Interview: Bossk

I know, I know – I’ve been going on about Bossk incessantly recently but as of now all that is pretty much going to end. I promise. If you haven’t checked them out already then I don’t think there’s anything else I can say that can tempt you, but just before they took to the stage one last time at Camden’s Underworld, I sat down in the murky Underworld office to have a brief chat with Tom Begley, bassist and all-round wonderful bloke. Some people might have been concerned about how England were going to fare against the Kazakhs…the only thing on my mind was why this was the end. Read on to find out.

So this is pretty much it. It’s your final show tonight, and after that Bossk will be no more. Any last words?

None. No last words, no regrets, no nothing.

I know it might be a little bit difficult to talk about it, but what are the reasons for the split up?

Some of it’s personal, some of it is just some people not feeling how they used to about the band. Not me particularly, but a lot of the other members felt that it wasn’t what they wanted to do anymore, they had other priorities, a couple of the guys had gone back to college. I think it was a case of things had changed for a lot of us. It wasn’t really a joint decision, it was more a case of “I don’t wanna do it anymore – what shall we do about it?” and it was a case of we could have replaced members but it wouldn’t have been the same and we wanted to end it where it would be good. We never wanted to fade away, never get offered shows and we didn’t want to spiral down at all.

You didn’t want to become Metallica?

(Laughs) I don’t think that was going to happen anyway. We didn’t want to…what’s the word…try too hard to make it as good as or better, and anything else just wasn’t what we wanted.

Cool. How do you feel about what you’ve done over the past three years?

Proud of it. Everything that we’ve achieved, everything we’ve done. We never thought that we’d do anything beyond our own town so to have gone on tour in Europe and being able to do the last show at the Underworld is an amazing achievement for us. Everything that we’ve achieved as a band is something that we’ve all been personally amazed by. Don’t get me wrong, we’re not like megastars but to have our CDs out and to be able to do the DVD and play our final show here with our friends…we never thought that would happen, so everything we’ve achieved we’re really proud of.

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"Everything we've achieved we're really proud of."

When this all started three years ago did you ever expect to find yourself in this situation?

No way. Back then when we started the band playing the Underworld was a dream to us, let alone headlining. We got to play our first show here supporting Cult of Luna and that was probably one of the best shows I’ve ever played. Most of us have grown up coming to shows here so it’s a legendary venue to all of us so to be able to play our final show here is an amazing achievement for all of us.

Cult of Luna are fucking awesome…

Yeah, that whole tour was amazing. The London show was probably the best night on it but every show we played with those guys was wicked. To do our first show at the Underworld with them was really good.

Where was the furthest you played?

We did a Spain and Portugal tour last year with Humanfly and that was pretty good, and we’ve been to Belgium and Holland. We’ve travelled quite far with the band.

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"The scene we've been playing in has been really supportive."

What’s been your favourite audience to go and play to?

To be honest, the Dutch! We did some shows over there with Textures and the Dutch have just been awesome everytime we’ve played there. They made us feel really welcome, but every time we’ve been outside the UK it’s been a good experience for us. Like, when we went to Spain and Portugal all the shows were really busy, it was really well promoted, everybody was really into the vibe of it and it was an amazing time.

I know you can’t speak for the others, but what plans do you have for the future? Are you interested in staying within music?

Absolutely. I’m going to be helping out Ryan from Eyesofsound Records who’s the guy who’s helped us out with all our releases so far because it’s probably the best independent UK label that I’ve worked with in every sense and he’s a really nice guy and he did so much for us so I want to try and help him. In terms of musical projects in the future I’m probably going to be looking at starting a new band in the very near future or join somebody, I don’t know. But I will be involved with a band very shortly!

Are you going to stick to the more instrumental themes?

Don’t know. Wait and see, wait and see.

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"We never wanted to be one of those bands that didn't want to play in the UK."

We’re seeing quite a lot of UK talent being forced to call it a day with no help from rising touring costs and music piracy. Where do you personally see the future of UK music headed?

Well there are some amazing UK bands at the moment that are doing really well in all kinds of different genres. I mean, alright there have been a lot of British bands that have broken up in the last two years but being in a touring band is really difficult. Fortunately for us, the scene that we’ve been playing in is really supportive. When you mention illegal downloads and stuff like that obviously that does play a part in every bands life but it’s something that comes with being in a band now. We know people that are dead against it but I know people that will download a band’s record and then go see them live and buy a t-shirt so they’re sort of stealing from the band in one sense, but then they’re giving back in another.

Gives them an opportunity to hear it first.

