December 11, 2015 Interview – Beau Bokan of Blessthefall
There comes a point in every band’s career where they face a crossroad. They either decide to stay within the confident of what listeners expect, or they challenge preconception to become something even bigger. It could be said that Arizona based band Blessthefall has taken the latter approach with the pushing of themselves to spread their wings and explore different styles and sounds. Broadly recognized as one of the bigger Metalcore acts around today, Blessthefall has made tremendous strides forward with the release of Hollow Bodies in 2013, and continue with their latest album, To Those Left Behind. Well on their way to reaching Rock-n-Roll’s elite rankings, it has not be a lightening in a bottle flair for this bunch of musicians, but a steady rise. Touring regularly and putting their best foot forward, it seems nothing can slow down Blessthefall. Recently we caught up with Vocalist Beau Bokan for a closer look at his time in the band, their goals for the future, touring, and much more.
CrypticRock.com – Blessthefall has built a strong name over the course of the last decade with one successful record after another and regular touring. What has the journey been like thus far since you have been with the band?
Beau Bokan – It has been pretty crazy, it is a roller coaster road, that is for sure. When I joined back in 2008, I knew they were a band that had started garnishing a fanbase, but I did not realize how crazy it was until we went on our first little stint. It was the first time I had ever played in front of people that were singing the words (laughs). It has been awesome. The years have flown by at this point and I think we have just maintained a level head about everything. I think some years are better than others. It has never like blown up to massive proportions, but I think we have just maintained a steady constant influx of fanbase. It is a matter of consistency, just staying out there, and giving it your best every show.
CrypticRock.com – Absolutely, as you said, it has absolutely been a steady influx. Blessthefall has grown steadily opposed to one big flare. Some bands do that and then they fizzle out. A gradual rise is probably the best way to go.
Beau Bokan – Yes, I think so too, and it is fun. The hard work is actually fun. Nothing has ever been handed to us as a band, and we appreciate it all.
CrypticRock.com – Understandable, you had mentioned joining up back in 2008. Up until the point you joined and a little bit after, there were some lineup changes in those formidable years of Blessthefall. There is stability now, and the lineup has been consistent for a while. How would you describe the chemistry of the band?
Beau Bokan – Yes, the chemistry is awesome. I think everybody knows what they do best, and they just work on that. It takes time to figure out where everyone stands in a band and things like that. At this point, we all know what we do best. Eric and Elliot do the best writing of the music, and I do the best of coming up with the melody and so on. We now focus on what we do the best, rather than trying to do too much. I think that is a good formula we have created.
CrypticRock.com – Yes, and it is evident in the music. The music has steadily progressed from record to record. Hollow Bodies was really a big step forward for Blessthefall. What do you think made that record as effective as it was, and still is two years later?
Beau Bokan – We went with a different producer, obviously that always helps your sound. Joey Sturgess took what we were doing and magnified it, as far as the sound goes. That really put us back on the map, so to speak, with a lot of these newer generation kids. It is the kind of the thing where we do have older fans, but we do have fans that grow out of it and think, “I’m going to college and I don’t know if I need to listen to Metal still.” We just had to be relevant, and I think that is what we did with that record. I think we maintain with our newest record, To Those Left Behind.
CrypticRock.com – Yes, you actually worked with Joey again on To Those Left Behind, released back in September. What was the writing and recording process behind this new record?
Beau Bokan – Similar to Hollow Bodies, as far as we did a bunch of demos before we went in. I think that is usually the general way bands do it. We made a lot of demos before we went in, so we had a bunch to choose from. I actually had my lyrics and melodies and went in with another person named Erik Ron, who is basically a co-writer and kind of a sixth member of Blessthefall. We collaborated on most of the songs, as far as lyrics and melodies. I think working with someone else makes a difference. I have personally done five records on vocals and melodies on my own, so this one was coming up and I thought I needed outside perspective. I think that is good to sort of put the ego aside and let someone else come in and just collaborate; to be able to knock your heads together and try to make the best music you can.
CrypticRock.com – Yes, absolutely, like you said, put the ego aside and just make the best music you can. That probably opened you up to new ideas as well, when you have someone else to collaborate with you. It definitely works well. The record is solid, and one of the key aspects of Blessthefall’s music has always been the atmospheric quality of the instrumentation that rings with each record. There are points where To Those Left Behind hits hard, and others where the music breaths. Is this a natural progression in structuring songs for you?
Beau Bokan – Yes, it is definitely something that we learned as we got older. Throughout the albums, is the essence of a good song. It is not just bang bang bang, there are a couple of those on there, but it is not all like that. You want the song to be universal. You want the song to be easy to listen to and catchy. We really worked hard on hooks, and, like you said, those moments that definitely open it up and give it a second. It just makes the song that much more valuable when you put that much more effort into it. It is definitely something that we have gotten better at throughout the years.
