Thursday 16 November 2017

"Forever a servant of the riff": In Conversation with Electric Wizard's Jus Oborn

By: Mark Ambrose

This Friday, November 17, Electric Wizard drops their ninth album, “Wizard Bloody Wizard”.  Their second release through the legendary Spinefarm Records, the album is also their first with Clayton Burgess on bass and Simon Poole on drums.  After honing their sound with an extensive international tour, the band recorded six tracks live to tape, creating one of their most accessible releases yet.  Founding member and doom metal icon Jus Oborn took a few minutes to talk to THE SLUDGELORD about this new chapter in the band, future film projects, and what to expect from the legendary doom crew in the coming year.

What was the writing and rehearsal process like for “Wizard Bloody Wizard”?

Pretty much the same as usual, really! It was a bit of a hassle because we were moving houses at the time.  A bit all over the place, rehearsing in different places.  But basically we work on the riffs, me and Liz, and just jam them out at rehearsals.

In putting it to tape, did you put any restrictions on yourselves – a certain number of takes?  It certainly sounds like a real throwback, not ProTooled but all in the same space.

It was all recorded live – first or second take to be honest, on all of it.  I recorded all of it myself on a sixteen-track tape.  You don’t really have options to do drop-ins and shit when you’re actually recording the whole band live.  You gotta get it right.  But I like that discipline.  I like the fact that you capture a performance on tape, you know?  What a band really sounds like.  And you gotta play as fucking good as you can!  You gotta really give it everything.  Because it comes out – it’s not like ProTools or whatever where you can chop things up afterwards. You go, “Well ok that was ok, we can fix that bit.”  Then you’re just making some kinda classical music or something *laughs*.

This is your first release with Clayton Burgess and Simon Poole on bass and drums and they bring some real swing and soul in their rhythm.  What’s their addition to the band been like?

It’s definitely given us a whole new foundation we hadn’t had before.  We were out on the road quite a lot in the last two or three years, so the lineup’s really solidified.  And you noticed Simon and Clayton have a chemistry.  We actually got them to rehearse together before we brought in the guitars to get them locked in together.  And that was cool, that worked out.  I think it’s something we’ve wanted for a long time – to have a bit of a stronger rhythm section so we can experiment and go a bit more over the top.  I always had the idea that the guitars in ‘Wizard were always very solid, very simple, very brutal, and then the drums and the bass would play around a lot more.  Just have a lot of counter rhythm, counter melody.  Just another dimension, you know?  And I think it’s really worked out on this record.  I’m pretty fucking pleased.

From the beginning, Electric Wizard has had a multimedia element, whether with the film references, the Drugula comic, the visual show.  Do you have any plans with other media or film collaboration?

Well we’ve always been tinkering around with doing film, and we’ve filmed various things over the years.  But it’s always a bit of a long process, a lot of the time.  It’s all kind of unfinished projects and half ideas.  I think this video for “See You in Hell” is the first real video we’ve ever done!  We got to experiment with a few ideas there, recreating the old 70s TV studio sort of feel.  But moving into film is something we’d like to do.  I’ve been looking into – there’s actually an old biker movie called “Angels”.  It’s a Danish biker movie by the people that did “The Sinful Dwarf”.  But it’s missing its soundtrack and missing all the dialogue, so I’ve had the idea of re-recording it.  Recording music and doing the dialogue again – I mean the plot’s pretty easy to follow! *laughter*

And as far as comics and stuff, I’ve been interested in doing comics for a long time.  I’ve been talking with some people.  A few people seem to like the Drugula idea, you know!  I think they’d like to see a comic like that. 

It seems there’s a lot of crossover appeal, from the beginning of metal, with horror and comics.

It’s just part of the culture, growing up with the dark and heavy metal stuff.

One of our readers, Eric, wanted to know what you’re listening to lately.  Specifically, any non-metal/non-doom stuff that stands out for you?

I mean I do tend to listen to a lot of heavy rock and metal *laughs*.  I’ve been listening to a lot of The Sweet, an English heavy rock band.  They were kind of a pop band at first and they started doing some heavier shit.  I think they’re a pretty big influence on a lot of people.

Non-metal I just picked up this album by Jean-Claude Vannier – an album called “Insolitudes”.  A guy who collaborated with Serge Gainsbourg on the “Melody Nelson” album (1971’s “Histoire de Melody Nelson”).  It’s a pretty cool album, man!  It’s really dark, weird, kind of jazz, classical soundtrack music.  It’s pretty far out, pretty psychedelic, to be honest.  Good to smoke to.  Fuckin blew my mind *laughs*.

But yeah I’d recommend The Sweet F.A. (aka Sweet Fanny Adams) to anyone.  It’s some pretty fuckin epic, awesome guitar work on it.

Are there any reissues of some of the classic, out of print Electric Wizard stuff in the works?  Specifically, “Chrononaut” and “Supercoven” have become pretty sparse.

We’ve actually been approached by some labels recently.  Southern Lord have asked us about it again, because they put out the rerelease of “Supercoven” the first time round.  I’d like to see them come back out, especially as “Supercoven” is one of my favorite Electric Wizard albums.

OK here’s an urban legend to either debunk or confirm: one of our readers, Dan, asked if the volume of an Electric Wizard show really made you go deaf once?

Yeah pretty much! *laughter* Yeah I burst an eardrum.  Yeah it’s not cool.  I mean I hurt my eardrums for many years and it got pretty bad.

What are you planning as far as shows in the near future?

With the new record, it’s time to get out on the road.  We have a few festivals lined up – Inferno in Norway is gonna be cool with Satyricon and Obituary.  It’ll be pretty fucking heavy!  And we’re back in the US with the New Year.  It’s fuckin awesome to go over there.  Seems like everyone is still into heavy music, man.

Thanks for sitting down with THE SLUDGELORD, Jus!


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