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Electric Wizard are, of course, big enough news in the Doom world that any new release gets press interest. We're no exception, so here's a brief chat with Jus Oborn about 'Wizard Bloody Wizard'...

Interview with Electric Wizard.
"It's a fairly open secret in the Doom world that Jus Oborn can be famously difficult to interview. Nonetheless, with the latest Electric Wizard album, 'Wizard Bloody Wizard', marking the first studio outing of the current line-up as well a new deal with Spinefarm Records, it seemed like the right time to give it a try. Clearly, not all of the questions found favour, but it was an interesting experience regardless..."

Talking to us today: Jus Oborn.

Hello Jus - I guess neither you nor Electric Wizard really need an introduction to even the most casual fan of the Stoner/Doom scene, so maybe I could begin by asking: you must have been interviewed hundreds of times by now. Does it give you anything back - insight, connection or whatever - to once again be talking about the band history, motives and music, or is it just a part of the job?

It's always a difficult question. Our history has been quite complicated. I think it would take a book to write the history of Electric Wizard, it's been too long and crazy now…y'know so many highs (literally..haha) and too many lows but it would make a pretty interesting story. I always say when something fucked-up is happening 'this will be the good bit in the movie'. It's all rock'n'roll.

So, how are you doing right now? Kicking back now that the new album's in the can and heading for the shelves, or gearing up for promotional and release activities?

Yeah doing promo stuff and working on another video.

And in the rest of the Electric Wizard camp? You've had a stable four-piece line-up for the past few years, but the forthcoming 'Wizard Bloody Wizard' is your first output - how are you all getting on together?

haha…well all seems good. We are working on some new songs for an EP.

This line-up has toured a few times together now and we haven't got on each other's nerves yet.

Electric Wizard 2017: Clayton Burgess (bass), Jus Oborn (guitars, vocals), Liz Buckingham (guitars), Simon Poole (drums).

It's taken a while for the album to materialise. Is that just an inevitable consequence of the extra work involved in trying to keep your output varied and avoid repeating yourselves?

Actually the main reason for the delay was a bunch of technical problems with the studio.

I have to say, 'Wizard Bloody Wizard' seems, by Electric Wizard standards, a surprisingly mellow release. Lyrically, it still ventures into some pretty dark places, but it doesn't sound like it comes from the same depths of misanthropy and hate as previous releases. I'd describe it as more musically accessible, even, than 'Witchcult Today' - would you consider that a fair observation?

I don't think it's that mellow…it's generally kinda faster and more aggressive sounding. I think some stuff on Side B is mellower sounding but I think they have darker lyrical themes. I know this record is lot more Heavy Rock sounding than before…and the rhythm section is way tighter. I guess maybe the song writing is a bit more accessible and it sounds way better than our last 2 LP's but I think it's more evil and sadistic.

Electric Wizard - See You In Hell (Official):

There's a strong feel of relaxed, bluesy jamming running through it, with the feel of classic '60s/'70s bands - loud and heavy, but with a largely clean psychedelic vibe. I guess I'd be dusting through references like Andromeda, Wicked Lady, Budgie, maybe some old Rubble collections, and even perhaps Hawkwind if I was reviewing it - are those any part of your musical inspiration for the album?

Yeah these things have always been an inspiration. When we started the biggest influences were Black Sabbath, Budgie and Blue Cheer. I think we have always had this sound…in the 90's doom was very boring and gothic sounding and we definatly wanted to bring in influences from heavy 70's rock. I think this is the basis of our sound, I mean everyone in the south west of England is inspired by Hawkwind.

A similar surprise was the lack of samples. No bad thing, given that they've become something of a cliche, but it has been something of an Electric Wizard trademark to include them as points of reference. So what were your source materials this time around, and did they not need that kind of acknowledgement?

Really…? 'Let Us Prey' had no samples, 'We Live' had one sample added cos our label insisted on it. 'Witch cult Today' and 'Black Masses' had no samples either. I don't think it's important.

I probably have to ask - hopefully without causing offense - given you could almost call 'Wizard Bloody Wizard' a commercially viable retro-styled album rather than a cult favourite: has that got anything to do with being signed to a more mainstream and commercially successful Metal label like Spinefarm?


Electric Wizard - Wizard Bloody Wizard (Full):

Regardless, it seems kind of subversive to be doing something that doesn't necessarily fit with what people might have anticipated from Electric Wizard - are you having some fun messing around with expectations here?

We always want to be subversive. As time moves on you have to find different ways to achieve that. Of course we enjoy fucking with peoples expectations…I like to think we are artists not just fucking entertainers.

So, how much of the album was driven was driven by where you wanted to take it, and how much came from input from the rest of the current band line-up?

All good music is the sum of it's parts. I can't play or enjoy music unless there is a chemistry between the musicians. We have problems with line-ups because sometimes that feeling isn't there and it becomes impossible to write new stuff. But with Simon and Clayton it wasn't a problem, we have all been playing together for a few years and it's works very well.

Usually Liz and I write some riffs, then we jam with our band.

What's next for Electric Wizard: any ideas? Are we likely to see along the super-extreme lines of Throbbing Gristle that you've alluded to in previous interviews? Or something equally radical, heading off at a different tangent?

Who knows? Honestly we always end up playing some kinda doomy heavy metal music. I've tried other sounds and projects but it all ends up being part of Electric Wizard.

I suppose that's all leading up to the obvious question: after nearly 25 years in the business, and having achieved widespread acknowledgement as a genuine and lasting influence and inspiration, what's left for you to prove or demonstrate? Or is it enough to go down the same route as many of the '60 and '70s bands: stay contemporary, stay visible, and carry on gigging long past where most of us hope to settle into peaceful retirement?

Gotta pay the rent man….how the fuck can we retire? I don't have a day job.

On that subject of becoming a cult name, and an influence and an inspiration. Does that ever seem like more of a burden than a source of pride and achievement?

At first it meant something but now it is a burden….y'know people tell me what music I should play. It has become a shackle sometimes…everyone has stolen our art since Witchcult Today and now people see it as the image of the whole genre. Then we look cliched because everyone copied us! It's depressing when people copy you and your style but don't credit or acknowledge it

And what would you like Electric Wizard's eventual epitaph to be?

"they recorded other LP's apart from crappy Dopethrone"

Looking back over the band's long history, do you have a favourite period or line-up: one which really epitomises everything you wanted to do or put across?


And, equally, is there anything you really regret about the way things turned out? Anything you'd rather have done differently along the way?

I wish we had recorded Black Masses somewhere else. It was such a great record but it sounded like total shit. I knew the producer was fucking it up but he insisted he was right. After that we decided that we were gonna produce ourselves.

What's the single most important lesson you've learned from all these years in the underground scene?

Trust nobody. Fuck everyone.

As a very doom-metal specific question: what do you consider to be the critical elements of a Doom album? Do you focus on those when you're writing tracks, or is the whole 'genre' thing a secondary, or irrelevant, consideration?

We always try to write good songs. Doom to me is in my soul and whatever I play will have that spirit. If you try to write to a genre you are just an actor playing a role…it's not real. Thats the problem with music today , it's not from the soul its just a stylistic thing. Genres are a prison for real artists.

Anything more you'd like to add, just to finish this off with a final word?

Where's the weed at?

Note: A version of this interview was originally published in print format in FIRE Magazine Issue 7, Autumn 2017.

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Visit the Electric Wizard bandpage.

Interviewed on 2018-02-20 by Mike Liassides.
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