BOKASSA – “We have been treated very well by all of Metallica’s crew and they go out of their way to make us feel welcome.” – Bård Linga

Posted on by Oran

“Bokassa”, the band that’s been on everybody’s lips since 2017  when they began to send ripples through the underground metal scene with their ‘Divide & Conquer’ LP. Bassist Bård Linga took some time out to talk to us from his home in Norway just days before they embark on leg two of the Metallica European tour with Ghost. 

Skip to just two years later and the entire planet is talking about the self-proclaimed ‘stoner-punk’ three-piece from Trondheim, Norway; and for good reason.

Bokassa know a thing or two about crafting an infectious noise that is dripping with swagger, mixed with cross-pollinated riff-missiles that blow chunks from your cranium, all the while, lodging ear-worms like land mines at every sonic opportunity they can muster up.

With just three days away from one of the biggest shows on Metallica’s hugely successful “Hardwired… Word Tour” in Ireland’s Slane Castle for a modest 75,000 punters, bassist Bård Linga reflects on the bands current plans, experiences and of course, the new album ‘Crimson Riders‘; which is due for worldwide release on June 21st. 

OD – Since we were last in contact with you a lot of has happened. The new album “Crimson Riders’ is literally packed to the brim with riffs that can power small villages and is drenched in aspects of doom, punk and in my opinion black metal (ish) tones (Brologue). Tell me about how this album came together as it’s a natural continuation from ‘Divide & Conquer’?

Bård– It sort of came naturally. It sort of just came along by itself from the writing process of “Divide & Conquer” but with more improvement, if you know what I mean.

There was a lot of the same aesthetics on the previous album but with more evolution, more depth and a bigger sound. “Crimson Riders” also has some new influences woven through it also; which is us pushing things forward.

OD – Was there any material from “Divide & Conquer” writing session that ended up on the new album, or was it all just a fresh new batch of songs?

Bård – I have to think a little bit about this (Laughs). I’m pretty sure that everything on the new album was written after “Divide & Conquer“. It’s really Jørn (Kaarstad, guitars/vocals) that puts the main structure of the music together, so he might very well had been stocking up ideas for the new album while we were working on the previous one.

I can’t say for sure, but I can say that the majority of the stuff on the album is new.

OD – For me, there are elements of Turbonegro, Kvelertak but with your own sense of style and identity. Was there any conscious decision to push the sound of the band more towards one particular sound with this album or did you have free reign to do what you wanted?

Bård – Yes, we had one Yngve (Andersen) in the studio for production duties but overall, we had free reign to do whatever we wanted. Yngve had a few ideas here and there to put on top or to fill small parts etc, but it wasn’t like there was any agenda to make the album sound one particular way, it was just a very natural experience from start to finish.

OD – How come the singles ‘Only Gob Can Judge Me” and ‘’Hillbilly Handfishin’ are not on the new album?

Bård – Yes, they were actually intended to be included on the album when we recorded them but when we were putting ‘Crimson Riders‘ together, we figured that the production and the whole process was done in a very different way and the sound was very different. We made that decision as we felt that difference in sound would clash with the stuff on the new album.

OD – Having released those two singles between albums did you find that it kept a momentum going while you were working on the new album and would you do that again going forward?

Bård – Yes, it was actually really nice to be able to put something out there between albums and I would agree that it was good to keep the momentum going. I can definitely see us doing something like that again in the future. I think it worked really well.

OD – With the release of any new album I’m sure you’re excited and the anticipation is killing you all. How much of the new album are you including in your performances on this run of dates?

Bård – Our main focus for the moment is on the material that is already released apart from a few singles (“Mouthbreathers” and “Captain Cold One“). We’ve since been rehearsing another track from the new album, which we are hoping to drop into the set in soon when it feels natural.

OD – ‘Crimson Riders’ is released on June 21st and is the first to be released with your new home ‘MVKA’ (Zeal & Ardor). Do you feel that things are very different this time around as opposed to the release of ‘Divide & Conquer’? If so how?

Bård – It feels very surreal, to be honest. The main thing is this time we actually have a plan [Laughing]. The last album was pretty much, we wrote it, recorded it, mixed it and then just released it. We planned a release show and that was about it [Laughing]. That was pretty much all the planning that we did for that!!!

So, now we have a great structure and a great bunch of people who are all really professional and great at what they do. If anything, they are really nice people that understand who Bokassa are and what we are about. And that’s really refreshing and feels very good. It gives us confidence in what we are doing also.

