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Bulletbelt - Interview with Steve Francis from Bulletbelt

10 Jul 2020 // An interview by mungobates

Mungo from Muzic.net.nz spoke to Steve from Bulletbelt about their fourth album titled Warlords produced with live instruments and the help of James Goldsmith. As they pass 10 years in the making, Bulletbelt is feeling the creative gel with a couple new members and an attitude for high standards not going away anytime soon. Ambitious and moving in the same direction, Bulletbelt is willing to get the mahi done!

To someone who is new to Bulletbelt, introduce yourself.

I’m Steve the drummer and I guess I steer the ship. I’m a founding member of the band and I always aim to keep pushing Bulletbelt forward.

With Warlords being your 4th record/album, have you found the creative process changes? What is a key element that has remained consistent?

The key elements that have remained since day 1 of Bulletbelt are to keep doing what we feel is right for the band, blaze our own path and to think outside the box whether it is the music, the artwork or how we present ourselves. There are so many amazing things about metal, but having walls or parameters to have to stay within isn’t one of them.

As mentioned, this album is all live instruments. What difference has that made to the final product in comparison to the other 3 records?

This album is sizzling and bursting with energy. It ebbs and flows and takes the listener through many different emotions. It is real and human. It’s not played to a click track so it has a very realness to it. It’s us in the studio together, playing the songs hard and putting ourselves into the songs. Looking back on our 3 previous albums there are definitely parts of that which we have reached before but we’ve never quite managed to bring the magic that this album has. Working with James Goldsmith on Warlords is a big part of why it sounds so huge and epic. He got what we were aiming to achieve and helped to steer the way sonically to where we needed to be.

Describe the process of inviting new members into the band, what were the obstacles each member had to overcome?

Joining Bulletbelt is a big commitment. We take what we do seriously and we have expectations that all new members meet the standard requirement. No half assing things. We don’t lower our standards for anything which has meant a few line-up changes in the past. The line-up we have now of myself, Paul Roberts, Josh Obrien, Tim Mekalick and Andrew Collet is the best functioning unit we’ve had in the band's history. We all get along great, have lots of fun and creatively gel.

Your choice of cover art is incredible, explain how that came about?

We have worked with the artist Scarecrowoven (Dave Harrigan) before on our 2014 Rise of the Banshee album. He’s a New York artist who I stumbled upon in a feature in Thrasher magazine. He had designed some skateboard deck art. His stuff is so eye popping, full of amazing colours and surreal imagery. I was really keen to work with him again on Warlords as I knew he’d knock this idea out of the park! I love how the colours are so ‘non-metal’ yet it’s also got the same vibe as those classic 80’s metal covers. Like as a 12 year old I used to stare at Iron Maiden covers in wonder and get taken away to another world

What inspired the title Warlords?

It started with a very simple idea. I wanted a one word album name. Easy to remember, strong and keeping to the 80’s metal vibe. Kind of like the songs on Warlords. Trim the fat, be more direct and grab people by the throat.

Did the recent pandemic affect the process of this album, if so how did you overcome?

We had recorded the album in October 2019 so we were just really working on post production through this period. Mastering, getting the layout finished and all the icing on the cake stuff. But it did affect us being not able to practice for 2 months. We are a 2-3 time per week practice band so that was challenging. But it was probably nice for us to have a bit of time away from each other too which made us hungrier to get back into it!

What influenced the decision to have Punishment Of God as your focus try, and why?

It’s a very instant song. It’s catchy, hooky and has that big gang chorus. The album is only out one week so far but people seem to be digging that one. Wait until you see the video we have done for it. It’s pretty damn awesome!

Out of the acts you have supported so far, who would you like to support again and why?

We’ve had some great supports for some of our favourite bands over the past 10 years. They’ve all been amazing but for me getting to play with Venom INC was pretty special. Venom is probably my favourite band and was a huge influence on teenage me. And they were super nice guys too!

Ten years is a decent amount of time building a brand, where do you see Bulletbelt going next?

Bigger shows, more touring, working hard to get the band to the next level. We have plans and a vision of where we want to be and it’s great to have a line-up of like-minded band members willing to do the Mahi to get there!


About Bulletbelt

There are two types of metal bands in the world today: those who innovate and those who are content to merely imitate. Bulletbelt have risen above the hordes of imitators to firmly establish themselves as innovators, successfully straddling the divide between thrash and black metal.

This five-piece from Wellington, New Zealand, have proven themselves time and again amongst their peers. Since forming in 2009, nationwide tours, including alongside Goatwhore (US) and Impiety (Singapore) on the Underground Legions tour of New Zealand, and supporting The Black Dahlia Murder (US) and Bolzer (Switzerland), have shown that they can rival any international metal band with their intense and energetic live performances.

Their 2010 EP The Black Army Stands smashed expectations and showcased the band to an unsuspecting world, while 2011’s Writhe and Ascend cemented their reputation for unforgiving, primal metal. The forthcoming album, 2012’s Down In The Cold Of The Grave, described by the band as their proudest moment, will see the band continue to hone their craft and challenge their collective musical boundaries.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Bulletbelt


Burn It Up
Year: 2023
Type: Album
Year: 2020
Type: Album
Faster Than Death
Year: 2018
Type: EP
Nine Centuries
Year: 2017
Type: Album
Rise Of The Banshee
Year: 2014
Type: Album
Down In The Cold Of The Grave
Year: 2013
Type: Album
Live And Ascend
Year: 2012
Type: EP
Writhe And Ascend
Year: 2011
Type: EP
The Black Army Stands
Year: 2010
Type: EP

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