Interview with vocalist/guitarist Lenny “Bruce” Breuss | By Hutch | Photo by Michael Thorn
Dust Bolt returned with their fourth album in seven years, Trapped in Chaos, on Jan. 18 via Napalm Records. Trapped in Chaos displays dark storytelling that examines the curse of life. The German troupe’s vocalist and guitarist, Lenny “Bruce” Breuss, unleashes opaque tales culled from the band’s growth and absorption of experiences over the past two years.
Dust Bolt’s precise two-year album release schedule is less intent and more timing. Bruce ponders the cycle that produced Trapped in Chaos, noting, “You write an album and close a chapter in your life, like a book you wrote and read and, in the end, close it finally. When the album is done, you’re ready for new inspiration. You start touring, experience thousands of things and changes, and [in] time, the need to tell those stories and let off steam in [the] form of music starts to rise, until the moment when you feel like you’re ready for a new one, and then, you let the music do the talking.”
The pessimistic tint of Trapped in Chaos’ lyrics channels the turbulence of modern global calamities and tragedies. These themes reflect like a black pool, and Bruce’s new lens is a self-admitted tunnel to the origin of melancholy music. “I like the idea of looking back to blues music. That’s where it all started and where rock music comes from,” he explains. “The blues musicians told stories. They told their own interpretation and experience of different stories in the form of songs. It’s quite the same for me. Trapped in Chaos is about the idea of being thrown into life, which is a state of chaos. Suddenly, we’re in the middle of our 20s and things aren’t as easy as they have been before. I know a lot of listeners feel that. Those nine songs are our stories and thoughts of being trapped in this chaos called life.”
Dust Bolt resume their vicious catalog by eschewing the comically exhausted tropes of thrash: there are no zombies or nuclear disasters. The punishment of age colors their version of ripping, taut thrash, moving quickly with riffs and bombastic rhythms. The inspiration stems from a daily barrage of bad news. “We’ve never really been into fictional stuff,” Bruce says. “So, the current time and current society definitely has an impact on how you experience life these days. I think metal music is a good way to get through and shout it all out, what’s in your head.”
There are myriad death references in the song titles and lyrics: “Dead Inside,” “Dying in the arms of a soulless womb,” “I shall freeze in hell,” “dying inside,” plus many more. Bruce attributes the constant shadow of death to it being “the only alternative to life, isn’t it? So, when you choose to live for the fullest, you got to somehow stumble upon the idea of death. But the somehow ‘funny’ thing is that you can also choose to be dead while living—emotionally dead. Often, we lose sight of our dreams and passions in order to choose conformity. That might make living easier on the first sight, but is it really living?”
Despite coming from the homeland of Teutonic Thrash, Dust Bolt proudly deliver what they call “Toxic Waltz 2.0.” The band tout the classic sound of Bay Area thrash, but with no disrespect to their homeland’s forefathers. “Honestly, I’m not that much into the German metal,” Bruce admits. “I do love Kreator—or, at least, their earlier stuff—and Sodom of course, musically speaking. Apart from that, we’ve always been more into the American thrash bands. I got my roots in punk music, and I really love the hardcore-punk-influenced thrash such as Excel, Cro-Mags, and so on. You don’t find that in Germany that often.”
Dust Bolt’s intensity will undoubtedly whip fans into a frenzied mosh with finger-pointing and horned fists, but the question arises if they are relating to the bleak and foreboding message or just the fiercely-honed metallic energy. “Well, I don’t know, to be honest,” Bruce replies, “and actually, I really don’t care. As long as something moves you, it is for a good reason. Everybody has [their] own background and [their] own feelings while listening to music, and to see people sing along, mosh, stagedive, dance, and move is something really beautiful. Because music is a beautiful thing, and people need music.”
Added to a solid legacy with 2012’s Violent Demolition, 2014’s Awake the Riot, and 2016’s Mass Confusion, Trapped in Chaos rises to expand on the band’s strengths—check “The Bad Ad” and its breakdown! “It’s definitely the album we feel most proud of and the album we feel most integrity for,” Bruce says. “That’s us, absolutely. Of course, we grow as musicians and learn day by day. We learned a lot before we wrote this record, and we knew exactly what we wanted it to be. It feels good to have it finished. I’m excited to see how people react to the songs live.”
Dust Bolt will soon get to share the new songs across Europe. “We’ll tour Germany and Switzerland in March and do festivals in Europe in the summer,” Bruce says. “After that, we plan to increase the radius and go to tour Europe and hopefully the States as soon as possible again. Can’t wait to be back! I loved the shows in the U.S., especially in the Bay Area.”
Finally, for those noting the frontman’s similar name to American comedian and iconoclast Lenny Bruce, it’s half coincidence, half intentional, though they share a rebellious nature. “I do love my Lenny Bruce books. My real name is Lenny Breuss, but as Americans couldn’t pronounce it different than ‘Lenny Bruce,’ I thought, ‘Well, that’s funny.’ So, I take the challenge of being Lenny Bruce II,” he laughs.