Beau Bokan of Blessthefall

by Dan MacIntosh

With some bands, like Bon Jovi, it's hard to find where the singer's image ends and the group's identity begins. When a band loses its lead singer, it loses more than a voice. If it's not careful, it can also lose its identity.

Like a complicated love triangle, Blessthefall's history is a little messy. Shortly after the 2007 release of their debut album, His Last Walk, original vocalist Craig Mabbitt left the post-hardcore band to spend more time with his young daughter. It wasn't long before Mabbitt had a change of heart. He even posted a bulletin on his personal MySpace site announcing his desire to rejoin the band. However, the group chose to go in a different direction. This was awkward, to say the least. Awkward and risky.

Mabbitt went on to join the highly successful Escape the Fate, while Beau Bokan settled into his role as lead singer of Blessthefall on the band's next two albums, Witness and Awakening. The risk paid off.

Dan MacIntosh (Songfacts): I'd like to ask you about the process, Beau, of writing Blessthefall songs.

Beau Bokan: Sure.

Songfacts: How does that generally happen?

Beau: Generally, Eric (Lambert) is our resident lead guitarist, if you'd call him that.

Songfacts: And he starts the songs.

Beau: So far it's been mainly him starting the songs. He'll write down a main riff and maybe a chorus, and he'll have a skeleton of guitars. Then he'll bring it to the band along with ideas for drums and stuff. So he sits down with the band, and we kind of map it out. he'll show them, "This is the part I'm thinking. I'm thinking more of this kind of beat."

Songfacts: He's like an architect.

Beau: He's an architect. Yeah. So he's our dude. And then I'll have lyrics in my phone or stuff like that. I'll hear the song, and it will inspire me one way or another to write about a certain subject. It just depends on the mood.

Songfacts: So when you hear what he does, then that triggers your inspiration?

Beau: Yeah. And I'll have stuff written down, whether it's one line or a whole story. I'll look through and see if I have anything that matches that vibe. If I don't, I just kind of write on what I'm feeling. So if the song is a little somber, I'll write about something that has to do with that. Or if it's a more upbeat song, I'll go that direction.

Songfacts: Do you ever start with a lyric and say, I've got this thing going, can you put something musically to make it happen?

Beau: We haven't. But I think on this next record we're really going to try to create and branch out and do something a lot different. So I think we're going to try stuff like that, where I have maybe a melody in my head, or a line, and come to them with it and have them go ahead and branch off that. Which would be cool. We've never done that.

Songfacts: Do you feel like you're in a place where you have to break the mould a little bit?

Beau: Absolutely. Right now there's 150,000 bands that sound the same. In our genre, at least. The band has been around for 7 years now. I've been in the band for 3. They formed playing in garages and stuff like that 7 years ago, started touring about 6 years ago. We've influenced a lot of bands today. The bands that we tour with, new bands have told us that, too. So the fact that everyone's kind of found this formula, so to speak, they've gone to certain producers, they've come out with the same formula that's popular. We're trying to branch away from that, and luckily we found our own sound as a band where people can listen to a bunch of bands back to back, hear us, and go, That's Blessthefall.

Songfacts: That's a good place to come to, right?

Beau: It's a good place to come to. We're stoked we're here, and so we want to keep that going. We want to keep our sound, and we're going to be creative. We're going to have fun with it, but we're not going to be disloyal to our sound or to our fans that have grown to love the sound.

Songfacts: Are you comfortable talking about how your faith affects your lyrics?

Beau: Absolutely, yeah.

Songfacts: How do they affect your lyrics?

Beau: You know, God is in the forefront of my life right now, but I don't talk about it as much. August Burns Red has a Web site called Kids come there and talk about their problems, the issues and their faith or their non-faith, whatever it may be. I just recently did a couple for blogs for them. I did an interview and I did a blog on forgiveness.

And so now more fans are finding out more about my faith, because I can share it on this forum rather than on stage just kind of shouting out to the kids.
Heart Support describes itself as a non-profit organization built on a foundation of faith; one that desires to strengthen the youth of today. It's an online community with the purpose of encouraging, inspiring and bringing a message of hope. It's a unique place where young people can talk freely about things that trouble them and (hopefully) find healing and strength in this community. Ultimately, the site hopes to create a team of young people that are prepared for counseling youth and make themselves available as that are sources of prevention and mentoring.
Songfacts: Which is not the right forum, really, to have a heart to heart talk.

Beau: Yeah. Exactly. There's no intimacy. You can't get personal with someone in a crowd by telling them on stage that if you don't believe in God, you're going to hell. I don't know if people do that. (Laughs)

Songfacts: I think some people do. They should not. But they do.

Beau: So I'd rather just talk about it with the fans. Or on a forum, where they could ask me questions and I can answer them back. Or at the merch table. God is running this whole ship right now and I put it all in His hands and I pray before we get on stage that he takes care of our fans out there in the crowd, watches them, keeps them safe, helps us. He gets our message to them in a way that they'll understand and be affected by it and that it'll change them. They can take our band and look further into it and read between the lines in our lyrics.

Songfacts: If nothing else, if it gets them to think maybe Christianity's not what they think it was. It has benefits that they never realized.

Beau: Exactly. And they need to know that nobody's perfect. They need to know that I still make mistakes. I've made tons of mistakes in my life, and that's why I've got to this point in my life and I'm thankful for being here now. And I'm thankful for those mistakes not taking me down the wrong path. I'm a testament to, He, God forgives. And you can always change things around. It's never too late.

Songfacts: Do you have any favorite songs that when they come up in the set, that you just enjoy more than others?

Beau: Yeah. I love all our songs. But obviously the older ones. Just as a performer, you love the newer stuff.

Songfacts: Because it's fresh.

Beau: Because it's new, it's fresh, and you feel like it's your best efforts. So there's a song called "I'm Bad News in the Best Way." And that's always fun to play, because it's a brand new song, I love seeing kids singing the new stuff, because it shows that they're into you.

Songfacts: Right, you want to make sure that they're remembering it, and it's resonating with them.

Beau: Yeah. Old stuff is always cool, when you can see the crowd digs it, and they're always stoked when you play it.

Songfacts: Do you sing songs that came before when you were in the band?

Beau: Yeah. We know the fans love the older stuff and the newer stuff. So we like to give them a taste of everything. We're not going to be elitists and go, "Oh, that's our old crap. We don't do that anymore." So there's one song that's kind of a hit and we still play that song. And it's cool, it's fun. I love to see them get stoked on the old stuff, as well.

Songfacts: Do they ever come up to you at the merch booth and say, "The other guy was better than you?"

Beau: You know what? No one's ever said that.

Songfacts: So they don't call you like the Sammy Hagar of Blessthefall?

Beau: No. What's bizarre is that you'll see a couple of things here and there online, but bored people hide behind their computers and such. And those are the ones who don't like your band, anyway. So you don't let that bother you.

Songfacts: If the true fans had a problem, then you'd probably take that seriously.

Beau: Yeah, exactly. They're not like, "Hey, man, you're ruining the songs." They're like, "They sound better than ever." The kids that come up to me and they're, "You're so much better." And I'm like, "It's not a competition. The old singer's a cool dude and it's not a competition between us two." I always see myself competing with myself, because I want to push myself, I want to be better than the last time they saw us the last four times, I want to be better than all those other times they saw us play. And people that have never seen us, I want them to have a good first impression.

September 6, 2012
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