Boiled in Lead: From Folky to Electric

Visit Boiled in Lead's official Web site. You can also find their online fan club. Omnium is the band's label.

Paula: After listening to all of your albums, I hear a sort of evolution in your sound, from folky and acoustic with many world influences, to more electric, less of a folk edge per se, but still with a heavy influence from other cultures. What do you attribute to the evolution of your sound? Where do you go from here in terms of sound and style?

Drew: That's not quite correct. From the start, BiL thought of itself as a rock band that just happened to play Irish traditional music. I wouldn't call our use of chainsaw on the Irish chestnut "The Gypsy Rover" (from Hotheads, 1985) very folky...we gave that song the beating it richly deserved, since it's such a hackneyed standard of the Irish pub circuit. The albums in general have been a bit tamer than the band when we play live.

When Robin Anders joined the band in 1986, replacing original drummer Mitch Griffin, we had two new aspects we could add to our sound: 1) play acoustically, since Robin had already developed his doumbek style, and 2) start to branch off to other world music cultures besides Irish, since Robin was experienced in playing the odd time signatures of Middle Eastern and Balkan music on the drum kit. That's the material that's the most fun for me to play; straightahead 4/4 is kind of boring. It's more challenging to take the odd meters we learned from Balkan music and rock them. We've also applied those meters to our originals, as in the chorus to "Blackened Page" on Gypsy.

Through the 80s, original songs made their way into the repertiore gradually; it's difficult to write songs that will stand up with all the great traditional ballads the band does. When Adam joined in 1993, we broadened the mix to include more of our own compositions, as on "Antler Dance"...and Gypsy is almost completely original material from Adam Stemple and Steven Brust (though Gypsy was conceived from the start as a side project).

What happens next? There are some pointers in that direction on both volumes of ALLOY -- the song "Black Crows" for example is a good one of Adam & Steve's songs. Playing with David Stenshoel again recently in Minneapolis has given us a good opportunity to dust off some tunes that had been out of the repretoire since he left the band, such as the South African tune "Sobabamba" on ALLOY2. The current incarnation of the band is more improvisatory than any other; David is a marvelous player, and a great listener, as is Adam. The two of them have very interesting musical conversations!