Is the mixture of metal styles (Death, Black, Thrash) an amalgamation of all the styles that the band enjoys or is it a conscious attempt at a new angle in metal?
Marvin: Yes, it is an amalgamation of all the styles that the band enjoys. We all listen to various styles of metal and we put the stuff we like to hear in songs in our own songs.
Hassan: Some say we are not the most original band around, but who cares? We don't! If it's good, it's good--we have a lot of fun doing what we do and that's most important.
What bands influenced the various members of Blo-torch and why?
Marvin: My influences range from late '80s metal referring to bands like Testament, Forbidden, Candlemass, as well as newer stuff like Dark Tranquility, At The Gates, Crowbar and Acid Bath. Because they're all unique bands and have changed my opinion of music in general. Our new drummer Pascal is highly influenced by bands like Death, Violence, Cynic and Demolition Hammer.
Hassan: When I started playing the guitar, I was into L.A. rock like Guns N' Roses, Motley Crüe, Skid Row. Hell, I even dug Poison! (Gimme a break, I was 15!) I liked that good-time rock 'n' roll rebel attitude. It was Slash that got me playing the guitar, by the way. I joined my first band and I started to listen to the harder stuff, like Pantera, At the Gates, D.R.I., Acid Bath, Soundgarden--the heaviness and power appealed to me. I don't really have roots in '80s metal. When I started with Blo-torch, many influences came from bands that Marvin introduced me to, some old, some newer. He introduced me to a lot of the music that I listen to today. Our bass player (Sander) was influenced by Cynic, Primus and Morbid Angel. He's incredible with his fretless bass. Our singer (Michel) is also influenced by a wide range of styles, varying from Acid Bath to Carcass and even to Sisters of Mercy.
How long have the founders of Blo-torch, Hassan and Marvin, known each other? How did you meet? What made you two want to form a band with each other? Have you ever played "The Killer Twin Guitar Attack" together in another band?
Marvin: To start with the latter: no. We have never played together in another band. We have known each other for quite some years now, and we thought it would be cool to start a band together.
Hassan: We met about 6 years ago, but it wasn't until about 3 years ago that we started hanging out together. At that time, I played in a band called Psycho Rampage, and Marvin was in Manifest. Their drummer Pascal [Blo-torch's current drummer] did the drums on the first Psycho demo. By the way, Michel was the vocalist in Psycho Rampage as well.
How long has the band been playing their instruments? It must take years to get to your level of proficiency?
Marvin: We both have been playing the guitar for about 10 years. Sander has been playing for about 8, and Pascal has also been drumming for about 10 years.
What are some of the earlier bands that various members of Blo-torch played in and who played where?
Marvin: Pascal and I used to play in Manifest, but also did some projects along the way, which include touring and recording. We did the Edge of Sanity tour by the way, back in '96, filling in for the guitarist and drummer, respectively, and also played in Dew-Scented.
Hassan: Psycho Rampage was my first band and also Michel's. Blo-torch is my second band and Michel has also been doing the vocals in the Goth band Daeonia. Sander used to play in a band called Inevitable.
Are there any side projects that we should know about?
Marvin: Not anymore. We all quit other bands and projects recently so we can focus on Blo-torch 100 percent.
Where did you find a vocalist like Michel? Does he use effects on his voice or is it all natural? Has he ever been trained in music? Is there a particular vocalist that has influenced him greatly? Why doesn't he sing in Dutch? Will you ever sing in Dutch?
Hassan: As I mentioned before, Michel was in my former band as well. When Blo-torch was without a vocalist for a while we decided to ask Michel. Actually, we knew all along he was the man for the job, due to his talent and training. But he was unavailable earlier. He doesn't use any effects, it's all natural, baby!
He is hugely influenced by Daxx Riggs, the vocalist of Acid Bath. But also the likes of Jeff Walker (Carcass) and Andrew Eldritch (Sisters of Mercy). He will never sing in Dutch, because we want to reach an international audience with our music.
What happened to John? Where did you find Pascal? Are you afraid that this might be the first in a series of drummer losses like Spinal Tap or is Pascal very stable?
Marvin: I was hoping you knew what happened to John! No, just kidding--he decided to make a 180-degree turn and settled down. So that's where Pascal came in. I had been playing together with Pascal for quite some years already and I knew his qualities. Seeing that he is one of my best friends and someone we can rely on, I asked him and he eagerly accepted.
Hassan: Pascal really enjoys himself with us and wants to make this a success just as much as we do. He's here to stay, we all are.