Bokassa recently released their first full length album, Divide & Conquer, and it’s safe to say we love it here at The Revival – if you haven’t already, check out our review of this record. The Norwegian trio meld punk and stoner rock influences to create and define a brand new genre.
With that in mind, we catch up with vocalist and guitarist Jørn to see how he’s coping with the feedback from the new release and to delve deeper into the band, their workings and their progression.
The Revival: Firstly, thanks for taking time out to speak with us. As I hope you know, we are big fans of your new album Divide & Conquer. Its currently topping my album of the year list.
Jørn: Thank you, that is so cool to hear!
The Revival: The album introduces us to a very new sound that has been labelled “Stoner Punk”. What was the creative process like to achieve this unique new vision? In The Revivals review of Divide & Conquer we suggested you were defining a new genre. Is that how you guys see it?
Jørn: We actually set out to fuse punk rock and stoner rock, that was our premise for the band. We wanted to have the aggression and drive from punk rock/hardcore, but we also wanted to riff, you know? So yeah, if Poison Idea are "The Kings of Punk" we think of ourselves as "The Kings Of Stonerpunk".
The Revival: The album is obviously very heavily influenced by punk and hardcore, is that the background for all three of you or are you all approaching this from different angles?
Jørn: We have different backgrounds musically. I listen mostly to skatepunk, hardcore & stonerrock, while Olav is more of a hiphop, punk & death metal guy and Bård I think listens to a lot of doom.
The Revival: I also detect a hint of something else, especially during Walker Texas Danger, a little Entombed influence maybe?
Jørn: I think it´s so cool that you guys said that in the review, because they are one of my favourite metal bands. I love the "Death´n´roll" part of their discography. Albums like "To ride", "Uprising" and even Slayer-ish "Morning Star" are timeless classic as far as I´m concerned. I always thought Uffe Cederlund had such great riffs, so it´s probably some influences from them.
The Revival: I personally love the punchiness of the album, just over 30 minutes in length. Every song a short sharp smack to the face of just few minutes. Was the intention at the start or did that come about during the writing process?
Jørn: Before this album our longest song was around 3 minutes I think, and we called that the "long one", so our intentions were always to keep it short and sharp, but then suddenly we had a song that was seven minutes long. I personally think a lot of bands write songs that are way too long, I think that if you´re gonna write longer songs you need to have a lot of different things happen in the songs, not just the same riff over and over. We actually try to shorten every song we write so we won´t get bored while playing it ourselves.
The Revival: It certainly is an assault on the senses, does that come across in the live shows too?
Jørn: Yeah, when we play live I always think of it as an all-out attack. That we are gonna win ‘em over with our energy. We know we are a good live band and since we are not on a major label our have a big publishing firm behind us we have to win ‘em over live, which we are doing, one gig at a time, hehe. Usually there is a mosh pit after the second song and I remember once a guy in the audience broke his nose in the pit! We gave him a t-shirt though, to soften the blow (pun intended).
The Revival: What are the reactions like from fans at shows hearing you for the first time?
Jørn: The ones we win over absolutely love it (I think) and I often see them again at the next show. Which is really cool.
The Revival: You know we love Divide & Conquer, have you had the same feedback across the board? What’s the critical reaction been like from elsewhere?
Jørn: The reviews and fan feedback for the record has been overwhelming. We are a bastard child of punk rock and stoner rock and we were very unsure about what kind of reactions we were gonna get. And when the first review came we were blown away because it was so positive. So we thought maybe next one wouldn´t be that good, but people seem to love it and we are proud of that. We had one Norwegian blog though who hated it and wrote that it sounded as if we were 16 playing with our metal-zones. I didn´t really understand that, but thought it was hilarious, haha.
The Revival: What are your plans for touring off the back of this album? I’m hoping a tour to the UK will be on the cards?
Jørn: We are gonna tour Norway a little bit this spring and we are talking about a tour in Europe maybe this fall or 2018, but we haven´t really planned it. UK would be great though. I think our type of music would do well in UK and Germany so it would be really cool to tour there. I get the impression that British fans are more intense also, which is great in a live setting.
The Revival: And do you have plans for any of the summer festivals over Europe?
Jørn: No. But if they want us we´ll play!
The Revival: So with full length album number 1 in the bag what does the future hold for Bokassa?
Jørn: Well we are hopefully as mentioned gonna tour abroad, and we are already writing the follow up record. So hopefully new record in 2018! Riffier, heavier and the sequel to Immortal Space Pirate!