Interview – Booka Nile of Make Them Suffer

In a cramped, messy backstage room filled with spare gear and assorted Australian foods, the newest appointed member of Make Them Suffer, Booka Nile, speaks freely through a thick accent about this new world she has stepped into. Read on for what the keyboardist/vocalist says of their newest album, the climate of the group and the advantages/disadvantages of being a band on the other side of the world.

Looking down the list of shows you’ve played since the release of Worlds Apart, it seems like you haven’t stopped touring since July. Has it felt like that?

It has. Cumulatively I think we’ve had a total of three weeks off since July. We did America and then we had four or five days off and we started the Australian tour and we had about three weeks off there and now we’re on the European tour. So yeah, it’s been pretty non-stop since then.

How have the past few shows been with Cursed Earth and Novelists?

So we started in Frankfurt in Europe and we went to Antwerp then straight to the UK where we’ve been since the 23rd where we’ve done London, Manchester, Glasgow, Leeds and now we’re in Brighton. They’ve been really good so far though jet-lag was definitely pretty real in the first couple of days but we’re doing alright now. It usually takes a couple of days to find your groove again after a little break but so far we’ve been really enjoying it and no-ones gotten sick!

Have you got much more after this?

Yes we do. I’d say we’re only about a third of the way through this tour because we don’t finish till the 16th of November. There’s 6 or 7 shows straight after this one then we get a day off. It’s a pretty hectic schedule on this tour but it’s been fun.

This touring package is quite a weird one with bands coming from all over the place, playing within all these different subgenres. Who brought the three of you together?

It’s usually down to management. Cursed Earth are from Perth as well and we have similar management over there but I’m not sure how Novelists got brought into the whole thing. Generally though it’s management that sorts that out. I think that having a variety of sounds on a bill is a good thing because it can get a bit tedious when all the bands sound the same and are bringing all the same elements to a package. I’m pretty stoked with the versatility we’ve got going here though for sure.

I was talking to Novelists about how financially straining it must be to come over and do these shows in the UK and you’re going all over the place on this tour. What gets you through this?

People coming to the shows and purchasing merch give our band the financial ability to keep doing tours like this. It’s not a strain on us personally, we’ll get through it because we are making enough to tour at this stage which is really, really great. Obviously, we can’t go out and have big blow-outs. We’re living very skint and we’re roughing it a lot of the time but we’re surviving! We’re not in a position where we’re starving you know, we’re making ends meet but it’s pretty reliant on peoples support and purchasing merch. All of that really helps.

So Worlds Apart has been out for a couple of months now, how do you feel it’s been received by your fan-base and how does the band feel about it?  

We were very happy with the way it was received because obviously it was a bit of a departure from our older sound. I think so far each album has been quite unique in its’ sound. You’ve got the Neverbloom fans who are really, really dedicated to that album and aren’t so keen on Worlds Apart. Each album has felt like its own standalone piece of work and as it is a big departure from Neverbloom for instance, it was received well. There’s always going to be criticism and there’s always going to be people who don’t like it but overall it’s gone down quite well.

Do you think the difference in sound is due to the lineup changes Make Them Suffer have undergone recently?

No, I think that it was going in this direction anyways. When I joined the band for example, Nick and Sean had already laid down some basic demos. Nick had written a load of riffs and Sean knew how he wanted a lot of the songs to be structured and he’d written a lot of the lyrics already. By the time I came into the band, they said “Here’s some of the demos we’ve written already” so it was already going in this direction. There may have been some elements that Jaya and I brought to the new sound that would’ve perhaps not existed otherwise, however I think it’s a standalone piece and Nick and Sean already had it in their heads that they were gonna go down this route.

How’s your time in the band been so far? It must be over half a year now…

So I recorded the album with the guys in January/February time and it’s been fantastic. These guys have been friends for a long time and it really just fitted together so well. I’ve had an amazing time. Big lifestlye change!

Did you do anything like this before?

No, not at all. My first ever show was actually in Belgium in February on the Chelsea Grin tour around Europe and the UK with the guys. That was the first time I had ever played live in front of anybody. I actually found a photo of that show the other day and you can just see the terror in my face!

That’s a pretty tough crowd!

I was thrown in the deep end massively. I’ve played piano since I was 8 but I had never really sung before so the whole thing was very new to me. It’s been a crazy ride but it’s been amazing and I’ve loved every second of it.

As a band from Australia, what are the main advantages and disadvantages that come from that?

I think the main advantage is that we have an incredible music culture in Australia. We’ve got some fantastic bands coming out at the moment like Parkway Drive, Northlane, In Hearts Wake, Thy Art Is Murder and all of these versatile heavy bands which is fantastic. There’s this great culture over there and I think it’s a very supportive one of music and I think that’s one distinct advantage about coming from Australia. The disadvantage is we’re so far away from the rest of the world that it can be difficult and expensive to tour. Going to America for example would be $10,000 for flights, 30-40 hours travelling. It’s not as long for Europe travel-wise but it’s still quite a way and it can be quite challenging to do that.

Is it worth it?

Absolutely! I mean Australia is a fantastic place to live as well, it’s a beautiful country and there’s a lot of great stuff going on with music so I wouldn’t change anything about it but I’d maybe move the continents slightly closer to the rest of the world! Other than that I think it’s a small price to pay for the benefits for sure.

And lastly, the band has been categorised by a lot of people from symphonic death metal to metalcore and you’ve toured with the likes of Thy Art Is Murder to A Day To Remember and PVRIS too. Where do you guys feel you fit in the spectrum of heavy music?

Ooh that’s tough. Well I think we’ve got our own thing going on at the moment. People have compared us to the Deftones on the latest album as well so we’ve got quite a unique sound. I personally haven’t heard anything that sounds too much like Make Them Suffer but I recognise we are influenced by a lot of bands out there. We do have the female vocals aspect to our sound too which isn’t something you hear very often. I feel like we’re quite similar to bands like Betraying The Martyrs though it’s me on keys instead of Victor! I think every touring band out there has to have something quite signature and unique in this sound which is what makes them stand apart and allow them to tour at the level they do.

So where do you want to see Make Them Suffer go?

I would like us to keep touring at the level we are and at the same volume too I guess. I don’t want that to slow down because it’s probably the most enjoyable part to playing in a band. I’d love to see the music get out there to different audiences who perhaps haven’t heard Make Them Suffer and I also would love to start writing some new music as well. It has started already, everybody’s always bouncing ideas off of each other.

Are you a band that writes on the road?

Yeah, everyone will write bits and pieces and send them to each other and they just begin to take shape over time and turn into something. We’re doing that constantly so I’d love to do that and see some new music start to take shape from us. What that will sound like, I don’t even know. We’ll just have to see how it comes together because sometimes it’s just difficult to even conceptualise what something will sound like till it becomes what it will inevitably be.

Worlds Apart is out now

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