Interview with Bölzer vocalist and guitarist KzR

Interview with vocalist and guitarist KzR | By Julia Neuman

You’d be hard-pressed to find a band that strikes its first blow more expeditiously than Zurich’s Bölzer. “It’s not party music,” laughs KzR, the duo’s vocalist and guitarist. Even Bölzer’s name and lightning logo forewarn the listener before any notes are played. “In Germany the word Bölzer usually means a striker, referring to either football, or someone who strikes something with a lot of force. But in the Swiss lingo, it’s a bit more of a violent word, although it’s not commonly used. I chose it because it was ambiguous in that sense. I could apply it to a lot of lyrical themes and my philosophy in general.”

Bölzer, which consists of KzR and drummer HzR, don’t just rely on the implied speed or brutality, (although they deliver plenty of both). They craft landscapes of dynamics and layered chaos. Oftentimes the tumult will resolve into a single riff with so much intention it seems to resonate somewhere far away in the expanse of the universe. These signature Bölzer riffs are powerful and packed with emotion. “A riff has to carry me away somewhere. I have to escape in my head,” KzR says. His 10-string BC Rich guitar certainly doesn’t hurt, either. “I always liked the fixed sound you get from a twelve string. I wanted it in electric form. [This model] did have exactly the effect I was after. It created like a chorus atmosphere. I play a lot of open chords basically the whole time and it’s quite important that those strings are very bright and expansive in their sound.”

Despite having yet to release a debut LP, Bölzer have come a long way since their inception in 2007. Upon returning from New Zealand to his native Switzerland, Kzr met drummer HzR and the two immediately hit it off. “We decided just to start jamming together. We organized a practice room and things took off from there,” KzR says. The solid friendship between the two translates into their music, both live and on recording. For a two-piece, this backbone is vital. “It’s always a challenge writing as a duo and making sure the songs hold up in a live setting, but it’s a challenge we like to do. It requires a lot of additional expression to make sure that a duo can emit enough energy to keep it sounding interesting in a live hall.”

Bölzer is now releasing the complement to its praised EP Aura. Entitled Soma, the new offering has an entirely different feel. “Aura is a spiritual journey, like a birth and awakening. Soma goes into the deathly with a war-based theme.” As for the music, KzR says that the two albums are mixed “quite differently” to reflect the contrast between what he describes as the solar/male Aura and the lunar/female Soma. Between the two albums, there’s a large vocal range; KzR changes things up from authoritative growls, to wails of sorrow and anguish, and back again. “The idea with the metaphysical Aura was that it was very spatial and very dissolute. It was less fixed in its atmosphere and you can hear that in the guitars and the vocals. It’s very wide. But on Soma, it’s going to be a little sharper, a biting tone. The vocals are quite different, they’re more of my higher range.”

Bölzer’s lyrical themes are built on Celtic philosophy and KzR most enjoys applying his own emotions to the romantic storylines found in mythology. Instead of taking a single theme and dragging it through a song, he treats the lyrics like poetry. “I’d rather have each song be more like a moment in some kind of emotional tumult. I like to play with words and paint a picture, but in an unconventional sense. It’s a chaotic poem although there’s rhyme.”

In between all their festivals and gigs lined up for 2014, Bölzer are taking their time in creating their debut LP. “We write very slowly, we always have and I think we always will… So the plan is to record it in 2015,” KzR says. “The process always takes a long time because I think it’s important to let the music germinate and take on its own character. I don’t want filler riffs or filler tracks. I really want to create a massive album.”

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