Interview: Dustin Boltjes – Demiricous

Our good mate Trendcrusher had a chance to speak to Demiricous drummer, Dustin Boltjes a few months ago. Its publication is long overdue, but now is as good a time as any to talk about this incredible band.

Their third full-length record, III: Chaotic Lethal, was released May 12, 2022, on POST.Recordings, and it has been a go-to album recommendation for many of us here at TMW. In the interview below, Peter and Dustin chat about the band’s fifteen-year hiatus, their new album, the role that MetalSucks played in them getting back together, and all sorts of great shit.

This is a transcript of a video conversation, which we’ll make available at some point on our YouTube channel. For now, sit back with a cup of coffee or a beer and take your time. These guys are both enthusiastic Metal fans, and it’s such a good time reading their interaction. Enjoy.

– JBW

Trendcrusher (PK): How’s it going, Dustin? Good?

Dustin B (DB): Very good. Yes. Thank you. How are you?

PK: Good, man. It’s the middle of the week here, but looking forward to the weekend.

When I think about it, sometimes it feels like a year or a few weeks back that I heard your first album. And then I thought about it, and…

DB: It was almost twenty years ago.

PK: But when you look back, I know the press release talks about you guys making a comeback and stuff like that. Does it really feel like it’s been fifteen years since you put out an album?

DB: Um, yes and no. I’ve been very busy with a lot of other things in between those fifteen years. So really, as a whole, the last 20 years, I’m just like, how in the fuck have we gone twenty years already? But here we are.

PK: Yeah. And also, another thing I wanted to check with you. Of course, the reason we’re talking is that you’re releasing your third album, which is titled, III: Chaotic Lethal. But I just wanted to go back a few years.

DB: Right.

PK: Because while it’s fifteen years since you released an album, you’ll have been doing stuff in the last few years at least. You released a live album in 2020, which – I love the title – which is Fuck It… We’ll Do It Live.

DB: Yeah.

PK: Take me back to before that. When did you kind of realize that you all wanted to get back together? Because I’m sure it wasn’t, like, something that happened overnight. It was a gradual process.

DB: Right.

PK: Take us through that.

DB: Yes. Okay. So in 2016, we were offered to do a reunion show, and so we did that. It was just like a one-off thing because I was playing in Skeletonwitch at the time. So, very busy and didn’t really have time for anything beyond that. We did that. It was very successful. And then, honestly, we’ve always remained really close friends. And funny enough, what made us decide to do this again was MetalSucks posted this article, I think it was something along the lines of “Bands Who Sound Like Other Bands, But Dit It Better,” or something like that. [ed. “If You Like These Famous Metal Bands, You May Also Like These Lesser-Known Ones, Too.

And so obviously we always get the Slayer tag. So they lumped us in on that and it got a bunch of crazy positive feedback. And so we all just were kind of like, “People still care. Maybe we should do this again.” We just went and had dinner and the stars kind of were aligned. We were all in the right place. Fuck it, we’ll do it again. And then obviously the Fuck It… We’ll Do It Live record as well. So we did kind of a comeback show in 2020. That was the one we recorded and released for the live show. And then yeah. We just started working on writing new material. And it was like we never stepped away. It was very bizarre. It was like we stepped right into practice and just started writing things like we were writing twenty years ago.

PK: I think that’s one of the things I’ve realized about Metal bands, especially because it’s not like somebody you’re playing with just because you have a job, right? So a lot of bands, even though they are no longer members together, they’re still friends. And I think that kind of friendship, as a lot of people say, is a brotherhood. But I think that’s the thing about Metal that unites people, right? Like, you can still be friends.

DB: Absolutely.

PK: When I was reading up on you guys, one of the things that came up was an interview in Metal Maniacs in 2006. I’m pretty sure you remember this one. And I know you know what’s coming next, where Slayer’s Tom Araya says that Demiricous is “way too Slayer.” Tell me about that. What was your reaction when you read about it? 

