XS ROCK: Tell me about the latest band news? Any new projects coming out, live shows or announcements?
Jim: 2018 was a big year for us. We’ve been working on a ton of new material and tracked our new record live at Earth Analog in Tolono, IL back in March. Since then we’ve put out a 7″ split via Failure Records and Tapes and also re-released our EP Wabash War Machine which has been sold out.
Pre-orders are now available for the full length via Failure Records and Tapes (https://failurerecordstapes.
We’ve got a ton of shows planned for 2019 and have already confirmed Peru, IN / Indianapolis, IN / Tolono, IL / Bloomington, IL / Louisville, KY / and Saint Louis, MO
XS ROCK: How long has the band been together?
Jim: Can you believe we will be celebrating 10 years February 2019?
XS ROCK: What was your main motivation for starting or being in a band?
Jim: The Mound Builders formed in February 2009 and had already had a few singers before I came into the fold. A friend told me they were looking for a new singer and I decided to try out for them as they were already my favorite local metal band. Locally there weren’t a lot of musicians into the same kind of music I was into and thought it’d be fun to work on a project with like minded individuals. So, I went and tried out and they liked me enough to let me stay! This would have been in August or September 2009.
XS ROCK: What is your music background?
Jim: I started messing around with guitar when I was around 12. I took a few lessons but have largely been self taught. When I was in high school I jammed with some folks but wasn’t ever really in a band until I had graduated. I played in some punk bands and also had a weird funk, ska, death metal project but we never really did much. I was kind of shy (and also not very good) but started singing mostly because no one else would do it. Eventually I started a band with some friends and we played a kind of Bluegrass, Folk Rock kind of style splitting singing duties. Through this is how I ended up in the Mound Builders. Believe it or not I hadn’t been in a true Metal band up to that point.
XS ROCK: What image do you think your music conveys?
Jim: I think we are still trying to figure this out as we go. We don’t try to take ourselves too seriously and try to interject some sarcasm and humor into some of the themes of the songs. With that being said, a lot of the subject matter on the new album is darker in tone than in previous efforts. We’ve said before that we draw on local history and lore as inspiration and that still appears in the new material but there’s also some social / political commentary coming through.
XS ROCK: What are your immediate music career goals? (Next 1 to 3 years.)
Jim: We’d like to be playing more festivals. Last year we were invited to a few and met a ton of awesome bands and people. The metal world has a great community for the most part and we feel honored to be even remotely apart of it.
I guess the other major goal will be to sell this new record we have coming out, hahaha!
XS ROCK: What are your long-term career goals?
Jim: We’ve discussed trying to have a larger presence in the European market. Not sure how likely that is but that’s a huge audience for what we do and think it would be incredible to tap into that somehow.
We’re also planning a few more single / EP type releases. There are more ideas than money unfortunately so we if anyone reading this wants us to come play a show, hit us up!
XS ROCK: Which do you prefer? Writing new songs and recording or playing for a live audience?
Jim: This is a tough one. I enjoy the writing process immensely but if I had to choose, it would be performing live. Performing a song is as much of an outlet for me as it is writing it. The music allows me to loose control appropriately and has gotten me through some of the roughest times in my life.
XS ROCK: What are your songs about? (What specific themes do they cover?)
Jim: We pull some much inspiration from so many places! Ancient civilizations, folklore, ghosts, aliens, politics, technology, the decay of civilization, religion and so on. Sometimes the subject matter is specific, sometimes the songs remain vague on purpose. They can take on dual meanings as they mean one thing to me when I’m writing it, but someone else can interpret it into something else completely.
XS ROCK: Do you have any outrageous tour stories from the road?
Jim: Dayton, OH! It seems the craziest stuff always happens there. One story that comes to mind happened after the show while we were loading out. Our driver at the time was talking to this female street performer and I went over to tell him that we were just about ready to leave. While I was doing this a couple was walking up the street towards us having some kind of quarrel. The street performer jumped up and just started sprinting towards them. Before we could wrap our minds around what she was doing, she full on tackled the guy and just started pummeling him! His girlfriend started slapping the street performer telling her to stop and the performer was yelling “you don’t abuse women, you don’t abuse women!” It all happened so fast and it all got broken up before anyone got hurt but it was just wild to see something like that which appeared to be random and unprovoked.
