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Jochen Boellat Talks Grand Massive’s Sound, Release Of “IV”

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Jochen Boellat Talks Grand Massive’s Sound, Release Of “IV”

Greetings from the King Rhino quarantine bunker. OK, it’s not really a “bunker.” The King actually just moved into a gorgeous, new, two-story condo with a rooftop terrace overlooking Budapest. But, I’m still enjoying spending time 24/7 with the girlfriend and dog. (You believe me, right?). Anyway, one advantage of the terrace is I can lie on it and absolute crank the new album from Bavarian badasses Grand Massive. And, believe you me, their fourth album, aptly named IV, is meant to be played at maximum volume for that truly massively grand experience. 

Celebrating their eleventh year, this album is a culmination of years spent on the road and in the studio together, and it has paid off in spades. It’s just halfway through the year, and I already know that IV is going to be extremely high on my top albums of 2020 list. Hands down, this record is a starmaker. Grand Massive are made up of Alex Andronikos on vocals, Peter Weisenbacher and Jochen Bollath on guitars, Toby Brandl bass, and Raphael Speyerl on drums, and they are poised to take it to the next level. I was lucky enough to have the chance to email with Bollath about the band, and the unfortuntaely fucked up timing of releasing a new album in the midst of a global pandemic.

How does it feel to have the new album finished and coming out this week?
Thank you for that nice words. It feels great, we worked a long time on that record. After the release of our last record, called III back in 2016, we integrated a new drummer in the band and started with some live shows. We shared the stage as support for big bands like Overkill, Crowbar, Mustasch and played some little underground festivals. It was a great time. Besides that, we started with writing some new tunes. The whole recording was over two-three years. We finished the drum recordings very early and we had a big space between the last guitar recordings and the vocals. Alex needed some time to find the right melodies and inspiration for that 10 songs, but it turned out excellent at the end. We were more like a family or a real unit and the sound of the band changed a little to more professional or maybe more out of the underground, when you know what I mean. The music sounds wider and maybe we will find some new fans. We are very very happy with the result and in our eyes it is the best Grand Massive release so far. 

Is there a reason the albums are given numerical titles? Not really. We started with the self-titled album and our second EP became the title II. Without any reason. But we like it to get our records numbered, like Danzig did or some others. It is simple and a little different between all the other releases. I like, for example, the way  Morbid Angel did it. Starting the debut album in alphabetical order, starting with A (“Altars of Madness”) and ending so far with K (“Kingdoms Distained”). Yeah, I like that stuff and we are happy with the title.

Do you have any feelings on being labeled “doom” or “stoner” rock? I personally really can`t understand the label doom or stoner for us. A lot of people think about Grand Massive = stoner. The main reason is maybe my label Daredevil Records, which is famous for stoner rock releases since over 20 years or my old band Duster 69. I started the band to make a step beside my old band and stoner rock. But people always compare it. And maybe they are right with the old Grand Massive releases. But the new record has no big stoner influences in my eyes. But what do you expect about stoner? If you say bands like Down or Crowbar or Black Label Society are in the stoner rock genre too, so I can understand. But I see us as a metal band with massive riffs and great vocals. And we have fast songs like,he opener, “Devourer of Time,” the song is more like thrash or speed metal. If you like stoner ala Dozer, Nebula, Monster Magnet, Lowrider or Kyuss, I think you will not find so much comparison in our sound to them. I think we have a mix of middle Metallica, Life of Agony, Danzig, Crowbar and Down. And this is not close to stoner … but hell yeah, open minded stoner rock listeners, like I am, will surely love our big riffs.

I have to be honest, I didn’t even know where Bavaria was located until my girlfriend said, “It’s the closest part of Germany to us here in Hungary, dummy!” So, we can blame my “geographical ignorance” on my being American, I guess. LOL. Do you feel being located in Bavaria has been an advantage or disadvantage in getting exposure? Man, you can`t tell me that you never heard about Oktoberfest or Munich? Munich is the capital of Bavaria. It is the biggest and I have to say the most beautiful region in Germany. You have the Alps and you are close to Austria, Switzerland and the beautiful Czech Republic. I think you don`t have and disadvantage or advantage everywhere in Germany. All is similar with the music scene. But the main cities in Bavaria are Nuremburg, Munich and Regensburg. All important and beautiful. 

Who are some of your personal influences/favourites when it comes to music? I really have a wide musical range. I grow up with ’80s thrash and heavy metal turned into death metal to some stoner and heavy metal. My personal influences are Danzig, Carnivore, Destructor, Exciter, Down and Dark Angel. I still love the old stuff like Nuclear Assault or Infernal Mäjesty. 

I’m guessing that you had planned to tour behind the record when it comes out. Are plans for getting out on the road now on hold because of the whole virus/quarantine issue? Yes, we want to play, but the actual situation is hard and it is not allowed to play shows. Like everywhere in the world. I really hope, that this crisis will end soon, but I can`t believe it. I don`t know what will happening in the future and we can`t say, when the whole live sector will re-start again. But we are ready and want to support that important album as much as possible. The main aim is to get on some festivals 2021 and maybe one or two good support shows for a bigger band. We will see. But we all have to stay healthy – that is the most important thing.

Do you have any favorite tracks off the new album? Yes, I really like most of them, but especially the great refrain from “The Collector” and the ’90s touch of the track “My Path.” Dicker from the german thrash metal masters Warpath did guest vocals on the song and it has some Type O Negative and Life of Agony touch and a Slayer like introduction. I really love that song. In the beginning of the recording sesseions I had some problems with the fast opener, “Devourer of Time,” but right now, I like them too. And the middle part of “Never Gone,” a song with some lyric parts from our died heroes like Chuck Schuildner, Cliff Burton, Peter Steele, is very emotional.  

Any advice or parting words of wisdom for our readers? Stay healthy in that terrible times. Take care of yourself and your families. And if you like heavy sounds give a little band like Grand Massive some support. In that times the smaller bands need some help too. Support the underground and stay heavy! And thank you King Rhino and Skull`n`Bones for the interest in Grand Massive!

IV is available now. And, until you are lucky enough to get the chance to see Grand Massive live, spend the ducats and buy this album. And, as always, this is King Rhino saying keep it metal and when we can get back in the pit, stay safe!

Grand Massive‘s IV is out now on Metalville Records. Buy it here!

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