Boargazm are undoubtedly one of the hardest working bands in terms of touring and gigging across this fair country, an incredible feat when you consider that all members are full-time musicians, set musicians and highly active in promotion and production.
Yet they still find time to tour extensively locally, playing numerous gigs in their native Pretoria, Johannesburg and, just recently, toured Ecuador and Kenya. They’re also writing up a storm, with the next album, The Baconing, in recording, and the one thereafter, already being written. Not bad going for a concept band that’s been around for just over 2 years. Metal4Africa met up with Boargazm main man Heine van der Walt recently to chat about the tour, clear the air on some of the controversy surrounding their music video “Lust” and find out what gives them the energy to keep going.
M4A: So you’re heading back into studio, to record The Baconing, and you’re doing a wonderful studio diary for your fans on Facebook. It’s such a great way to keep in contact with your fans. Tell me, are the fans getting excited for the new album yet?
Heine: I think the people who are the most excited are us! (laughs) Because people don’t know what it’s going it’s going to sound like… The first album I did pretty much alone. I had no idea it would turn into a band at that stage. I just wrote and figured, let’s launch it. Two weeks before it launched, I gave the guys copies of the album with the songs they had to learn and it just went flat-speed from there. With this album, we found that while we’re playing live, we create way cooler stuff together. We’ve been together for ages, playing together in our previous band, RhütZ, since 2007. When RhütZ broke up we took a break for a few months and immediately started back up with Boargazm. So, yeah, with this album, I’m not writing alone. I wanted that raw power that comes from our live shows, so we all wrote together and everyone is arranging and recording their own parts.
M4A: So, everyone’s working independently to write something “together”? That sounds like a bit of a nightmare?
Heine: No, not at all. You would think so, but it’s going exceptionally smooth. We all play for a lot of different acts. Chris and Jason play for The Black Cat Bones among others, Cicero is in Urban Vitamin and has a few different projects and is visual artist by trade. I run Wolmer Music, being involved with several productions and do tons of events management… So we’re all very busy. We’ve been using a lot of technology, internet, Skype, and Dropbox to get things done and it’s been a great help in terms of everyone’s schedules.
M4A: I was going to ask you how you juggle everything, how you find time for all of this?
Heine:M4A: I’m taking it then that Boargazm isn’t everyone’s full-time project. I kinda see it as being your “for fun” project?
Heine: At first yes, but now it’s my main project. In the beginning it was more of a fun side project for some of the other guys, now, it’s getting bigger and taking more time. We take the music incredibly seriously. Yes, there’s humor, but its a supplement, entertainment value (laughs).
M4A: Hey, don’t laugh. I wanted to ask about the whole piggy thing…
Heine: (laughs harder) Well, the piggy thing comes from a band called Deane Crescent and their vocalist Paul. And we kinda poked fun at Paul by calling him Lord Varkie, because he used to squeal on stage (Squeals, and very convincingly). So I threw together this demo way back, that featured pig squealing and we were laughing our asses off. A few years later, I dug up the demo and played for some friends, and people loved it. So… (laughs) I love irony, I love pigs and I love sci-fi. This band laughs so much, and the guys are the funniest people I’ve ever met, and those that laugh together, stay together.
M4A: So you guys all started out playing together, this is definitely a band of brothers?
Heine: Well we didn’t really all know each other, Cicero and Jason came along a bit later. I met Jason at a house party, and we were of one mind immediately. Cicero was the youngest and brightest bassist we auditioned for back in the RhütZ days… There’s a great synergy. Being on the road so much you learn how to talk and listen to each other with respect and compassion.
M4A: So you’re primarily a 4-piece core, but you say that you have an additional 8 band members?
Heine: Yes! (laughs) Myself, Jason, Cicero and Chris are the main members. The thing is when we get a gig and the main members can’t make it we pull people in. We just train ’em to play! We have the most amazing group of guys who come in. We’ve had Herman from Juggernaught, Riaan and Louw from Underbelly, Tom from Haggis and Bong, Tyron (ex-RhütZ), Rohan Blignaut from Conchuda, David Tomaselli from Descomunal (Ecuador), and more recently Cameron Zuccarelli… We’re micro-ambitious. We suppress all the hurdles in front of us, and then roll on. One gig at a time. It’s worked out well! We also toured the first album The The Aporkalypse for about 2 years, so it was good to just be able to send the guys the tracks to learn when we needed people. Thank god for technology.
M4A: So while you’re touring you were also writing… That’s just crazy. How did you find the time? I mean you did three different cities in South America, weren’t you just exhausted?
Heine: No, not at all. We find time for writing between shows, on off days, in hotel rooms, on the road. That was our downtime. I mean we did one huge show, and two smaller shows. In between all of that we did a massive amount of press. But yeah, you just plug straight into your iPad and there you go. (laughs) Oh man, I really can’t wait for people to hear the new album. I think we’re just going to start calling it “Jissis Metal” *. Metal you listen to that make you go “JISSIS!” and you pull the Phillip H. Anselmo underlip of approval! (laughs).
M4A: You’re a concept band, right? Is that something that will change?
Heine: Well, the current conceptual narrative spans three albums for now, a trilogy. The Aporkalypse, The Baconing, and the third, Raining Mud.
M4A: I think Slayer would be well pleased!
Heine: (laughs). I think if you’ve been around as long as Slayer, you’ve found your sense of humor. If you can’t laugh, then what’s the point? Instead of lightning it will be pigs (falling piggy bomb sound effects). The Aporkalypse is about the invasion on Earth. The Baconing is about planet Zorg, their home planet and it’s about the human slaves rebelling against the pig overlords. So there’s going to be a lot more “human” vocals, human lyrics, obviously as now we’re recording from a human perspective.
