INTERVIEW: Beau Bokan of Blessthefall chats “Hard Feelings”, their 2018 plans, and current run with OM&M!
Last week, I headed out to Paradise Rock Club in Boston to catch the Of Mice and Men current headliner with Blessthefall playing in the main support slot! Speaking with Beau Bokan, lead vocalist for the last ten years of the band, just ten minutes before doors opened, Bokan spoke a lot about the new record, “Hard Feelings”, as well as their time on the road with fellow veterans of the road Of Mice and Men. He dived into the process of the new record as well as their departure from longtime home Fearless to Rise Records. He also was candid about the work that fellow tour-mates OM&M have been doing and how it’s been going over at these shows.
Find our chat below and catch the band going back across the US after their current run as support to Asking Alexandria and Black Veil Brides!
You’re about halfway through this tour and with the record coming out in March, “Hard Feelings”, how have these dates been going over? You’ve played rooms of this size before headlining and being out with Of Mice & Men, now with Aaron Pauley on lead vocals.
They’ve been going great. Like I saw Alan, their guitar player, at a Kings/Sharks game randomly just by chance, he’s a Sharks fan. I’m sorry for him.
Can’t be friends with him.
Yeah I can’t be friends with him. So we saw him there and he was like ‘you know what, we’re just happy to be playing music still’. He was like ‘it’s a blessing, we just all love playing music and we’re so stoked that we can even tour. Let alone put a record out and have a great response.’ They have like fifteen million streams or something which is crazy.
So we had the talk about sort of the people who are negative about the situation. Who are the loudest, they are the fewest but they are always the ones who are the loudest. So we had the conversation but at these shows, it’s been great! It’s been awesome to see them doing well and sing their songs. I think both of us together are doing well. I think we’re sort of in similar situations as far as our band sort of took a dip with the last record for multiple reasons.
But you guys have been doing it together for so long too. You’ve been in the band for like ten years now.
Yeah, going on ten! This summer ten years ago is when I joined non-officially. Like before we announced it, was ten years ago. So it’s all about being consistent and persistent and working hard. It sounds like the cliché rules but you have to work hard and it will pay off and be honest. So all the music and everything we do, it’s all with honesty.
And it’s something where it’s not their fault. He (Austin Carlile, former lead vocalist) has a heart condition that was known about for a long time. They still have original members in that band that have been there since the beginning. Or like when someone passes, like with Mitch, it’s not something that you just want to stop.
Yeah exactly, it’s just unforeseen circumstances and they’re doing the best they can with out and they sound great man. I mean you’ll hear it live. I’m very impressed because man I’ll scream sometimes up there, I’ll do some parts but I can’t carry that whole load. And they share parts with Alan and Aaron and stuff but it’s a great show. We feel like we need to step it up on our end as well. When we play before them, we’re like ‘alright let’s do this thing!’ I think it’s a lot of new potential fans, a lot of new faces in the crowd. Which is great because I feel like we thrive when we’re being put into that situation in front of fresh, new ears. We’re like alright, we got something for you! That’s what it’s all about, that’s what touring is really all about. Is getting new fans so it’s been that way so far. We’ve had a lot of people who haven’t seen us. I think there’s like the scene crowd that is there and then there’s like sort of this almost older, maybe even radio type crowd. Because Of Mice & Men has a lot of success there, on the radio. So you’ll get half and half. It’s like half scene kids, not scene kids but you know what I mean. So the metal-core scene type kids and then it will be older dudes and girls and they’re holding drinks and stuff. I’m like okay we’re growing up a little bit, it’s a different crowd. So I love just being able to put on a good show for them. Maybe they only listen to the radio and that’s what they do, and then all of a sudden they’re watching a band like ours where we’ve had no sort of history at radio. We’re not a radio band, even though I think we have cool songs that can do that. So it’s been great playing in front of a lot of new faces!
Perfect, then coming back to you obviously, the record is coming out in a month, March 23rd. You’ve put out so many albums, you guys do steadily do that like every two years cycle. Maybe how long has “Hard Feelings” been in the making for the band? When did you start working on this record?
Yeah this one, it’s funny. When people ask that question, I feel like as artists and creators, you’re always creating. So something will inspire me and I’ll jot down a line or jot down a note or I’ll hear a song and it will make me think of something certain. So I’m always taking notes and having lines and lyrics and stuff like that. So it’s an ongoing process and I think for the band, we really didn’t after the last record, we were a little unsure of where we were going to go as a band. It was the last album on Fearless.
Yeah you had a record label change, now going with Rise.
