Beau Bokan has opened his eyes. The lead vocalist of post-hardcore quintet blessthefall stumbled out of bed just a few minutes ago, grabbed his cell phone, roamed around his fiancé’s apartment in Toronto to find a stable reception spot and is acting real giddy.
Clearly, the 29-year-old is a morning person. Well, at least that’s the impression he gives off. Either way, he is immensely ecstatic when talking about the group’s powerful third studio album “Awakening.”
“The word stuck out to me and there are a lot of lyrics that are [about] someone finding themselves and having an awakening -- waking up and seeing the world in a different light,” he says. “There are a bunch of different interpretations of the album title and I think it’s gonna be neat for fans [to] read the lyrics, listen to the songs and find their own meaning of it.”
“Awakening” should certainly wake people up. Produced by Elvis Baskette, the 12-track collection is blessthefall’s heaviest effort to date. Similar to their previous full-length “Witness,” the Phoenix, Arizona-based quintet up the ante by intensifying their signature style through a melodic post-hardcore and metal-tinged circus. Also, the hooks have become catchier than ever.
Heads have already gotten a taste of that from the anthem “Promised Ones” and “Bottom Feeder,” which was premiered on Red Bull USA back in August. In fact, Bokan claims the next single “40 Days …” is by far the softest song on the record, and that track starts off with a tender rhythm before getting backup from thunderous drumbeats and bass lines. But to their credit, the screams have vanished from a portion of the music in favor of clean vocals.
For Bokan, his own personal “Awakening” is reflected all throughout the effort as he sings about self-discovery and gaining inner strength through overcoming a series of trials and tribulations. “I think my faith had a huge role in the lyric writing for this record [as in] finding myself, atoning to things I’ve done in the past and changing as a person for the better. And asking for help and realizing that I need the help,” he explains.
“There is a song about my grandparents who passed away last year and they were super close to me. [There are] a couple of songs about my beautiful fiancé, who has affected my life in a huge way. There is a whole mix of what’s going on. It’s all real and it’s all personal.”
Although this is the second blessthefall album featuring Bokan, it also makes him the longest running vocalist in the band’s history -- as far as full-length releases are concerned.
blessthefall launched in 2003 with original front man Craig Mabbitt. In 2007, everything seemed to be going particularly well for the Phoenix collective. They had a record deal with Ferret Music, released their debut album “His Last Walk” and were booked for gigs all over the world.
During a European tour later in the year, however, there was a breakdown. Mabbitt was going through some personal issues, so he bought a ticket back to the ‘States and left the band. While guitarist Eric Lambert temporarily took on lead vocals, they were scrambling to find a permanent singer.
In 2008, they received a MySpace message from Bokan -- formerly of Take The Crown -- who was inquiring about the vacant slot. Through a series of conversations, an original song composition audition and an in-person meeting, Bokan was chosen as blessthefall’s new front man. The new and improved post-hardcore quintet then immediately went to work on their sophomore set “Witness” and signed with Fearless Records.
I really wanted to write another record for kids to really latch onto and find hope, and look up to us as role models -- not only [as] musicians.
But Mabbitt is one of a handful that quit blessthefall. The latest band casualty was guitarist and founding member Mike Frisby, who made his exit this past February. “He kinda just wanted to go back to school and do the normal life kinda thing, and I can’t be mad at anyone who wants to do that because you miss all the people you love and are close to,” Bokan says.
“If you’re gone on the road for two years and you have a little brother, you come back and your little brother is two years older. You miss out on a lot of life and some people can’t do that. But for me, I want our fans to appreciate how much we’re actually out there and how much we sacrifice to play music and be in a band.”
The Phoenix troupe will continue staying active on the road as they headline the upcoming Fearless Friends Tour in support of “Awakening.” It kicks off November 9 at The Orpheum in Flagstaff, Arizona, and wraps up December 16 at the Marquee Theatre in Tempe, Arizona. Motionless In White, The World Alive, Tonight Alive and Chunk! No, Captain Chunk! will serve as the opening acts.
While blessthefall will leave their friends and families behind to promote “Awakening,” the group is excited to perform in-front of their fans. Perhaps, more importantly, the quintet is looking to leave their mark with the new album.
“On the last record [“Witness”], we had a lot of kids saying we saved their lives and we changed them, and that record was huge for them. That alone is so impactful to me. It means so much and makes everything worth it,” Bokan explains. “So I really wanted to write another record for kids to really latch onto and find hope, and look up to us as role models -- not only [as] musicians. We want to be positive influences on our fans, so I hope kids will be affected positively by this record.”
Bokan has his eyes open and now, whether it’s through the group’s heavy melodic resonance or deep lyrical messages of perseverance, blessthefall is determined to “Awaken” a sleepy generation of music listeners.
- Beau Bokan – Lead Vocalist
- Eric Lambert – Lead Guitarist/Backing Vocalist
- Elliott Gruenberg – Rhythm Guitarist
- Jared Warth – Bassist/Screamer
- Matt Traynor - Drummer
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