Ladies and gents, many in the world of metal, particularly the extreme side of things that Ave Noctum regularly feature, can sometimes be seen from the outside world (and pretentious insiders too!) as “grimm”, “kvlt”, and total strangers to the idea of anything that is not dark and gloomy. Fortunately, that is not the case, and there are bands out there who play for, and bring, nothing but sheer bloody joy. Front and centre, to my mind at the very least, is Twelve Boar, formerly XII Boar for reasons to follow, and drummer Dave Wilbraham, who also helps to bring the darkness as sticksman for Witchsorrow (don’t tell the gloomsters, okay?), was kind enough to take a few moments out of his busy schedule to answer some of my now trademark vacuous questions.
AN: Firstly, congratulations on the new album ‘No Forgiveness’ which is appeared in a fair few “top 10 of 2017” lists. What surprised me most was just how quickly it seemed to appear, seeming to spring into existence without warning; was it a fast and easy process to create the album?
DW: Definitely, we’ve always been a productive band and usually from the minute we’ve finished recording songs for one album we’ll move on and start writing for the next. It’s not intentional, we just like writing music!
It’s a strange thing releasing an album… once you’ve recorded it there’s a big period of time where you’re in limbo waiting for artwork, mastering, pressing and other such things to come together. Whilst a band’s new album might be ‘new’ to everyone else, in reality the band have probably been sitting on those recordings for the last 6 months. So in that downtime we often decide to hide away and write some new things.
I think these new songs in particular came together really quickly this time, they’re a bit more focused and fit together better as a whole piece of work. We wanted to venture down more of the fun and ‘not giving a fuck’ route rather than the heavy metal tones of our previous album ‘Beyond the Valley of the Triclops’.
AN: It is inevitable that people like adding labels to music, which I appreciate can sometimes be limiting. A term I heard used for your music is “party metal”, which I think undersells your musical abilities, but if you had to use a label for your style, what would you like to be known as, or associated with?
DW: We’re not really big fans of genre tags, but when we do have to we like to call it metal n’ roll. We’re too heavy to be rock but not brutal enough to be straight-up metal, so it’s somewhere in-between.
AN: ‘No Forgiveness’ is again free from any label support, or even a kick starter campaign, something that even established acts are now using. Have you ever been approached by a label, or are you happy to remain self-contained, and if so, why?
DW: We’ve been approached by a few bedroom labels but we’ve always questioned what they could do for us that we can’t already. In this day and age it’s so easy to get your music out there, the internet has enabled bands to promote themselves and sell records with ease. So the only benefits we can really see of smaller labels is with the funding. Sure it’s expensive to record and get everything made yourself, but we’re quite lucky to have a passionate fan base who come to shows and buy enough merch to make it possible (cheers everyone!).
Currently we’re happy doing our thing and not having to answer to anyone, but if any of the big labels wanna take a slice of the Twelve Boar pie then we’d probably be all ears!
AN: Unlike the sword and sorcery of ‘Beyond The Valley Of The Triclops’, there is a rather autobiographical feel to the music, particularly ‘Steppin’ Up’ and ‘All The Heavy Griftin’. Was this something you set out to capture from the start, or just something that evolved in the writing process?
DW: The plan was to write a straight up rock ‘n’ roll album that would really resonate with fans and other bands in the UK stoner/doom/rock scenes. We wanted to talk about what’s real to us and not the usual weed, whiskey and witches found on a stoner rock band’s résumé. We’ve put so much time and effort into this band over the last 6 years, it’s a huge part of our life and who we are. It’s had its ups and downs and I think it’s good to look back and recognise how we got here and what this music means to us.
AN: Almost as a supplementary question, ‘Steppin’ Up’ did sound like it was aimed at not just general naysayers and liggers, but at a very specific person; did somebody genuinely try to scavenge their way into Bloodstock with you or was that just a fictional example of the sort of behaviour that you must encounter as working musicians? Please feel free to name and shame.