Yeah it was important that we had a change because the last album just it wasn’t treated right. And it was unfortunate because it was an awesome record, at least I think it was an awesome record. And it was one of the heaviest records which everyone’s always like you guys got to write something heavy. And we were like this album is fucking heavy. So with that being said, there was a bit of unsureness with where our careers were going to go. We’re getting a little bit older. There are a lot of bands we see start and take off and pass us by and we’re like fuck man maybe who knows if this is it?
Some labels approached us knowing that it was our last album with Fearless then Rise came around and they were like so pumped. It was just a cool feeling to feel wanted and for them to make you feel like you are a new band, even though we’ve been around for ten years. It really made us feel that way. They were like dude, you don’t understand, we can do this, this and that. And it wasn’t like record label bullshit, they were very punk rock still. They’re very grassroots. There are only a few people that work there so it’s very personal. Not like other labels that are like we can get you on the radio, they have their approach to it and they were super pumped on it. We were like man you guys really like us, okay! So it made us feel new again and we ran with that vibe. So once Rise was kind of involved, that’s when the writing started to pick up a bit more and this was like a year and a half ago.
Like being re-inspired by this new label.
Yeah, being re-inspired! So then the writing process started. Elliott and Eric started writing more and more demos and sending them to me. Then we started talking about producers and stuff and that’s when we met Tyler Smyth who is in Dangerkids. He was in a band called Let’s Get It back in the day which was one of my favorite bands.
Was he really in Let’s Get It?
Yeah do you remember those guys?
I remember the band, I just didn’t realize he was in it. I’ve been interviewing bands for really like nine years, like my first one with Of Mice was pre-first record like when Jaxin and Shayley were still in the band. That’s so funny!
Yeah! So he was in Let’s Get It which was one of our favorite bands. So Tyler started Dangerkids and that dude is so fucking talented. We did write with Howard Benson and his team so we did a song with them. We were just trying different things, we were trying to see what worked, what gelled. Went and wrote with Tyler and it was like holy shit. Tyler and I have been buddies but we just bro-downed so hard and he really hyped me up. I’m trying to figure out who I can compare him to, he’s just like the ultimate hype man. He’s like ‘you’re the best, no one even knows it! You fucking kill it!’ All this stuff and I’m like ‘really, dude?’ It’s human nature to sort of doubt yourself eventually. Like am I doing what I’m supposed to be doing? Am I doing it right? Am I even good at it? I was there, in that place, where I was like I don’t know if I’m sick? It was like dude he was in my corner, I’m doing vocals and he’s like ‘oh my god!’ I’d come up with a line and he’s like ‘you did that?! That’s the dopest shit I’ve ever heard’. So he was very encouraging and he really brought out the best in us. And the best in me especially, I really needed that. So yeah, we wrote some bangers. It was so fun, now I’m like I can’t wait to do it again even though the record hasn’t come out yet. I just know that he is a huge reason the record sounds so amazing. His production is amazing, he did a lot of the synths and stuff on there that you’ll hear. Really cool sounds and stuff, he’s very good at creating. He’s very good at helping to write songs. Most of the songs, I had like lyrics and stuff and there would be times where I’d be like, ‘Yo, man I just got an idea’. So he would go alright, let’s figure out how to make this a banger. He would push me to write memorable stuff, not just random lines. I want a line that someone is going to get tattooed on them or I want something that someone’s going to tweet, something that’s quotable. So it pushed me to my creative limits and it was fun. It didn’t feel like work. Even when it was work and there were those times it felt stressful, we’d be like ‘Let’s go get iced coffee and hang out and get into a good headspace’.
And that must be great, the band has been a band for so long, you’re in your tenth year of being in this band, to have someone believe in you like that. The album is about to come out. What is the focus for Blessthefall? I feel like you guys are re-energized with this new record, like you keep saying, with a new label. Maybe your hopes or goals for the rest of this year?
Well, we just announced a tour with Asking Alexandria and Black Veil Brides. We’re doing the second run which is sort of the B and C markets. Smaller cities but still big venues, it will be crazy to go to like Knoxville, Tennessee and play to like a thousand people. That’s kind of crazy to me. So yeah we’re good friends with those dudes, it should be fun. Then we’re going to Europe and we’re going to do a bunch of festivals out there. Like Download, which is another dream come true. We’ve done Download and it felt like I was very rushed and it was super fun. The tent was full, I was kind of shocked, I don’t know what we’re worth out there so it was great to see. So yeah we get to do it again and this time, maybe take our time with it and enjoy it and be more prepared this time. And then next year, I think the natural move is to do a headliner on this record so we’re trying to put that together. We’ve been talking to some bands and working out the timing of it. Definitely people can look forward to a headliner and us playing a lot of new songs, to the fans, because I listen to the new record all the time. I sound like a loser in that I listen to my own music.
It’s a crucial part of the process!