Since their sudden
implosion in January 2010, the members of local punk rock powerhouse
Bolth have gone their separate ways to work on new projects. Drummer
guitar duties for pop-punk outfit Giant Giant Robot. Guitarist Mitch
Vice took his pop-punk project It's All Happening on the road while
frontman John "JS" Saxen slaved away on his hardcore experiment, Elle
With a high-profile reunion/farewell show with ska-punk heroes The Suicide Machines scheduled for Oct. 6
reunion/farewell show with ska-punk heroes The Suicide Machines
scheduled for Oct. 6, it's high time to sum up Bolth's impact on the
On a brisk evening at
The Sinking Ship, Saxen and Lyter sit back and reminisce about the
glory days of Bolth. Saxen formed the band in 2005, but it never
really took off until Lyter joined a few months later. "You can
function as a band with a bad guitarist," begins Saxen, "but
you gotta have a good drummer. It wasn't until James joined that we
had a solid foundation."
With a revolving door
of bassists, which at one point included John Orr, now of The Last
Domino, Lyter and Saxen recorded two albums and toured as much as
possible, building a name and a following.
While their first
album, Ten Shakes of a Lamb's Tale, was more of a high school
pop-punk record, their second, Short Sighted, headed towards
the hardcore territory for which they're now best known. In the years
following Short Sighted's release, the band reached their peak
in local popularity, despite being at odds with the naysayers of the
local hardcore scene.
They began touring
extensively, according to Lyter: "We played about 100 shows a
year. We toured around a college schedule: huge tours every summer
and week-long tours for Christmas and spring break."
Despite all the
momentum following Short Sighted, it wasn't until 2008
that the band was blessed with a more solid lineup. Wissel, who had
previously played with street-punks The Five Second Cummings, joined
the band on bass. Fellow Five Second Cummings alum, James Odae, took
over guitar duties from Saxen, leaving him free to focus on vocal
as the band worked on what would become their third and final album,
Mitch Vice joined, taking over guitar duties from Odae.
"Mitch joined and
learned all of our songs in like, two days," Saxen says. "We
left on tour right after that."
With a solid line-up
finally in place, Bolth began writing songs in a more collaborative
manner than before, according to Saxen: "There's actually a lot
of Mitch on that last record. He would chime in with ideas like a
Despite having settled
on a stable lineup, the stresses of being in a band began to take
their toll. "When you tour as much as we did, work as hard as we
did and consume the insane amount of chemicals that we did, it was
like shaking two rats in a box together," Saxen jokes. "Shit
got really explosive."
"JS (Saxen) and I
took the band really seriously," Lyter adds. "If
someone didn't do something right or something didn't sound right, we
were very vocal about setting things straight."
The same intensity that
helped Lyter and Saxen keep the band focused eventually became a
source of conflict between the two. "We were getting at each
other constantly," Lyter confesses. "The last year or so of
touring was really rough."
Lyter says that the
fuse finally hit the powder keg as the band returned from a winter
West Coast tour. "It was a really shitty and exhausting tour.
We nearly died coming back across the Rockies during a blizzard.
Tensions were really high."
show was supposed to be with Hellmouth [a Detroit metalcore outfit
featuring Suicide Machines frontman Jay Navarro], Counteractive and
Picked Clean," Saxen adds. "It was supposed to be this huge
show, and we were supposed to tour on with Hellmouth later. But it
"When Will and I
got to the E.S. Jungle, we were about ready to load in when I got the
word that JS (Saxen) would not be coming," Lyter explains. "I
was absolutely beside myself."
The passing of time
eventually mended broken friendships between band members, but there
was little talk of a reunion. That is, until this summer, when Saxen
received an intriguing text message from Vice. "All it said was,
'Do you want to play one last show with the Suicide Machines?' My
response was obviously 'Yes!'"
While a proper farewell
show seemed appropriate, playing with the Suicide Machines, a top
band in the '90s ska-punk explosion, was certainly an added incentive
for the band.
"I think a lot of
people have a lot of nostalgic feeling for them today," Saxen
show will be a lot better than the Hellmouth show would have been had
we ended up playing it," Lyter says. "We're all friends now
and we are all personally in better placed than we were when we broke
up. Will really has his shit together now."
"Now that we've
gotten things smoothed out we feel that we owe ourselves and our fans
one final show," Lyter continues. "When we were putting
together the setlist for the final show we used mostly songs that we
knew that fans would want to hear, not necessarily songs that we
wanted to play."
While it may seem odd
that Bolth is reuniting only to breakup, Saxen is almost certain that
it will be the band's last show: "Of course, I'm never gonna say
never, but there's no reason why this wouldn't be our last show,