OD – There is no question that you guys have a lot of fun when making videos, are these videos the ideas of all of you collectively or is there someone in particular that comes up with the concepts?

Bård – Yes, that guy is mostly Jørn [Laughing]. He does all of the brainstorming for the videos and it all seems to be working, so I’m happy to let him continue to do what he does. He’s a man of many ideas. 

OD – It’s no secret that you’re on tour with Metallica, with regards to the same questions that you’ve been asked about how you got on the Metallica tour, (it’s been very well documented, look it up yourself) my question to you is the behind the scenes stuff you’ve witnessed with regards to the running of the shows and Metallica’s crew. Has this been a huge eye-opener for you; and if so how?

Bård – Yes, it’s a whole different scale from what we are used to. They have a person for just about everything that’s needed which is awesome. Like, if something is broken, or needs to be sorted out ASAP, there’s someone on hand who’s super qualified to fix it or sort out whatever problem may be at hand.

We have been treated very well by all of Metallica’s crew and they go out of their way to make us feel welcome. I actually like the early parts of the day and hang out with the stage crew and talk about tech stuff as that’s my big interest and my line of work, so it’s great to be able to do that with some of the best in the business.

OD – The line up for this Irish date this weekend is quite eclectic with Fangclub, Stiff Little Fingers, Ghost and Metallica. 20 years ago, this would not have happened. Do you think that things have changed with the way people are more accepting to different genres on the same bill?

Bård – I think that might be the case, especially in Rock and Metal because it’s not as big a genre as it used to be and I think that the bands are standing together in solidarity to survive more than anything else.

Also, things have changed a lot and people are exposed to more styles of music and are much more accepting to different sounds. This is a good thing.

We are not like the big Pop music acts anymore so, there is a sense of the bands working together. I think that is definitely a factor that contributes to the current state of the Rock/Metal genre.

OD – Some people would say that you’re on the dream tour right now being able to watch Ghost and Metallica night after night. Have you all mixed well or do all the bands just keep to their own camps?

Bård – Yeah, we’ve hung out with all the other bands and it’s been cool. There is a great vibe on this tour. They are all very nice people to hang out with. We don’t do it all the time, but when we do, it’s good fun and we all get along.

OD – The Irish date you’re performing at this weekend will be in front of 75,000 ticket holders, would this be the biggest date of the tour so far?

Bård – This is definitely one of the bigger shows from this tour. It’s huge [Laughing]. Personally I haven’t researched too much on all the venue capacities but the Irish date has been one we’ve all really been looking forward to, especially as there are more bands and a versatile line up. It’s kind of like a huge festival day rather than just one gig, if you know what I mean. I think this gig is going to be one for the history books!!!

OD  – It’s cool to think that the very first time you will play in Ireland, will be to one of the biggest venues, in the most iconic location (Slane Castle, pic below). That’s not a bad thing for any band to say when playing a new country for the very first time.

Bård – It’s just another thing to add to our braggin rights [Laughing]. But seriously, we are really looking forward to this show. It’s gonna be awesome.

OD – When this tour is completed what are the plans for your own headline tour and can we expect to see you back in this part of Europe to promote the new album any time soon?

Bård – Honestly, I’m not really too sure how much I’m allowed to say about our tour dates for the remainder of this year. You’ll have to wait and see…

OD – So far, what has been the most surreal moment for you since you’ve been doing these monster-sized shows with Metallica?

Bård – Well, I’ve got two moments. The first was the very first show when we walked out on stage and just saw this sea of people for the very first time. That was intense for sure! The second was when we were flying into Lisbon and on the first date and as we were landing I looked out the window and saw the stage production and was just blown away!!! That was a real eye-opener for me that I’ll never forget.

OD – One of the most important albums for you in your life is?….

Bård – That’s a very tricky one as there are many that I love, but the first one that comes to mind is ‘Lateralus‘ by Tool. That album is one of my all-time favourite albums and I’ve yet to see them live!!! Hopefully I’ll get to see them on this run of dates.

Bokassa will join Fangclub, Stiff Little Fingers, Ghost and Metallica for an exclusive one day event in Ireland’s iconic Slane Castle on Saturday, June 8th. Tickets are on sale now via this link.

New album ‘Crimson Riders‘ is released worldwide on June 21st via MVKA. Order your copy here.


Oran O’Beirne 2019