A Beer with Balyios

Balyios is a relatively young and unknown band on the South African metal scene, having only formed in 2010. Nonetheless, they are making waves and gaining cred with their melodic folk metal that sounds like it fell straight from the skies of Finland (and not the flats of Pretoria, Balyios’ home). André Venter of Tyrannic Assault Photography met up with the band over a beer or three to find out a little more about what makes this quartet tick.

M4A: First tell us who each of you are? Drinking rank and position in band.

Werner: Drinking Rank: Third, because Louis is a daemon and Fred apparently is better than me. Keyboardist and backing vocals.
Ruan: Drinking Rank: Fourth. I get drunk the fastest… Guitarist vocalist.
Louis: Drinking rank: First. I don’t know how… I play bass.
Fred: Drinking rank: Second. Just because the other two are useless and Louis is an alcoholic… and, I play drums.

M4A: Currently in SA you are among one of the only non-instrumental folk metal bands, although there are other bands that have similair concepts. You play “The Real McCoy”, so to speak? For a genre that is usually limited to Scandinavian countries, would you think that folk metal can come from more obscure places?

Werner: It doesn’t really matter which country you come from, the music is still the music.
Ruan: I think yes. If you can play music get drunk and enjoy it, I’d say go for it!
Louis: I would say absolutely if you have the spirit you have the spirit.
Fred: I personally don’t think a country definitely doesn’t limit you to a certain type of music genre. What ever inspires you, whatever you can relate to. Technically speaking, being a folk metal band from S.A we are supposed to play boere music, or Zulu music for that matter… And were not doing that.

M4A: You have also recently started doning the warpaint, and kilts? Would you say this empowers or embodies the whole folk element better and also works better on stage? We have many metal bands in South Africa; does this make you different in this aspect?

Werner: It gives you energy and empowers the music you are playing. It makes you feel like a viking…
Ruan: I think you feel ready for battle! We are on a battle, technically, for music and I think it looks pretty cool too. Not to go into the looks department but you feel like Odin is blessing you going into battle.
Louis: It makes you feel like real warrior, ready for battle. We all have a unique design and it never comes out the same.
Fred: The warpaint gives the crowd an idea of what they are about to see before we start. For instance: someone goes on stage wearing tight jeans, and he looks lame, then you know the band is going to be deathcore and you will go stand outside… But if you see warpaint and kilts, you know you will see something interesting. It captures the crowd before the first chord.

M4A: You have one specific drinking song (a cover of Alestorm‘s “Wenches and Mead”) you play. Tell us a bit more about what ensues after Werner anounces those first few words?

Werner: “When I say wenches you say mead! Wenches! Ahhhrg Ahrrrg Mead!” Basically it gets a really awesome crowd interaction, everyone is usually drunk, so it’s awesome how the crowd responds to it.
Ruan: I always want to start with “Wenches and Mead” but Werner usually beats me to it. The crowd really interacts to it, as Werner said. Everyone just starts going crazy.
Louis: Jollificated (is that even a word? – Ed) drunken debauchery…
Fred: We had few instances were Werner actually messed it up a little bit, you know where he’s supposed to say “Wenches and Mead” he ended up saying, “Menches and Weed”. So whenever he says that, you know he is a couple of beers ahead of you.

M4A: You guys have played currently to date nonstop since youve started in December 2010? Yet allready now there is rumours of a tour? Any specific place outside Pretoria and or johannesburg you would still like to play?

Everyone: Cape Town and Bloemfontein
Fred: …and Sweden.

M4A: And now by end of the week you are also playing among some Durban fellows. Theatre Runs Red and Contrast the water? You have already played along Erebus, although this will be one of your bigger shows that you will have played.

We’re very keen to have them play the show after hearing raving reviews from fellow metalheads. We expect a brutal band and cannot wait to rock out with them. – Sashquita Northey, owner of Emalyth on Balyios

Werner: It’s definitely an honor to be asked to play an Emalyth show. I’m in awe and the fact that it’s along with really established bands, most of which opened for Ensiferum.
Ruan: There is actually quite a few people, fans attending this show, brilliant to see South African people standing to ground and supporting proper music, and not some other pop culture show.
Louis: It’s an honor, me being a fan of Theatre Runs Red. Hell yeah!

