Saturday 20 September 2014

Interview with Old Man Lizard

Today's guests have a weird and wonderful sound compared to other bands. Their blend of Country, Rustic, Sludge and Stoner Metal had me raving on about their début album – Lone Wolf vs Brown Bear which I described as:

I have been waiting a very long time for this album. And I am pleased to say it's been worth the fucking wait. I originally became aware of Old Man Lizard back in Feb 2012 when I featured their excellent début EP. It was a stunning blend of Stoner, Sludge, Doom metal riffs.

Well it's time for their début album – Lone Wolf vs Brown Bear – a highly dangerous and volatile mix of Sludge, Doom, Stoner, Blues and Country music. Now don't let the Country aspect put you off as you will be missing out on something special here.

If you were disappointed by Baroness last album – Yellow & Green and waiting for the loud epic riffs which don't really appear. Well that's what Old Man Lizard have delivered. An album that Baroness should of made but failed to do so. As Old Man Lizard expertly combine different elements for one insane ride you won't soon forget about.”

I seen these guys in concert in June 2014 when they opened for Wo Fat/Mothership Texas Takeover tour in London. So I was already a fan of this band's unique style of music. I had to find out more about from Old Man Lizard.

Q1 – Hi guys. Thanks for doing this. How are things with you all today.

We are all wonderful, thanks for asking.

Q2 – Can you tell our readers a brief history on how the band started and where it is today.

Well, two of us (Jack and Gav) are cousins, we went to school together and we have been playing music together since we were 12 years old. Dan, our drummer, also went to the same school and we have all been good mates since we were teenagers.

We all played in various bands through our school and college life and then went our separate ways for University. Upon graduating and returning home, a few drunken conversations down the pub materialised into a band. At the first practice something clicked, we found that we all played together very naturally and all aspired to creating the same sound.

Q3 – So. How would you describe your sound. As you truly have a strange and wonderful sound that you don't come across within the Sludge/Stoner Metal scene.

That is a tough one! People have (very kindly) compared us to Baroness, early Clutch, and Harvey Milk, which we understand and these bands are all big influences of ours.

We are very purposefully not retreading the tired steps of Stoner, Sludge and Doom. There are some truly great bands from these genres but there is also a lot of boring, generic crap being churned out from these genres too. For example, it’s very obvious if a band has set out to be “stoner” or “desert” rock and they haven’t listened to anything outside of John Garcia’s discography; Stoner rock without grunge and hardcore running through its veins is, frankly, boring.

We try not to produce anything monotonous, when we write a riff we spend time making it our own, by using interesting chords and harmonies. Within each song we try to draw influence from a wide and interesting range of genres. We aren’t exactly sure how to describe our sound, we’ll leave that up to you guys.

Q4 – How did you all become involved with music.

We have all been rocking out since our early teens. We all just followed our passions and inevitably became more and more deeply involved in music.

Q5 – Why the name Old Man Lizard. Any specific meaning behind it.

No specific meaning, just a cool type of lizard.

Q6 – So lets get talking about your new album. Lone Wolf vs Brown Bear. Awesome album. Was it a hard or easy album to write and record for.

The whole thing came really naturally. The writing of the album was all done in our practice space (a filthy, greasy factory in Suffolk), which is a great pressure free environment to create music in, no time limits, no fees and plenty of cups of tea.

We were lucky enough to record with Sam Thredder (Slabdragger) at the Cro’s Nest in London ( The man is a recording Wizard! We recorded the guitar, bass and drums live; this gave us a chance to really get into the music and we feel this has come across in the recordings. The whole recording process was totally relaxed and this helped us to play to our full potential.

Q7 – It's been a long time coming as I heard it was supposed to be released in Summer/Autumn 2013. Can you please advise why the delay for the record.

The original label pulled out, so we were sitting on the record for about a year. Then Wicker Man came along and offered us a deal to release it.

Q8 – I bet you're glad that the album is finally out for everyone to hear now. Looking back would you change anything about the album.

