AMAZING FANS PART 3/5
Here is yet another part of a series of features where we want to pay some tribute to our amazing fans. The initiative is solely meant as a positive incitement to make our fans come forth and to make them shine. This should not be regarded as subject of marked analysis, “best-fan-competition” or whatever. Ideally we should have made such a tribute to each and everybody, but unfortunally that is just not doable. Decisions have to be made and lines have to be drawn, but we would like to thank everybody that left a comment or sent a message in order express their wish to participate!
The interviews are conducted by me(Øystein) to make the whole thing more personal in a world of impersonal commercialism. I have done my best to make this an interesting- and personal- feature. But keep in mind that I am no professional interviewer and excuse me for any blunders that may occur.
The photos herein are used with kind premission from the interviewee/s.
The revolution of the internet has fundamentally changed the scope of the world, emails have outrun snailmail and one can easily communicate with people in all corners of the world in real time. When I was a teenager back in the late ’80 and early ’90 I pretty much spendt all my spare time(and money) to keep in contact with mutual fans all over the world. At one point I could even look at the handwriting on the envelope to adress from which country the letter was sendt, with pretty good accuracy. Intense times indeed. I still preserve a huge box here in my house with a selections of letters from almost every country in the world- with a few exceptions. One of them are Belize. I must admitt that Belize is one of those small country you don’t hear too much about, atleast here in Norway. So this time around we are hooking up with a comerade from Belize. Say hello to Lowell!
Fan since: 1996
Favorite BORKNAGAR song: Dauden
Ø: First off, I would like you to introduce yourselves with your own words.
My name is Lowell Gillett and I come from the Caribbean country of Belize. I am a graphic artist by trade and I play bass guitar in two Belize-based bands called Verge of Umbra and Lasher Zombie. You can mostly find me hanging out with friends behind a grill with a drink in hand. I like the simple things about life; complex things just gives me a headache.
Ø: Lowell, you live Belize. I must admit that Belize is one of those small countries that we up here in the north doesn’t hear too much about. Let us know a little bit more about your country and is there anything that signify your country (for better or/and for worse)?
Belize is still a rather developing country. Formally called British Honduras, we gained our independence in 1981 from being a colony of Britain. Back then the main export was mahogany… tons of it. In fact, our mahogany made the majority of the furniture in Buckingham palace that still exists today. Belize is known as ‘Mother nature’s best kept secret’ for its astonishing beauties and tourist attractions. There are several Maya ruins including the ruin where they found the Crystal Skull. Apart from that, Belize is well known for the blue hole, its great barrier reef (second largest in the world next to Australia’s), its white sandy beaches and crystal clear waters, and other noteworthy attractions.
Ø: Is it true that you don’t have to pay taxes on services and trade in Belize? Here in Norway we probably have the best health care system in the world but on the other hand we pay taxes on basically everything to keep this going. I have been working in the health care system all my adult life, so I am curious, how does Belize take care of their citizens in terms of public HC systems, schools and so forth?
‘We have a primary health care system that is funded by the Social Security Board under the national health insurance. Secondary and tertiary care level funds come from the ministry of healths annual budget. Belize gets funds from income taxes and from international grants. As it is, our public healthcare services suck due to lack of equipment, technology, staff and quality pharmaceuticals due to lack of funds.’ (Thanks to Jemma Perez! -Ø)
Ø: To me as a musician located in a small village in the northern part of the hemisphere, it’s amazing to see how far out in the world our music reach. Would be great if you could describe your first encounter with the music of BORKNAGAR? How did you first hear about the band?
In its own right, I feel that Borknagar’s music and metal music on a whole was not easy to acquire back in the early nineties. Reason being that Belize didn’t, and honestly still doesn’t have any legitimate music/movie outlets. The stores in the early 90’s did bootlegs of everything in relation to the region. So I’d find mostly local and world music… and a whole lot of reggae. Once in a while, you’d be able to find a very subtle mix tape of 80’s and 90’s popular ballads and rock songs from the likes of Def Leppard, Guns & Roses, Dokken, Whitesnake, etc. That in itself was like finding the holy grail. The real breakthrough with further exploring the vast majority of music available was when dial-up internet reached Belize. I started to do searches and a stumbled upon websites like Century Media and Nuclear Blast. That was where I discovered Borknagar in the sound samples section they provided. Those 30 second clips of Oceans Rise, Winterway, and Dawn of the End alone completely blew me away as it was the first time in my life that I had experienced such different sounding metal music.
