INTERVIEW: James Bogers – Distorta

Interview by Dan Catania


Dan talked to James Bogers from Australian heavy metal band Distorta about their latest release “A Devil in the Dust”, playing local VIC and more…


Metal-Roos: Is great to have you here with Metal-Roos. I understand the band was formed in Ballarat, Victoria. Can you tell us how it all started? How did the band form and the journey that led to the EP Release?

James: Thanks, it’s great to be a part of the Metal-Roos family!! Tubbo (drums), Dom (guitar) and myself all went to secondary school together and were mates back then. Dom and Tubbo were in a metal cover band together at school playing Slayer and Metallica covers, among others. After we finished school, Tubbo and I were in a grunge cover band together in the 90s and always kept in touch after that finished. It wasn’t until 2018 that I contacted Tubbo and said, “mate I’ve got a heap of songs I want to do something with, are you keen.” The band Tubbo was in at the time was just finishing up, so he said, “why not”. Dave soon joined the band on bass after my brother introduced him to us and he slotted in perfectly.

We had a couple of singers pass through the band, we started gigging and things were going ok. We always wanted a second guitarist but just couldn’t find the right fit for the band until Tubbo caught up with Dom and told him about Distorta. Dom had just moved back from Melbourne, so it was a great fit. We parted ways with our previous singer who had been with us for about 2 years, so we began searching for a new vocalist. We eventually found Dmitry after a long search and things just felt right. He added an extra heaviness to the band that we were looking for. The current lineup has been together for about 18 months. Once Dmitry came in and learned the songs, we started recording the EP straight away.

Metal-Roos: The EP “A Devil in the Dust” was recently released. I had a listen to it and guys I have to say is “fucken awesome \m/”.
What I really enjoy about the songs in the EP. The big choruses give it an anthem kind of vibe. I can hear a bit of Iron Maiden in the music with a modern touch, mixed in with some rock elements. The track “The Tomorrow People” is a great track to kick off the EP. Pretty much every song stands out with its catchy riffs and there are hooks in every track on the EP. Are you getting the same reaction from anyone who has heard your EP?

James: All of us except Dmitry, grew up listening to Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and all that classic metal. Big choruses and catchy riffs are what we love to listen to, and I suppose it comes out in our songs. When Dmitry joined, we loved the heavy element his extreme vocal style brought to the band, but we still wanted the choruses to stand out and retain a melody that people can sing along to and hopefully remember. So, Dom and I took on singing clean vocals with Dmitry adding his heavy vocals. It definitely brings a new kind of feel and influence to the songs. When the tracks were written we had a clean singer, and they are so different
now and much heavier. The feedback has been positive, especially in  regard to the hooks in the choruses and catchy riffs. We love when we see people
in the crowd singing along to our songs. That’s the biggest compliment we can get!

Metal-Roos: My personal favourite track is “Suffocate”. I love the bass in that song. It has a sick groove to it. Like I mentioned earlier your music is very catchy and straight to the point and it all gels really well. How does the band approach the songwriting process?

James: To this point, I have written and recorded the songs to a level good enough for the band to decide if they are worth doing something with. I have so many songs written over the years we won’t be running out material anytime soon!! If everyone likes a song, each band member takes it away and start putting their own spin on it and introduce ideas they think might improve it. Once everyone has created their own parts, we start jamming on it. We then discuss if there is anything that could make the song better and everyone feels comfortable to have input. No one in the band is precious about a part they have done and are willing to make alterations if we all agree it improves the song. It has to feel good when we are playing it in rehearsal and there can’t be any parts missing. We aim to bring our stage sound to our recording so what you hear on the EP should be exactly what you get live and vice versa. The band has more recently started writing songs together, just by talking about ideas and exchanging riffs etc.

Metal-Roos: During the EP production process. How did the band experiment with the overall mix and were there any challenges during the recording?

James: It was definitely a challenge because we had never done anything like this. I suppose we needed to find out how to sound like us, rather than us try to sound like a recording. We did a lot of experimenting with guitar amps, sounds, pedals and mic positioning to find guitar sounds we were happy with. We were lucky enough to have a few mates that are sound engineers and even though they are not in Ballarat, they could give us feedback. When mixing the EP we brought one of our sound engineer friends in with a fresh set of ears to provide feedback as we had listened to the songs so much, he was able to pick up things we were missing. Overall, I would say we enjoyed the process, we learned a lot and can’t wait to do it again.