We are really happy with it, there isn’t really anything we would want to change.

Q9 – What is the overall concept of the album for people that haven't heard it.

We are really into nature documentaries and this album explores the awesome/obscure/brutal sides of nature. This includes things that swim up your willy, conker fights, fighting for survival in the desert, being eaten alive by fish. It also includes some elements of human nature, Sea of Witches is about our local night life and Beezlebeer Blues is a twisted look at preachers.

Q10 – Why did you call the album – Lone Wolf vs Brown Bear. Any particular meaning behind it.

It actually started out as a joke- picture those terrible (awesome) wolf t shirts that fat beardy blokes wear at beer festivals- but when we finished writing we realised that it actually fit the album perfectly!

Q11 – Which bands and artists influenced you as musicians. Any particular band or album that stand out.

Other than the obvious, we feel the following bands have really lent a big influence to our sound:

-This Will Destroy You
-Harvey Milk
-Nirvana (Bleach/In Utero)

David Attenborough is a massive hero and influence on us; one of the lines in “Return of the Wildebeest” is actually a direct quote.

Our surroundings are also a huge influence on us. We live in Suffolk, in the middle of nowhere surrounded by beautiful meadows, woods, rivers and open countryside and we feel this is reflected in our sound.

Q12 – Love the album cover. Who designed the cover and how much input did you have with overall design.

Sick” Mike Dicken did all the drawing and design for the cover. He is a very talented man and we were lucky enough to be able to just leave him to it and trust that he would come up with something awesome. With very little consultation, he delivered!

Q13 – What is the song-writing process in the band. Is it down to one individual or is it a group collective.

We all bring riffs to the table and we then build a song around them. We all have equal say and all help crafting the song, we are very lucky to all have similar ideas and we have never found it hard to agree on what works or what doesn’t.

All our favourite songs tend to come from jams, though. That’s the most natural way to create music.

Q14 – How big of a help has BandCamp and the Doom/Sludge/Stoner Metal community been in promoting your music.

Without any of this, no one would have heard of us. We are forever grateful!

Q15 – What is your verdict on the current state of the UK Sludge/Doom/Stoner Metal scene. It has been thriving over the last few years. Can you see this continuing or do you see a natural decline when you're performing gigs at home or on the road.

The scene is booming and it will continue to do so! Festival like Temples and Desertfest are prime examples of how big the scene is at the moment. Is all one big party with the best dudes and killer music, long may it continue!

Q16 – What is your musical set-up when playing live or recording your music. Any hints and tips would you like to give to the budding musicians out there.

We have a very simple live set up, which we bought into the studio. We figure if we keep things simple, less can go wrong, and we still achieve a diverse sound.

So our advice would be keep your setup simple, don’t bother with elaborate pedal boards or over complicated drum set ups; rehearse and record in a relaxed environment; don’t be afraid of mid (especially bassists); be pro but make sure you still have fun!

Q17 – We are massive Vinyl Heads here at Sludgelord. Are you vinyl fans yourselves.

Vinyl is the best.

Q18 – Do you guys perform a lot of gigs in your home town or do you have to travel further afield to perform regularly.

We have a really good music scene locally in Colchester which we are lucky to have, so we play locally fairly regularly. We get out and about around the country as often as we can.

Q19 – What is your verdict on the whole crowd-funding scene. Where bands ask fans to fund their next album. Are you a fan of that platform. Would yourselves ever go down this route.

It’s not for us but we can see how it could be good for some bands. It just seems a bit back to front to us: asking people to pay for a product before it’s been made.

Q20 – If you could give any advice to someone wanting to start a band. What would it be.

Listen to Juke Box Hero by Foreigner. If you can write a song half as good then you might be onto something.

Q21 – The last thing before you go, Do you have anything else to say to your fans.

Thanks for diggin’ our shit, PARTY ON!

Well guys. Thanks for doing this. All the best with the album. 

Lone Wolf vs Brown Bear is available to buy on CD/DD from WickerMan Recordings 

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Written by Steve Howe