Ø: What is your favorite BORKNAGAR album and why?
Of course, as any other die hard fan of Borknagar would also agree, this is one of the most difficult questions I’ve ever had to answer. Haha. But if I had to go really into it and dig deep, I would say ‘The Archaic Course’. All the songs on it are just remarkably memorable and they all seem to reach into my soul and take me to someplace I’ve never been before; somewhere that I long to be. This might sound silly but whenever it gets cold/chilly here, which is not very cold whatsoever, I would ALWAYS feel the need to put that particular album on just because I think it was meant to play with that type of atmosphere. It takes me away, maybe even to the cold north.
Ø: From my point view good music always connects on an emotional level and very often emotions relates to situations in life. David Sylvian’s “Gone to Earth” is such an example for me- every time I listen to this album- it revokes good memories and profound emotions connected to the birth of my first child. Is there a BORKNAGAR song or an album that has a similar impact on you?
I can definitely relate to your experience. I have favorite songs off every Borknagar album but the one song that is very sentimental and brings out that bliss in me would have to be ‘Winter Millennium’. It’s such a beautifully composed song and, in my opinion, one of your best songs ever made.
My most precious Borknagar item would, without a doubt, be the pendant that was sent all the way from the cold north by Øystein himself as a gift. One of my most precious items period. So precious that I don’t even wear it and keep it locked away somewhere safe. Haha.
Ø: In your opinion, what makes BORKNAGAR stand out from the rest of the bands in the current scene?
I think what makes Borknagar stand out from everyone else in the scene is the different chord progressions, if you want to get technical. Of course, everyone brings marvelous talent to the table but the deep rooted sound comes from the guitar chord progression and the way the riffs are constructed. I still yet have to hear a band that can even come remotely close to sounding like Borknagar. I think I’ll be waiting for a very long time.
Ø: You also have a tattoo that looks “slightly familiar” to me, tell us about it?
Yes. Slightly familiar. Haha. Well, it was in the workshop for a very long time. I have two tattoos; one was from way back in my rebel days that didn’t turn out so great in the end, (luckily its hidden away on my leg) and the other is of the Borknagar dragon, which came out exactly how I wanted it to. I am a huge fan of ink but also I am very, VERY picky about tattoos and won’t let any idiot touch my skin. Hence why I had to think deeply about getting this tattoo. It wasn’t about the image itself; I knew I wanted it because it holds much meaning for me and symbolizes my life’s struggle and bliss through Borknagar’s music. It was more about getting the right artist to execute what I wanted. And without disappointment, he did a marvelous job.
Ø: Obviously, there is no sun without a shadow. Is there anything regarding BORKNAGAR you don’t like?
I would have to admit that the ONLY thing I don’t like about Borknagar is the thought that I’ll probably never get to meet any of you and see you play live. And that’s not even your fault. Haha. It’s just so expensive for someone living here to travel to Europe to go live out their dreams of meeting the band they admire most. My best bet would be to get to see you in the USA. That is closest and most affordable; I’m sure you’re not planning a Central American tour and stopping in Belize anytime soon. Haha. Then again who knows. Maybe I get lucky and hit the lotto here? That probably still wouldn’t be enough.
Ø: If there is anything in specific you are wondering about regarding BORKNAGAR- now is your chance to ask?
Specific thing I would like to ask is if Borknagar would by any chance be touring the USA or Central America anytime soon?
Ø: Honestly, I don’t know but I hope so in not too distant future. South and Central America are definitely on the top of my personal wish-list when it comes to touring/live. But as usual, in order to make that happen we need to deal with this puzzle of a thousand pieces….haha..guess you all know the drill by now…:-)
Ø: Beside music, what brings your “life in balance”?
