Electric Wizard, Ghost, Times of Grace and more
Analog recording, proto-metal and more
Your vocals seem more prominent on this album, and on “Venus in Furs” they’re in kind of a higher register than usual—what brought about the change? Are you training yourself to be a better singer?
I’m not sure. Vocals are a muscle, I guess, so they get trained after a while, involuntarily. I just approached them differently on this album with different songs, just trying out different ideas, I guess. I’m not a real natural singer so I just kind of play it by ear and approach each song individually. It turned out pretty cool in most ways.
In what ways do you think this album improves on the one before it?
This album is more direct. It’s a continuation—each album is different, they’re not better or worse, just different. There’s an individual atmosphere for each record. But this one is a continuation of Witchcult Today. Witchcult Today is kind of an initiation process, a luring record, and this one is the affirmation of everything we stand for, and the idea is to sort of put our stamp on it.
What would you most like to improve about the band or the music at this point?
More amps, I think. I’d like to be louder.
In what ways does having two guitars benefit the band?
It’s opened out the possibilities. We’ve been listening to a lot of stuff, from Yardbirds through Judas Priest, just to get inspiration from two-guitar set-ups. I like the way it works, and the band has to progress in certain ways. We’ve been going for almost 20 years now.
Who does most of the guitar soloing, you or Liz?
I do probably the most, because I have a big ego. She likes to use quality of notes, I just go for it.
What role does a producer play in shaping your sound? Can you point to anything where someone outside the band had a strong voice in how things turned out?
It’s having someone else’s ideas. It’s hard being objective yourself, so if you find someone whose opinion you can trust, you can at least get an opinion on where you’re going. Because it’s really quite insular, you know, we’re creating our own sound, so you can get lost in it sometimes. So it’s good to have someone who can look at it from the outside and say “Wait a minute,” or “This is really good; you should be doing this.” You can discard stuff cause you get too intense, you know, and it’s good shit. Or you can keep going with something shitty.
Does the band record live in the studio, or do you lay down one instrument at a time?
We record live. We always have. For this style of music, there needs to be a hypnotic quality and that’s achieved through playing together and direct contact.
So do songs wind up being longer than you originally wrote them?
What are the benefits of analog recording for your music?
It’s more of a challenge, and it’s somehow easier in many ways. With Protools or whatever, the possibilities are too endless. I think you can disappear up your own ass in some ways. I like the immediacy of recording analog. That’s pretty much what you’ve got when you record it, you know? To do it better, you’ve gotta get a better performance, get better equipment, but there’s no hiding from it. I like that hands-on feel rather than sitting in front of a screen.
On some of the earlier records there were some experimental tracks with dub elements, like "Ivixor B/Phase Inducer" from Come My Fanatics... or “Night of the Shape” from Let Us Prey. Why don’t you do things like that anymore?
There’s no reason, really. It’s all part of how each album feels. I don’t think we try to set any agenda when we start. A lot of our influences come out in our songs—people we’re hanging out with, things that have happened. It’s sort of a document of a few years of the band, the obsessions of the group.
Your album art and the whole visual side of the band is very '70s retro, but the music isn’t at all—there’s really no '70s band that sounded the way you guys do. Why do you think stoner doom has this retro tag attached to it?
Well, for ourselves, we try to sound timeless in many ways. I don’t want to sound of any particular era. I guess aesthetically I’m stuck in an era because of all the stuff we’re into, the comic books and horror movies and shit—it all lends itself to that type of aesthetic. I do prefer real art to modern stuff and photography and shit. It’s all part of that sort of Luddite attitude. I don’t believe in technology, I don’t like it.
Do you feel like there’s something uniquely English to the character of the band, and if so, how would you describe that quality?
Well, I think yeah, we sound like where we come from, and I think any good band should have a cultural sort of quality to them. You should hear their background. I know where we come from is quite distant from the city scenes, London and that, so our sound is more introverted and expansive, more obsessed and occult because we don’t really interact with a lot of people. And Englishness, probably just in the Hammer horror aesthetic of graveyards and castles.
How do you deal with the legacy of Dopethrone, with the idea that for a lot of critics especially, but even some listeners, that’s where they stop, that’s the album they think you’ll never beat? How do you get people to recognize that you’ve progressed over time?
I don’t know. People can obsess about that if they want, but I think they’re missing out, because we’re always doing something challenging. I don’t think we make anything better or anything worse, but we always offer something. An obsession with the album is an obsession with the era, I suppose, but you can only record your youthful indiscretions once.
