We are friends with a lot of Australian Bands, especially myself. I have worked with or hung out with Deprivation, Recoil VOR, and the King Parrot lads and I were texting when I was just out with Recoil VOR. Not to mention all the ones I just know. So when Dan, of the mighty Bok reached out to me, I felt I needed to ask some questions to these fuckers.
So, Dan… It was cool to hear from you about the new single, and to reach out to me. I have heard about you guys for so long from other bands from ‘Straya that I am curious as to what the Australian Music scene is like for you guys? The touring must be limited and it must be difficult to break through
Well, the Aussie scene is a harsh mistress. Lets put things in perspective… We are talking about a tiny population of 23 million spread incredibly thin over a country that is almost as big as North America. North America has 330 million people. It takes us, on average, around 12 hours to get from one capital city to another in a tour van. The average crowd size at most shows on average is around 50 – 100 people. Looking at these statistics it is obvious that we are not in this game for anything other than the love of it. Frankenbok has toured Australia more times than I can count, and we have been to some incredibly remote areas in the process. It’s an amazing country, and I’m not biased in saying it’s one of the best places in the world to live, but it is probably one of the hardest music scenes to crack in the world also. You basically have to make it big overseas before anyone will pay any real attention to you here is Australia. Aussies have this perception that international art, be it music, film or television is so much better than anything created is Australia. We call it the ‘cultural cringe’, and it has been part of Australian culture for the past 50 years. That is, of course, pure bullshit. The amount of talent here is ridiculous. The world is getting smaller by the day, and it’s only a matter of time before the world is inundated with Aussie bands, of every musical style.
You guys are so well thought of in Australia, are you looking to expand and get out to other countries?
You bet your ass! But this is not an easy thing to do by any means. For us, it has proved to be harder than other bands our age. We are a very blue-collar band. We all have day jobs and families and lives outside of the band, not to mention we do everything on a shoestring budget. But this year we are making a concerted effort to get our name out there in the overseas market. There is a real buzz happening out there about the Aussie metal scene right now, and there are a shit ton of awesome bands here that have been honing their skills ready to come out of the isolation and show the world what they are made of. I’ve just started doing an online TV show called ‘The Aussie Underground’, which aims to promote the Aussie Scene to a worldwide audience. The response to the first episode was awesome. We also just had a documentary made on the history of Australian heavy metal call ‘Metal Down Under’. It is receiving great reviews from all over the world and it’s at the forefront of the current buzz about Australia. Then there is King Parrot. Those guys are just killing it in the US at the moment. I went to the Housecore Horror Film Fest in Austin, TX back in October last year. Three Aussie bands were playing, including the Parrot boys. The crowd just couldn’t get enough of them, and certainly gave me confidence that Frankenbok could do real well in the US. But you guys would know better than me!
What do you think of the current music industry in general with free downloads, how selling merch and touring is more important, and other factors?
It is what it is. You either move with the times, or you are doomed. There are a lot of aspects that I miss about the old days, most importantly is that I think that music has been devalued to the point that it is worthless. I loved it back in the day when it was really hard to get any kind of info about a band. I remember when I first got to see Meshuggah play live from a video clip we found on the Internet. This was back in ’98 so it pre-dated YouTube etc. It took us about 3 hours to download a 5 minute clip, but it was fucking awesome. All we had ever seen of the band was their promo shot on the back of the album for years, so to see the band actually live in a clip was amazing, and most importantly because the band photo didn’t specify who was who. I now realized that I had the drummer and the vocalist mixed up! These days you can pretty much see what every band had for breakfast. Anything and everything is available now, and I think a lot of the mystique has been destroyed. But for people such as myself , who have always worked from a DIY and punk mentality, things have never been better. Modern technology has allowed bands to be in complete control of their creativity. We record all of our own music. We make all of our own film clips. We print all of our own merch. For me, the most important thing about being a heavy metal artist is independence from the fucking status quo and that is exactly what you can achieve if you know what you are doing in the modern age.
Talk about this new release you guys have just put out, what was behind it?
We spent most of 2014 in-between sporadic shows, writing, and doing pre-production of new material. We have our own rehearsal/recording space we call ‘The Lab’ [the tenant before us used the place as a grow house for ‘weed and other things until the drug squad busted down the door and carted him off to jail], and toward the end of last year we put in some new recording equipment and decided to test it all out. The song will not be linked to any release, we just wanted to get something new out to keep the name out there while we finish the new recording. The song itself however is one of the most important songs I have ever released, for personal reasons. I’ve had a pretty rough few years in my personal life, which unfortunately resulted in pretty bad alcohol abuse. Early last year I finally grew enough balls to quit drinking for good, which I have done. Since April last year, not a drop of booze has gone down my throat. Considering prior to that I was getting wasted 3-4 times a week, I am very proud of my accomplishment. In Australia too, we have a massive drinking problem that is indentured into our culture so much it’s not funny. The song ‘Never To Return’ is kind of a mantra to me that reminds me to never go back to drinking, no matter what. I know there are so many Aussies going through the same thing as me, and I hope that I can be an inspiration to others who are on the verge of quitting, but can’t for whatever reason. It’s such a hard thing to do, when everyone you know at every outing or gathering of people is drinking. The world is a pretty lonely place when you aren’t down on the retarded level of drunk people, and it’s very easy to just give in to the stupidity and ‘fun’ and go with the crowd. I’m watching some of my friends try to stop drinking at the moment. They go to parties with the solid intention of not drinking, but it doesn’t take long before someone is sticking a beer under their nose and egging them on to have a drink. It’s having enough balls to say no enough times that people finally stop offering, like they do with me now. I know I sound like a ‘born again’ in regards to this, but alcohol is fucking poison. Weed on the other hand…
What do you guys have coming up in the near future?
We are about to get stuck in to recording another 3 new songs that we are going to release around late March/April on a new HD digital platform that is about to be launched from Australia. After that, the plan is to release a 5-6 song EP on CD/VINYL/DIGITAL formats. The CD format will also feature the 4 songs that were released digitally as bonus tracks. That’s the plan anyhow. We are heading to New Zealand at the end of January for a short tour, and hopefully we will be back there later in the year. It’s such an amazing place and so much fun to tour there. We are also looking to get into Asia this year, either Japan or Indonesia or both. And while that’s all happening, I am focusing all my attention on getting our name out there, especially in the states. It has always been a dream of mine to tour there one day. Thanks to guys like your self, giving us the time of day… that just may happen!
Thanks Dan for the kind words, I appreciate it!
You can download “Never To Return”: here