DW: I’m pretty sure Tommy did write that Bloodstock line based on reality but it’s also the typical example of how people’s interactions with you change based on the popularity of your band. When we were a local band playing shitholes around the country, no-one wanted to know. Day-to-day people you work with can’t grasp why we do what we do and just think it’s a waste of time. I can understand, you have to be a bit mad to drive 6 hours to play to 20 people but when you’re passionate about something it doesn’t even matter.
Now we’re a name on the scene doing bigger and better things, suddenly all these acquaintances from your past come out of the woodwork asking for free stuff, they wanna ride your wave. Little do they know that we’re still playing shitholes around the country, so if they want free entry to see us play in Staines on a Tuesday night, be my guest!
AN: Since Bloodstock has come up, let me say you played a cracker of a set on the SOPHIE stage, and pulled a solid crowd despite clashing with metal legends Venom; are you hoping to get back to the festival, or maybe get some stage time at bigger events like Download or the like?
DW: Cheers! Yeah we had a great time there, that was actually our second time playing Bloodstock and of course we’d love to go back again. Main stage would be nice next time!
Festivals are great, always a guaranteed crowd and good time, we’d love to do some more euro fests in 2018 and clearly Download or similar would be incredible.
AN: There were some sounds in the album that some fans would not have expected, and even somebody familiar with your work might have been surprised by the likes of ‘Golden Goose’. How did that song come about, and is it maybe influenced by some musical tastes of the band that folks might not expect of a rock and metal band?
DW: Haha yeah Golden Goose is a curveball! Initially it was never meant to be a rap, we had a killer chorus and the structure of the song but nothing else. Two weeks before going to the studio Tommy finally managed to write down some words and he came up with this story about a golden goose. We hadn’t demoed them or even tried them in rehearsal before we went, I think Tom had just sung it to himself in his bedroom. He’s always been a big hip-hop fan so I think it’s something he’s wanted to try and incorporate for a long time.
When it came to recording, after I’d done my drums I actually had to go to work my shitty job for a few days whilst Adam and Tommy stayed in the studio laying down their parts. I got this call one night from Adam being like “Dude, this rap song… I just don’t know.” By that time it was too late to write something new so whatever it was, it had to stick. I went up at the end of the week to hear the progress and sit in on the final mixes, our producer Chris Fielding gave me this look before he played it and thankfully I knew then that it was going to be good. Turned out to be one of my favourites from the album, I think it divides a few people but the fact it will piss some listeners off makes it even more appealing in our mind!
AN: Compared to a lot of bands who only get an album out every few years, you are rather prolific with an album a year since ‘Pitworthy’ first came out; what is the writing process like for you as a band, and are you planning another release for 2018?
DW: Actually at this stage we have no release plans for this year, we’re actually having a bit of down time at the moment as we’ve been hitting it pretty hard for the last few years! But never say never, once we get back on it we’ll probably end up writing a load more new songs and putting another album out!
AN: This year you to a certain extent rebranded yourself as Twelve Boar, rather than XII Boar, although I did notice that my rather battered “John Deere” style cap doesn’t use Roman numerals. Is it true what you told me before about changing the name as folks got confused by XII as a number, or were you just pulling my leg?
DW: Nope, it’s 100% true. Our hand was forced by the idiot public, people just couldn’t seem to grasp it. We thought Roman numerals were commonplace but no. It got to the point where major festivals were spelling our name as 11X Boar or XXL Boar, and people would be talking to us calling us ‘zee boar’ or ‘ex-eleven boar’ so there was really only one way to stop it..!
AN: Finally, the question I always finish with; you must have to plough through a pile of interviews and the same old questions. Is there a question you would like to be asked, what is it, and what is the answer?
DW: There’s a lot of secret meanings, word play and nods to famous songs that Tommy manages to work into his lyrics. Very occasionally somebody will pick up on one and ask us a question about it, but there’s still a lot that no-one has ever gotten. I guess we’d like for people to dig deep, figure out these cryptic references and ask us about them. If someone finds them all then we’ll give them a free t-shirt!
As ever, thanks to Wilbrahammer for taking time out to answer these questions on behalf of the band, and please get to Twelve Boar’s web pages, throw them some money for their rather excellent music, and let’s see if we can get them back on the road after a winter hibernation!