First of all, hails and congratulations on your debut album. But before we get more into that, Legion of Bokor is a rather new band, so please take the time to tell a bit about the band and your history…
First of all, thank you for having us here! Well, Dee Stroyer (guitars – Nima) and I have been working together for some years. We found out that we are a good songwriting team, and sometime in 2010 we thought about forming a new band: Legion Of Bokor. So we looked for some experienced guys who loved heavy metal and we actually found them. There have been some changes in the line-up since then though. But we finally managed to have a constant and high-quality line-up, that I really can depend on. My guys are always performing great, live and in the studio. That was the basis for recording, producing and releasing our debut album.
I have to be honest with you, Legion Of Bokor is one of the most peculiar bands and albums I’ve heard lately. You take influences from old-school 80s thrash and crossover and early 90s alternative bands and have created a complete sound on your own, without sounding incoherent. My biggest compliment on that! What can you tell us about what you had in mind musically and in how far you have achieved that?
We absolutely achieved what we were trying for. We wanted to do an album that is hard-rocking but never boring. We tried to create songs that work on CD as well as live on stage. But there was no particular plan or concept in our songwriting. We came up with an idea and everyone in the band contributed with their own thoughts about how they would like to experience the song, when they were in the audience.
Can you tell us a bit your musical pasts and influences?
You see, we already are quite – let’s say – experienced guys. I actually am the one of us with least musical projects in the past, even though I too have been on stage a lot before setting up Legion Of Bokor. And the other guys have done even more. Combined we have been through almost every rock and metal project you can think about. Cover bands as well as rock n’ roll or death metal and core bands. And those are exactly our influences. I’m a huge hardrock fan. I adore Alice Cooper, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath but also bands like Rob Zombie, The Murder Dolls, Slipknot and Static X. The other guys in the band are into Judas Priest or music that goes straight through the walls and kicks ass big time, like Rammstein for example. Some like punk and hardcore, too. I think that all of these influences show up in our songs.
One of striking points about Legion Of Bokor is the vocals! As I mentioned in my review, you are capable of a lot and use many different singing styles. Your voice reminds of guys like Mike Patton (Faith No More), Whitfield Crane (Ugly Kid Joe) and Kory Clarke (Warrior Soul) etc. Voices we don’t hear much nowadays… Can you tell a bit about the different vocal styles in general?
I’m blushing again, just like I did while reading you review… I feel really honored about these comparisons! As I mentioned before, I’m into good old hardrock. I practiced a lot with Alice Cooper songs, then with Deep Purple to work on my clean vocals, my belting and on my falsetto. Later I worked on the techniques for my growls and screams. That stuff can destroy your vocal cords, when done wrong. I just like to play with my voice and want to go as high and as low as possible, and to use as many different techniques as a song can get along with. ‘You’re Gross’ is one song that is really exhausting to do live because of the many changes. But I can promise, you’ll get to hear it just as good as on the album.
What do you deal with lyrically? I have the impression that most your songs are about post-apocalyptic subjects and most of all, zombies…
About half of the songs in the album deal with society. I mean, just take a look around. Most people are demanding the highest lifestyle they can think of. They want to have the biggest car and the finest suits. They want to fit the current ideal of beauty. Therefore they are spending all day working on a job, working out in the gym, buying stuff, comparing to others, being green with envy and hate, getting in debt, working even longer and harder, being heedless about everyone and everything else... They are today's zombies and they already are amongst us. The song ‘Legion Of Bokor’ has got a line that goes “oil’s more precious today, than blood’s ever been / weapons matter more than some dead child”. That isn’t something that could possibly happen sometime in the future – that is all happening right now and I think that is absolutely apocalyptic. If you listen closely you will find some more statements like that on our album. But that’s always just statements, I do not assess anything morally. Assessing is up to those who do want to give some thoughts about that stuff.
Here at the Lords Of Metal we have invented the beautiful term “different metal” for bands that we can’t easily label. I think that term fits Legion Of Bokor perfectly, haha. How would You describe your musical style?
Different metal is great! We’ve had some review talking about “zombie metal” – that sound’s nice, too. In fact, we play hardrock with some metal elements. We don’t need any genre to fit in and we also don’t need a genre of our own. Just think about Motörhead – “and we play rock n’ roll”. THAT is what it’s all about. To rock the audience, to make sure they have a good time, and to have a good time on stage.
As mentioned Legion Of Bokor definitely has a sound of its own and you guys distinguish yourself from the rest of the current metal scene. On the other hand this could be a disadvantage, too. Because it is no secret that a lot of people don't take the time to actually let music get to them nowadays, and maybe some people won't give the album the chance it deserves. In how far can you agree on this?
You know, there are a lot of people who don’t like Axl Rose’s voice. And a lot of people, who don’t like Bon Jovi, Metallica, Slayer, Iced Earth, Dream Theater, Amon Amarth, Lordi, Nickelback, and so on. I think, that most people in the world just DON’T like whatever one is doing. But the deeper you get into one scene, the smaller the number of non-supporters might be. So the question is, if one is trying to do something for the masses, or if one is trying to do something, that will be appreciated by the ones who were waiting for something like that. And that is exactly what we are trying to do. As I mentioned before, we think about what a song should sound like, if we ourselves were in the audience. We put all of our energy in our shows and we want to get in touch with the audience. We are always performing just as if there was a crowd of thousands of people down there, even if it’s only thirty of them. The audience likes to be taken seriously, just as we do. Just as everyone does. The audience must never think that they have wasted money for a show. And even if they are not able to deal with our sound at the first sight, their memories of our show has to be so stunning, that they just want to tell others about it. And that they want to give us another try and maybe they’ll like our songs better then. So, we can absolutely deal with not sounding like everybody else and not being loved by everyone.
So far you have done a couple of shows to support the album and there are some dates planned dfor the fall, most of them local. Are there any plans to take the band on the road, and maybe across Europe?
Yes, that is right. We are doing some local shows in fall, including some tele-recording for ‘Mulatschag TV’. We have also got one show confirmed in Finland on October 11th, where we will hit the stage with the Finnish superstars of Apulanta. We got to know those guys last year in Vienna. They are wonderful – both musically and personally. And Apulanta invited us to play one show with them in Finland. And we are trying to set up some more shows in Poland, Latvia and Estonia. It looks quite good, though they are not yet confirmed. We would really love to do even more shows all across Europe and to come to the Netherlands, too. So if any promoter out there is reading this and wants to have us on stage, please feel free to contact us!
Speaking of gigs, nowadays it is not that easy to get a decent gig, let alone planning a decent tour for up and coming bands. How is the situation regarding shows for a band like Legion Of Bokor? Both nationally and internationally.
It is just like you are saying. It is quite hard to get really good slots. We have done a lot of quasi-pay-to-play shows in the past. That means, we didn’t have to pay money to get on stage, but on the other hand, we did not get anything in return, so we had expenses for travelling there – the further, the more – and for food, beverages and everything else. With our album we do now have the chance to possibly get in touch with promoters nationally and internationally. And we are still hoping for the one who believes in our music and in our performance, and who gets us a big show that could change the band’s awareness level and its future. Because, the better-known you are, the easier it is be to get good shows.
What’s the next step for the Legion?
We are about to do a music-video for ‘The Apocalypse’, we are working on a bunch of new songs, and in October we will finally hit the stages again. I can hardly wait for it!
Alright then, I guess we can wrap it up for this time. Unless of course there is anything left that you’d like to mention…
Just a quick note to all the rock and metal-fans out there in the Netherlands: please check out our music and ask your local radio stations to play our songs. We really hope to hit a stage near your home sometime soon! Thank you very much for your support!