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Tokyo Blade's Andy Boulton: "We, “ordinary working people, don’t have a voice anymore, it’s all about unsustainable profit"

Interview with Andy Boulton from Tokyo Blade
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 06 February 2022, 7:36 PM

People that have lived throughout the golden years haven't really foreseen what the future holds, and it is possible that the shock of what came from technology and humanity in the last decades was quite substantial. With everything being digital, it has been hard for some to adjust, the need to see people hasn't been similar to the past, life became desolate in a way. Through their new album, the British Metal stalwarts, Tokyo Blade, have been preaching their dismay from what has been going on. "Fury" is what they feel. Steinmetal had a good talk with guitarist Andy Boulton about the experience how the band sees the world   

Hello Andy, I am honored to have both of you for this interview for Metal Temple online Magazine. Nearly two years ago, I had only Alan, yet I believe that you have a lot to say as well in this discussion. How have you been?

2 years older, other than that not very much lol! We’ve both been ok and working hard on the next album

Last time that we talked Alan it was a point in the pandemic where folks didn’t really know what to expect, certainly we didn’t have a clue about vaccinations, or variants, back then.  Eventually, science did have a good go at the virus, and for now, we are at both fronts, offensive and defensive. How do you two feel about these last two years in terms of where are we going with this? I hear that in the UK the restrictions are once again being lifted, is that so?

Like most other bands we have not been able to do any live work, so we continued to write new material and record it. Things seem to be easing here so maybe we can play live again soon. Hopefully the rest of Europe will follow and things will get back to normal (whatever that is!)

Back in 2020, you released the wonderful “Dark Revolution”. With the small intermissions, between variants, did you have a chance to support it live in any form or it just wasn’t worth it due to fear of virus implications?

We weren’t able to play live and personally we weren’t afraid of the virus as the chances of surviving it are 99.96% unless you have underlying health conditions. Brexit will also affect things as far as European travel is concerned. Personally I think it was the stupidest thing our useless Government have ever done. We will have to wait and see I guess?

For one thing that I am happy about is that the last lockdowns, and there were more than a couple, didn’t wear you down, but rather kept Tokyo Blade occupied, seeking to maintain the band’s status as active. Even though it sounds weird, but let’s have a go at it. Would you say these lockdowns actually did good for Tokyo Blade in regards to the final product, which is the new album?

During Covid all we could do was get together and write really. We ended up having 15 tracks and decided to give our fans some real value for money by releasing them all on one album. So as far as Covid lockdown are concerned the fans are the winners.

Working on an album, and not together as a band, even though Andy you have been one of the main songwriters, did it feel different? Do you find it as a disadvantage? I had the chance to talk to bands that wrote songs separately and at first at list, it wasn’t that easy so to speak.

To be honest it wasn’t really different for Alan and I as in the past we have usually written the songs with some help from John Wiggins and then we normally present the songs to the band for them to put their own touches to the finished song

I could easily relate to the given title to your new album, “Fury”, as if a cry out of frustration thanks to this damned period of time, which hasn’t been easy for people to say the least. What do you make of this “Fury”, as a title, were you really furious when you came out with this expressive word for the band’s 10th album?

It’s emotion that causes it. Like myself, Alan is very passionate regarding the state of the world and the evident injustices that are making life so hard for the poor and working classes. It’s a reflection of the anger and frustration he feels. Andy Wrighton came up with the title after hearing the song titles and lyrics Lol!

I believe that one of the supporting arguments, if we can call it like that, is that fact that “Fury”, in its lyrical form, is bowl of criticism, and I might add anger, it is like a dirt under one’s nails, yet as a wake up call that things are in shambles, and to ignore them won’t make them go away. Alan, how do these narratives on the record express what you feel deep down inside?

Well when you’re in your youth most people think that the world is going to be improving, looking back from when we were young from the Second World War forward things have improved the quality of life for the ordinary people. Technology, health etc. and they expect that to continue, but unfortunately over the last 20 or so years things don’t seem to improved much at all.

Those frustrations of things just not getting any better for most people, certainly smart phones and smart computers and smart cars have made life arguably “better” but the way people have to live and work has just got worse. I suppose I do get frustrated especially during these last two years were the lunacy of some of the governments right around the world and some of their decisions to try and stop an airborne virus was fascinating to say the least and I suppose my anger at all of that just came out in some of the songs.

In relation to the previous question, and Andy please feel free to step in as well, through “Fury” what pisses you off exactly? Why is it convenient to ignore messages coming from people like yourselves, criticizing artists? Lastly, what is your sum of all fears from in relation to what you present on the record?

I think it’s more about getting it off my chest than anything else it’s not that I’m trying to put any particular message out there, I’m just venting my frustration at the things that I feel are wrong with the world which would be greed of corporations, the destruction of a beautiful planet for the sake of monetary gain and the treatment of the underclasses in comparison to the billionaires that run the world. We, “ordinary working people, don’t have a voice anymore, it’s all about unsustainable profit.

