-Hello, thank you so much for answering to our interview. How’s everything going in the band’s camp? What’s keeping you busy? Has the pandemic affected BUNKER 66 in any way?
Hello Tania, you’re welcome, thanks for having us! We’re actually relaxing here in the bunker as we kept ourselves very busy with lots of recordings, first for our new album and then with other songs for various 7” splits which will see the light hopefully within this strange year. This shitty virus and all the paranoia surrounding it has mainly affected two things for us as a band: 1- no live gigs and 2- it was not possible to meet each other on a regular basis as we all live in different parts of Sicily and for some months we weren’t allowed to even leave our municipality of residence, at least in theory (cough, cough…) eheh! We’re a small band and we’re not living off our music with tours and stuff like that, therefore no major changes.
-All of you are involved in several other projects, which are they? Any news with any of them?
I actually play also in Noia, we are going to release the new album “Desolating Blaze” in a couple of months via Bleeding Heart Nihilist Productions, it’s my second album with them. I also joined Children of Technology in 2019 and recorded their new album “Written Destiny” which was released in 2020 via Hells Headbangers. Right now me and JJ Priestkiller are working on new songs for the first Temptress album, a heavy metal project we started in 2018. Just to escape boredom I also play in Humanoidz from the Deep with D. Thorne, a horror punk project which released album n.2 “Dawn of the Humanoidz” in 2019. D. Thorne plays also in Lich and released a split album with Ossario last year, he’s actually recording stuff for a new epic metal project called Helm.
-You are a band that has released a lot of splits. Putting out splits is something very ingrained in the underground. Does it hold any significance for you? Like kind of a gesture of brotherhood?
Yes, we release split 7” with bands we feel a connection with and it can be seen also like a sort of brotherhood, not as blatant as in the NYHC way hahah, but we won’t surely do split albums with bands of which we don’t appreciate the music/attitude. Next up is a split with the mighty Salute via Hieb & Stich records!
-Your latest one was “Metal Sacrifice” with VUIL from Scotland. I can’t exactly recall because it’s been a while but if I remember correctly that split was ready, with the songs, artwork and everything for quite a long time before it finally got released. What happened?
Really? I don’t remember either haha! Sometimes split albums can take a long time because communication is more complicated between TWO bands and the label, LACK OF COMMUNICATION, gimme some Ratt!
-And now you are back with your newest full-length “Beyond the Help of Prayers”. How does it compare to your previous releases?
I know it sounds cliché but in my opinion it’s the best we did up until now. It has the vibes of our previous album but this time we worked more on the structures and on the production, we just took the time we needed without rushing things. The drums have been recorded in another room and sound way better than those on “Chained…”, also the guitars have definitely a better and more organic sound compared to our previous album, but of course it’s just a matter of taste.
-I’d say this is a tad more varied album. Was the songwriting process any different?
This album is definitely more of a teamwork. When JJ joined the band in 2016 we immediately went on to record “Chained…” as I had already done most of the riffs, I use to call it an “emergency album” as Bone Incinerator left the band the year before and I carried most of the “riff burden” and had the urge to spit it out, don’t know why. This time we rehearsed way more and jammed like crazy. I would say 40% of the songs took shape during jam sessions.
-I also think it’s darker. What motivated this? Feelings, music you were listening to…?
I agree, I think musically there are no specific motivations as we just let the ideas flow naturally without any thoughts about how something should sound. We listen to soooo many different stuff, it can be that something has subconsciously influenced us… we just want a Bunker 66 song to be alive and spicy, we want to let the listener sense our enthusiasm for the music we play and worship, if at least ONE person senses this too I can die with a smile on my face eheh. We put oi! shouts on a 100% metal riff or use clean vocals amidst thrashing tempos, we simply surrender to our influences when they surface while crafting new tunes, too punk for metal? Too metal for punk? We just don’t care as long as we feel it’s right for us.
-It’s even darker in the lyrics field too, being more obscure and evil. What inspired some of the songs?
Yes, the lyrics are way darker and blasphemous this time, I think they fit perfectly with the poisonous riffs and the overall feeling of the album. Lyric-wise I was 666% driven by the hate towards Christianity, you know we live in a country which is still “hosting” the Vatican in 2021… I can’t stand people who believe in this shit anymore, when I walk the streets here in Sicily, especially in smaller towns or villages, I am constantly surrounded by virgin maries or sad saints statues staring at me aaaarrrrghhh! In the title track I wrote “more churches than sharp minds”…well, that basically says it all. The cover artwork itself reflects the thoughts behind this album, the screaming priest praying with joined hands and holding a rosary is already dead, evil prevails above him, he’s surrounded by the ruins of his church, his pleas were futile and everything is beyond the help of prayers, like every prayer since the dawn of time.
