Interview with guitarist Alex “Goldberg” Alereza | By Tom Crandle

After nearly a quarter-century of hot, sweaty good times, the cross-country Van’s Warped Tour is coming to an end in 2018. Founder Kevin Lyman released a statement saying, “I have been proud to work with so many artists who have grown to be some of the largest stars in the world. Countless bands have played in hot parking lots and through summer storms for you at some point.” Though the full tour is no more, fans and friends will gather in 2019 to celebrate 25 years of Warped.

In the meantime, Nekrogoblikon are one of the heavy hitters who will be sending the annual tour off in style this year!

This year is shaping up to be a big one for Nekrogoblikon. The goblin-themed melodic death metal band from Los Angeles released their new album, Welcome to Bonkers, on April 13 via their own Mystery Box imprint and are also preparing to play for a lot of new faces on the entire final run of the Van’s Warped Tour.

Nekrogoblikon have never felt bound by extreme metal convention. The use of a mascot in their live shows adds not only a visual element, but also a sense of fun. Guitarist Alex “Goldberg” Alereza explains the history of the role, saying, “The John Goblikon character was created for our first music video in 2012, so we tried one show with him as a hype man just to celebrate the success of the video. The reaction was so positive that we decided to keep doing it.”

“We never wanted to dress as goblins ourselves and enjoy just being our normal selves onstage,” Alereza continues. “The idea of bringing in this outside, fully made-up character who just hangs out with the normal guys in the band was even funnier and more absurd than if we all dressed up.”

The goblin theme has certainly created some opportunities for the band. “Initially, the whole point behind the band’s conception was to have fun making something silly but still musically unique and interesting,” Alereza says. “Over time, we’ve managed to gain a fair amount of traction from it.” Other times, that same goblin theme can seem a bit limiting. “I feel like there’s a lot of really clever compositional and lyrical [elements] in our music that tend to go overlooked, because no one’s really looking for theme in a fun band, you know?” he adds. “However, for people who enjoy the shtick and listen to music critically, it’s like an added reward.”

While Nekrogoblikon have an obvious novelty factor, it only works because they back it up with legitimate musical chops. Alereza’s shortest answer is reserved for explaining how the band manage to take their music seriously without taking themselves too seriously. He simply states: “Alcohol.” He also has a very healthy attitude about the band’s success. “At the end of the day,” he says, “I’m just happy that people are entertained by what we do.”

Not being afraid to experiment with new ideas has been beneficial to the band in other ways too. From the beginning, Nekrogoblikon have successfully incorporated electronic elements into their generally heavy sound. According to Alereza, that is something that vocalist, keyboardist, and cofounder Nicholas “Scorpion” Von Doom brings to the table. “Nicky has always written electronic music, so it came from him organically while working on the material,” he says. “It wasn’t like a premeditated decision or anything.” The electronic elements provide some of the most memorable moments on Welcome to Bonkers. The swirling circus-like keyboard licks are a nice contrast to the raging guitar riffs.

Welcome to Bonkers is Nekrogoblikon’s fourth full-length and the second on their Mystery Box label. This time around, the band took a different approach to songwriting. “While past albums have involved a fair amount of collaboration, this album was at least 95 percent composed and written by Nicky, which I think gives it more of a focused creative voice,” Alereza elaborates. “Nicky prioritizes catchiness over everything when writing, so every song feels really engaging and anthemic, unlike past efforts where it felt like there were more filler songs.” It’s hard to argue with the results. Welcome to Bonkers is an album full of earworms.

In 2012, Nekrogoblikon had a viral hit with their video for “No One Survives.” Alereza has a hard time picking the one song from Welcome to Bonkers that is most likely to repeat that success. “Honestly, every song on the album feels like a single to me, in one way or another,” he says, “but I do feel like our more out-of-left-field songs like ‘The Magic Spider’ or ‘Goblins’ have a strong chance.” Both are standouts. “The Magic Spider” combines the theatrics of early Alice Cooper with the heaviness of Overkill. “Goblins” unfolds in stages like a ‘70s rock epic and is probably the band’s most accessible song to date. It also seems to confirm Nekrogoblikon’s commitment to their goblin theme.

The band will spend a good chunk of their summer on the last full Van’s Warped Tour, which runs from June 21 to Aug. 5. Alereza has a handful of bands who he’s looking forward to sharing the stage with. “I’m sure it’s different for each member,” he warns, “[but] for me, it’s Every Time I Die, August Burns Red, and Unearth.” Nekrogoblikon are definitely a must-see act on the final Warped excursion. Alereza sums it up best, concluding, “If you enjoy fun, you’ll enjoy Nekrogoblikon.”

To catch Nekrogoblikon at the last cross-country Van’s Warped Tour ever, grab your tickets here!

Purchase Welcome to Bonkers here: Physical | Bandcamp

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