With that in mind, where do you see the role of artistic maturity in Electric Wizard?
Hopefully in the songwriting. Not the sound, but the songwriting. And being able to get the effect [we’re after] more succinctly. Just get people in the zone immediately. Cut away any fat or flab. You never know. We do change a lot. The next album could be a lot more expansive. It could be only two songs. We are quite reactionary. What we’ve been listening to the last few years have led us this way—tons of '60s bands, and stuff like Alice Cooper, the Runaways, Judas Priest, even early Slayer, tons of song-oriented metal. That shows up in our songwriting, it’s a reflection of the people we are. We don’t try to be contrived, we always end up sounding like Electric Wizard.
Do you have any plans to tour the US in support of this album?
There’s always plans. There’s serious talk about coming over in the autumn at some point. It’s just sorting everything, the logistics of it all. It’s a pain in the ass, to be honest. They check everything now. It’s frightful. A few marijuana charges when you’re barely a teenager, and they get pissed off about it now when I’m almost 40.
What are your favorite bands from the ’70s, other than the obvious one of Black Sabbath? Can you recommend a couple of obscure bands or albums that people should check out?
What really inspired us was Dust*. They were a big influence on this album. We listened to a lot of that. I’ve been listening to the Pretty Things, especially SF Sorrow and the Electric Banana stuff**, just cause it’s really aggressive fuzz guitar. We’re into a lot of proto-metal at the moment, the birthplace of it all.
**The Pretty Things were a punky, acid-rock band from the UK, much more aggressive than their '60s peers. They made extra money recording library music under the alias Electric Banana. These tracks were originally used for low-budget movie scores, and later compiled on several albums, often without revealing that it was really the Pretty Things performing.
Wino on tour, Soundgarden releasing live album, more
Feb. 05 - Viper Room - Hollywood, CA
Feb. 07 - Casbah - San Diego, CA
Feb. 08 - Emo's - Austin, TX
Feb. 09 - Abbey Pub - Chicago, IL
Feb. 10 - Great Scott - Allston, MA
Feb. 11 - Sonar - Baltimore, MD (w/Darsombra)
Feb. 12 - Mercury Lounge - New York, NY (w/Man's Gin)
02. Searching With My Good Eye Closed
03. Let Me Drown
Crosby Hall, Del Mar Fairgrounds, Del Mar, CA - 11/30/96
04. Head Down
Mercer Arena, Seattle, WA - 12/18/96
Crosby Hall - 11/30/96
06. Rusty Cage
Pacific National Exhibition Forum, Vancouver, BC, Canada - 12/7/96
07. Burden In My Hand
Salem Armory, Salem, OR - 12/8/96
08. Helter Skelter
09. Boot Camp
Crosby Hall - 11/30/96
10. Nothing To Say
Mercer Arena - 12/18/96
11. Slaves And Bulldozers
13. Fell On Black Days
Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center, Oakland, CA - 12/5/96
14. Search And Destroy
Mercer Arena - 12/18/96
15. Ty Cobb
Crosby Hall - 11/30/96
16. Black Hole Sun
Mercer Arena - 12/17/96
17. Jesus Christ Pose
Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center - 12/5/96
Four stages, two dozen bands, all free
First track from "Dirge" now on YouTube
2. COMPULSIVE DISPOSITION
3. ALL GO NO EMO
4. PUBLIC DISPLAY OF INFECTION
5. OVERPOWERED VIOLENCE
6. SEMICONCIOUS GODSIZE DUMBASS
7. SPOT A PATHETIC
8. EVOLVED INTO NOTHING
9. BUTT KRIEG IS SHOWING
10. F***ING FIERCE SO WHAT
11. FEROCIOUS BOMBARDMENT
12. PRINCIPLE OF THE PUPPET WARFARE
13. DECEASED OCCUPATION
14. WASTE OF TIME
15. STENCH OF IGNORANCE
16. METEOR TO THE FACE
17. ADDICTS OF MISERY
18. YOU SUFFER BUT WHY IS IT MY PROBLEM
19. ERASED EXISTENCE
20. BACK STABBER MISSION ABORTED
21. DESTRUCT THE BASTARDS
22. PLUNGED INTO ILLUSIONS
24. A DEAD ISSUE
25. THE FINAL INSULT
"Live at Hammersmith Odeon" 3LP Set Out Now
Members of Anthrax, Atreyu, Papa Roach, others expected
Belphegor, Sodom, A.C.
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