I was stoked for the November, 2012, release of “Let Them Eat Lead” by Austin, Texas Hard Core veterans Blunt Force Trauma. Of course the bar should be set high, these guys have been grinding their teeth and punching down walls in Austin for years now. So I got the new CD and gave it a spin, and the rest of this CD review is continued in my TEXAS TITANS CAGE MATCH column in this issue! When you want the straight dope, you go to the source. I wanted to see where BFT was coming from on a couple of issues. I wanted to see what made this ideology time bomb tick. Why do they do it? How do they do it? The members of BFT were happy to answer some questions I had:
R & R ~~ Who are you and what do you do in the band ?
My name is Craig Holloway I play bass.
Felix Griffin plays drums.
( He was traveling and unavailable for comment)
R & R ~~ How long has BFT been together ?
Slay~~ Bob and I started the band in 1999. We were basically inactive from 2002-2007. Felix joined in 2007, Craig in late 2009, and this is what I consider to be the definitive lineup.
Bob-O~~ Since 1999. We were on hiatus for six years from 2001 to 2007 because we found it VERY difficult to replace original drummer Ben Burton. Austin is a black hole when it comes to finding capable and available drummers for the style we play… or any style come to think of it. Well anyway, we continued with our other bands and Alan and I started a Suicidal Tendencies cover band which played with Felix’s band at the time, Roger’s Porn Collection. I gave him a CD and told him we wanted to resurrect BFT. He called days later and said he was game. This was in mid ’07…so since then we’ve tried to stay as busy as possible despite our work schedules.
R & R ~~ “Let Them Eat Lead” is the most recent release by you guys. Can you give us a BFT discography?
Bob-O~~ Blunt Force Trauma, 2000… A CDR with ten songs, only 100 made and distributed locally. Good Morning America, 2007 Hatred for the State, 2009 (A vinyl version released as a 12″ split with Canadian crossover band Bombnation) Let Them Eat Lead, 2012.
R & R ~~ DIY or die ! All of your stuff is released on Shattered World Records, lead singer Bobby Fuentes’ label. Why do it all yourself ?
Bob-O~~ Nobody else wants us! haha. Shattered World Records is our own label. It’s not very difficult to get your music in front of fans who are looking for it nowadays. We’ve managed to get ourselves on all the major pay download sites and also Pandora, we are carried by a major distributor so that anyone can go into their favorite record store and order our CDs from their database. We don’t have a big budget for PR, so you’re not gonna see us in any national print mags or on the shelves of Best Buy anytime soon, but since we’re do everything ourselves, it feels really rewarding as we see ourselves gaining popularity ever so incrementally.
R & R ~~ You guys don’t show any signs of pulling punches or half-steppin’. Aren’t you supposed to mellow with age?
Craig~~ No, I keep reminding myself I need to grow up.
Slaytoven~~ I’m not ready to start writing ballads yet. I’ve always loved the intensity of the fast stuff, whether it be punk, metal, or hardcore.
Bob-O~~ I vow to fight father time with all the strength I can muster. I see the artists I grew up listening to still up there kicking ass, and I look at where BFT is at right now… and I know that we have not even begun to scratch the surface. “It’s a long way to the top if you wanna rock n roll”. No time to slow down.
R & R ~~ Why so angry?
Craig~~ It comes naturally.
Bob~O~~ In a nutshell…I hate people telling me how I should live, people taking my money, people restricting my freedom. Lot of that happenin’ lately.
R & R ~~ What other bands have you guys played in ?
Slaytoven~~ I played bass in a bunch of bands for years; Suburban Terror Project/Black Spring, Belmont Hall, On Earth As It Is, Exit the King, and currently I play bass in Austin’s own Numbskull. Bob and I were in a band called Second Chance, I played guitar in that one.
Craig~~ I’m originally from the Detroit so my first band was called Full Circle, followed by Ricochet, Cold As Life. I moved to California ’95 and was in Worker, The Only’s and finally DIE FAST before I got the fuck outta there and moved to TX.
Felix played with D.R.I. , Condemned Unit and Roger’s Porn Collection, among others.
Bob-O~~ Contradicks (drums), Belligerent 86, (drums, vocs), The Oi!strs (drums, later lead vocs), Knocked Out Stiffs (drums) Also I was an MC in a classic rap cover band, haha.
R & R ~~ Is “TRENCHCORE” the best way to describe BFT ?
Craig~~ It’s an excellent description. Thanks Stephan!
Bob-O~~ Yeah, If you wanna sum it up in one word, and we have to credit KAOS DJ Mad Dr. S. for coming up with that.I’ve been extremely flattered to hear so many people describe our music as the soundtrack for the coming revolution. That’s the grandiose lofty notion that runs in my head as I pen lyrics, haha, so it’s very gratifying that so many people “get it”. I also have a good friend who, when listening to BFT for the first time, came back and reported to me…”DUDE! BFT is like angry punk rock dipped in SLAYER!” to which another good friend added later “and wrapped in bacon”!
Slaytoven~~ Mad Dr. S from KAOS Radio Austin coined that term and I think it fits perfectly. It’s music to listen to in the trenches whilst mounting your defense against the NWO minions of evil.
R & R ~~ Think back to BFT’s first jam session or practice; what did you want or expect from from that first meeting?
Craig~~ My first jam session was in late ’09. My thoughts were damn I got a lot of songs to learn cause we’re playing with AGNOSTIC FRONT in a month!
Slaytoven~~ Bob-O and I had jammed together in another band, more of a punk band, and were looking to do something a little heavier. I basically wanted it to sound like Slayer playing punk and hardcore songs mixed with Bad Brains.
Bob-O~~ That would have to be our first jam with drummer Ben Burton. I expected great things from the band. I expected the world to stand up and take notice. The band continues to deliver, just waitin’ on the world to take notice, haha.
R & R ~~ How has the band changed since its inception?
Bob-O~~ Other than the obvious, which have been the lineup changes in bass and drums department, I wouldn’t say we’ve changed very much. We’ve been able to put more money into recording, so that the end product sounds better than our first couple of releases. We’ve also progressed and matured as far as songwriting goes.
Slaytoven~~ We’ve changed a few members over the years, the sound has gradually gotten heavier, hopefully we’ve gotten tighter. The current lineup has been through a lot together and hopefully that comes through in the music.
Craig~~ Well I can only speak for myself since I’m a relative newbie (hate that word) but I can sum it up in 3 words. Older . Fatter, Balder.
R & R ~~ How has it stayed similar?
Slaytoven~~ The basic approach to writing hasn’t changed all that much. Fast riffs and new world order lyrics. That said, there are no rules other than we all have to be into it.
Bob-O~~ We’re still skull crushing, ball stomping hardcore/thrash!!
Craig~~ We play what we want and aren’t too concerned with playing what’s popular. This style is what inspired me to start playing 26 years ago. How ironic that’s it’s making a comeback.
R & R ~~ You guys always rock the house in Austin, decimating even the most jaded Texas crowds. What kind of response do you guys get on the road in America ?
Craig~~ Aside from Europe all but one Houston show has been in Austin. Houston was a ton of fun.
Bob-O~~ We tend to get ignored most of the evening when we’re at any particular venue, but once that first chord is struck, it’s gratifying to watch as people gravitate toward our noisy racket. After our set, people are a little bit more willing to hang out and chat or break off a chunk of their hard earned money for a CD or shirt.
Slaytoven~~ We haven’t done a lot of touring in the US, but have had lots of fun shows around Texas. We just had a killer one in Houston. Looking forward to doing more as we’re able to.
R & R ~~ How were you received in Europe?
Slaytoven~~ All things considered, Europe was amazing! Made a lot of new friends, won a few hearts & minds, and all around just had a blast playing every day. We were very lucky to be able to play with some of our heroes as well as a bunch of amazing bands who were new to us. So that helped a lot. We had a lot of long drives which made us late a lot, so a few times we arrived to a bunch of angry faces. Can’t say I blame them – we’re some unknown band from Texas who was lucky enough to get on a gig with Pro-Pain or Napalm Death and we had the balls to show up late… We’d put our heads down, load in, hop on stage and blast through our set. Then we’d come off stage to all smiles and hang out with our new friends. That was a good feeling for sure.
Craig~~ With cold cuts, beer, and friendly faces.
Bob-O~~ We made a lot of friends and contacts there. I love Europe. We played all sizes of venues and crowds. Overall, I’m very happy with the response we got there, but more than a few people were confused about our song Let Them Eat Lead. I got accused of being a “typical John Wayne American” and was not quite sure why at the time. I think it was taken as a “pro war, pro American intervention, flexing our military muscle” song, which couldn’t be further from the truth.
R & R ~~ Do you guys plan to tour to support Let Them Eat Lead ?
Craig~~ My backpack is always packed ready to go.
Slaytoven~~ I sure hope so! Nothing is booked at the moment but it’s something we’re discussing and hoping for. Touring is very expensive for a completely independent band with no label support. But it’s all I want to do, personally: tour, tour, and tour some more.
Bob-O~~ I would love to, but it has to be a feasible option for all of us. Time will tell, but it’s definitely something we wanna do.
R & R ~~ What is the modus operandi for the BFT songwriting process ? Who writes what?
Slaytoven~~ It usually begins with an idea or riff from myself or Craig. We bring it to practice, start jamming it with Felix while Bob listens and gets a feel for what we’re doing. Over time he adds his lyrics and we start playing the songs live, which is where they really get hashed out.
Craig~~ We usually bring riffs in and bounce ideas off each other. Insert Bob’s response here….LOL.
(O.K., I will ! And Bob’s answer tells it true.)
Bob-O~~ They have songs written for months or years and then I finally get off my ass a few days before the studio to put lyrics to them.
R & R ~~ No love songs, no gimmicks, no schticks….. couldn’t you make more money if you were a dubstep band ?
Craig~~ What’s that?
Bob-O~~ Haha! I couldn’t pick a dubstep out of a police line up, man. I love all styles of music, and have made some decent scratch locally playing in all types of bands from country to hip hop. BFT is my baby, man. If I were doing this for the money, I’d have given up a long time ago. I have a day job to support this habit!