With the band being one of the long riding bands of NWOBHM, “Fury” protects the old flames that you made in the 80s, nonetheless, it also nods to other directions, mostly within the range of the music that you have been playing for decades, a course of exploration that showed a variety of the Tokyo Blade faces. What can you tell in regards to what was done differently this time around? Where in your music did you wish to venture to in your view?

It seems that the majority of our fans are really pleased with the material that we are releasing currently, and to be fair it would be unrealistic to expect us to produce another Night of the Blade which is an album that we did almost 40 years ago as we have changed our thoughts we’ve changed as people. We’ve evolved as musicians and our songwriting has evolved too, some people may like it some people may not but at the end of the day the one thing that we have in abundance is choice.

Probably due to the fact that you had so much time in the lockdowns, “Fury” ended up being a nearly 80 minutes of old school British Metal experience. Was it set in stone to let in everything that you have created while those isolated sessions? Honestly, I thought at first that it is a compilation record before even noticing that there is fresh material for grabs.

During Covid all we could do was get together and write really. We ended up having 15 tracks and decided to give our fans some real value for money by releasing them all on one album.

 “Fury” was blessed to be a twisted songwriting, accurately said, a varied kind of personality. What can you tell about these twists and turns, between being aggressive and melodic, somewhat contemporary in approach against being classic? Is this a cause of a healthy kind of mind war, or are you satisfied about the multiple choices?

I think this is just a natural progression of our songwriting from the early days till now with new influences and new ideas coming in and blending with our original passion for heavy metal

Finding cohesion between the music and lyrics, now that is a challenge on its own. “Fury” is a good example of a record that shares various elements in its music, even though its philosophy is rather on the assault than being a soothing charmer. How were you able to find that edge in order to connect the music and lyrics to have that linkage?

Usually the kind of riff guides the idea for the song that influences the lyrics and the style of the lyrics. Which influences how it is sung and delivered

Both of you gents are veteran musicians, and also songwriters. Although you know a lot, and it is undeniable, I believe that there is always something that one can learn, even on a daily basis. What did “Fury” teach you about your abilities as musicians and writers? Would you say that you were surprised by what you learned?

You are absolutely right I think if we learnt anything from fury it was that having the time (owing to lockdown) to push ourselves as musicians and having the time to formulate ideas and try different ideas meant we learnt that to try different ideas and push the boundaries a little paid off at least as far as we are concerned.

“Cold Light Of Day”, as one of the album’s melodic centerpieces, I could actually feel the coldness while listening to the song, that was kind of an experience. This tune is one of the lighter numbers of the record, yet its impact felt substantial to me. What can you tell about this track and what do you feel about it?

Originally John Wiggins came up with the opening clean guitar riff and within two hours I had completed the rest of this song. Alan took it and came back with his usual great lyrics which are mainly concerned about pushing people too far and the backlash following that. The line “stand in line to medicate” refers mainly to the various vaccine mandates forced upon us by science and government policy for example. Music has always been a platform for expression and while a great deal of people doesn't try to analyses the lyrical content there remain some who do. We aren’t preaching to anyone we are merely vocalizing our own thoughts and feelings

The final track, “Where Bullets Fly”, now that is a song that people at shows are going to like, it is melodic, hooking and an easy sing-along. This is a clear reminder of your heydays of the 80s, a pleasure to listen to. How do you find this song to have an impact on the record? With this song being part of your tenth album, are there recollections of your early past, working on your debut?

We don’t really analyze our songs too deeply “when the bullets fly” is just part of the overall album. It’s just another idea that turned into a song and it isn’t a deliberate throwback to the early days. Like many artists we view our album as a whole work not as individual tracks. At the end of the day Tokyo blade is a collection of individuals who were all present when we recorded those early albums so naturally anything we do is going to sound like Tokyo blade

“Kill Me Till I’m Dead” is one of the album’s heavier exports, displaying chunky riffs, less melodic flavors and more in your face kind of attitude. It is still catchy enough, but tougher than its counterparts. What can you tell about the creative process of this particular track?

Andy came up with a very heavy riff and I chose lyrics that I felt matched the aggressive nature of it. The song is basically about addiction regardless of the nature of it. i.e. be it alcohol, drugs, gambling, Facebook, etc. In the case of Facebook some users want to portray a life that isn’t reality. A kind of virtual life because they crave attention and fame, and a lifestyle that they aren’t able to realistically obtain. That can lead to disappointment and resentment, some think they are entitled to these things. Our creative process really isn’t as complex as some might imagine, it’s mainly just emotion that is the catalyst.

Since you might have a chance to perform live, due to the restriction being lifted, do you see yourself performing any time soon, this year?

We aren’t really preparing for live work as such as we really don’t know how Brexit will affect things also the Covid thing will be a factor as far as European travel is concerned. We will have to wait and see I guess?

Andy, once again I bid you thanks for your time for this interview, I know I had to know a lot, and for that I am grateful for your patience. All the best with the new album, cheers and thanks.

I would like to thank you for taking the time to prepare the interview for me Lior, and for your support for the band. Blessings to you and all of our loyal fans, you guys are the only reason we have for continuing to make new music.


 



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