Immolation Interview With Alex Bouks

Alex Bouks is someone I have known for decades now, but I have never interviewed him....that is until now! Read into Alex's love for metal, how he joined Immolation and more in this exclusive chat for Extreminal!

Now Alex, how did you discover metal and underground metal? What were some of your favourite bands back then and are you still a fan of any of them now?

AB: In the 1970’s I had 2 uncles that were into heavy rock. I was exposed to bands like Sabbath, Deep Purple, Scorpions, UFO, Zeppelin, Van Halen AC/DC etc. Eventually, in the early 80’s I found Judas Priest Unleashed in East and that record, in particular, set me off in my long-lasting love of Heavy Metal and that record made me want to play metal. When I got introduced to underground metal it was hearing these 3 records. Metallica Kill Em All Exciter Heavy Metal Maniac and Mercyful Fate Melissa. Those 3 records exposed me to an even heavier type of metal that just blew my mind. As far as favourites go really all the 70’s heavy rock and early 80s metal is still my favourite music today. Maiden, Priest, Motörhead, UFO, Rainbow, Sabbath, on and on I can go.

Now, what made you decide to want to pick up the guitar? Did you even have any interest in the bass or the drums?

AB: My passion for guitar started by hearing Jimi Hendrix and Pete Townshend. I heard those aggressive sounds and I was immediately attracted to what was making that noise child. I actually played the drums first because at my school there were no guitar lessons closest thing that appealed to me was the drums. But around 85 86 I got a hold of my first guitar then I was off to guitar that was really want I wanted to do. I then stopped with drums. But I still watch all the great drummers out there. I’m more intrigued by them live.

Now you have been in various bands throughout your musical career. Before we get into Immolation, what were some highlights you remember over the years before you joined Immolation?

AB: My first real band was Infamy so that was like 86 till 88 I then left that band to start Goreaphobia in 88. But for me, Infamy still sticks in my mind to be the most exciting time for me as a musician because that’s when I realized I can do this magic that I had been listening to. It was a real awakening of sorts for me. And that’s when I started writing my own music and developing my own guitar style.

You were also around during the days of fanzines, tape trading, etc. Did you ever do any tape trading?

AB: Oh yes they were amazing times! The best! I started tape trading and getting fanzines in 1986. The one fanzine and person that was hugely instrumental in exposing me to that world was Scott Helig who wrote Total Thrash Zine in Philly. He also had a band called E.A.B. Also there was a guy Mike that I knew that made tapes for me of Hellhammer demos, Death, Hellwitch etc. I dove right into it and started trading with people all over the world.

What were some early shows you can remember being at, but not playing, that will stick in your mind forever?

AB: My first concert was Queen in the late 70s. My uncle took me to see them and that was probably the most important show in my life. Then there is seeing Maiden a few times in the 80’s Metallica at the Tower Theatre in 85 Slayer etc. so many shows in the ’80s. Seeing Slayer was hugely instrumental in inspiring me to want to be in the darkest heaviest band I could. They were the masters! It was just a magical experience.

What are some of your favourite memories of the early days of the underground?

AB: Tape trading getting fanzines and the excitement of getting a new demo in the mail. Music was pushing into uncharted territory in the 1980s. Hearing the Death demo “Infernal Death” in 86 was mind-blowing. That was one moment I will not forget. I can go and on about all the great demos in the mid to late ’80s.

Now I know you have always been a fan of Immolation, hell I have known you for decades now. What event or events led to you joining them? Did you call them or did they call you or did you have like a meeting and they offered you the job?

AB: Well as you know I have been great friends with the guys since they started the band and of course was a fan since their 88 demos. Actually one day on a normal phone call with Ross he asked me at the end of a normal chat with him if I would be into joining the band so I was a little thrown off at first haha but yeah it was a no-brainer to be in the band with my close friends and I also really related to the band musically. There are a lot of similarities with my musical visions and there’s so it made perfect sense to join.

Do you ever sit back at times whether you’re at home or on tour and say to yourself, “f*ck I’m in Immolation”?

AB: Maybe sometimes and the reason is that I never had ambitions to join the band. I always had my own way of doing things so sometimes it is weird to think I joined them even though I always loved the band but never saw myself in someone else’s band. But I am glad to be a part of such an amazing band. It’s the healthiest situation I have ever been in. The way a band should be. We are all very close friends and the 4 of us are an unstoppable force.