At one point, drawing and painting helped me quite a great deal as far as brining me some sort of tranquil in life. Then I made the crucial mistake of going into the field professionally and, over time, developed an underlying bitterness towards everything that I do concerning artwork. I still really do appreciate art and all the emotions and stories it brings forth, of course. So, honestly speaking, music is the only thing I can think of as of late. And I’ve thought about this question for a few days already.
Ø: How is the current metal community in your area, if there is any at all?
In my area, the city which is the central area of my country, there is not much people that listen to metal. I know of a few from way back when I started listening and we’re still closely knit. You can find more avid metalheads going further north and east. I’m thinking this is so because both parts border Mexico and Guatemala which has a more prominent metal scene. There are a few local bands here namely Ascenthium, The Remaining, Death Suppressor, Pandemonium, and the two bands I’m in named Lasher Zombie and Verge of Umbra. I’m sure there’s more that I’ve not mentioned or heard of. What I find is that the scene nowadays is being polluted with all this ‘core’ nonsense. Personally, it’s not my thing but I find that scene kids always TRY to ‘school’ me on metal music and I find that very irritating and disrespectful.
Ø: I became more or less involved with the international underground scene back in ’88- ’89. It was all about reading fanzines, trading tapes(demos), sharing flyers and re-using stamps. (I was actually caught by my local post office…ha!). When most active I got like 10- 12 letters from all corners of the world every day. Speaking of that, I cannot remember that I had any contacts from Belize at that time. Do you know if there was any underground scene in your area back then and what kind of impact do Facebook and social media alike have on the scene in your country?
At that time in the late 80’s, I doubt there was any ‘scene’ per say. I would have been around 10 years old at that time and completely oblivious as to what was going on around me musically. I know for sure we had the exposure of MTV (when they used to actually play music) in the early 90’s. That was a huge step in learning about and listening to alternative and rock bands. And, of course, there was ‘Headbangers Ball’ which was the primary source of exposure for metal bands on MTV.
Ø: I know you play bass and also play in a local band. Tell us about it! What are your goals?
I play bass for two local bands named Lasher Zombie and Verge of Umbra. Lasher Zombie’s theme and sound leans more towards death/thrash. I have a lot of fun playing bass for this band as my band mates, Andy and Alfonso, give me limitless creative freedom. We don’t play very often, as in we play only once a year at an annual even held here in Belize called Metal Mayhem. Reasons being that Alfonso currently resides in Mexico and Andy is in Belize but the northern region; I currently live in Belize City which is in the central region. We have an album out called ‘Back From Death’ that can be downloaded for free at Torn Flesh Records. Like I said, we don’t get together too often, but when we do, we put off a hell of a show. My other band Verge of Umbra is rather recent. I would classify the genre more rap/reggae/metal. We try to merge the three genres as clever as possible and create something unique and catchy. There are five members in this band; me on bass, Andres on guitar, Gerald on drums, Jenko on rap vocals, and Nello on singing vocals. The reason we have two different vocalists is because of the dynamic range of each vocalist. Jenko is primarily a rapper and producer who is very much accomplished and has been in many projects over the years. While Nello, who is also a producer, is well known here in Belize as a diverse singer and performer. His reggae/dancehall style of singing is very well composed with well-placed harmonies as he is unique in this genre. Now combine those two forces with die hard metalheads on guitar, bass, and drums with years of musical experience. We recently did a music video shoot for our first single called ‘All the way down’ that has yet to be released. However, you can hear this single on Soundcloud. The goals for both bands would be to make as much memorable music as possible, play out as much as we can, build a loyal fan base, and get more exposure, not only in Belize, but all over. So if anybody likes what they hear, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Haha. Both bands have Facebook pages respectively.
Ø: Thank you so much for the interview! Is there anything you would like to say, state, reveal, promote or even rebel against. The stage is yours!
I would like to say a huge thank you to my favorite band in the universe… Borknagar!!! You all have no idea what you’ve done for me musically over the years. I cannot begin to appreciate everything your music has done for me. I hope you keep on making majestic music that touches our soul every time. Thank you for this opportunity to be a part of the Amazing Fan project. As far as promoting goes, I would like to kindly ask everyone to check out my bands at the links below. It would be very much appreciated. Thank you all!!! \m/ \m/
Greetings and a grandiose salute to Lowell!!