CrypticRock.com – Yes, naturally it is something you are going to get better at. It is part of progressing as a musician. It seems people love to label something, perhaps it allows them understand it better. We are all victims of that. Is the band comfortable with being labeled Metalcore, or do you find the label constraining to the musical direction you continue to look to attain with each record?
Beau Bokan – It seems like the most accurate if you broke it down. Honestly, we do not really care what someone calls us. If someone called us Pop Punk or Hip Hop, then I would say you are pretty far off. Calling us Metalcore is the general idea there. I think the Metalcore genre sort of got a black eye because the over saturation of the genre. I do not really want to have an ego about it, I just think, “Ok, that’s cool, if that is what your best description of our band is, that is fine.” I think that the next record, and from here on out, we are going to try and do more. On To Those Left Behind, there is a song that sounds like an R&B song on it, there is no getting around it. There is also a song that sounds like it could be a My Chemical Romance song. I think we are exploring these other genres without trying to completely abandon our fanbase and what we have built. I think as the records go on, it is a natural progression. Maybe we move out of that genre, I do not know, it is hard to say where we are going to go from here. I think the Metalcore thing, I think some people are scared of it. It is whatever. It is a way to describe us, and if it works, it works.
CrypticRock.com – Understood, like you said, it kind of has a stigma attached to it, which is ridiculous. There are bands within the genre, such as Blessthefall, which has distinguished themselves as they grow. The band has been extremely busy in 2015 with touring. Between Vans Warped Tour and the recent run with Stick to Your Guns, how does Blessthefall keep themselves healthy on the road?
Beau Bokan – That is a good question, nobody has really ever asked that. It is hard, we are very fortunate to have a tour bus with a refrigerator and it has plenty of room for food and stuff like that. Back in the day, as a band, we were stopping for McDonald’s and Taco Bell. I think now, since the last couple of years, we have upgraded the tour bus, we have a place to put food, so I will get up and have some yogurt and Granola, and that is like my go-to breakfast. Another one, I will have rice cakes with some almond butter and things like that. I am kind of conscious about it, and then there are days I go, “I haven’t had any greens in a few days, I need to fix that,” and I will go make a salad. It is all about being aware, and it is very easy to just eat pizza everyday, I know, I have done it. Like you said, we are fortunate to have the amenities here to sort of eat right and get our vitamins.
I am the oldest one in the band, so I think I have the most to worry about as far as that goes. I am definitely the most conscious as far that goes. Elliot is vegetarian, he has protein shakes and he works out a lot. You have to find time to do that too. If you want to workout and stay in shape, then you have to work at it. It is very easy to sit in the bus, play video games, then the day is gone. It is just finding time and staying on schedule, it is not that hard.
CrypticRock.com – Yes, being on the road regardless can be stressful in general. It is not the normal everyday life, especially when you do have a family, like yourself; you are a dad and a husband. You know it is difficult being away from home. How do you manage the time between music and family? Do you separate the two?
Beau Bokan – Yes, my wife is in the same business as I am. She truly understands what I go through, because she goes through the same thing. I try to take days off to go home and see them. When I am not on tour, I am with them 24 hours a day, 100%. If you look at other fathers and other families who leave their kids with nannies, and then they go to work all day, they get a few hours at home at night and then that is it. Where is the balance of what is right and what is wrong? My wife gets to spend 24 hours a day with our daughter. Then, when I am home, I am with family 100%. It is definitely a different lifestyle. I think a lot of kids all grow up differently, but as long as you love them and show them unconditional love. I try to FaceTime them as much as I can. I do not think there is anything wrong with that. I think it is actually pretty cool.
CrypticRock.com – Yes, it is all about love and the right balance. Our last question for you is pertaining to film. CrypticRock.com covers music and also Horror films. If you are a fan of Horror films, what are some of your favorite?
Beau Bokan – Yes, well, my wife is a Horror buff. She has kind have dragged me into the whole thing. I watched A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) and those movies when I was a kid. Whenever we are home, and together, she wants to watch Horror movies. She will go online to find the top 10 Horror movies of 2015 and we will watch them all. She has definitely kind of dragged me into the whole thing. I have a love for them though. I would not say I am a Horror movie buff or anything though. The newest one to come out that really kind of hit me was It Follows (2015). It is so different than anything else that came out. They did not use the same old tricks. They were definitely a throwback. You could not really tell what era it was in because there were no cell phones, there were no flat screen televisions, and that kind of stuff that put you in 2015. I thought that was amazing and a lot of very old school tricks that they used. They used suspenseful tricks to get you kind of grabbing your seat. I thought It Follows was amazing.
CrypticRock.com – There has been a very good buzz going around about the film, especially the ’80s Synth style soundtrack.
Beau Bokan – Yes, it almost felt kind of Tarantino-like in a way, with the music. I thought that was amazing ,and I thought the soundtrack was amazing. Whoever did that soundtrack definitely has to do some more, “It Follows 2” maybe!