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Bostok

Een jaar geleden kreeg ik van een volledig onbekende Spaanse band genaamd Bostok het debuutalbum ‘Land Of Fire’ binnen om te bespreken, maar al na enkele nummers was ik volledig verloren. Het album was in eigen beheer uitgebracht en de productie kon wel wat beter, maar toch. Het was duidelijk dat ze talent hadden en ze brachten nog iets authentieks. Iets wat de dag van vandaag te weinig gebeurt. Nu zijn ze er terug met opvolger ‘Dichotomy’. Eventjes heen en weer naar Spanje vliegen voor een goed gesprek ging me iets te ver, maar met het alternatief Skype en een paar prettige bieren er bij was het prima praten met bandleden Manel Espinoza en Sergio Jaen.

Door: Koen W. | Archiveer onder different metal

Hey Manel and Sergio. It’s already a year and a half ago that we talked. How are things going?
Manel: In general terms, everything is going well we could say.

Sergio: Yes, I think we achieved many of the aims that we previously had.

For Bostok this is the second album. What the main difference when you compare it with the making of your first album ‘Land Of Fire’?
Manel: There is a huge difference. Basically our attitude towards making the album was radically different. When we recorded ‘Land Of Fire’ it was like “okay, we’ve got this eight songs, we (Manel and Sergio) are studying abroad for a year and we need to keep going, so let’s record and album”. Then we worked with those eight songs to find coherence but the songs were not composed thinking about an album. Then, when we started recording it was also really weird because we started with drums when we were still abroad and there was no one controlling the production process. Basically there was no producer. When we (Sergio and me) came back home we had to work with what was already recorded. For ‘Dichotomy’ we only had a couple of ideas before we decided we were going to work on a new album so practically everything was composed having the idea of an album and, more important, having the concept in mind. We did a really huge work regarding pre-production and this time I coproduced the album with Alfredo Guijarro, so everything was under our control. I mean, we started with the ideas a year before or so and we had enough songs to decide which ones to take. And of course we’ve gained some experience and that’s something that affects every step of the process.

Sergio: We had a lot of time to prepare the pre-production of ‘Dichotomy’, and we even had more ideas that we had to leave out because we couldn’t have an album with so many songs. The good thing was that we chose the best. When you have so many ideas and you can only can choose some of them, you keep the best and work with it more confidently.

Both albums are self-released. How difficult is it to find a good or a decent label?
Manel: As far as I know we never received any offer from any label and we’ve tried to contact some of them at some points. I think it’s something that only makes sense when the conditions are interesting for the band and also for the label. When they have the same mentality as we have. But anyways, I’ve never seen any offer or conditions, so I cannot tell you much more about it. So yeah, if someone is reading the interview and is interested, contact us!

Sergio: Manel has explained it very accurately. I think it’s quite difficult, not only for us, but also for many bands as the music scene is not as good in Spain as we wanted.

The meaning of Dichotomy is ‘a difference between two opposite things’. How did you come on a title like this.
Manel: We wanted to make a concept album to talk about a concept from different perspectives. A concept that is broad enough in a way that it doesn’t cut our creativity. We wanted to create relation between the different parts of the album and different songs. Something inspiring. And ‘Dichotomy’ came.

Sergio: ‘Land of Fire’ was somehow more obscure, but we didn’t want to create dark songs exclusively. Our aim is quite different, so we decided to broaden our conceptual issue to be able to combine both brighter and darker songs.

The whole playing is more adult. You can hear that the band has grown fast forward in a few years. The sound is much better, the vocals are better, the instruments are played better. Even Manel has given the proof that he has a capable voice. Is that all the result of more playing and practicing?
Manel: It’s the result of playing live and learning a lot about it. We’ve also met a lot of experienced people who really made an influence on us and, as music lovers, we’ve discovered new music that influenced our playing, our composing and basically every aspect of the band. Of course there has been hours and hours of practice, but I think the evolution of the band has been more about the mentality than the actual practice.

Sergio: Yes, it was mentality and also timing. We had time to consider and reconsider thinks, what we wanted and what we wanted to avoid. We recorded ‘Dichotomy’ together, I mean, the five of us, and we could easily share our opinions at the very moment of recording.

The strangest song to me was ‘Pause’. Did you ever thought to do something like this?
Manel: ‘Pause’ is the song meant to divide the album into two parts. So we wanted it to be radically different in a way that you really notice a change when you listen to the album. The lyrics are really metaphorical (it talks about a leaf falling from a tree) and guitars have a very secondary role, for example. It has a Tim Burton atmosphere that makes evidence of the influence he has on our music.

‘Eternal Rain’ sounds in the beginning like the new Alicante beach hit. Is it a purpose to shock people?
Manel: Hahaha well, it was not intended to shock people but it’s a song about people. ‘Eternal Rain’ refers to the attitude people have when they have a real problem but at the end they do nothing to solve it. They complain but don’t take action. It means something like if you don’t do anything to stop the rain it’ll be raining the rest of your life.

