Boulder Rolls to a Halt

Venerable Cleveland metal act calls it quits after 12 years.

No one in a Dying Fetus tee will ever be seated at the right hand of the Lord, but if heaven is closed to headbangers, Boulder frontman Jamie Walters's East Side home is the next best thing.

Walking through Walters's pad feels like stepping into the pages of an old Hit Parader. Everything seems to be adorned with either a pentagram, an inverted cross, or something with sharp teeth. Rare Venom picture discs line the walls alongside vintage posters of Possessed and Ritchie Blackmore. A massive assortment of vinyl, chockful of obscure greats like NME and Crucifixion, and thousands of CDs are stacked to the ceiling. In the basement, Kiss action figures in original packaging keep watch next to Metallica, Ozzy, and Misfits posable dolls.

It's a collection over 20 years in the making.

"I always look at it like I kind of got into it kind of late," Walters says of his love of heavy metal, which began after he heard Van Halen's "Jump" when he was in the fifth grade. "I know I was 10, but I should have got into it when I was six or seven."

Walters started playing out in metal bands before he was old enough to drive. His first group, Procreation (named after the Celtic Frost tune "Procreation of the Wicked"), landed a gig at the Berea Roll and Bowl when he was 15. He started the band with guitarist Terrence Hanchin, with whom he would launch Boulder a few years later. Since Walters attended school with everyone else in the band (including drummer Patrick Munn and guitarist Mark Gibbs) and spent the last 12 years turning Boulder into one of Cleveland's most combustible live acts, it comes as a surprise that the teeth-gnashing metal throwback has announced that its upcoming opening slot for W.A.S.P. at Peabody's this Saturday will be the band's last show in its hometown.

"No more live gigs," says Walters, clad in a Megadeth T-shirt, with short blond hair and the thin but sturdy build of a cornerback. "If Judas Priest or Metallica says, 'Hey, do you guys want to open for us?' we'd be like, 'Okay' -- which won't happen. As far as we see it, playing Cleveland doesn't make sense anymore. We've played it so many times; how many times can you play the same city? It's still fun and everything, it's nothing personal against Cleveland."

Boulder's recording career is winding down as well. The band has a three-song 7" due out shortly on Akron's Shifty Records, but that's likely to be it. "I would say, yeah, it would probably be the last of the new songs," says Walters, a surprisingly soft-spoken guy in contrast to his wild-eyed onstage demeanor, which consists of wielding his bass like a battle-axe and tossing lit firecrackers at the crowd. "We've just been doing this so long."

With everyone in the band having turned 30 in the past year, Boulder has grown tired of the touring life. Munn is concentrating on his rising career building skateboards and has recently put together a custom board for the band Death Angel. Gibbs is Slash in a local Guns and Roses tribute band. Walters's new one-man band, Midnight, cranks out dirty, old-school thrash.

"It was inspired by [Jeff] Shirilla's drum sound," Walters says of the frontman for Abdullah, a band he plays drums in. "The drum sound sounded completely early '80s, like Bathory or something. So I was like, 'We should record some tunes that sound like that.' So we recorded seven tunes at his place just for the hell of it and put it out on vinyl."

After it finishes an upcoming CD compilation of a recently issued 7" and a 12", along with four new songs, Midnight will be done as well. Abdullah and two other bands, Destructor and the Terminal Lovers, will occupy most of Walters's time. But this metal lifer hints that he may never close the book on Boulder.

"We were friends before this band, we'll be friends after this band, it's just another period in what we're doing." Walters says, a bit of his onstage defiance creeping into his voice. "If we want to still play music, we can go down in the basement and play music. We can do whatever we want."