It’s hard not to love Frankenbok and their attitude and spirit. Live the moment, jam some tunes, drink up, grow your beard and who gives a shit about everything else! Recently we had the chance to chat to vocalist Dan McDougall and bassist/vocalist Tim Miedecke about all things in the Bok universe.
“We write music for ourselves first, and if people like what we do then awesome. If not, we don’t give a fuck, we will still… have a great time doing it.”
A fairly tight-knit universe it is too. Says McDougall, “…we are all such good mates and love playing music together. We write music for ourselves first, and if people like what we do then awesome. If not, we don’t give a fuck, we will still turn up to jam two nights a week, get in the van and go play shows to whoever turns up, play our fucking asses off and have a great time doing it. When you have been around for this long in the Aussie metal scene, not much else will motivate you to keep going! We are just real fortunate that we get along so well. Since I have been in the band we have not had one single fight or argument. That is rare as fuck and we know it.”
The band released their fourth album, ‘The End Of All You Know’ in the middle of 2011 (they also have two EPs to their name), and unlike their previous effort, ‘The Last Ditch Redemption’ EP, they “…decided to go with a basic theme, but not a concept album at all”, McDougall explains. “We also didn’t want any samples on this album, which is a first for Frankenbok. Just stripped down, raw and brutal as fuck.”
He goes on to explain about the amazingly detailed cover art for the new album, “the artwork was done by a very good friend of mine, a guy I’ve known since we were kids named Tom Emery. I had this crazy idea a few years back for a front cover, and I couldn’t think of anyone else who could pull it off but Tommo. That being said, Tommo is a pretty messed up dude, let’s just say that life has not been all that kind to him, what with getting Crohn’s Disease when he was a teenager (a severely debilitating bowel disease that he will suffer from for the rest of his life) and also having bi-polar [disorder] and severe depression. But his crazy mind comes up with some fucked-up shit, and that’s what has happened with this picture.”
“I came to him with the basic premise, which was the all seeing eye (which in this case represents the structure of society) being attacked by an angry mob made up of people of all walks of life. I wanted them to be all attacking each other as well as the pyramid, to represent the fact that if/when the shit hits the fan and the western world turns to shit, that there would be no group loyalty, just every man for himself. And from that Tommo came up with this crazy image, it took him about a year to complete and literally nearly killed him as was going through some really bad shit at the time. But he completed the task, I am very proud of him for seeing it through to the end, and the response to the cover has been amazing.”
McDougall continues, “We wanted the cover to be a work of art in itself, as these days it’s so easy to just Photoshop an image together. We wanted something more genuine. The fucked thing was that after he completed the front cover, he had a few months off before we approached him to do the back cover! We wanted it to be the same image, but set hundreds of years in the future, to show the finite nature of the human race, that after we are gone (and we will be, no species on earth has survived forever and we will be no exception) that the earth will be handed back to the master of all things, Mother Nature. And no I’m not a fucking hippy, it’s just a fact.”
‘The End Of All You Know’ came out three years after the previous EP. Of the gap, McDougall details, “We all either work full time, have our own businesses, some of us have families, and as much as we’d all love to be doing The Bok full time it still is only something we can do in our spare time. That and we recorded the album in our rehearsal space on pro-tools then had it mixed in the studio with the mighty Reggie Bowman, and as good as it is to be able to take your time, what ends up happening is that you end up taking longer than you expect. Let’s just say we were all very relieved when we finally had the bloody finished product in our hands! We have learnt a lot of lessons on how to record our own albums, and next time we will have the process a lot more streamlined.”
The latest album was the first released on the band’s own Fair Dinkum Records label, which will see releases by other artists as well. “We are using ‘The Bok’ to iron out the bugs and put a lot of our ideas to the test, and if it is successful we plan on signing other bands. We don’t plan on releasing just metal bands, more bands we think uphold the label name of being a fair dinkum band”, he says.
The guys have plenty of material in which to draw their live set from. Of picking which songs get picked, Miedecke says “We try to play to the band’s strengths and pull songs from any era to get the job done. Obviously the emphasis is on ‘The End Of All You Know’ this time around, but if the mood takes us we will hook into ‘Greetings & Salutations’, ‘Counterpart’, ‘Victims’ and anything else that we’ve had time to jam on. We would play ‘em all if we were given the stage time but usually it’s like: you’ve got 40 minutes and a beard and go, go, go!”
