Those Once Loyal Those Once Loyal
Bolt Thrower
Karl Willetts interview by Bolt

Karl Willetts

Bolt What were your reasons for orignally leaving the band?

Karl: Well there for a variety of reasons for leaving the band back in 1994... after doing Bolt Thrower for 6 years I just felt that I needed a change. Whale had decided to leave during a somewhat disastrous U.S tour (of all the backwater toilets of America!!), so I felt a kind of loyalty to him, as he was the reason that I had joined up with BT in the first place... Also musically I was drifting off into other various kinds of music, and felt like I wanted a change in direction...

Bolt What have you been doing since your departure in 1994?

Karl: Me and Whale had a crack at doing a couple of bands, but in reality my heart was never really in it...I enjoyed the rehearsing and creative aspect of these projects but when it came down to gigging etc, I really didn't have the enthusiasm for it. After reaching a certain stage in my musical career it was very hard to go back to the bottom of the ladder and start all over again... I have been quite busy over the past 10 years though... I went to Birmingham University and got a degree in Cultural Studies, got married, got divorced, and had numerous jobs that I hated and was crap at!!

Bolt Do you still see Andy Whale?

Karl: I still see Whale occasionally, he lives a couple of miles from me and we try to hook up for a beer every other week or so...

Bolt How did you come to do the vocals on 'Mercenary'? And why did you not stay with the band at that time?

Karl: I received a call out of the blue from Baz, he asked me if I fancied hooking up with Bolt Thrower to do the vocals on Mercenary an opportunity which I gladly jumped at... I was very pleased how they came out considering the length of time it took to write the lyrics (about 2 weeks!!)... I thought hard about rejoining the band at that time but the timing for me was just no good, I was in my final year at University and also gearing up for married life, so I felt that it would be unfair to commit myself if I was unable to give 100%...

Bolt What do you think of Martin van Drunen and Dave Ingram's efforts with Bolt Thrower?

Karl: I was pleased when I heard that Martin Van Drunen had filled in for me with Bolt Thrower... We had previously toured with Pestilence and Aspyhx so I knew him to be a great guy and a fantastic frontman... I have never heard anything that he did with Bolt Thrower as he never did any recording with the band. I felt that Dave Ingram was the natural replacement for me in the band having seen him with Benediction, he had the right kind of vocal style and right kind of attitude which fitted Bolt Thrower perfectly. His vocals/lyrics on HVP are very good...I feel that he bridged the gap till my return more than adequately.

Bolt How were you asked to re-join the band? What was your first reaction?

Karl: Again Baz called me up out of the blue, It was weird really because I had just been through probably the worst 3 years of my life (horrible divorce, hating work... no direction) and my confidence levels where at an all time low... my first reaction was yes!... this is just what I need to get some meaning and pleasure out of life again...

Bolt How does it feel to be back in Bolt Thrower?

Karl: Simply fantastic, It feels like I have been reunited with friends (almost family!!) along with a part of me which was lost forever. BoltThrower is the one thing in my life that made me feel motivated and active, since I left I have always used my time in the band as a measurement against my current happiness to which nothing really compared... (living a normal existence post Bolt Thrower is impossible!!).

Bolt Will you be writing the lyrics again?

Karl: Yes and I can't wait. The first thing I did with the band was to re-record my vocals onto HVP... which sound fantastic... I enjoyed doing this as it was a perfect re-introduction to the studio. And as we will be performing a number of these songs live, it was a great opportunity to learn them properly and still see if my voice was up to the job... gladly I think it is! No disrespect to Dave, but the album now sounds like the Bolt Thrower we all know and love!! Not sure if these recordings will ever see the light of day, we'll have to see how it goes...

Bolt What is the new material like?

Karl: I can't give too much away at this point, we have a few definites and a few working song titles, and with some very cool visuals for the album cover, along with the killer new songs that have been written. To be honest, Baz has excelled himself on this album, lots of real catchy riffs and some sweet lead breaks... again the album sounds like classic Bolt Thrower... maybe even heavier... We're all fired up and can't wait to record it!!

Bolt Final message for all at

Karl: It is great to be back in the mighty Bolt Thrower... watch out this time I have a really big axe to grind... I'm looking forward to catching up with all the people into Bolt Thrower that I haven't seen or heard from in a long time... and I can't wait to get back out on the road and do what I am best at doing... See you all soon... Grind On!!!!!!


Back to Interviews