DB: That was such an odd thing in the Slayer camp with us because we had Kerry King who put us on this pedestal and he loved us and was like, I guess maybe because we worship Slayer. But Tom Araya got really rubbed the wrong way about it for some reason. It was very bizarre. So we got all this good press from Kerry King being like, these guys are the next Slayer, these guys are great, blah, blah, blah. And then got a lot of other questionable press from Araya being like, we should sue them for plagiarism. So, yeah, that was an odd time, but ultimately it worked in our favor. We gained a lot of fans and got a lot of credibility from Slayer.

PK: Yeah, that’s true. All these years later it’s still up on the Internet, so anyone Googling will find it. But I have to come back to what you talked about the recording and writing. One thing about Metal, or just music in general, right, it goes through cycles. I’m somebody who got into Metal in the early two thousand’s. I listened to a lot of Nu Metal, and I was shocked that there’s a tour with a lot of these Nu Metal bands back again.

DB: Yeah, it’s crazy to me too, man.

PK: So you see a lot of bands who just keep kind of jumping on these different trends and at some point, it’s just like, what is that sound exactly? Were you guys tempted by that at all? Because at the end of the day, if you think about it, there’s a whole new generation that’s going to hear Demiricous. So it’s kind of like a blank slate for you guys. Did that cross your mind at all while you were getting together?

DB: Not on the surface. I think more of a subconscious level, it kind of did, because on the new record you can hear some newer influences. Um, not Nu Metal, but we’re all big fans of Gojira. So I think that kind of crept its way in. We’re all big fans of a lot of some of the newer Death Metal stuff so I think subconsciously the influence kind of crept its way in.

PK: Yeah. And did that take you back to those initial jams? I mean, a lot of musicians also describe it as muscle memory. It just all comes back. But what is it like to just be the four of you back again in the jam room?

DB: It was surreal. And like I said, it was so bizarre how it just, literally, from the first moment we started playing together again, we wrote this entire record in six months. It was like we never missed a beat. And I think a lot of that just probably ties to the fact that we spent so many years together as a unit. So it’s kind of like a bicycle. Once you’ve ridden it, you never forget how to ride.

PK: I’m not sure exactly how old you were when you started, but a lot of you have changed, right? 

DB: Yeah. Two of us in the band are dads now. Nate, the singer, he opened up a very successful business. So he’s like this entrepreneur and successful business owner. And yeah, we’re certainly all kind of in different places, but I think our disdain for humanity has not changed.

PK: As a fellow dad, I must ask you, and I’ll contextualize it. My son at this point is five, so he enjoys the music with the heavy bass and the beats and stuff like that. But the moment I turn on anything with distortion, start headbanging and stuff, my wife will be like, this is all your influence. What do your kids think about the music now? And will they actually get a chance to catch you live?

DB: I can honestly say that the offspring of the two members in Demiricous are not very into Demiricous. There was a practice where Ben (Parrish – lead guitar) brought his son with him to practice because he didn’t have any other option. And we wanted to record a little snippet for social media. And at one point during the video, Ronan, his son, gets in front of the camera and just goes like this [crazy kid face]. It was hilarious.

PK: Oh, God.

DB: So, yes, they definitely… I wouldn’t say the kids are into modern music. It’s a whole different world, man.

PK: Yeah, I can imagine. My hunch is, that all of this that I’m introducing my son to will bite me in the ass when he’s a teenager. And I’ll be like, okay, this is going to be fun. But if I think about it, in the last couple of years – at this point, I hate using the word “pandemic” – But if you guys got back together in 2020 towards the end, this would have been called a pandemic record, right?

DB: Yeah.

PK: But you actually took your time with the release. So was that like a strategic move that you did, that you wanted to test the water? See what happens with the single that came out and then slowly release the album? Was that the plan?

DB: It was all very calculated. From the production of the record itself. In the past, we had always been in a situation where we had a lot of pressure from the label like we got to get a record out, gotta get a record out. Go, go, go and pick a producer. Work with it. You got four weeks to get this record done. And we knew Wes [Heaton], who’s like our front-of-house guy. 