So Alex what was the first practice like with the band? Did you guys just kinda talk at first and Ross and Bob and Steve welcomed you into the band? Did you just talk that day or did you go over any Immolation tunes?

AB: The first practice went super smooth. It was very tight and had great chemistry right away. We basically rehearsed once and went on tour. Yes, they basically asked me to join and that was it. Yeah, they all welcomed me of course and I think the feeling was mutual that we were all happy to do this thing together. I wasn’t shown anything in person basically Bob sent me tablature and I rehearsed and learned the songs at home before our rehearsal. Like I said from that first practice we were pretty tight.

Now what kinda guitars do you have Immolation’s material isn’t the easiest to play, how long did it take until you were pretty comfortable playing some of their older material?

AB: I play ESP guitars is endorsed by the company and I fully back then 110%. They are the best guitars on the planet as far as I’m concerned. So what else can you ask for haha. I would say the material came pretty quickly for me. Bob’s playing style is similar to mine so it was that far out in the left field for me. It was a very comfortable transition playing his music.

So exactly what year did you join the band? I know in early 2017 you guys released “Atonement” on Nuclear Blast Records. Did you have a hand in writing any of the music for that release?

AB: I joined in 2016. I did not have anything to do with the creation of that record but at the time I was glad to be on board for that record. At the time I felt it was the best Immolation record until we did the new one Acts of God. Always thinking forward to outdo ourselves and constantly push forward. That’s one of the many things o love about the guys we are all on the same page to continue to get better.

What was it like going on that 1st tour with them? How many times did you guys tour the states for that release? Did you meet a lot of people on that tour that you had not seen in years and some of them didn’t even realize you were in the band haha?

AB: I think we did 4 tours of the States for the Atonement record. All the tours were fantastic! The first tour we did was with the Cavalera brothers. That was great and great to see Max and Igor after so many years. Also, that first tour had Full of Hell as the openers. We became instant friends with the FOH guys so that was the beginning of a great friendship with them. Aside from Max and Igor, there wasn’t anyone I really had seen in years I’ve been on the road for a long time now so it was business as usual the best part about was being on the road with my mates Ross Bob and Steve.

What was the 1st live show with them like? Were you nervous at all or did you guys practice a bunch beforehand and you had the songs down pat so to speak you just went out and crushed it?

AB: First live show was actually in Las Vegas and yeah a little nervous because it was my first show with the guys but yes we did crush it. We only had one rehearsal but I really did my homework so it went great.

I know you have been on various tours in the past, but what was it like touring the US with one of the most popular and long-lasting death metal groups?

AB: The main thing is for me is there my brothers. That’s the best thing about when you are on the road with great friends. And also it was kind of like coming home and playing with guys.

Did you guys go overseas and if so, what countries did you hit what was it like for you and was this the 1st time you had been overseas playing live shows?

AB: We’ve been over so many times I can’t count haha. No not at all been to Europe with my other bands in the past so many times. Europe is a normal place for me.

What would you say is the biggest difference in crowds from over here (US) to over there overseas?

AB: I would say these days about the same and maybe the US has been a little better. It use to be Europe was better but the US has made a major comeback.

Photo by @giselkingston
Photo by @giselkingston

Now how are things with Nuclear Blast been for the most part?

AB: Yea the band has been with Nuclear Blast since 2010. We resigned with them for the new record. Can’t ask for a better label. NB are the best!

How hard is it to come up with set lists since I’m sure you guys wanna get a little bit of everything in there?

AB: That can be difficult with 11 albums. Since we have a new record to promote and we are excited about we try to put as many new singles nags as possible. But we do try to switch it up from every tour we do .

Do you guys get to do any sightseeing when you on the road?

AB: Rarely because days off are usually travel days so we really get to see too many things but when there is a chance to see and do something cool we usually take advantage of the opportunity.

Have you seen or signed many bootleg items of the band since you have become a member?

AB: Yes from time to time I’ll sign some bootlegs.

So how long since the last album did you guys begin to put together material for your latest release “Acts of God”?

