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Interview: Karl Willetts (Memoriam, Bolt Thrower)


The future of classic British death metal act Bolt Thrower has been in question since the passing of Martin “Kiddie” Kearns late last year.

As confirmed by a Facebook page which went live on February 12 of this year, Bolt Thrower vocalist Karl Willetts will continue in Memoriam, a band also comprised of Ex-Bolt Thrower drummer Andy Whale, Bassist Frank Healy of Sacrilege and Bendiction as well as guitarist Scott Fairfax also of Benediction and formerly of Life Denied.

Posted by Memoriam on Thursday, February 25, 2016

Memoriam has released one short tease of new music, above, as well as the names of four completed songs.

just about to get on the practice kit todaytracks being worked 1-Memoriam2-War rages on3-surrounded(by death)4- Resistancejust to give you a feel of where we are heading!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by Memoriam on Sunday, February 14, 2016

Bolt Thrower was (and maybe still is) a notoriously reclusive band. The group did not allow live photographs, and declined almost all interview requests. For Memoriam, however, Willetts exchanged emails with us to offer some early glimpses into what his new project will offer, as well as the future of Bolt Thrower.

—Joseph Schafer

line up close

Whose idea was it to form Memoriam?

Memoriam was primarily developed to fill the void that was left following the tragic death of Martin ‘Kiddie’ Kearns, the drummer from Bolt Thrower, back in September 2015. Bolt Thrower subsequently placed all activity on hold for the foreseeable future, which gave me an opportunity to develop a new project with friends that had expressed interest in forming a band for some time.

Both Bolt Thrower and Benediction have very consistent sounds. Can we expect Memoriam to more-or-less continue with those sounds, or will the project surprise us?

Memoriam has a sound like a hybrid mix of Bolt Thrower/Sacrilege/Benediction, which in turn has created its own distinct sound. We are all really chuffed with the way in which it is developing and also at the fast pace in which it is all coming together.

We can only play to our strengths and sound like what we have done before. The sound could be described as old school death metal, No major surprises planned!


This will be the first new music you’ve made in a decade. Why did you decide to break that long silent streak?

It’s all really exciting and I am chuffed to be writing new songs and being at the creative stage of development again, it has been some time since Those Once Loyal was written and recorded in 2005 and it has made me realize how much I enjoy the creative process of working with fresh ideas. We all can’t wait to get to the rehearsal room and work on the new songs, there is a real buzz and feeling of excitement about the whole project.

Do you feel that you have anything new to say that you did not before?

The song remains the same, the theme of war will continue with Memoriam. However, for me the music we are creating is a form of Memoriam, a way to express my feelings of grief and loss (in respect to the death of Kiddie) lyrically the only way I know how. With Memoriam I feel that will have more creative freedom to explore other more political themes also.


So far the Memoriam Facebook page lists four song titles and that’s it. Do you plan on these songs being part of an EP, Album, or some other sort of project?

It’s still early days with Memoriam. We have had 5 rehearsals and so far we have 5 songs near completion, as well as some cover songs from our other bands which we intend to play live. We intend to build up and rehearse 10 original new songs during the next couple of months and hopefully we will get into the studio towards the end of May/June with the intention of releasing a full length album later this year.

Speaking of Facebook, so far Memoriam has been pretty active on social media, whereas Bolt Thrower was not. Why the change?

When Bolt Thrower first started it was way before any forms of contemporary social media. The scene emerged through underground magazines and tape trading, and that’s how we promoted the band at that point in the late ’80s early ’90s. Bolt Thrower got to the stage where no promotion was really needed and we didn’t have anything to say that had not been said already, so the band took a step back from media interaction.

Now however with the development of Memoriam, we are just using the media that is available to get the word out to as many people as quickly as possible. It would be stupid not to use social media to promote the band.


Bolt Thrower was notorious for not touring much, but Bolt Thrower and Benediction did tour the U.S. together. What are the odds that we’ll see Memoriam performing in that capacity?

Our intention is to play selective festivals this summer across Europe followed by some club shows for the rest of the year. We’d love to play Maryland Deathfest next year and perhaps do a few more shows across the U.S.

I saw you perform at the last Bolt Thrower show in Vancouver this past August. What are your memories of that show?

Vancouver is a beautiful place, one of the nicest cities that I have ever visited; we played the Rickshaw Theatre which was great, a real old school venue in the run down part of town – great vibe to the place, an old kung fu cinema so I was told. The promoters and crew at the show where all great and did all they could to make us feel at home. The gig was rammed – definitely the best show out of the three we did in Canada. I’d love to visit again sometime soon!

To the best of your knowledge, are there any plans for Bolt Thrower to continue in any capacity?

Bolt Thrower is on hold for the foreseeable future, but that’s not saying that its game over. I hope one day sooner rather than later Bolt Thrower shall return to fight another war!

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