"It means a shitload," voiced Azza Bok, guitarist and founding member of Frankenbok talking about their appearance at this weekends Thrashville. "Many years ago we played Big Day Out and offshore festivals and that sort of thing but then things changed. Festivals didn't want to put on bands that were as extreme as us. They wanted something less brutal I guess and so to be added to this is so unreal because I am also from that area and I've had my eye on this for ages and seeing what has been going on thinking fuck, how good does that look? Not only is it a bunch of wicked bands but it's where I come from and I love the idea of being outdoors. I'm absolutely stoked. We've done plenty of time with bands like King Parrot so it will be good to hook up with those dudes again and it's really exciting to get your name on the same bill as a band like Frenzal Rhomb. It's wicked. As a band, we are always trying to reach into different waters than ours and not saying they are a commercial band, but it's good to reach a broader audience than ours. It's great to be in the mix with all sorts of different bands. I'm excited for what it is and I'm excited for where it is and I'm excited for the bands playing."
Frankenbok released Vicious, Lawless halfway through last year, their first album in four years, with Azza saying that the band has been overwhelmed by the response from fans and the media.
"We have been blown away, to be honest," he smiled. "I haven't heard anything really negative and if they are saying it's shit or not the same or whatever they have been kind enough to not say anything (laughs). The majority of people are saying holy shit, Frankenbook are back, this is the first time I have heard them sound like it's supposed to and things like that. We're not selling millions of copies but the feedback has been super positive. I actually jumped in the car yesterday and headed to band practice and pulled into the driveway and one of the guys goes are you listening to Frankenbok (laughs)? I said yeah and he said fuck that sounds cool, that's us (laughs)! I jumped into the missus' car and thought holy shit, she's been running around with the kids listening to Vicious, Lawless, I'll leave it on and see how I thought about it all this time later and it was a good experience, especially after having a break from it."
One significant change in the Frankenbok camp since then has been the departure of original bass played Tim Miedecke, with Azza admitting the shake-up in the band's foundations was a difficult time.
"We have brought in Dan Freeman as our new bass player," he revealed. "Timmy has moved on. It's twenty-something years later and it just wasn't floating his boat any more and he has other priorities and interests. He's got family and stuff so we wish him the best but for a while there I was thinking you know what, I'm in real trouble here. With all of the musicians I know I couldn't think of anyone to actually fill Tim's shoes. He isn't just the bloke with the bottom end, Timmy is like a lead guitarist playing bass. There is a million good players around but apart from that Tim sung half the songs as well. We have a lead singer of course but it was also a lot of Tim singing so it was like I don't know if we can get Mick Harris out here but we need a bass player who can sing as well (laughs). For a while there I was stumped with what I was going to do. I didn't really wanna go public with it because I didn't wanna do the whole audition thing if I didn't have to. I wanted someone preferably from the crew we already knew and it just dawned on me. I had been talking to this dude and getting along like a house on fire and I thought about his playing and singing abilities... and he's one of those guys that was at the first Frankenbok gig and has pretty much been to all of them since. He has been coming to shows and giving me that real serious look when he grabbed my arm going man, you guys are my favourite fucken band, you know what I mean? He's been like that for years and I said to Reiki (Barbosa, guitar) what about that dude? He is the singer/guitarist in Metallica tribute band Kill 'Em All and we had just recently played with them and were all absolutely blown away by how well he could sing and play, let alone what a legend bloke he was and literally his favourite Australian band was us and it was a case of I can't believe I only just thought about this. I made the call, pretty nervous because I didn't know whether he would be up for it but he was stoked that I asked and he said mate, I think it's a yes, but I have to speak to the missus... I have to think because I don't really know what's happened here (laughs). He called me back in no time and said I don't need to fucken think about shit, I'm fucken keen. Halfway through the first song at the first rehearsal it was obvious that he was the right choice. He fits like a glove. It's like we grew him in the Frankenbok laboratory. He's more Frankenbok than the rest of us (laughs)."
With Miedecke gone, Azza is the sole remaining original member of the band, not that it means he gets to stand over the newer faces.
"Not at all," he laughed. "Some of those guys are pretty big man. Seriously but, I'm not capable of that. It's really cool now with the chemistry and the way things are working out. It's actually nice because without saying anything all the guys do give me respect. I don't have to throw my weight around at all because there's mutual respect with everyone. There does come times when it's like what do you reckon Azza? And they are asking me because they have been in the band two or three years and say you've done twenty years so maybe your opinion probably counts a bit more. You really don't need to start pulling rank when everyone is pretty chilled and diplomatic about things."
As founding member back in 1997, Azza says when he first started Frankenbok it was as much an amalgamation of his personal musical tastes as it was a burning desire to shake up an increasingly formulaic industry.
"My vision for Frankenbok was the same then as it is now," he shrugged. "Do whatever the fuck we want. I was really into the death metal thing and aggressive music but also still came from a very punk background and I saw that metal and a lot of the music I loved started to become uniformed and kind of boring. I think with Frankenbok I purposely wanted to shake shit up and do things that weren't the norm or didn't fit in or weren't the done thing. On the first Frankenbok album, the cover looks like a fruit tingle spew it's got that many colours on it and we had all sorts of queer samples and basically the kind of stuff that if you're into full metal this might upset you and I was like fucken good. Get upset. I didn't want it to be the norm so in the beginning the band was basically have a brand name with Frankenbok but also do whatever the fuck we wanted to do. I didn't worry about fitting into a specific genre or even being metal it was just a name for us to do whatever felt right at the time. What the band is doing now with Vicious, Lawless the way that it is, it wasn't a case of okay let's try and put out a really heavy album and try to settle down or pull in some of the stupid shit, it was just at the time that is what I felt like writing - real aggressive, fast, thrashy shit. Right now we've been starting to write songs again and now that we've got all of these colourful artists in the band who are really talented in lots of different ways it's the same thing over. We will have these conversations that our new stuff is gonna be this or gonna be that but also it's gonna be that kind of - again - whatever the fuck we feel like. It's not gonna be ten songs of blasting or thrash songs or whatever. Reiki comes from a real musical background, not just metal, so I think there will be lots of different music on the next one. Everyone comes from different places and that is exactly what Frankenbok was in the beginning. If you ever saw what we looked like it in the early days it was the most fucked up, mismatched dudes (laughs). We had a metal guy, then we had a singer with an afro in a pyjama shirt, then we had a surfer on guitar and a twelve-year-old on drums and the guy from Spinal Tap on bass! We played with all of these bands that had painted on black jeans and a Cannibal Corpse t-shirt and we would get up there and they would look at us and go are you guys fucken for real (laughs)?"
Check out D.A.T Photography's gallery from Frankenbok's Altitiude @ Hamilton gig here
FRENZAL RHOMB + KING PARROT + BATPISS + FRANKENBOK + GAY PARIS + THE AUSTRALIAN BEEFWEEK SHOW + DASHVILLE PROGRESS SOCIETY + TROLDHAUGEN + VOIID + POST TRUTH + PAPER THIN + RORT MENACE + JONES THE CAT
Kirkton Rd, Belford NSW