When Metallica announced the Worldwired Tour’s support bands, BOKASSA and Ghost, our first thought was, “who is BOKASSA?” Well, this grunge/stoner rock trio from Norway may have slid under the radar of the average rocker, but METALLICA made sure that this would change by bringing them along as this tour’s pick by Lars Ulrich. We managed to snag a few minutes with bassist Bård Linga backstage during the event in Kantola, Hämeenlinna, on July 16th, 2019.
It’s very nice to meet you! Tell me, is this your first time playing in Finland?
Yes, first time in Finland. It’s the first time ever being in Finland actually.
Coming from Norway, you’re practically our neighbor.
Yeah, pretty much! I like this place as well. There’s a lot of nature here and a little bit of industry, so it feels a little bit like home, like the place I come from.
Tell me the need-to-know basics of the band quickly – how you formed, the usual stuff.
Olav and Jorn started it in 2013, I think, in Trondheim. I joined in 2016. We play a mix between rock, metal, and stoner rock, with some punk and hardcore influences in there. It’s a bit of a mish-mash, but riff-based in-your-face rock n’ roll music with some big choruses.
Your name, BOKASSA, comes from an African dictator. Why did you choose that name?
A lot of our lyrical content is about dictators and cults and genocide, all that stuff. So it fits in with the lyrical content.
BOKASSA has released two full albums now – are they concept albums or are the songs stand-alone entities, or do you have overarching themes?
We don’t really do overarching themes throughout the albums. It’s a mix of things. We have a lot of serious lyrics but there are some fun songs in between as well. You can’t keep it sad all the time [laughter]. There is some connection between the two albums, sort of, because the last track is a longer track called, “Immortal Space Pirate,” which appears on the first album and then there’s a part 2 on the second album, so there is some kind of connection there. But no, it’s not a concept album in that sense.
And to get the other obvious question out of the way, how do you write your music – collectively or does one person take the reins?
Jorn is the prime songwriter and writes the guitar riffs and puts it together, and me and Olav kind of adapt his ideas into our instruments. So he’s the main songwriter for all our music.
But everyone gets a bit of their vision in there as well?
Yeah, somewhat. I usually just play what I feel will fit with riffs and stuff and if somebody tells me to do something else, I do.
Do you write many songs with a message that you want to get across, or do you focus more on the music with the lyrics coming after?
Jorn probably knows more about this, but I think we are more on the musical side in how we express ourselves. The lyrics come along afterwards. It’s more about the musical content than the lyrical content.
Your new album, “Crimson Riders,” came out on the 21st of June. What’s your favorite song from the album in this moment?
I’ve got two: “Crimson Riders” and “Blunt Force Karma.” I just like them. I like “Crimson Riders” because it’s a bit of a special one. It’s really short and has lots of energy and kind of stands out from the other songs. It’s really hard and really fast. Then I like “Blunt Force Karma” because it’s just a hard-hitting thrashy song.
Since the band has so many different elements in it, what are some of your favorite styles to play, within BOKASSA or on your own?
Within BOKASSA I really like playing chuggy, heavy riffs. The stuff that makes you get all that energy out. Outside that, I just play random stuff. I just play around on the instruments, whatever I feel like.
Do you have any of your own projects outside BOKASSA?
I do small projects now and then. I’ve done a couple of short films, made music for them, but I don’t have any long-term projects. Just one-offs that I make.
Obviously a lot of people are asking how it’s been touring with METALLICA. What have been the best and worst parts about touring with them?
There are lots of good parts. The best part for me is just going out on that stage in front of the huge audience. We’ve been really happy with the amount of audience we get, because I think people like to come early to get nice places for METALLICA, and people react nicely to our opening act, we’ve had a lot of good feedback, so I think that’s the best part. Just playing for all those people at every gig and they seem to enjoy it.
For me the worst part is probably just being away from my family. I have a daughter that is 3 months old now, so I miss being with her and also my girlfriend. We make it work, but I always miss them.
Thank you so much for talking with us. Do you have any last words?
The new album was out on the 21st of June. Please check it out, we really like it!
Have a great gig!
Interview by Bear Wiseman