XS ROCK: Were your parents supportive of your aspirations to play in a rock band?
Jim: Sure! My parents always supported my creativity and my wild dreams! I don’t think they get the music so much but still come to see us play every once in awhile!
XS ROCK: What are your favorite tracks to play live?
Jim: Really digging all of our new material. Star City Massacre, Regolith, Broken Pillars, and Hair of the Dogma. Finally feeling like we have found our sound and performing these songs comes to me more natural. Other songs we do occasionally that I love are The Mound, and our cover of ‘Who Was in My Room Last Night” by the Butthole Surfers!
XS ROCK: Which band or artist inspired you to perform? Why?
Jim: Influences could be an interview unto itself! Hahaha! When I was younger I use to just wail in my room along to Black Sabbath and the Doors. I was a loud kid constantly making noise and just never outgrew it I guess. As I got older and started going to shows I always wanted be the one up on stage rather than standing there watching. So I guess early on just going to shows inspired me to want to perform!
As far as singers that influence me in the Mound Builders go, Lemmy Kilmister, Matt Pike, Iggy Pop, Henry Rollins, Jeff Walker, Kirk Fisher, and Dax Riggs all for varying reasons! When I started out in this band I tried really hard to sing in a voice that wasn’t really mine. I think a lot of that had to do with we were a lot more in that “Stoner Metal” pocket. Matt Pike and Lemmy really inspired to be more natural in what was coming out in the sense that it could be really powerful and have a melody but didn’t have to be pretty!
XS ROCK: If you could design a dream tour for your band, who would be on the bill?
Jim: The Mound Builders world tour with WHORES, Black Tusk, and Unsane please!
XS ROCK: What do you consider your greatest accomplishment so far?
Jim: We’ve come so far as a band. We are about to celebrate our 10 year anniversary in February. Since I have been in the band there have been no personnel changeovers sans Nathan passing away 3 years ago. That has left a void that can never be filled but I am very proud of us all sticking together all these years. We still practice every single week and try to play as many shows as our schedules allow. So for me, being together all this time and still growing creatively is our greatest accomplishment. Sure, we annoy each other sometimes and get into some squabbles but I feel bands have broken up over less! Hahah.
XS ROCK: If you weren’t performing in a band what kind of career do you think you would have?
Jim: We all have day jobs. It would be amazing to just play music as a career but I don’t know anyone that making ends meet solely on their art.
XS ROCK: What type of equipment do you use for live shows?
Brian plays a Gibson SG through a JCM 900 and Mesa Boogie Cab.
Ryan plays a Fender J though a SVT Classic and Ampeg 6 x 10.
Jason plays a Tama Gran Star kit.
XS ROCK: What do you think of the current music scene?
Jim: In terms of our scene, The Mound Builders? Most of the bands and fans we meet are genuine, amazing people. Venues are always commenting on how respectful our crowds are, which counters the stereotypes of violence that sometimes come with the genre. I can’t recall any serious incidents at any of our shows in the 9+ years we’ve been playing. So as far as I’m concerned, we are truly blessed with an amazing “scene” full of incredible people!
XS ROCK: If someone had never heard you before, how would you describe your sound?
Jim: We have been called Sludge Rock which I believe is suiting. More specifically we are loud, heavy band, combining Sludge, Stoner, Doom, and Hardcore Punk into a tempo shifting, in your face, juggernaut.
XS ROCK: Is there anything that you’d like to promote or say to your fans out there?
Jim: Just be on the look out for a ton of show announcements and check out our new album! We love all of you and can’t wait to get back out on the road!
The Mound Builders are:
Brian Boszor – Guitar
Jason “Dinger” Brookhart – Drums
Ryan Strawsma – Bass
Jim Voelz – Vocals