Sergio: Indeed, I believe that we unconsciously want to shock people one way or another. That’s our point, making people say ‘What did I just listened to?’ because we want to be innovative and make people expect the unexpected.

Manel: It’s also a song were you can notice the influence of the modern progressive metal, so it’s a little bit more complex harmonically speaking.

The last four songs are more aggressive and fast when you compare it with the rest of the album. But it seems to me that a metalcore sound is more hearable then a death metal sound. But still every song has his own touch.
Manel: Yes they are. We didn’t really do it on purpose, but you know, when you have the ‘Dichotomy’ concept on your mind it can happen. Yes, I’d say that the second part is even crazier. For me it’s a bit difficult to say which kind of sound are we exactly getting, but it’s true that we probably have more influence from metalcore than death metal. There are lots of elements I could mention from different bands and styles you can find in our music but I guess that at the end the listener is the one who decides what it is to him.

Sergio: In fact, metalcore is quite trendy nowadays in our area, so we couldn’t help being influenced by those great bands in the end.



What is your main purpose when you write a song or an album? By this I mean what are the quality standards for the band or which direction you want to go before you start writing?
Manel: Well, I’d say this time we had some purposes in mind. Firstly, we wanted to keep on defining our style and our path to follow. We thought that our first album was too dark regarding composition and we wanted to add different colors to the palette. More bright stuff. We also wanted to add more punch to the songs. We wanted them to be more groovy and fluent. Given that we’ve been playing ‘Land Of Fire’ live around Spain we knew what kind of things worked better for us and how to make our songs sound better. That of course does not mean that we don’t have more aspects to improve. It has no end I think. But you know, we had clear ideas about it. The other aim was to improve the sound of the album. In order to do it we made a huge pre-production and checked every aspect of the songs. We recorded again at El Sótano Estudios with Alfredo Guijarro, who was coproducing the album with me. He’s a really good guy and he’s always working on improving the sound of his studio. I mean, you can see it when ‘Dichotomy’ has been recorded in exactly the same studio than ‘Land Of Fire’ but the difference is huge regarding sound. And about the mastering, Olman Viper from Hertzwerk studios was again in charge of that. He makes the album kick in your face. Simply amazing.

In the previous interview you said that the first album was delayed because two members were studying abroad. Is every member still a student?
Manel: Yes it was, we had to wait until Sergio and me came back home again. Four of the five members are still students.

Sergio: We’re still young and most of us haven’t finished our studies yet, so you can imagine how difficult the money issue is. In fact, most of the bands we have played with are in the same situation, because they are very young and are still studying.

Are you happy if you look what you did with Bostok or is there a bit of disillusion thinking that it was less difficult in the music business?
Manel: There are difficult moments of course. We are a young band and we are students, so that’s not a really good combination regarding the economic aspect. At the end, and as lots of bands, the main problems are about money. You can be really good but if you don’t have money to invest or someone to invest it on you, it’s just impossible. But if I look what we did I’d say I’m so proud. We’ve lived really good moments and we’ve done things we will remember in the future. We have a lot to do, we have an aim and we will work hard until we get it. As simple as that. Hard work will pay off.

Bostok publishes a lot of stuff at Facebook. And it is all a sort of humorous thing. By example I mean the car challenge that you made with Violent Divine Immortal Machinery and Seven Thorns. How important is social media these days for a band like Bostok?
Manel: They are really important. It’s our main way to contact people and to be in touch with fans. It’s also our way to show what’s going on in the band, despite his limitations and bad points. The most important thing about that is that your profile is your image. What we do at our social networks is as simple as showing who we are. So if we are a bit crazy and we like humor that will be there. I mean, we don’t like to appear to be something we don’t. It’s like the beer thing. We like to taste different beers so we share it.

Sergio: Sometimes bands just want to project a different image of themselves because they’re in a band. We think the opposite. We don’t want to trick anyone, that’s why we project our own image on social media. In real life we’re always making jokes and having fun, and that’s what we do on our social media, and yes, social media are essential tools nowadays, although it is time-consuming.

Have you an idea how many albums you sold of ‘Land Of Fire’? And was the digital selling higher or lower as the album on cd?
Manel: we made 150 copies and we have 25 left, so I guess that around 125, but the most of them were sold in the crowd funding campaign. The digital selling was lower in this case.

Sergio: In our case, as we were an unknown band, digital selling was not very good. What best works is selling albums after our shows, when people have been able to check what we do.

[/b]Does the band manage a lot of things by itself? Then I mean selling albums and merchandise by online ordering? [/b]
Manel: Yes, we manage the most of our things by ourselves. That is kind of difficult because it involves lots of work and we don’t have a team behind us to do certain things. Right now we are working on a website where we will put all our merchandise and albums to sell online when the album is out.

Sergio: Nowadays bands are not only bands, they are also community managers, merchandising sellers, taxi drivers, and many other things.