Yeah. I mean, we take a lot of time and effort to make our artwork and the actual physical release and I think a lot of that is reflected in that, yeah, people will download it maybe and not pay for it but maybe if they like it and they see it in the shop then they’ll like the artwork and buy it.

I think that’s a really commendable attitude, especially from a small band.

Yeah, I’m not saying to people download our records but I’m also not going to turn around to people and say I hate music piracy because it’s part of music now. The internet has made music available for free so easily, but if someone’s going to download our album and then come and see us live then that’s a good thing you know? You’re never going to be able to stop people from downloading music for free so you’ve got to deal with it and get on with it, like the bands that release stuff on vinyl to make it harder to download. With our DVD there’s stuff on there you won’t be able to get anywhere other than the DVD, so I think you’ve got to kind of almost reward the people that don’t download music. If you’re the sort of band that doesn’t pay any attention to the actual physical packaging then it makes no difference if there’s people downloading it, but we tried to put as much effort as possible into making people think “I want to own that” rather than just have it on their iPod.

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"When we first started doing shows we burnt candles..."

Do you think it’s harder to gain recognition within the UK compared to somewhere like the USA?

I think when a lot of bands from outside the UK come here they say that you get treated worse in the UK than you do compared to mainland Europe in terms of promoters, shows, venues and people not coming out to see you and that sort of thing. But at the end of the day with the shows that you’re playing, in terms of a touring band, you get out what you put in. If you’re just going to sit at home and tell people on the internet that you’re playing a gig then you’re not going to get very far. We never wanted to be one of those bands that didn’t like to play the UK, because we’re from here. There’s a lot of British bands that have played in Europe and the US that have said playing in England is shit but at the end of the day you’re from here so you make of it what you will. We tried to have as much involvement with booking our shows so that we’d be able to build up our own knowledge of what to do and what not do to do. I think the UK is a great place to play, and we’ve always had fun here.

Ok. Let’s move on a little bit and talk about what Bossk was for those three years. You released two great EPs and a DVD available as of tonight which will be your final release. Where did the ideas and inspiration behind that great music come from?

When we got the band together about three years ago, Nick and Rob the two original members that left earlier this year came to me and Alex and said “we’re interested in doing something totally different to what we’ve done in our previous bands”. So we met up with them and had some practices and we really liked it. When we started to write our first EP we wanted to write what would be our live set – a thirty minute piece if you like. Not really structured by start song, stop, “hello we’re so-and-so” – we never really wanted to do any of that, we wanted it to be one long set, incorporating visuals and lighting. When we first started doing shows we burnt candles and people would just sit down and watch us play and for a band of our sort of genre to do that it really added to the live side of it. We’d always think when we were writing a song “right, when are we going to play this, and how do we want it to flow from one to the other?” Both songs on the first EP were written together and that was our set, we toured that for a while and when we came to write the third track we wrote it to be played in conjunction with one or the other song so we could mould it into the set.

Tonight you’ve picked all the bands yourself, so you’ve obviously got a good idea for good UK bands to look out for. Do you have any other names that we should be keeping an eye out for?

Most of the bands on the label we’re on are from the UK. There’s a band called Rinoa who are amazing. Their first CD they’ve recorded is really good. And we’re also good friends with Devil Sold His Soul, they’ve been awesome this year, done some really good shows and their new album should be coming out next year. Really, most of the bands we’ve played with – Latitudes are a great band, a band called *shels, Taint. Humanfly are probably my favourite UK band to be honest.

What have you taken away from the whole band experience?

When we started the band we didn’t know anything about the music industry or releasing CD’s, or going on tour so the whole process was one of learning for us. All that sort of stuff was really good. Sometimes you get a band saying “how did you do this?” and they’ve got to understand that you only get out of it what you put into it in the first place and I think that’s the one thing I’ve learnt the most from being in a band. Take pride in your music. There’s so many of these bands that will just get together, form, play four songs, kind of half learn them and then think they want to go on tour but it’s not about that. You’ve got to sit down, make sure you know all your songs and have an idea about what you want to do and do it. You’ve gotta have some sort of drive and passion about what you want to do otherwise you’ll never make it. People turn round to us and say “oooh, I really wanna go on tour but I can’t get time off work” and it’s like…ok…then you’re not going to go on tour. We were all prepared to sacrifice not having a career and just getting by in order to do what we actually wanted to do.

You all work full time jobs don’t you?

Well, I like to class myself as fully employed but my boss would probably disagree! All of our employers knew how important the band was to us before we got the jobs so we have had a lot of support, but you get that from just being open and honest.

Ok cool. Well, thanks for talking to me and best of luck with tonight’s farewell show.

Cheers man, I’m sure it’ll be fine.

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