BATZZ In The Belfry was one of those bands that I somehow came across on MySpace. I can’t remember who I was looking for, but when I found these guys I was so moved by the music that I bought both of their CD’s immediately. This is gothic music in the truest sense. It’s deep, dark, emotional and moving. It would satisfy the purists among us. Nelson is the founder of the group and started recording the music back in 2003. I was able to catch up with him for a few questions about his band. Below is our conversation in straight question/answer sequence. If you like goth music that hearkens back to the early days, you will enjoy this band. Check out their MySpace page and support them by purchasing their albums, you will be pleased at the depth and sounds on these discs. In addition to listening through MySpace, their website has several songs that are free as a download. Each CD also has a couple of instrumental tracks which is always nice, kind of like a sonic freeway to just keep moving without being interrupted by anything else.
1) Give us a history of BATZZ In The Belfry and how the band came together?
I started BATZZ In The Belfry in 2003. At the time I recorded a few tunes and worked with Marc, who played some guitar on one of the tracks. We spun up the website, posted the tunes and sent out a few e-mails and demos. We received some really nice support and feedback, so we kept going from there.
In early 2004 we officially released a small collection of songs. By then Deena and Araina joined in on keyboards and violin, respectively. The EP got some good reviews from Automata, Chain D.L.K., and Mick Mercer.
We started to get airplay on some radio stations and at clubs in various parts of the world. By 2005 we re-released the EP with a couple more tracks, which included Rick on guitar. Cold Fusion invited us to be on the Lunar Eclipse compilation CD that year as well.
In early 2007 we released Sparks Fly Upward, our first full-length CD. People said nice things about it, which made us very happy. We appeared on a compilation CD put out by Gothic Magazine in Germany called Goth Is What You Make It, Vol.6. We were in good company and it was a lot of fun. Sparks Fly Upward was reviewed in a few magazines and websites in Europe, South America, and Russia.
In 2008 we were included in HM Magazine’s Pick of the Litter. We appeared on a couple of compilation CDs; one put out by Crawling Tunes Magazine, and another by Gothic Magazine (our second time around with them).
We’re currently hard at work finishing up our next CD, which, Lord willing, we hope to release sometime this summer.
2) Is the band still predominately just you with a few contributing artists?
Yes. On the new recordings only Rick played a little bit on a couple of tracks.
3) How would you describe your sound, and who are your musical influences?
I would say our sound is unashamedly old-school goth predominantly. There is a bit of a mish-mash in there (some art rock, ethereal, dream pop, and shoegaze), but for the most part, it’s goth rock in the classic tradition.
Going way back my influences were hard rock (Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, etc), along with glam rock (David Bowie, Mott the Hoople, T-Rex, Roxy Music), art rock (Yes, early Genesis, ELP, PFM), and some jazz fusion (Return to Forever, Weather Report, Area). After that I was heavily influenced by English punk rock and the post-punk bands that followed (Joy Division, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Killing Joke, Bauhaus, The Cure, The Sisters of Mercy, Fields of the Nephilim). There were a number of death rock groups in San Francisco (it wasn’t called goth back then) that were a huge influence: The Black Dolls, Fade to Black, Dangerous Visions, and Vile Under Vile. There are probably many others, but some notable ones would be Iggy Pop, The Cocteau Twins and Switchblade Symphony.
4) Your new release that will hopefully come out this summer – musically what is it like, are you staying with the sound you have, or has it changed at all? (Obviously sounds change as art progresses, but BATZZ has a very distinct flavor, as you called it ‘old-school’)
The new record is pretty similar to Sparks Fly Upward. It’s a little more guitar-heavy and up-tempo, but otherwise pretty traditional old-school goth. We got a little musically adventurous on a couple of tunes, but
5) Do you have the ability to get out and play live much? Any plans at a tour that will follow the new release?
We have the ability, but not the will. 🙂
I just haven’t been able to convince like-minded musicians with whom I’m acquainted to put in the time to play live. It’s too bad because I think it would be fun, but I know the time and effort it takes and everyone is busy with their own stuff. We’ve talked about it, but it hasn’t materialized. So at this point, no plans to play locally or elsewhere.
6) What do you think of the digital revolution in regards to the industry? How has that helped/hurt BATZZ In The Belfry?
I think the digital revolution is a double-edged sword, in terms of music sharing and digital downloads. On the one hand it helps to get music out there and get heard by a lot of people, but on the other hand, there’s no way to make money with recorded music unless you’re very popular. It’s been going on for so long now that I don’t think about it much and there’s certainly no way to reverse it. For BATZZ In The Belfry it has been a great way to promote the band, especially since we don’t play live, but it does make it a little difficult to keep things going. By the same token, being able to record digitally on the computer is really great.
Just as a side note, after we had wrapped this interview I got a message from Nelson that the new release will hopefully be finished in August. He said that they were putting the finishing touches on iTunes and getting the artwork done. Below are some lyrics to one of my favorite songs by BATZZ In The Belfry. Drop by their website for some free downloads, check them out on MySpace and help support independent music!
Sun, rise today, like the sunrise long ago
This day, we say goodbye, you are going home
Days begin, like grains of sand, falling
Through the hourglass, held in God’s hand
Somewhere the days are all brand new
Hiding from the thought, that someday you’d be gone
We may never understand until we meet again above
I never thought the tears would fall so easy to the ground
Before the day, before the dawn, the pain would be set free
Somewhere the days are all brand new
(Sunday Mourning off BATZZ first, self titled release)