The thing that I miss on your site is a ‘shop’ button. Is there any chance that you will start with selling online merchandise (albums, t-shirts, buttons). If any reader wants to buy your album, how can he order it?
Manel: Yes, as I have said. If the reader wants to buy our first album he/she can send us a email to bostokproject@gmail.com and we will arrange it. You can get the digital version also in iTunes, Google Play and Amazon Music. ‘Dichotomy’ will be available in our shop in April, hopefully on the release day, April 7th.

Sergio: Our intention is to have our online shop working on that day, but who knows… However, if anyone drops us a message on Facebook, Twitter, or whatever, we can make a deal.

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For this interview, we both have chosen to drink a special beer. I’m drinking a Belgian ale: Kasteelbier Triple (11%). So what is your choice?
Sergio: We’ve chosen ‘Marieta’, a Valencian white IPA craft beer (4.7%). I tried yours when I went to Belgium in summer and another 12% beer and they were a good kick for me hahaha.

Belgium is a beer country. On the social media pages I noticed that Bostok is also a beer loving band. I have seen Foc Beer (the one with the dragon), Botanic, Deu Es Negre (God Is Black). It seems that Spain which was a wine and cava country has changed its mentality. What is your most favorite beer you ever drink? Are local brewery’s expending in Spain?
Manel: I really really love the Grimbergen Blonde. It’s a Belgian style beer, if I’m not wrong. It’s just something awesome. Everything’s good when I think about that one. And the one you mentioned, Déu És Negre, which is a local beer, is one of my favorites too. I think that since the economic crisis it’s been a notorious growth of the number of beer brands here in Spain, especially local ones. Some years ago it wasn’t that easy to find this variety and possibilities and now you can find different beers wherever you go practically.

Sergio: We’re experiencing a rise of beer in our country, and many people decide to by the craft beer kit to make their own, and it’s pretty awesome. I could say that my favorite is Wasabic, also by Fills del Pecat (as Botanic, Foc, and Déu és Negre).

In countries like Belgium and the Netherlands, the local home brewing is getting a real boost. Wouldn’t that be an idea to brew your own Bostok beer or do something in that direction.
Manel: That would be a dream come true. To be honest, I’m a beer lover but I don’t know that much about how it is made and right now I don’t have enough time to even think about it. Anyways, it would be really really nice to collaborate with a brewing company to make our own beer or something like that. As a really active band on the social media I think it might be interesting.

Sergio: Or we could buy the kit that I mentioned before and make our own limited edition!

Isn’t there a way that you go international in Europe and combine it with a beer discovery quest?
Manel: I can assure you that we are working our ass off to be able to tour around Europe. That’s one of our short term goals. The main problem as always is the money. But of course, when we tour Europe I can tell you that we’ll try to taste as many beers as possible. It’s something we like to do together as a band too.

2016 was a really good metal year. So I’m very curious what was for you the best metal release in 2016?
Manel: I’d say that Gojira’s ‘Magma’ and Periphery ‘III’ are the best ones for me. But I’m quite sure that I’m missing lots of them that are not coming to my mind right now haha oh yes! Dream Theater’s ‘The Astonishing’ would be another one for example.

Sergio: I really enjoyed Killswith Engage’s ‘Incarnate’ and Architects ‘All Our Gods Have Abandoned Now’. I think they’re awesome albums.

If the music from Bostok was used for a movie or television series, what do you think it should be?
Manel: I think we almost have one song for each kind of series haha well, I think that some of them would fit really well on ‘Stranger Things’ and ‘Walking Dead’.

Sergio: I really like the idea of killing zombies while listening to ‘Dichotomy’. We have to make it real!

So how is life going in Spain these days? Until a few years, we saw a lot of poverty and misery in countries as Greece, Spain and Portugal with the EU crisis. Whole villages becoming empty or building constructions that stopped halway. With all the news last years about terrorist attacks and Trump, Spain is out of the news.
Manel: Well, I don’t think that the situation has changed at all. The situation remains difficult to lots of families and we young people don’t see our future with lots of hope and security. Furthermore, the political corruption here is almost everywhere and it’s not being punished enough. The positive thing is that there are political changes coming and people is starting to really notice that they have to take part on that to change the situation.

Sergio: That’s why we have to take sides. We have taken the side of denouncing those acts through our music, as we think is a good way to both do what we really like and react.

How do you see Bostok in ten years?
Manel: I see Bostok playing big festivals in ten years. Making a living out of music. Some would say I’m a dreamer but I’m not. We do believe in us. We know it’s so difficult but we are determined to achieve our goals. If we see it as a dream we will never make it happen.

Sergio: Of course, we have to work hard and make our dreams come true. We are in this world because our intention is to work as hard as possible and get to the top.

So this is the end of the interview. Is there any message you still want to give to our readers?
Manel: Stay positive, stay funny and stay strong. Set your goals and follow the path to them.

Sergio: As simple as that. But also stay metal!

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