It appears that the band have plenty of chances to trundle out a few oldies too, as McDougall details. “At the moment we are doing a capital city tour to launch the new album, and [this] year we plan on doing a more extensive tour with more regional and out of the way shows to promote the album and also a DVD that we will be releasing around March/April [this] year. It will have a full live gig we filmed earlier [last] year, plus a full length documentary about the band. In regards to overseas, we do have our eyes set on getting the fuck out of here at some stage later [this] year, I’m actually heading to Europe in a weeks time to see some bands and start spruiking ‘The Bok’ to some people over there, so hopefully something will come of that. If not at least I will get to see Exodus in Italy. Fuck yeah!”
“I don’t know if you can call what we’ve got going on Bee Gees style harmonies but it’s definitely a sound that can split ya ears.”
Frankenbok aren’t strangers to things getting… well, strange. Of the period of time of the release of their third album, ‘Murder of Songs’ in 2007, when then-singer and guitarist Adam B. Metal had already left the band, Miedecke says “We specialize in shit getting weird, that’s for sure, but we knew we had the ‘Last Ditch’ sewn up so we headed out on the Other Side of Hell Tour – Tales of Murder and Redemption to really take care of business. I really like ‘Murder of Songs’ and I think B Metal sang, played and engineered his ass off. We still give ‘Triumph’ a hiding on a regular basis.”
On the subject of Mr. Metal, Miedecke continues, “I should mention that the laughs I’ve had with Adam B. Metal are second only to time spent with Yeti [current guitarist]. B. Metal is a very creative dude and I’m proud to have been in a band with him and I think ‘Blood Oath’ and ‘Murder’ are testament to that. But hey, the guy needed to conduct his business and his band ‘The Departed’ from Warrnambool so that’s just the way it rolled out. At least he gets to go to Cheese World any time he wants to.”
B. Metal isn’t the only former member of the band that still gets enquired about these days. Of former guitarist Scott Lang, Miedecke enthuses “…I’ve known [Lang] since I was a toddler, so of course we’re still in touch and I love his adonis ass. He was almost back in the band once ‘Danimal’ [McDougall] was onboard but he ended up living in Perth. And then before I knew Yeti was there riding tandem on the ‘Wylde Stallion’ with ‘Azza’ [Butler, guitarist] and all hell has been breakin’ loose ever since. Gives Mick and I a chance to really lock in and focus on our cocksmanship… metaphorically speaking, of course. Furthermore, once ‘Danimal’ was on board, we really got into the dual and triple vocal thing. I don’t know if you can call what we’ve got going on Bee Gees style harmonies but it’s definitely a sound that can split ya ears. Anyway, Scotty turned up on our ‘Last Ditch’ tour and was in the van for a few days and busted out a coupla tunes in NSW. That was solid gold. He still offers Obi-Wan Kenobi type wisdom to us from time to time. Reflex!”
Miedecke finishes up, “…at least apart from the drum machine and John Sankey, we don’t have any drummer problems!”
Finally, on the ever-present subject of downloading of music (legally or otherwise), McDougall says “In relation to downloading other music, the only time I would do this is if I cannot find a release anywhere to buy. If I can’t buy a physical copy I will get it from iTunes. I love iTunes, it’s the shit.” On others downloading his band’s music, he suggests “It’s an inevitable part of the modern world. But we have gone out of our way with the new album to give people every reason NOT to download the album. When you buy the album from us directly you get a free album cover shirt, stubby holder, A2 poster of the front cover and sticker all for $30 delivered to your door. Now that’s a bargain in anyone’s book.”
They’ve always delivered on their modus operandi of beers and beards. Now they’ve thrown bargains into the mix!
Dan “Danimal” McDougall: vocals
Aaron “Azza” Butler: guitars
Tim “Cobra” Miedecke: bass, vocals
Mick “Nitro” Morley: drums
Nathan “Yeti” Amatnieks: guitars