-Anyway you’ve always kept a touch of an almost apocalyptic vibe. It evokes very 80’s images to me personally. Where does this apocalyptic vibe come from? Movies maybe?
Hmmm that’s interesting, I don’t know really, we all are not very positive when it comes to the future, the album was partly done while all this pandemic madness came to life…maybe it has unconsciously influenced our mindset? We all love movies like Mad Max and the likes, in the past we let those vibes invade some of our songs but in the last two albums we put that aside (but again, not intentionally) and focused on other topics.
-Humour has always been there too, like we can see on “Die on Monday”. Why is humour important?
Yes, humour has always been very important for us, there’s enough time to be serious in the coffin eheh. We always had that “Teacher’s Pet” thing going on, in every Bunker 66 album you’ll find a “funny” tune or at least a tune dealing with something more “mundane” like “Chubby Love”, “On the Prowl” and this time “Malicious/Seditious” and “Die on Monday” which is basically an anti-work song for all the people who hate their jobs, I’m with ya!
-BUNKER 66 is pure old school in every aspect of the band. Do you think sticking to certain stereotypes is almost necessary to build this kind of old school aesthetic and to provide something entertaining and fun?
I would say it’s not necessary, the most important thing is spontaneity in my opinion. We grew up with this kind of music and we won’t be able to do some djent metal (does that really exist?) even with a gun pointed to our heads. We are exactly like you see us on the promo pics, well… maybe D.Thorne is the only one who wears sport suits and sandals most of the time haha! Sometimes I see band pics in which the members totally adhere to the traditional metal outfit standards to a point where it could seem exaggerated and kitschy and some other bands which seem totally careless when it comes to aesthetics but in the end your ears shall recognize the real deal.
–What’s to you the most important in an opus of the genre you play? The overall feeling? The riffs? Or is it a mix of different elements?
The songs, therefore a mix of riffs, sounds and feeling. If those thing are well intertwined then some kind of magic will come to life.
-Anyway where is the line that separates tradition from mimic?
I think it’s the spontaneity thing I mentioned before, if a band is honest and real it will surely be noticed when the smoke clears. Metal should be a basic need for those who play it, like eating, having sex, sleeping…
– I think we all already know Metal tends to be a quite nostalgic «community». When Simon Reynolds researched on the cult of retro on «Retromania: Pop Culture’s Addiction to Its Own Past» he wondered if: “Is nostalgia stopping our culture’s ability to surge forward, or are we nostalgic precisely because our culture has stopped moving forward and so we inevitably look back to more momentous and dynamic times?”. Applied to the Metal world, what’s your opinion? Do we use to look back because we feel there’s something missing on most of today’s music?
As the decades go by it becomes more and more difficult to be original, to find new and interesting paths to explore. Lots of pages have been written since the creation of rock music and when it comes to metal I think 90s black metal was the last great musical revolution, maybe? I have to admit that when it comes to nowadays hyped new metal bands I don’t have an accurate overview but by digging in the underground something interesting will be found for sure. For me that happened lately with Hexenbrett, very original and intriguing band. I think that today’s music problem lies also in the young music listeners and in the technology progress… too much too soon, New York Dolls alright! Jokes aside, everything has become too fast (for love!) and I sense a sort of superficiality when it comes to people’s approach to new music. No one has to CRAVE music anymore, I notice it myself since I surrendered to a smartphone two years ago and I try to keep myself away from the streaming anxiety as much as I can.
-All this about “Beyond the Help of Prayers” being said; how would you describe it in just 3 words?
Red, raw and bleeding!
-And what’s next for BUNKER 66 in these uncertain times?
We are actually just rehearsing to stay fit and having fun, it seems that we’ll play our first gig since September 2020 here in Sicily in July, pretty excited about it! We just got our bunch of “Beyond…” vinyls from Dying Victims which you can find on our Bandcamp page and we’ll get also the tapes of the new album soon, courtesy of Black Legion Records. Another split 7” is planned for the end of the year with Hellcrash, killer Venom worship!
– That’s all from our side, thanks again for your time. If you’d like to add some final words, feel free to do it.
Thanks for the interview Tania, keep up the good work, all hail the queens of steel!