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Big Heavy Rock

An Interview with Jamie of Boulder

By Bob Ignizio

For over a decade now the same four guys (Jamie – bass & vocals, The Chan – guitar, Mark – guitar, and Pat –drums) have been spreading the heavy metal gospel throughout northeast Ohio under the collective moniker of Boulder.  Now, with two albums on the indie label Tee Pee under their belts (‘Ravage and Savage’, 2000, and ‘Reaped in Half’, 2002) they’ve taken it nationwide.  As I spoke with Jamie, the band had just finished up a tour in support of ‘Reaped in Half’ and was taking a well deserved break before heading off to New York for CMJ in November.

“It was the longest tour we’ve done,” says Jamie.  “We’ve done things before where we’d play ten shows or so, but this was the first time we played all the way out to the west coast and back.  It was cool.  The west coast and the south were good.  We got a better response than I thought, in San Francisco and LA especially.  I didn’t think people would even know who we were, so it was cool.  Along the west coast we played with High on Fire and Lost Goat, another band on Tee Pee.  Coming through the south we played a gig with Fu Manchu and Speed Dealer.  Besides those, though, we just played our own gigs.”

So who goes to a Boulder show?  “It’s not really the typical metal fan.  The people that come to our shows are sort of weirdoes,” jokes Jamie.  “They’re not Helloween power metal people or Black Flag punk people.  They’re just people who are willing to hear genuine music and have fun with it, not necessarily people who listen to only one type of music.”   Hardly surprising considering the way Boulder combine influences form the entire history of hard rock into a unique sound all their own.  Everything from the proto punk of late sixties Detroit bands to the bombastic sounds of eighties thrash and glam rock is grist for their mill.  “It comes from not trying to rip off any one person or band.   We’ve all been music fans since we were like ten years old, and there’s shit that’s imbedded in us that comes out in how we play.  Not what we play but how we play it.”

At one time Boulder was infamous for stunts like having Jamie ride a moped on stage for a rendition of Judas Priest’s “Hellbent for Leather” or bringing roadkill to shows.  Although the band still maintains a healthy sense of humor, the stunts are history.  “It had just run its course.  We kind of did what we wanted to do with that,” explains Jamie.  “Kiss took off the makeup, so we stopped bringing dead animals to shows.” 

To those who think hard rock has to be serious, Jamie says, “Listen to The Stooges ‘Raw Power’ or The Dead Boys ‘Young Loud and Snotty’. Those albums are hilarious if you listen to the lyrics but they’re never taken as novelty bands.  Frank Zappa, he’s just sarcastic as hell.  Even bands like Judas Priest.  You know Rob Halford was writing stuff and thinking, that’s clever or that’s funny.  You have to be able to look around you and see how ridiculous other people are.  I’m just not the type of person to take anything too seriously.  A lot of bands nowadays are just like “it’s got to be death.”  They can’t be clever or witty in any way.”

While the band is now signed to well known indie label Tee Pee records, they didn’t just sit around waiting for a record deal to come along.  “The first thing we put out was a 7” and that came out in January of 1993, right before the first gig,” says Jamie.  “It was a two song single.  Then we put out two demos, a 7” here and there, and the 10” record.  Chan and I are real into records and vinyl, so we just wanted to put our music out on vinyl and do it ourselves.  That was the only way we knew.  We were never into the whole, “dude, sign my band” type of thing.  Other bands have records, so we said let’s make our records.  The bands that we liked did the same thing.  The first Iron Maiden single, the first Def Leppard single, all that shit the bands put out themselves.”

On their most recent album Boulder show a greater emphasis on songwriting and melody, especially in the vocal department.  “Every album the vocals have gotten more enunciated, to where you can hear things more,” says Jamie.  “In the past, I never practiced singing.  Every time we’d go to record it would be write the lyrics the day before and then sing ‘em immediately in one take.  That’s how it was done, and you can probably tell that.  For ‘Reaped in Half’ we took time to figure out how to sing it, and what the words were.  Stupid shit like that that probably most bands do first and foremost.  This time we practiced a little bit, and did at least two takes.”

Boulder also recently released a single under one of their pseudonyms, Sweet Roxx.  “Sweet Roxx is normally just us doing cover songs, but the tunes on the 7” are songs we made up right when Boulder first started,” Jamie explains.  “We wanted to write some songs that sounded like they came from 1983 or ‘84.  We used to play them at practice just for our personal kicks.  We finally recorded them at the same time as the ‘Ravage and Savage’ sessions.  So it’s another official band with all the same members”

As for what the future holds for Boulder, Jamie says, “We were thinking about doing a four song EP, we’ve never done one of those.  Me and the Chan always wanted to make a killer EP like Hellhammer’s ‘Apocalyptic Raids’ or Slayer’s ‘Haunting the Chapel’.”  As for shows, Boulder’s northeast Ohio fans will have to wait for now.  “The last show we played in Cleveland was with Saxon, back in April or something,” says Jamie.   “We played in Akron a few months ago with Electric Wizard, but that’s the last one around here I remember.  Next month we’ll be playing CMJ in New York, but that’s as far ahead as I know.”  If the metal gods are smiling, though, Boulder will be tearing it up close to home again soon.

 Visit Boulder on the web at http://www.bouldersragers.com

More Boulder on Utter Trash:

CD review: 'Reaped in Half'

Concert review and pictures: With Destructor, Abdullah, and Kratos at Peabody's 01-03-03