M4A: So do you think this album will be heavier than the last? A change in sound with the perspective?
Heine: Way more produced, more clean. This will sound like a professional finish. The first album was kinda DIY-ish. We sourced great gear and brilliant engineers. We’re working with Riaan Botma and taking the family-environment approach. Hotdogs or hamburgers for lunch, just chilling with the best of friends, taking it easy, and recording while we do so. Musically, it’s going to be a lot more complex. This one is going to be more technical yet coherent. We’re using sneak attacks and chaining. I don’t think people will expect it. Each song is in different tuning, different keys, and different tempos. I would compare it to Zimmer’s Hole or Strapping Young Lad, though more now than ever, we have dialled in on our own ‘sound’.
M4A: So totally different from the first album, the album that launched you.
Heine: Yeah, it was a pivotal album for us, it launched us and put us where we needed to be having a groundwork to build from. Now we’re focusing more on production value and putting more refinement into it. We’ve already got the outlines of 5 tracks for the album after this one, but it’s pretty much an evolutionary process. After those, I think we’ll focus on doing smaller web-based 4-track EPs more frequently.
M4A: So explain the masks… I understand that you’re a concept band, but is it an anonymity thing or…?
Heine: Rewind 30 years, you’re looking at bands like KISS, later on, GWAR, Mushroomhead, Slipknot, Lordi… It’s something that extends the theme of the band visually and it’s fun. Cicero is a visual artist, so he is making us custom masks for the next album. They’re looking pretty sick so far. Maybe on the next album we’ll do cyborg pigs, zombie pigs… it lends itself to many sub-themes.
M4A: Ecuador… How was it?
Heine: It was the coolest thing I’ve ever done in my life! The people. The food… What can I say? It started as an exchange with Oppikoppi and Quitofest. They sent one of their hottest acts over, and we got to go play there in South America. You can see metal is not a fad or a trend down there. People LIVE for metal, it’s a way of life! It’s what you would expect from Scandanavian countries. I was in Finland when I was the SA Air Guitar Champ back in 2008 and 2009. (laughs) I saw more metal heads in the streets of South America than I did in Finland. Europe and South Africa you’d think it’s a trend, but there… It’s inspiring. A lot of us in the SA metal industry really wish we could get more metal into the townships. Metal in SA is way too white. The demographic is so small here, unless we could get attract more people. We’d love to be able to tour into areas like Shoshanguve, Ga-Rankuwa, Mabopane, Attridgeville, and Mamelodi. I mean, if we can break a few perceptions and maybe inspire just 5 kids to pick up instruments… Man. It would just keep growing. That would be amazing.
M4A: Highlights from Ecuador?
Heine: Wow. God, they made me fall back in love with the metal scene. They just inspired me to keep doing this and to keep reaching out to people through music. What we gave to them, they gave back to us in energy and enthusiasm. I mean you could tell in the beginning, people were a bit hesitant, but as we kept playing, we had circle pits going right throughout the crowd. The city of Quito is 2,800 meters above sea level. It was so incredibly hard to breathe. Riaan actually got altitude sickness a few times. It was just the most amazing experience. Can’t wait to do it again.
M4A: So who inspired you?
Heine: Iron Maiden and Megadeth on VHS. My elder brothers were in high school and they would watch these tapes, and there’s me, about 6 years old, staring. As I watched the bands I thought “Man, that must be the best job in the world”.
M4A: Right, I think this might be my last question, but I kinda have to know. Reading up on Lust, a few people have described it as a “portrayal on mans desire to eat meat, and a commentary of our lust for flesh”… I don’t really know if that’s what I see? I mean, for a commentary on meat, you hacked an already killed pigs head off…
Heine: (Laughs) Oh man. I don’t know where that came from. We never said that. It’s people’s own interpretation of the video. But what it comes down to, when I write and preform, I create stuff that’d entertain me personally. Your own band has to be your favourite band. I’m our biggest fan. I just see it as a fun band and something people can use to escape for a while. (laughs). There was no hidden meaning, it was just this silly video that turned into a huge controversy. People thought we were this heavy animal cruelty bunch. We really didn’t intend to shock… (laughs). I am actually really conservative. I got SO much hate mail for that music video. Yeah, it got a bit grizzly, but remember the dead animals were humanely slaughtered and the live animals were treated gently and with respect. We used fake blood, no animals were hurt. I love pigs! I would never hurt a living animal. There’s a scene where I’m rocking a pig in my arms and I’m giggling at the camera. The audio from that is just this little guy grunting every time he got rocked up and down. He ended up being our best friend on shoot, followed us around, grunted at us, he was awesome. His name was Tjoppie.
M4A: So for all the animal cruelty activists reading, what is your official stance on animals?
Heine: Animals are delicious. Just don’t be cruel to them. (laughs) In all seriousness. We love our pets, we’re for the humane treatment of abattoir animals. We would never condone or encourage the hurting of animals for entertainment. We learnt the hard way.
We look forward to hearing the Sqeal-quel to The Aporkalypse and if the first album was “rough” it’s sure to crisp your bacon.
Follow Boargazm on Facebook or catch them live at their next show on 22 Feb @ Sundowners in Alberton.
*M4A Note: If you ever have the pleasure of meeting Heine, ask him to do the “Jissis Metal” face. It’s a combination of a Pirate and Clint Eastwood’s whiskey face and is well worth seeing.
Watch Boargazm‘s controversial music video for “Lust” below: