Immolation: Death Metal Atonement in Hollywood
The legendary death metal Immolation made their way into the wilds of Hollywood, touring with the infamous Mayhem and the incomparable Black Anvil. Making their way across the country in support of their almighty Atonement manifesto on Nuclear Blast Records, Immolation find themselves at the height an illustrious career spanning 30 years! Right before their explosive performance at The Fonda Theater, we caught up with guitarist and newest Immolation convert Alex Bouks to find discuss his time spent with Immolation, thoughts on the devastating Atonement masterwork, his connection with Mayhem founder Euronymous, and other topics of intrigue. Read on…
How has this tour with Mayhem been going and what have been some of the highlights?
It’s been awesome actually. I think it’s been a really good package- three bands who are all different but also very dark bands. I think we complement each other really well. Everybody is super cool – we all get along really great – including the crew. So yeah, it’s been really good. The shows all have been pretty consistent.
Were you familiar with Mayhem and Black Anvil before the tour?
Of course. Mayhem – I used to tape trade with Euronymous back in the 80’s, so I go far back! And Black Anvil – I knew of the band but I wasn’t familiar with them musically. I’ve gotten to know the guys and I think they’re a great band. We’ve all become good friends through the tour.
Since you are the newest member of Immolation, how did you become involved with the band?
We’ve been friends for about 30 years. They knew Bill (Taylor) was going to leave for a long time. So basically they approached me and asked if I would do it, and I said yes. It’s cool when you’re in a band with some of your best friends, so it was an easy decision to make for me.
How was it to crash course learn all of these songs – or did you already know them?
I didn’t know them but Bob has a very similar guitar approach as I do, so it was pretty easy. It’s kind of at home for me playing the Immolation material, so it was just a really easy transition.
I know you play in others bands as well as Immolation. What is the current status of your other bands?
My original band is Goreaphobia in the 80’s and I played in Incantation for many years. I do have another band called Ruinous and I have another that’s more of a heavy metal rock band called Eturnus. Right now, I’m not doing too much with that, because Immolation is my main priority. But hopefully I’ll get back in the saddle with those other projects and put some music out.
Is it still exciting for you and the other Immolation members to go on the road for these multi-date tours?
Absolutely! I could speak for all four of us actually. We enjoy it more now than ever. We really look forward to going out on the road, just being with each other, having fun and playing music. There’s none of the drama when you were younger – especially when you’ve found the right people that you’re working with – now it’s a really easy thing to go out on the road. I think we’re more ambitious than ever, to go out and do the best we can musically. Just push forward as a band – and as a live band as well. We love it.
To you, what is the best and worst part about being on the road?
For me, I love touring. On a personal level, the worst part is being away from the people you love – being away from my wife. Fortunately my wife is very supportive – and it’s the same thing for Ross’ longtime girlfriend. I would say that’s one of the main things is being away sometimes, but you just balance that out and make that work. I’m not the biggest fans of Point A to Point B travelling – I like being at the show, but in between there, the long rides could be a bit much. But other than that, for me it’s a real positive thing. I love it – going out playing every night and meeting new people and all that kind of stuff. It’s awesome!
What could one expect from a live Immolation show tonight?
High energy. That’s for sure! We’re just going to bring our 110 percent without a doubt. Nothing less than 110 percent you’ll get from us!
Are you on the recent Atonement album?
I’m on the album, but not necessarily played on the album. (Laughs) I came on right at the end of the album, but I am listed on the album. But I’ll be on the next one. We actually just recorded recently – we did a song and it was my first guitar solo debut with the band. That’ll be coming out soon.
How do you think Atonement compares to the previous Immolation releases?
For me personally, we’ve been friends for 30 years, and I go back to the Rigor Mortis days – pre-Immolation. They’re not just my friends – but I’ve always been a fan as well. I would say that the new record – personally, I feel it’s the strongest Immolation record. I think it has all of the elements that make Immolation great. There’s a lot of diversity on the record. I think the songwriting is much stronger. Every album has a lot of great stuff on it. But I feel if you compare the new material to the earlier stuff, it’s much stronger songwriting – a lot more diversity – a lot more atmosphere on this record. Also, I have to say, how well the new material is going over with the fans is really overwhelming. Sometime some people say “Oh how come you don’t play this old song?” We play it, and nobody reacts so well – but when we play the new material, we’re getting a lot of positive feedback. More reaction I would say to the new stuff. Even for me, I enjoy playing the newer material compared to the earlier stuff.
What do you think keeps you all passionate about Immolation and death metal after all of the time?
For us, it’s in the DNA. And at the time we were all doing this music in the late 80’s, it was a new thing. It wasn’t much of a genre then. For us it was kind of a natural thing. We were just trying to push to make more darker, more extreme music. We’re still very passionate about what we do. And it just doesn’t go away. And I feel that we’re all more driven than ever before about the music – and more positive about it. I feel if you’re not driven about it anymore, why do it? You want to keep pushing forward and keep topping yourself with what you did previously. I think that’s what we’re always trying to do.
What’s up next for Immolation in the New Year?
We go back out to Europe in March. We have plans hopefully in May come back to the US. Also (2018) is going to be 30 years of the band, so we’re trying to plan a 30th Anniversary tour type of thing – pull out some obscure songs throughout the career of the band. And also record a new record. So we’ll see how it goes – but we’ll be busier than ever!
Doing a band for 30 years is so hard to comprehend sometimes!
It’s pretty crazy. Bob and Ross – those two guys, through thick and thin they’ve stuck it out. They’ve been through some rough times and they still stuck it out. I’d say right now is probably the best period of the band throughout the entire career. Things are really going well for the band. It’s a real positive vibe in the band right now. Things are good!
Ross Dolan – bass, vocals
Robert Vigna – guitar
Steve Shalaty – drums
Alex Bouks – guitar
(Interview by Ken Morton – Live Photos by Jack Lue)
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