall, Bless the fall” rise as the five-piece takes to the stage.

The room is impossibly hot as the long building opening of ‘Exodus’ sets the mood for the night; dramatic and electric. The Cockpit doesn’t quite know what’s instore for it but they know it’s going to be good. After a few microphone problems the night truly begins and in typical Blessthefall fashion it’s none-stop from beginning to end. A band with more energy and forcefulness would be hard to find as front-man Beau Bokan dashes up and down the stage and the rest of the guys aren’t far behind. Even if you aren’t a Blessthefall fan, you can’t help but be pulled in to their performance. However, that’s no problem tonight as the devoted crowd in Leeds just shows how much of a strong fan base the Arizona quintet is developing over here.

Playing a mix of old Blessthefall songs and newer anthems, taken from the recent ‘Hollow Bodies’, the set is the perfect mix and newer songs go down just as well. Huge choruses from songs such as ‘Promised Ones’ and recent single, ‘You Wear A Crown But You’re No Crowd’, soar out into the venue showing the effortless blend of scream and clean vocals. Talking to the guys before the show they admitted that after all the line-up changes they finally feel like they’ve developed their sound and feel stronger than ever and work in harmony. This is something they’ve brought to the live show; tight and on point they deliver brutal riffs. Blending metalcore alongside electronic elements and sing-a-long choruses, Blessthefall’s live show makes you stand up and take notice.

Typically, circle pits and stage diving is encouraged, Beau challenging the crowd to a Blessthefall favourite game; the pretty self-explanatory, ‘high 5, stage dive’. And Beau leads by example. During the almighty album track ‘Déjà Vu’ the front-man climbs up on the rigging which rises above The Cockpit stage before throwing himself down to the crowd below. Instead of leaving before returning for an encore the band remain on stage asking if the fans want one more song; they give them two. As ‘Guys Like You Make Us Look Bad’, the final song, kicks in, the crowd decide they haven’t had quite enough of Beau yet as they pull him down amongst them. Beau makes his way through the sea of people and up onto the bar halfway back of the venue, microphone in tow, to finish the set from up there. Blessthefall is on top form and are determined to stay there and if tonight is anything to go by the only way is up. 8.5/10