Metal-Roos: I really love the cover of the “Devil in the Dust” Album cover. What was the idea and inspiration of the front cover?

James: A few of the songs are about war or war related so we gave the lyrics to a local artist named Arthur Strickland, gave him a guide as to what we wanted, and he came back to us with the cover on the EP. He absolutely nailed the vibe of the songs. The artwork was used for the Tomorrow People lyric video as that song has an apocalyptic war theme to it. We felt the zombified army men were the right image for this EP. However, it would be great if there were no wars to write songs about.

Metal-Roos: I’m based in Sydney and what I enjoy when going into the regional areas of NSW is the Wollongong and Newcastle local metal scene. They all got a different tribe in each town. Is it the same vibe in your hometown in Ballarat and also other regional areas in Victoria?

James: Absolutely. There are some amazing bands here in Ballarat, and everyone is willing to help each other out. Frosty from Fall & Resist has helped us in so many ways and really was the one that got us gigging. He still helps us out to this day. We have a gig booked on 22nd December at The Eastern in Ballarat and we thought for something different we would give the support slots on the night to up and coming young metal bands that haven’t had the opportunity to play live yet. We put a message on a local Ballarat Music Facebook page for young bands to contact us if they wanted to open the night for us. We got a great response and the first two bands of the night – Nuske and Otrera will be playing their first live gigs. It will be great to see the next wave of up-and-coming Ballarat metal bands kick of their gigging at our show.

Metal-Roos: Distorta recently launched their EP at the Volta in Ballarat in early September. How excited was the band to launch their EP that night?

James: We were very excited but also relieved as there was a lot of work went into setting it up, getting merchandise done and making sure the night ran smoothly. In the end, we just wanted to get on stage and play the EP for everyone. Thankfully the night went as good as we could have hoped for. It was a great turnout and the response from the crowd was amazing. There was a whole range of ages in the crowd from late teens up to 60+ year olds. There was a cracking mosh pit going for most of the night and you know the crowd are getting into it when shirts come off and bare bodies are bouncing around!! One of the highlights was the all-in sing-along on Suffocate, where Frosty and Hap Hayward (Cosmonaut vox) joined us on stage. Frosty and Dmitry went line for line on the vocals and the crowd got right into it. To have such a kick ass lineup at the launch was very flattering as well with Fall and Resist, Diminished Reason and Cosmonaut all working the crowd up for us before we got on stage.

Metal-Roos: Can you describe Distorta live gigs for those that have not seen the band play yet? What can the pundits expect to see when you guys play live?

James: It’s five blokes having a ball, giving it everything we’ve got. Lots of energy, loud guitars and a big sound. People don’t just want to hear a good a band, they want to see one enjoying themselves and getting into it. We often get comments after the show that people love watching Dave play bass on stage. He has some classic/humorous moves and the rest of the band need to be on their toes as his bass guitar can end up in some very unexpected places!! On top of his strong vocals, Dmitry’s other great strength is his stage presence as a front man. He has real intensity when he sings and people often comment on that as well. Being on stage is the best part of being in a band, and we think our love of performing really shows.

Metal-Roos: I can’t believe the year is almost over as we move into 2024. What plans does Distorta have moving into the new year. You guys’ plan to play any shows outside of Victoria?

James: We have a new song almost finished which will be released as a single sometime very soon and will have an accompanying video clip. There are a few other new songs ready to be recorded and hopefully we can get our shit together and get them done. We hope to release a lot of new music in 2024. We haven’t planned any interstate gigs as yet, but we would certainly like to do some and can’t wait to hit the road sometime next year when the opportunity arises. It’s definitely something we will be looking at very seriously next year.

Metal-Roos: Finally, is there anything you like to say to the fans and other supporters that have supported this band since the start and the journey to the EP?

James: We would all like to give a huge thanks to our supporters who have been amazing and always show up to our gigs. The whole metal community in general has been great to us, but particularly Frosty from Fall and Resist who has been a massive support since we started. It’s been great to play with bands who we are big fans of and have formed friendships with. We really are excited about what the future holds. Cheers