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As summer ends, it's time for one of the most appreciated bands in the genre to wake from slumber. Having strongly divided the scene with precedent releases 'Black Masses' and 'Legalize Drugs And Murder', what have Electric Wizard in store this time? Mastermind Jus Oborn tells us what happens when it's 'Time To Die'.

Interview with Electric Wizard.
You have a new bassist and a new drummer: how did you recruit them for the Cult of the Wizard Electric?

Simon Poole had played in Wizard for a year before. He was the drummer at our biggest UK gig in 2012 at the Forum in London, and the devastating performance at Maryland DeathFest 2012. Clayton was someone we had known for a while – we haven't had a reliable bassist for years. When Satan’s Satyrs signed to a UK label, it become possible for him to be in the UK for some jams. But, y'know… we always have a circle of musicians we can call upon… you get to know people over the years.

It becomes more and more difficult to keep a solid line-up as a band gets older… people drift away or have girlfriends, kids… go to prison, become Christians, etc, etc, haha…

You’ve left Rise Above Records to sign with Spinefarm Records: now, it’s quite unusual for an English band to sign on a Finnish label. What brought this choice, and what do you think Spinefarm will bring to you that other possibly interested labels (Nuclear Blast, etc…) could not give you?

Well, firstly we started our own label, Witchfinder Records, after our split from Rise Above… But it became obvious we wouldn't be able to run the business side of things, so we knew we had to find a label to handle that shit. We talked to everyone, and everyone was pretty cool and treated us with a lot of respect. In the end, Spinefarm offered 100% control… which is the only real way forward for a band like Electric Wizard… we have to be able to create and break our own rules and boundaries…

Also, they have a UK office now.

Your last album is 4 years old already, and your only sign of record life was the 'Legalize Drugs And Murder' EP 2 years ago: what took you so long to release a new album? Is writing for EW a hard task?

Haha… well as you can imagine, we have done 7-8 albums now, so it is hard to do anything without the risk of repeating yourself…Legalise… was meant to be a kinda experiment in repeating ourselves... it was a 'cut-up' of previous riffs, lyrics, influences, etc, etc, but… I dunno, re-fucked, haha… kinda like Jess Franco's ‘Exorcism And Black Masses’/‘Sadist Of Notre Dame’/‘Demoniac’
(NOTE: in 1978, notorious Spanish B-movie maker Jess Franco released, in French language only, a movie named « Exorcismes Et Messes Noires », i.e ; « Exorcisms And Black Masses ». This movie was later re-released internationally with porno inserts instead of some of the torture scenes under the title « Sadist Of Notre-Dame ». Later that same year, a heavily censored English language only version was released in the US and UK under the title « Demoniac ». The original French version has been used as a backdrop movie by the band for their live performances these past 5 years. It's hard to find but available on French DVD, without bonuses and subtitles).
But it takes longer and longer to gestate each LP now because each one is more and more of a challenge… we have really strict 'quality control' and, well, what the fuck can we do? We have to evolve as a band and not become complacent and weak.”

« Time To Die » and « I Am Nothing » are strange titles for songs: is it, in some ways, a statement for the band?

Yeah… this album is a meditation of death. Its pretty fuckin’ serious, and well, basically, the band and the LP have been cursed. Many of our old friends and allies turned out to be fakes and liars… I don't think they always were, but they changed – mainly because of money and greed and jealousy… typical human weaknesses. It was sad that everyone was reduced to this in the end… I gave up on humanity… we moved to the middle of nowhere… and then we brooded and seethed with hatred and resentment.

Then we decided to just focus it all into the LP… so it’s more than a statement, it’s like a fuckin’ finger to the world and the human race…"fuck you very much and goodnight!" kinda thing, hahaha…

In the wake of 'Black Masses', we’ve heard a change of sound in EW: mostly speed up tempos that weren’t your trademark before. There was also Melodic Rock and 60’s psyche Rock influences. This new sound is once again found on 'Time To Die', albeit differently: what brought this evolution in the sound of Electric Wizard?

I dunno really… I mean everything you listen to subconsciously influences you. We listen to a lot of ’60s psych and acid rock… a ton of Detroit stuff, too… Amboy Dukes, MC5, Stooges… I like music which is heavy and sinister, but with energy or some kinda tension in the sound. I still listen to everything I ever listened to as well… Venom, Hellhammer, Sabbath, Vitus, Acid, Witchfinder General, etc… but I never hear any new doom which is actually heavy… it’s all production or pedals these days… just fancy-ass equipment. We are always trying to push ourselves and our equipment, but we haven't really changed our set-up since the start… with this in mind we always thought we were free to kinda take the band on whatever journey or tangent we wanted – as long as we kept the loud Sound City Amps, the Wah, the ’70s-style drums, etc... we would retain our identity, our sound… it’s always gonna be heavy with that feedback and volume.

