Karl Willetts - Memoriam/Bolt Thrower


Obviously 2020 has started off a bit differently to how we all expected so I just wanted to ask you how you have been and what have you been up to in isolation? I am sure one or two cans of beer have been had so far?

Yes, it most certainly has panned out to be a strange year. It looks like all shows will be cancelled for the indefinite future, which is devastating in many ways. I have been keeping very busy maintaining my day job working from home alongside home schooling my 2 kids and trying to keep them occupied and focused, which is quite challenging. Merchandise sales for then band have increased, which has also kept me busy. It’s great that people have been showing their support of the band and helped us by buying merchandise to give us some income. I have also been busy on Facebook and doing a backlog of interviews such as this and of course, a nice steady intake of beer and whiskey has helped along the way.

2019 saw the third release from Memoriam entitled "Requiem for Mankind" which for me was one of the albums of the year. How do you feel this album compares to your previous releases and do you think that you have found your sound with "Requiem for Mankind" or can we expect yet another slight shift in sound for the band on the next album?

We are really pleased with the way Requiem for Mankind came together. We feel that we have worked to find and define our sounds over the previous 2 albums and it has now fallen into place. The songs on all the albums are all strong in many ways, but with the new album the production quality is the main defining factor that makes a big difference. We feel at this point we have the blueprint to the sound that fits the band, so I cant see us shifting from that, however I am sure that Scott will have some curve balls up his sleeve to throw into the mix.


                                                                        

    

You have previously given a lot of credit to producer Russ Russell for his contributions towards "Requiem for Mankind" so I guess that it's safe to say that you will be working together with him once again in the future?

Most Definitely, the whole set up at Parlour Studios is amazing. Russ really knows how to get the best sounds and the best performances out of people enhanced, with a lot of humour and alcohol (lol). Russ gets involved with the band and the songs that we are creating at a very early stage when we are writing them, so he gets to hear the songs in their embryonic stages of development and from this he gets an idea how to get the best out of them and what would work well and importantly, what wouldn’t work so well. He helps us to develop the songs in a way that we have not experienced before which is fantastic. We are really looking forward to getting back into the studio to work with him again, he is a lovely man.

For me, and I'm sure many others may think the same too, but "Requiem for Mankind" sounds like it could have been the next step in the career of Bolt Thrower. Do you personally get any feelings like that at all from "Requiem for Mankind" and do you think that you will always have the comparisons made between Memoriam and Bolt Thrower?

A few people have said that, however it’s not a conscious decision or plan on our behalf. The sound created on the last album is the sound that we have been searching for. However, with my involvement along with Andy Whale, the comparison is bound to happen. It’s funny really as some people criticize us for not sounding like Bolt Thrower, and then others criticize us for sounding too much like Bolt Thrower its an argument that you can’t win really. So, we just keep on doing what we want to do and ignore all that bullshit.


                             

                                                                                       Photo by Katharina Fitzian


In the short career of Memoriam, you have released three albums in three years so going by your release time frame so far, then could we expect a new Memoriam album in 2020? I know that Mr. Fairfax is always creating new music and riffs all the time so you cannot be short of new material to use when the time is right?

We like to work at a fast pace, the creativity of writing new songs is the thing that really being in a band is all about to me and inspires us to move forward. We have achieved an incredible amount in the 4 years since the band got together and we are having a great time doing it. We will be heading into Parlour Studios to record album number four with Russ in October which will be released through our new label Reaper Entertainment. The new label was formed by ex-employees from Nuclear Blast and we are really looking forward to working with them, its all the people that we worked with previously, just with this label we will have more of a priority as they have a smaller band roster. Scott (Riff Master) Fairfax has been busy during lockdown preparing the basic structures of the songs and we have the basics in place for the album which is sounding killer.

The artwork for every Memoriam album has been visually stunning and follows the journey of a coffin of a fallen leader. Will this journey for the fallen leader continue on the next Memoriam album or will a new journey begin for someone?

We were really pleased to work with Dan Seagrave. At the start of the band we all sat down and discussed what we would like to achieve with the band. On Scott’s bucket list was to have an album with a Dan Seagrave cover, so to get 3 has ticked that one off the list.The trilogy forms a great triptych of art when they are placed together and we are proud of that. It was great to work with Dan, we just threw him the overall concept and he got it straight away. We are unsure at this point if we will continue down this path and continue the story with Dan or maybe break away and do something different.


                                                           


Memoriam have not been ones to go on full tours etc, but can we expect this to change in future or will you be sticking to the laid-back approach to touring?

At the start we made the decision that we do the band for enjoyment and on our terms. We all have jobs, some have kids and other responsibilities outside of the band so we make the band fit around these. So, its gigs at weekends that work best for us. To be honest the idea of getting on a tour bus and being away from home for an extended period has no appeal to us at this point in our live’s. We have done that in the past and it was great, but now the idea of playing the back of beyond on a Tuesday night to 30 people has no attraction.

Memoriam seem to have a fantastic following in Germany, why do you think this is and wasn't that the same with Bolt Thrower also?

All bands have a fantastic following in Germany I assume, its always been this way. We are signed to a German label, and the label promotes us through the German press which in turn leads to popularity. We do particularly enjoy playing in Germany as the response is always enthusiastic and the clubs, promoters are all well organised and know how to treat bands well.


                           

                                                                                   Photo by Niels Vinck


I attended your show at Eindhoven Metal Meeting back in 2016 when Dave Ingram joined you on stage to perform Bolt Throwers "Inside the Wire" which was just amazing to see. How does it make you feel to be able to still perform these Bolt Thrower classics for the fans?

That was an amazing night (apart from KLM losing all our equipment). We knew that Dave would be in Holland that weekend so we suggested that we did a special one off performance (actually did repeat it in Denmark at the Copenhell Festival also though). It was a fantastic opportunity to share the stage with my old friend Dave and for that night play that song. It was a special moment and a surprise for a lot of people. At that point we had to play BT songs in order to complete an hour set list and we did not have enough songs. Now we have enough of our own songs so there is no need to play any BT songs anymore.

Thank you so much for taking time out to speak to us and wish you all the best for the rest of the year.

No problem Harvey, It was a pleasure to answer your questions, thanks for your support.


https://www.facebook.com/Memoriam2016/

http://www.memoriam.uk.com/


                



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