Folk metal generally brings one’s mind to countries of the Scandinavian region, with hardly any folk metal bands out of Scandinavian countries catching my attention. However, Bolero was one such band that managed to capture my attention. Having recently released their debut full length album, Voyage From Vinland, we talk to the band to learn more.
Greetings indeed! Yes, of course! The album! We have been getting an overwhelmingly positive response towards our album since we released it in January. Of course, we cannot please everyone and we’ve been sent the odd typical one -sentenced diet review. They good ones keep coming in however, and the general feedback is indeed very good!
Before we talk about the album, would it be possible to tell us and our readers a brief history of the band? The band was formed in 2007 and has seen numerous shifts in lineups. How did the current lineup come about?
Our current 5 man lineup is the result of high-school friendships and good networking within our scene in the Toronto area. Casey (guitar) and Alex (keyboards) were approached early in the band’s history about filling their respective roles. We asked Tim (guitar) to join while at an outdoor music festival that I put on in 2008. And Rob (drums) joined last in 2009 and has since done dozens of shows with us. We haven’t ever looked back. This lineup is definitely the strongest lineup we’ve had to date.
A search on Bolero gives an overwhelmingly large number of results, ranging from a Latin style of music to even a horse! What exactly does Bolero mean, and how does it fit with the music that the band plays?
Hahahaha, really? That’s not surprising at all! I’ve seen pictures of boots and jackets pop up, but never a horse. I’ve heard everything about our name from it being a good, memorable one (with a good logo!) to it being non-metal, etc. I actually picked the name back in 2005 when I was looking for one word to represent the music I was wanting to create (dynamic, bombastic, melodic, sonic metal revelry), and why look any further than Maurice Ravel’s masterpiece… Bolero?
Besides Bolero, you have also been involved in a number of other bands such as Mastery, Atomicy and Vengeance Through Annihilation, each playing different subgenres of metal. What was it that made you decide to play folk metal with Bolero?
The list of bands of different subgenres I’ve played in is much, much longer than that. I’m not just a fan of metal, but a fan of all music in general. When I first heard Windir, then Finntroll many, many years ago, the style instantly clicked with me. Bolero actually used to be a meaningless black metal side project I had (under a different name at the time), but I turned it into my full time band and the style of music I write for it is constantly changing and developing.
Voyage from Vinland presents to listeners a largely Scandinavian-sounding style of folk metal, bringing bands such as Ensiferum and Finntroll to mind. What are some of the influences that the band had in mind other than the above-mentioned obvious ones when writing the music?
I can’t speak for everyone in the band what their individual influences are because believe me, the lists are fucking extensive! When it comes to playing, we’ll cite influence from Canadian folk music (Spirit of the West, etc), Arcturus, Strapping Young Lad, Devin Townsend Band, Equilibrium, Amorphis, Swallow the Sun, Moonsorrow, Korpiklaani. The list goes on.
While Scandinavian bands playing such heroic music are common, with Viking and Norse mythology aplenty where does Bolero manage to find the inspiration to writing music and lyrics for Voyage from Vinland?
I find it very easy to write what I write and what I write about. The inspiration I draw upon here in Canada is quite bountiful, especially on the moraine where I live where there are deep forests and huge lakes all around me. On Voyage from Vinland, I was able to write the material very easily because at the time I was neck-deep in interest with regards to Vikings and the histories of those ages. If you’re familiar with Canadian history and heritage, you’d note that the Vikings had a role in it (though at a early stage of it) and that part of our history is pushed quite a lot, especially on our East coast; not to mention many Canadians this day are of Scandinavian and Anglo-Saxon descent.
Besides the heroic topics that the band touches on, there is also the obvious element of fun in the music, with songs such as Pints Held High. Why the inclusion of the song on the album, and does it affect the flow of the music in any way?
With our music and lyrics frequently dwelling on the deeper and more meaningful spectrum at times, we like to remind everyone (especially during live shows) that in reality we are much more lively and entertaining at every opportunity. With Pints Held High in particular, we touch on the subject of honouring your own, the fallen, and respecting those who have an affirmative influence on yourself and your surroundings (in the form of fallen brothers on the battlefield). This song makes its entrance on the album in chronological order (as the album turned out to be a concept album of sorts) and is the beginning of the 2nd chapter of Voyage from Vinland (for reference sake, the prior song, ‘Risen Victorious’ is about a massive battle).
Voyage from Vinland is now available on iTunes as a digital format. For fans of Bolero who prefer the old-school physical release, what are the different formats available and are there any means to get hold of them?
Yes! We currently have it available as a digipak. You can order it through us on our paypal (firstname.lastname@example.org). We will be getting jewel cases and download cards soon. Other than that, it is available on iTunes, Amazon Mp3, CD Baby and many other digital media sites.
The band will be playing a couple of shows in the months to come. What are live Bolero experiences like, and what are some of the crazy antics that the band partakes in onstage?
We’ve often been described as a ‘party band’, and we do exactly that when we play – party. You can expect to have beer poured down your throat, pulled on stage to sing along and do shots. I don’t want to give too much away. This is where I tell everyone to come out and see for themselves!
On top of drumming duties, Rob is also credited as Awesome Sauce on the band’s Facebook profile. Care to enlighten curious fans of the band?
You do not want to know.
With the release of Voyage from Vinland, the band has already premiered new songs, such as The Swordsman at recent shows. Is that a sign that fans of Bolero will get to hear new studio material released anytime soon?
Again, I don’t want to give too much away with this answer. We have indeed been working on new material – we write all the time. We won’t be hitting the studio anytime soon, however. We are going to allow ourselves the time to make an album that will completely eclipse Voyage from Vinland in every way possible.
Being from a band that seemingly loves their beer, let’s end this interview on a fun note: name your favourite poison and how it is best consumed.
Chloroform. It’s best served on a face cloth.
Thank you once again for taking the time off to answer our questions, and we wish the band all the best in the upcoming shows and any future endeavours!
And thank you!
Album Review: Bolero – Voyage from Vinland