M4A: Also are there any specific artists locally that you would still like to share the stage with?

Werner: Warthane and Strident. We can relate to them (Strident); it’s jolly. That’s why we really want to go to Cape Town to try organize a show with them!
Ruan: Strident and Riddare av Koden.
Louis: Strident, because power metal in my roots!
Fred: Erebus, Agro, Warthane and Autumn Sun.

M4A: You have already produced an EP, and several singles. Does Fred doing the engineering make the music more personal? As it is you the artists playing the instruments, recording and mixing and mastering the music.

Werner: It’s definitely more fun to have your band member recording on your material. I trust Fred working with music.
Ruan: Its fun having your friends there at the studio, not like having some randomer. It’s more personal and we can contact each other on progress.
Louis: Any crazy studio moments you would be able to laugh or curse, we’re all bloody brothers, and sounds come out great. Fred knows exactly what we’re going for.
Fred: To me it makes my job much easier as a sound engineer. I know the sound, I know the guys and what they want. I’m actually a really good engineer too…

M4A: What is the biggest inspiration which has contributed to you as a musician musically?

Werner: Tuomas Holopainen of Nightwish, Dimmu Borgir as a band.
Ruan: Alexi Laiho as an artist, Children of Bodom, Norther, Eluveitie, Ensiferum and Alestorm.
Louis: Manowar, death metal with a slight thrash influence, Cruachan, irish and scanidinavian folk.
Fred: Generally progressive metal. Opeth, Dream Theater. Martin Lopez from Opeth is my main drumming inspiration.

M4A: Are there any international act you would like to play with?

Werner: Ensiferum, Korpiklaani, Amon Amarth, Dimmu Borgir or Nightwish.
Ruan: Amon Amarth, Children of Bodom and hopefully Manowar (before they die).
Louis: Manowar and Cruachan.
Fred: Opeth, Dream Theater, Between the Buried and Me, Children of Bodom and Ensiferum.

M4A: Which is the show you have enjoyed the most so far?

Werner: Black Dahlia Thornfest’s Battle Final! The crowd was epic! It was the biggest crowd we’ve ever had, and it’s always about the crowd. Shows get better with a better crowd.
Ruan: It was the best! Everybody played brilliantly… The way crowd responded makes you proud, like “Hey, we are actually doing something right”.
Louis: Same show, but something that did stand out was the chanting of the crowd at the end of show when they would were about to announce the winner an uproar chanting our name. “BALYIOS!”. To me, witnessing that was just so fulfilling.
Fred: For me it was our debut show at Schivas. All our friends got to hear our music for the first time and the feedback we received afterwards was great. At the Black Dahlia show, some core bands ends up having 5 more votes. Because of that we apparently lost… Greatest gig, biggest disappointment.

M4A: On the EP you included an acoustic guitar and a flute? Would you ever add another instrument either live or in studio to the mix?

Werner: Violin, orchestra (Real orchestra, not MIDI orchestra), choir, tinwhistle, genuine accordion… Or a chanting dynamic choir, will especially work in new stuff we are writing and even in our older work.

M4A: Frederik has done vocals before, is there any chance we might get to hear the banshee again?

Fred: Yes! There are a lot of group vocals we recorded in studio, and we would like to recreate that feeling in a live environment.

M4A: What are your expectations for this weekends show? Anything special we can look forward to?

Werner: A brand new single which hasn’t been released yet at all, which is still currently in the mixing process. It would also be the first show we are playing this new song, we are really proud of it and confident based on how it has come out so far. It’s a new song for fans, diehard fans can expect this to liven up the setlist.
Ruan: Definitely the new song. It’s little bit more on the melodic side, true Balyios-type sound, kickass melodies, crunchy riffs, headbanging…
Louis: Bring fans and be sure to have enough beer.

M4A: Anything else you would like to add?

Werner: Keep it metal!
Ruan: The only good thing with “core” in is when it refers to porn.
Louis: Metal is like an apple. Nobody likes the core.
Fred: Do not pitch up at our shows sober. And if you do, don’t expect to leave sober. Do not listen to core!!

Balyios‘ music can be streamed at their Reverbnation page.

Balyios are set to perform at Emalyth’s “Creatures of the Dark” this weekend alongside Theatre Runs Red, Contrast the Water, Erebus and All Forlorn.