Thursday 30 August 2012

Interview with Liam from Black Magician

Black Magician 'Nature Is The Devil's Church' Artwork

Today on Sludgelord I am interviewing Liam Yates ace vocalist from British Doom Metallers - Black Magician. I reviewed their brilliant debut album earlier this month.

Q1 – For People not in the know – Can you tell them how the band came about, When you formed etc...

We formed a year ago, around the time of the riots. It seemed like an appropriate time to start a doom band! I was in a band previously, but it was just drunken jams and wasn’t really going anywhere. I was looking for people to do something new, and a friend suggested I spoke to Kyle (our guitarist), who was into the same things. I’d seen him around, so I knew who he was (the waxed moustache!), and I approached him at a gig. Drunken rants about Vitus, Candlemass and Paul Chain ensued, and that sealed the deal. The line up was completed when the others answered the call...

Q2 – How would yourselves describe your sound. I love the mixture of Occult Rock and Doom you guys have place in your music

We coined the phrase ‘Olde English Pastoral Doom Metal’ to describe the sound and the themes we’re influenced by, primarily doom metal and prog-folk. We’re not an ‘occult’ band in the way that someone like the Devils Blood could be called occult rock. We’re interested in those themes, but it’s not the main focus of the band.

Q3 – Which bands influence you on your music.

We love all the obvious stuff, the old guard of heavy metal like Vitus, Pentagram, Sabbath, Candlemass, Trouble, Count Raven, Celtic Frost, NWOBHM. Also 60s and 70s prog, psych and folk, such as Fairport Convention, early Jethro Tull, King Crimson, Clive’s Original Band, Hawkwind, Gentle Giant, Arzachel, Graham Bond Organisation, Elias Hulk, Steel Mill, Trapeze, early Van der Graaf Generator, May Blitz and High Tide.

Q4 – How has your music been received by fans and critics. Has it all been positive.

So far it’s all been really positive. We’ve received praise from bands we love and who have influenced us. The live shows have gone down really well. People seem to dig it. For our second gig we supported Premontion 13 and received Wino’s famous iron handshake of approval.

Q5 – Is the band a Full Time Project or do you have normal jobs to do as well to support the band.

In my mind it’s more than a full time job, I’m constantly thinking about the release, the next gig, lyrics, riffs etc. It’s not something that can be switched on and off or put to one side. Obviously though we all have to work to support the band. One day we’ll set up a Black Magician commune in the country and we’ll be able to live off selling goats milk. English doom Spahn Ranch..

Q6 – How do you cope with families, full time jobs and being part of a band. It must be a struggle at times. Are you families an friends supportive of your band and music.

Everyone is supportive. Our friends are always ready to drive the van, help with gear, sell merch and promote the gigs. Work is a misery we all must endure! If we could make a living from this we’d quit our jobs today. Maybe one day..

Q7 – What is the song-writing process like in the band. Is it a whole band collective or individuals that write the music.

Usually I’ll come up with some lyrics or Kyle will have some riffs, we’ll build around them and then jam it out and see where it goes. Songs keep evolving and expanding, especially with the newer stuff where there is more of a proggy element.

Q8 – How did you guys hook up with Shaman Recordings and Burning World Records. Q10 – It must be cool having your first record released on Vinyl. And in a nice limited edition as well.

Lee first saw us supporting Premonition 13. He later approached us at another gig and asked us if we wanted to put a record out. We’d already had a few offers, but Lee’s ideas fit with our own. He’s got a tireless work ethic and a positive attitude, and he pushed us to make it all happen. The plan was to release 300 copies on vinyl, we hadn’t given any thought to a CD release at this point. A promo copy found its way to Jurgen at Burning World, and he got in touch and asked if we wanted to do a CD.

Q9 – What is the gig scene like in your home town. Do you get a chance to do a lot of local shows or do you have to travel further away from home to get your music across

For a while there wasn’t really much going on here, but now there are people working to get more interesting gigs coming to Liverpool. Our friends in Behind the Wall of Sleep promotions put on a wide variety of shows from psych and folk, to hardcore and metal. The Iron Witch guys also bring a lot of the heavier bands. Things have really improved since these guys started up, cheap gigs at good venues with everyone getting involved. We enjoy home town gigs, but we want to travel as much as possible to take our music to new audiences.

Q10 – What do you think of the current state of British Doom/Sludge/Stoner Metal. There are some amazing bands starting to make their mark such as Undersmile, CONAN, Mother Corona, Wizard's Beard and yourselves of course.

There are some great doom and heavy metal bands around at the moment. I don’t really pay much attention to stoner metal. A lot of the so called doom bands around these days are playing kyuss/Sleep style stoner rock. I avoid any bands with “Weed” or “Dope” in their names. They seem to forget that doom is rooted firmly in heavy metal. Bands like Serpent Venom, Age of Taurus, Asomvel, Wytch Hazel, Solstice, The Lamp of Thoth are all doing great things with an old heavy metal vibe. Our bass player John played in Conan, they rehearse in the room opposite us. Great chaps!

Q11 – Have you toured with any famous bands and have you got any interesting stories from your tours?

We’ve made sure that we’ve played with bands we’re fans of, like Premonition 13, Wounded Kings and Serpent Venom. We set out to play shows for the bikers and burn outs, the old guard just as much as a younger crowd.. At a recent gig we were given a big bag of drugs by an old hippy who happened to see the show. We were told by the promoter that he will often turn up and “reward” a band he has enjoyed.

Q12 – What are the most and least rewarding aspects of participating with the band.

Playing gigs is definitely the most rewarding, it’s great to see the crowd’s reaction. When we played in Edinburgh they went wild. There was a guy dressed like 80s Bruce Dickinson (with the haircut) headbanging in front of us the whole time. It was our most memorable gig so far. I don’t think there’s anything that isn’t rewarding. Even when things can be frustrating, like the organisational side, we know we’re working towards something worthwhile.

Q13 – What is your view of bands and blogs giving away music for free. Lot of bands and people have different perspectives. 

We streamed one of our tracks on Sleeping Shaman as a preview for the album, and the whole album was streamed on the Soggy Bog podcast. I think blogs are a great way to get your music heard, but when you put everything into making an album, from the writing and recording to the final presentation, you want people to be able to experience it as intended, rather than just downloading a few MP3s. The artwork and presentation of the album are just as important as the music for us. As long as people want to hear and come see us play then I am happy.

Q14 – Finally what are the future plans for the band. Probably touring your new album. Hope you guys make it to Newcastle. Was gutted you couldn't make DOOMSDAY Festival at Trillians. But I did manage to see CONAN crush the entire audience.

We’re planning to tour later this year, so keep an eye out for that. We want to be on the road as much as possible, and to find new and unusual places to play – forests, ruined churches, caves, tunnels etc. We also want to move on with writing and recording the next album. We have access to an isolated cottage in a valley in Wales where can lock ourselves away, like Traffic did with Mr. Fantasy. We will make it to Newcastle next time! Hopefully Cronos will turn up...

Yeah hopefully.... Well thanks again for taking the time out to do this. All the best for your brilliant new album. Thanks. Steve.

I have to thank Lee from The Sleeping Shaman/Shaman Recordings for setting this interview for me. Much Appreciated Lee.

Check This Great Band Below:

Official - Still Under Construction