He engineered the live record and we were so stoked with how well it sounded and that was just like something he kind of threw together in post-production. So we knew we wanted to work with him because he knows our sound better than anyone. And beyond that, he’s here in town. We knew we could just kind of take our time with the record and make it everything that we wanted to be. It took a while, and then of course, after being gone for fifteen years, we wanted to just sprinkle in a little tease here and there. And so it was definitely calculated as far as how we wanted to kind of start. Hyping the return.

PK: Okay, so this is a question I normally ask a lot of bands. In terms of the impact that social media has had, if you think about it, when you guys were releasing your initial albums, YouTube was just emerging. So there was no concept of like, oh my God, we have to make a video, put it up on YouTube. You need to do a whole kind of process in there. Because YouTube is just another way of reaching out. I mean, you’re probably going to get a good laugh from this, I remember what I really liked about MySpace was that you could actually follow all these bands and then they’d send you out a message and stuff like that. And if you think about just the paradigm shift that’s happened. You had MySpace where everyone got your message on Facebook and Instagram. Now you need to pay and you need to do all kinds of stuff. How has that been for all of you? Just to grapple again with the band?

DB: Well, honestly, when we started the band and started touring, we were printing out directions to get from venue to venue, and everything was done through email, which was even a newer concept. And then the whole wave of MySpace came and it was great. And honestly, I would give anything to go back to that time period. Facebook has its positives, but like you said, now you’re having to pay to reach your fans who are already trying to follow you. It has made it a lot more challenging because everything is just so overly saturated now. And it makes it so much more challenging to get any kind of reach.

PK: Yeah. I think no matter whether you’re a signed or an unsigned band, or you’re just jamming in your bedroom, today everyone’s kind of in the same pool, right? And I think that is what makes it harder. 

And I was just kind of racking my head while I was prepping for this. I don’t know too many bands from Indiana, to be honest.

DB: I don’t know why. There’s some here, but Indiana is so off the radar. You got to kind of dig.

PK: Yeah. Please correct me if I’m wrong, The Gates Of Slumber is from Indiana?

DB: Yeah. The Gates of Slumber is from right here in Indianapolis. There was a really great crossover Thrash band that started here in the late 80s called Transgression. I know there’s some stuff on YouTube by them. And of course, you know, John Cougar Mellencamp is from here. We don’t talk about that. There’s always been a really great underground scene here. It’s just, you know, it’s because we’re a small town. We’re so close to all these other major markets that we just kind of get looked over a lot.

PK: Any bands that you would recommend?

DB: Yeah, for sure. There’s a great band. Unfortunately, they’re not together anymore, but a doomier, like black Sludge Death band called Coffinworm from here. That’s really great. Um, and then some of the newer bands that are active right now. There’s a really great Death Metal band called Obscene from here. Really good Thrash band called Graveripper. Both those bands are making some waves and doing some stuff. Veilcaste, which is a band that has the original drummer from Demiricous in it, because I was the second guy, so he was the original, and he’s in a really great. A more doomy kind of band.

PK: Okay! So, what’s up next for the band? I know you guys are dying to go on tour, and now that things are opened up in the US, that kind of works out. Anything else you want to share?

DB: Yeah. We’re all old men now, so we got to pick our battles a little more. Be a little picky about what we do. Unfortunately, we can’t just get in the van and slog it out for eight weeks for little to no money. We all have jobs. We all have families. But that being said, we are really proud of this record, and we are going to push it as hard as humanly possible. But like I said, everybody has a world now, so you have to be more realistic about things. 

But if the right opportunities come along, we will certainly take them. And I feel like we are much wiser now. We were very wet behind the ears when we started with the whole Metal Blade thing, and obviously made some bad decisions that put the band in a rocky spot for a while. And that’s ultimately what made us disband completely.  We were out of money, and we made some bad business decisions. We put our trust into the hands of some people that we probably should have not done. Like management and whatnot. Lessons learned. And it all made for a giant full circle. Here we are, fifteen years later, releasing, in our opinion, the strongest record we’ve ever written. 

PK: I’m really glad that’s happening, and I wish you guys all the best success. Thanks so much for chatting with me. 

DB: Of course. Yeah. Thank you for taking the time.

Demiricous on Bandcamp

Demiricous on Facebook

POST.Recordings

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