INTERVIEW/WORDS BY: DYLAN MCATEER
Shortly before Blessthefall releases their brand new album, our very own Dylan McAteer got the chance to chat with vocalist Beau Bokan, to find out his views on music and where he draws his inspiration, as well as his take on how the band has grown since he joined in 2008.
Their brand-new album To Those Left Behind can be purchased here.
What is the message of To Those Left Behind?
When we started writing it we kind of didn’t really know what direction we were going to go. We had some of the music, Eric and Elliot write all of the music parts. They got really good using LogicPro, which made getting the demos done a lot easier this time around. We actually had 17 or 18 demos and that is way more than we’ve had for any record. So I was able to get kind of a vibe for the music and I wanted it be an idea, not a concept record so to speak. I definitely wanted to have sort of a general theme, kind of a story going through the whole record. It’s kind of a hard thing to do though, if you want to tell a story you have to have everything in order. Literally write each part of the song for each part of the record. I kind of wanted to see how this shapes up and just started writing. It turned out I was super influenced by a lot of movies, I watch a lot of horror movies. Also from some of my favourite movies like Kill Bill and Lucky Number Sleven and got really into shows like American Horror Story. I tried to combine ideas and thought it would be cool to have a story of love, loss and revenge. Sort of long somebody living on the other side, in purgatory, trying to reach the one they love. At the same time though, they’re trying to get revenge on their own death and haunting their enemies. If you follow along front to back we worked really hard on getting the track listing in order. Then you can kind of see how that all tie in together. At the same time I didn’t want to leave out things that people go through everyday like betrayal and losing someone. A lot of it pools from real life experiences. As much as it is a work of fiction there’s a lot of non-fictional influences in there for people to listen to. So I think it’s got something for everyone in there to listen to. We even have a track with like an R&B interlude in it, which is something we’ve never done before. There’s a good mix of songs from slower epic songs to the heavy hitters we pride ourselves on. We even have some pop structured songs that you wouldn’t expect from us, but I think it all goes together to make a well-rounded record.
Fans always demand new music, but just what is the process of making a full-length album?
It’s really a lot of work, but I think it’s definitely a lot easier than it was in the past for us. We start off writing the demos, Eric and Elliott write all the music on their programs. Then we actually go in and work on a better very rough demo then get vocal ideas down. So then we go in with the producer, who in this case was Joey Sturgis and that’s when we lay down all the real stuff. For this album we tried something new in that we actually tried co-writing. So we got working with a guy named Erik Ron out in Los Angeles, who is an amazing co-writer. I basically did all of my lyrics and melodies with him and we knocked heads together. Some of the stuff he just came up with, he’d listen and say, “you know I hear this melody here”. It was amazing, it was stuff I never even saw. So working with a cowriter brings a whole new element, some of the melodies on the record are something I may never have even thought of. Having that other partner there in the studio made a huge difference. There’s really a lot that goes into a record, especially this album. In the end it really pays off though.
How do you see your music evolving?
Basically, for us we see it as each member improves in some aspect. I feel like I’ve gotten a lot better as a vocalist and making a themed record really helped me explore that side of writing. Where as it’s always been like here is a bunch of real life stuff I’ve gone through. In this case it became a hybrid of both ideas. I really had to push myself as a vocalist by trying new melodies and testing my vocal range. Elliott and Eric have really progressed as guitarists through the riffs they produce. Jared’s just working on his screams and he sounds better than ever. Between records, I think Matt has improved about tenfold and he can do all these fills that he maybe couldn’t do a few years ago. I think it’s just a natural evolution and an improvement as musicians and songwriters.
What’s the importance of music with a message in today’s society?
Music is this thing that is sort of omnipresent, I mean like right now there’s a song playing at the mall I’m sitting in. I’m just standing here and there’s music you know? You walk into a store or a coffee shop and there’s music. You just imagine life with music, like really just sit and think you can’t go into your car and turn the radio on. What are you going to do? You would end up just sitting there. You can’t get home and put music on, you put on a show or a movie and there’s no score it’s just acting. If music didn’t exist, how weird would that be? It seems like it’s sort of a soother for people, something for them to get lost in. A lot of people get home from school or work and throw on their headphones to relax. Music is such an important thing, but downloading has kind of devalued it a bit. Hopefully that will improve when people realize that man what if your favourite band couldn’t make music. You take it for granite, but what if they just weren’t around anymore? If they couldn’t afford to make music they would have to go out and get jobs. Music is so important and I know it’s cliché but music saves lives. I mean it’s a cliché for a reason but it’s saved people from so many things they’re going through and serves as an escape. I’m so happy to be apart of it, whether it’s a massive worldwide scale or just a local small scale.
What do you hope the future holds for Blessthefall?
I’d love to see our fan base grow obviously and we’ve grown naturally every year and organically. That’s when you know you’ve got something real with longevity, when you’ve been a band this long and you can keep growing a little bit every year. That’s just all I want, I’d love to see the band keep growing and play in new places. Maybe we could reach a new audience with this record and that would be awesome. Who knows maybe we put out a hit single and the band explodes! Anything is possible at this point. That’s not something I think about or anything but it’s definitely a way it could go and a way it would be fun.