AB: Actually the writing started in 2019 and began again in 2020. By early 21 the music was finished. Because of the pandemic, we had more time to perfect the songs and gave us all time to really rehearse the songs.

I am sure the whole COVID situation didn’t help. What did you guys do as a band during it?

AB: I spent time with my family and that was awesome. Nothing more I like than to be home with my family. And I was super creative with my other bands Shadows and Ruinous so I’ll have new records from them coming soon as well. The rest of the guys are pretty much home with their loved ones.

Now how does an Immolation song come together? Who pens the lyrics these days?

AB: Usually Bob will put together a template of a song with a drum machine and send it out to the rest of us to digest. If I have riff ideas I just send them to Bob to see if it fits in what he is currently writing. Ross I would say writes the majority of the lyrics but Bob also comes up with lyric ideas as well. They are usually finished while we are in the studio.

So who came up with the title “Acts of God”? Who did the artwork for the album?

AB: I’m not sure who came up with the title. Either Ross or Bob but I thought the title was fantastic very strong! Eliran Kantor did the cover. I think he did a great job it was what we were looking for and what we needed.

Before you guys hit the stage do you guys have any set ritual you do before you go on the stage? What is it like for you guys when you’re leaving the stage?

AB: Steve is usually doing his exercises. He has the hardest job in the band. I do my stretches for my arms hands and neck since I have a bunch of nerve issues etc. leaving the stage is hopefully a feeling a sense of accomplishment hopefully lol

Now you guys are older as am I. Does touring ever get to be a grind for you guys?

AB: I love playing live as well as all of us but touring can not be easy so much for me with age. But love the live experience and connecting with the fans. The hardest part is being away from my family.

Now I see the last few tours you have been opening for some impressive acts, you just got off the road with Cannibal Corpse and in May you’ll be hitting the road with Obituary. Will there ever be a headlining Immolation tour in the future?

AB: Yes the CC run was an amazing fire tour. And now looking forward to the Obituary tour that I’m sure will be equally as good. We did do a heading tour at the beginning of last year when the new record first came out and that was also awesome. But yes next headline tour in the States will be in 2024.

Have you guys even thought of any ideas about your next album?

AB: I and Bob still have riffs left that were not finished from the last one so at some point, we will pick up where we were and start on a new one.

Are you at all surprised that the band has lasted this long and that the death metal genre has lasted this long?

AB: Yes I am haha it’s kind of crazy here we all are at our age still going better than ever. Rock and roll keeps you young

3 cover tunes you guys would do if given say $500,000 to record?

AB: Haha wow I don’t know. There is a lot of stuff I would love to do some classic early metal from the ’70s ’80s. I can’t think of 3 off-hand but maybe classic stuff Priest Maiden and Motörhead.

If you were not playing music what do you think you would be doing with yourself these days?

AB: Wow I guess I would be working in an office somewhere waiting to go home to play the guitar haha.

Now tell me a bit about this band “Shadows” you’re also in. Is any new music from them coming out soon and where can people find the band on social media?

AB: Yes Shadows was started by myself and the original guitarist of my old band Goreaphobia. It’s more heavy dark rock / metal . Completely different from my death metal stuff. I am super excited about the band. We are finishing up our full-length record for Agonia Records so hopefully, that comes out by the end of next year. Also, I have my other band Ruinous which is super heavy death metal and we will be hitting the studio soon to record our second record. It’s going crush it so damn heavy and brutal. Also some other stuff in the works. I’m constantly busy working on stuff these days.

Speaking of social media, where can people find out the last news, merchandise, etc from Immolation?

AB: You can find us on all platforms Facebook Twitter Instagram etc. We also do have a website and web store:


Where do you see the band headed for the rest of 2023 and beyond?

AB: We are booked for the year so up next is our tour with Obituary, Blood Incantation and Ingrown and this is going to be a duck tour totally stoked for this one and more tours to be announced as the year rolls on so be on the lookout.

Alex horns up big time for this interview and I’ll see you in Phila, PA for that show with Obituary. Any last words to wrap this up?

AB: Thank you again Chris for the interview and your continuing support of the underground. I believe I first met you in 1987 at a Lethal Aggression show hard to believe we are both still here after all this time haha looking forward to seeing you and looking forward to hitting the road soon be on the lookout ?

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