Bossk, are at the cutting edge of metal, putting together their new album, Migration, a stunning mix of post-metal music, electronics and sampling, and breathtaking vocals. Louder Than War caught up with Tom Begley from the band to ask about the new album, playing live, and their upcoming headlining tour.
LTW: Here at Louder than War we reviewed the new album Migration, which is a fantastic album and a significant step forward creatively for the band. Many thanks for taking the time to talk about Bossk’s music. How has the band been during the pandemic? Hope everyone is well.
Tom: Doing okay I guess! All of us have had to adapt in different ways, just like everyone. Finishing the album during early lockdown last year was frustrating, but it also allowed us to be able to listen more, and fine-tune it in a lot more detail.
LTW: Can you say a little about the development of the band, and describe your musical outlook and vision?
Tom: Right now, the lockdown has actually fuelled us to keep writing, and working on new material. We have actually never had this much new music written, more than ever before. Which after 15 years of being a band, is quite exciting for us all. Releasing Migration was a great thing for us to focus on together, in a way that we have never had to before.
LTW: While the band is a recognised part of the metal scene, there is a myriad of other musical influences at play in your music. What are the musical influences that have strongly influenced and shaped the band?
Tom: I think as the band has progressed and grown over the years; our personal music taste has also changed too. I think because we are not around each other on a regular basis, we sort of each bring in different musical elements to the band that maybe we didn’t before. I think that influence that we have comes from all over, we know each other so well now, and have really grown to respect each other’s roles in the band. I think that for me that has been the biggest influence on the band at the moment. Respect for each other’s contributions.
LTW: On the new album Migration, there are a number of really exciting musical partnerships, across various tracks, including with Cult of Luna’s Johannes Persson, and with Josh McKeown, from Palm Reader. How did these come about, and how did they add to what you were aiming for musically with the album?
Tom: We have been good friends with Johannes since 2006 when Cult of Luna first took us on tour. We were so young then and really looked up to them as a band at that time. Seeing them every night on that first tour gave us so much drive to do the band back then. He was the first person we all thought of to do vocals on a Bossk song. A genuinely amazing moment for where our band is now, to where it started in 2005. Absolutely loved working with lyrics and concepts for this song, something I’ve never had to do before!
Josh, I have been pals with for a long time, I loved the vocals on the last Palm Reader album. Huge new territory for this band, and we wanted this song to be a bold statement of what is possible if you work together. Hearing the first demo he did for the song, I knew instantly he would complete it!
LTW: On the album, the electronics and sampling add a real edge to the soundscapes the music creates and again seem to have involved some really creative musical collaborations. How did that approach develop during the recording of the album?
Tom: This album is by far the most dense music we have ever made. There is so much going on in so many different ways across the album. The harsh drone, glitchy samples, provided by Etsuo and Taro from Japanese band ENDON, really add an unusual feel to the album. We wanted to start the process for this album to try and do something we hadn’t done before. The album Audio Noir took years and years to craft and create, but we wanted to go into new areas that we found interesting. I sometimes find questions about this topic difficult to answer, but we enjoy challenging ourselves and have always aspired to build a unique recognisable sound for the band. But also, to keep us motivated to do more new music together!
LTW: The closing track on the album, Unberth, seems to bring together all the different musical elements from across the album, into a stunning and immersive pinnacle of sound. How did you develop the track?
Tom: This song was so much fun to develop, we almost had the album finished with the track Lira, but we felt like closing it, in a different way. We actually only used programmed drums for this, from the main recording session. Nick (Bossk’s drummer) didn’t track anything new for this song, he just worked the song together, using samples and electronics. This track in particular was an amazing team effort when recording it, and I think really shows an interesting dynamic to close the album with.
LTW: The video for the first single from the album, Menhir, features some high energy footage from your set at the 2019 ArcTanGent festival. How does your music evolve in the live setting, and how important is the connection you feel with the audience?
Tom: We have such a great connection with that festival, both with the organisers and the other bands who perform. That 2019 set I knew would be something special for us, so I went to great lengths to really capture it. Thomas Brooker has worked with us on a bunch of stuff, and I really love almost everything he does. The video really is a huge example of his talent. He delivered something beyond my imagination and expectations for the video for this. We love performing live, and this show really clicked for us all in the same way, which is rare after 15 years of doing this with each other. Truly a large event in this band’s career so far.
LTW: You set out on a headlining tour in December, with support from the excellent Dvne. It must feel like a really exciting prospect. What can we expect setlist wise?
Tom: Very excited for this tour, if you have ever seen us play, these are the shows you cannot miss. It will be our longest set we can play, in some time. We will have songs from across all our records planned. It’s great to have something like this to focus on over the next few months. They will also be the biggest shows we have done headlining! I heard of Dvne a while back, and really liked the Asheran release from 2017. For this tour, we brainstormed an enormous list of bands that we all suggested to ask. But in the end, we really wanted to take something outside of who we had played with in the past. I reached out to see if they would be interested, and they sent me the newest album ahead of its release. As soon as I listened for the first time, I knew we had to take them! It’s great to find new bands, I really enjoy the process of it as a fan of music in general. So, to take a band like them that have such a strong future ahead of this album is a great feeling. Bring earplugs.
LTW: Thank you so much for your time, it’s much appreciated.
All questions by Gareth Allen. You can find Gareth’s author profile here. Band photo by Tim Bugbee.