Slaytoven~~ Haha isn’t “dubstep” + “band” a contradiction?
R & R ~~ What are you guys listening to right now?
Slaytoven~~ Personally I’ve been listening to a lot of Dysrhythmia and Converge, as they both put out amazing new albums this year.
Bob-O~~ The usual… Rocky I, II, III, IV soundtracks and the Backspin or Faction channel on satellite radio. The new Battalion kicks ass!
Craig~~ Skeletonwitch, Driller Killer, the new OverKill, Volbeat, and Unavoidable come to mind.
R & R ~~ You guys have been doing this for a while. How big a role does your respect for each other play in the band dynamics?
Craig~~ Everyone contributes and provides a valuable piece to the BFT puzzle.
Bob-O~~ It’s been said many times before by thousands of other bands, but yeah… it’s a marriage of sorts. You gotta give respect to get it back, and in a band that goes for writing, rehearsal schedule, budget issues, etc Mutual respect has to be there for a band not to implode.
Slaytoven~~ The respect for each other has come with time and experience; playing together, touring, hanging out. So it plays a role for sure. I feel extremely lucky to be in a band with all of these guys.
R & R ~~ Does this respect push you to ‘raise your game’ ?
Slaytoven~~ (I) suppose it does, yes, but in subtle ways. We’ve all grown together so our collective “game” is hopefully being raised as one.
Bob-O~~ Fuuuuuck yeah. Alan, Craig and Felix BRING IT every time. Gotta do all I can to keep up. Can’t half ass. If it means hitting the gym for more cardio to keep the lungs in shape, so be it.
Craig~~ I think there’s always a feeling of taking it to the next level otherwise things can become mundane.
R & R ~~ Why fight the ‘power’ ? Wouldn’t it be easier to sing about lollipops and rainbows?
Bob-O~~ I find it easier to write about what’s pissing me off.
Slaytoven~~ Somebody’s got to do it, and Chuck D is getting old!!
R & R ~~ Why print the lyrics? Are they important or just static?
Slaytoven~~ One thing I’ve always liked about Bob’s vocals is that you can understand most of the words. That’s something that’s always stood out about Slayer, too. But I always loved reading bands’ lyrics to see what I may have missed or misinterpreted, and I know that Bob wants his messages to be clear to the listener, so it’s something we’ve done from the beginning.
Bob-O~~ I always enjoyed knowing the lyrics to the songs I listened to. It’s just natural. People can take ’em or leave ’em, but I think the average BFT fan is interested in what we’re singing about. I like how a lot of people were kinda like “meh…” when we announced that the new album was available for download online. “When do the physical CD’s come out?” was what people wanted to know. People wanna have that package in their hands… see pics, read lyrics, etc… I know I do too.
R & R ~~ BFT is undeniably firing on all cylinders right now. Any thoughts of slowing down?
Craig~~ No, just the opposite!
Bob~O~~ We’ll be together for a long time even if it’s just hanging on by a string and putting out CDs but never touring. In my opinion, this is the definitive BFT line up. We’re friends, and we’re musicians. This is our favorite thing to do together, so why slow down? The new album will make enough waves in the world allow us to tour feasibly. That may or may not happen, but we will always have that next song in us that we’re eager to complete and share with everybody.
Slaytoven~~Why we would consciously do that? This is the only thing I’m good at, so I personally want to go as hard as fast as we can.
R & R ~~ You guys are closing 2012 with an instant classic of a record, Let Them Eat Lead. If we survive the end of the Mayan calendar on December 22nd, what can we expect from Blunt Force Trauma in 2013 ?
Slaytoven~~ Thank you! More of the same, hopefully; Fun shows, good times, and new music!
Bob-O~~ Thank you for the compliment! If I wake up on 12/22, the first thing I will do is call Craig Holloway and wish him happy birthday!! Actually, Alan and I will probably wake him up at 4 in the morning to do that! haha. We’re pretty confident in our team and that we’ll be able to branch out to more cities domestically, and we’re still trying to figure out a way to do another European tour. The beginning of the year is booked pretty solidly. Looking forward to making a big noise far and wide!
Craig~~ More of the same, hopefully we’ll be able to play more shows!
R & R ~~ Thanx for taking the time to do this, guys. Any closing words of wisdom?
Slaytoven~~ Thanks for the interest, the support, and the review!! Words of wisdom: Whatever it is you want to do in life, you CAN do it, so DO IT NOW!!
Craig~~ Thank You Justin.
Bob-O~~ Live Free Or Die !!
Thanks to the crew in BFT for taking the time to shoot the proverbial shite about their place in the Texas Hard Core halls of victory.Well, kids, there it is. Straight talk…cash on the barrel head….No bullshit! Blunt Force Trauma is charging full speed ahead: with a new record and the insatiable desire to take the BFT message on the road…the sky’s the limit for BFT. The record, “Let Them Eat Lead” is reviewed in this issue’s TEXAS TITANS CAGE MATCH… and, as we can see, Blunt Force Trauma isn’t running out of ammo or ambition anytime soon. Unless you are an immovable force, beware the unstoppable object that is Blunt Force Trauma !!