There’s strictly no info available about the recording process this time: where did it take place, who gave you such a sound this time, and how do you think the recording process was different for 'Time To Die' than for your previous records?

The album was recorded at Toerag studios in London and mixed (with some extra recordings) at Skyhammer in Cheshire with Chris Fielding. Overall production was done by myself and the band. I think this LP is the first since ‘Let Us Prey’ that was self-produced, though all the EPs were self-produced. Labels always want you to use a producer or some fuckin’ 'name', but we know our own sound. We funded this LP so we could do what we wanted this time. The recording process was the same, though… we try to get the basic tracks done live in a few days.

I think that 'Time To Die' is a logical continuity for the band, if taken in comparison to your discography as a whole. Could you go as far as Opeth did and release an entirely non-metal album, if going further this way? Would it be something that would interest you, either with Electric Wizard or with another band?

Yeah, maybe, but I hope it would be more fucked-up kinda stuff like Throbbing Gristle… I love extremity in sound, attitude, art, music. We wouldn't want to make a 'mellow or ‘pop' album… fuck that weak shit. Mind-raping noise or like fuckin’ more primitive than Stooges or Ramones kinda rock ‘n’roll is what interests me… it's always fun playing really confrontational stuff where you can see people’s minds being blown… haha

You’re credited, among others, to have brough the occult B movies/nude witches trend in Doom: how have those pulp influences had an impact on your music? Is it important, to you, to maintain these pulp influences when writing a track?

When we started, it was very important to us not to copy other bands with our image or lyrical content… we wanted an original concept. We all grew up with the pulpy novels and comics and mags and films… I never liked mainstream shit… even when I was very young, I remember checking out the sleazy horror books and biker novels at the newsagent while my mum was shopping. Then you could check out the lobby-cards and the forthcoming attractions at the local Tivoli cinema… if you were lucky, there was a horror double-bill. Anyway, it kinda stuck and I dug the way the art really worked with our music, too… it seemed very natural at the time.

At Hellfest 2011, you had projected on a screen behind the band the very rare uncensored french version of Jess Franco’s classic « The Sadist Of Notre-Dame » (better known under the french name « Exorcismes Et Messes Noires », i.e. Exorcisms and Black Masses): why the choice of this specific film to represent the imagery of Electric Wizard?

Jess Franco and Jean Rollin are some of my favourites… Franco always looks great on a big screen and 'Exorcismes' is a favourite. And it was the uncut French version… but it was Hellfest, right? It was our salut…The film is very consistent with its cool images as well…very visual… the narrative is still there too.

Is imagery important to Electric Wizard?

Of course… I think it is to all the best bands – well, all my faves, anyway. To me, it’s a very important part to getting into a band or a musician… it sets the scene. I listen to music completely, it’s not ambient or blaring in my headphones, so if the lyrics and imagery are wrong it can ruin the experience… haha… of course, it can be very wrong and really enhance the music… some bands specialise in that unease. Our imagery brings you to the gateway of our world and it’s up to you then… I hope people delve deeper behind us… we've created a whole cosmography behind our music, our own history, our own version of events and ways of looking at the world . Our fans understand it.

You’ll be soon performing at the Jabberwocky, in London, on August the 16th, a special set: what will this live show will contain? Will it be somewhat related to the fact that you’ve been curator to the Roadburn festival?

We will be previewing some new material… our LP still won't be released so we cannot play the whole new set, but soon we will. The new material is fuckin’ destructive live… yeah, I think we wanna progress our show. We need to be able to pace the set so we can play more than 1hr 30 mins without collapsing, haha… it can be done I think with a cool light show and more instrumental parts.

I'd rather forget about Roadburn… too much politics and fashions… I was very unhappy in the end. Great bands, though, and it was a dream to see Pretty Things, Dream Death and Genesis P .Orridge on the same stage….

Interview originally realised in French for Metallian Magazine no. 85, September/October 2014.

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Visit the Electric Wizard bandpage.

Interviewed on 2014-09-14 by Laurent Lignon.
Aesthetic Death
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