ELEC­TRIC WIZ­ARD

They helped de­fine doom metal as we know it, so why have Elec­tric Wiz­ard ditched the stoner vibes and tried to tear up their own rule­book for Wiz­ard Bloody Wiz­ard?

Metal Hammer (UK) - - Contests - WORDS: DOM LAW­SON. PIC­TURES: KEVIN NIXON

New home. New sound. New at­ti­tude. Bri­tain’s doom leg­ends are set­ting the rule book on fire and bring­ing back sex, drugs and rock’n’roll.

“THIS IS A SA­TANIC PARTY AL­BUM!”

ELEC­TRIC WIZ­ARD’S LYRICS COVER NECROPHILIA, DRUG ABUSE AND THE DEVIL. PARTY ON

“Ilike iso­la­tion. I’m not a big fan of the mod­ern world…”

Elec­tric Wiz­ard have moved house, seem­ingly to get as far away from the rest of us as pos­si­ble. Since the re­lease of the band’s eighth al­bum, 2014’s Time To Die, singer/ gui­tarist Jus Oborn and co-gui­tarist

(and Jus’s wife) Liz Buck­ing­ham have re­lo­cated to Devon and are now liv­ing in a re­mote farm­house some­where near Ex­moor. As they pre­pare to re­lease their ninth al­bum, Wiz­ard Bloody Wiz­ard, Jus ex­plains to Ham­mer how Elec­tric Wiz­ard are steadily achiev­ing their dreams of shun­ning hu­man­ity al­to­gether.

“We ended up get­ting evicted from where we were liv­ing af­ter hav­ing an ar­gu­ment with the neigh­bours… as usual, ha ha ha!” he chuck­les wearily. “Where we are now, it’s a long white farm­house on the edge of a val­ley. It’s ex­posed and pretty bleak, and green all around… there’s a farm­house on the other side of the val­ley, but that’s about it. It’s quite in­spir­ing to not be in­spired by any­thing other than the mu­sic and our sur­round­ings. We’re quite pri­vate peo­ple and we’re not into so­cial in­ter­ac­tion, so it’s def­i­nitely a life­style choice. I don’t know if it af­fects the band that much. It might be more use­ful if we didn’t live in the mid­dle of fuck­ing nowhere! I’d like to live fur­ther and fur­ther away from civil­i­sa­tion, but it can be a bit of a pain in the arse some­times.”

In truth, part of Elec­tric Wiz­ard’s en­dur­ing and in­creas­ing ap­peal has been their dogged ad­her­ence to their own unique mu­si­cal world. Ever since the re­lease of 1997’s sem­i­nal Come My Fa­nat­ics… al­bum they have been widely re­garded as the most im­por­tant and iconic doom metal band of the mod­ern age, but Jus has never masked his dis­dain for a size­able ma­jor­ity of ev­ery­thing else that’s go­ing on in heavy mu­sic and, more per­ti­nently, the world in gen­eral. As a re­sult, the band’s new head­quar­ters make per­fect sense: in the wilds of Devon, no one can hear you re­hearse at ex­cru­ci­at­ing vol­ume.

“Yeah, now we can make noise 24/7, so that was a pos­i­tive change,” Jus con­curs. “Then I had the idea that I could maybe start think­ing about build­ing a stu­dio. I’ve wanted to do that for a long time but we’ve never had any­where to do it. So this place has a jam room and we just set up the record­ing equip­ment in there.

Part of the house is Vic­to­rian and it was giv­ing me that feel­ing of Led Zep­pelin record­ing at [leg­endary Hampshire stu­dio] Headley Grange. I thought it might have a good at­mos­phere and it’s turned out all right, I think. We had a few lit­tle teething problems with some shitty old ana­logue crap that I bought off eBay, so it took a whole year of piss­ing around and things go­ing wrong be­fore we got the al­bum fin­ished. But any­thing’s a learn­ing curve and hope­fully, fin­gers crossed, things should run smoothly from now on.”

The first re­sults of Jus and Liz’s pur­pose­ful with­drawal from the wider world can be heard on the new Elec­tric Wiz­ard al­bum, Wiz­ard Bloody Wiz­ard. The first to be recorded with the band’s now set­tled line-up of Jus, Liz, bassist Clayton Burgess and drum­mer Si­mon Poole, it show­cases a pointed and un­apolo­getic change of sonic tack that prom­ises to sur­prise a lot of peo­ple. Where ear­lier al­bums like 2000’s Dopethrone and 2010’s Black Masses of­fered a mon­strous wall of tar-thick, psyched-out and densely at­mo­spheric psy­che­delic doom, Wiz­ard Bloody Wiz­ard is a bru­tally stripped­down and raw af­fair that es­chews the band’s trade­mark woozy, amor­phous on­slaught, favour­ing in­stead the crackle of real amps, the thud of sticks on skins, the sound of a kick-arse rock band, plugged in and cranked up. The songs them­selves are im­me­di­ately recog­nis­able as Jus Oborn’s work, but the brit­tle, ex­posed sound of the

record feels oddly shock­ing. As far as Jus is con­cerned, it’s all just rock’n’roll…

“I got re­ally into the idea of prim­i­tivism,” he ex­plains. “I’ve been lis­ten­ing to old blues and rock’n’roll records, like [rock­a­billy pi­o­neer] Gene Vin­cent. I’ve been go­ing back to the orig­i­nals, and you can still get a rush from that kind of sound. Peo­ple like Gene were dan­ger­ous at the time. He was wear­ing leather and even that was too much for some peo­ple. I grew up in an era when rock’n’roll was sup­posed to be provoca­tive, so we’re try­ing to keep that flame alive. But hav­ing a new line-up brings a whole new dy­namic to the band, too. With all the live gigs we’ve done, we’ve re­ally locked in to­gether, par­tic­u­larly the rhythm sec­tion, and that’s brought a whole new el­e­ment to the band. me and Liz can do a lot more tex­tu­ral stuff and a lot more weird shit.”

Although never a man to pay much at­ten­tion to what metal’s chat­ter­ing classes are say­ing about his mu­sic, Jus clearly knows how dif­fer­ent his new al­bum sounds from pre­vi­ous ef­forts. He does, how­ever, ex­press mild sur­prise at the no­tion that Wiz­ard Bloody Wiz­ard is about to po­larise opin­ion in a way that no pre­vi­ous Elec­tric Wiz­ard al­bum has done.

“You never re­ally hope for that, but I sup­pose th­ese days it hap­pens any­way,” he sighs. “I just think it’s Elec­tric Wiz­ard mu­sic, you know? I don’t want to be churn­ing out trade­mark Elec­tric Wiz­ard riffs for the rest of my life. I’d like to think we’re more than that, re­ally. I hon­estly don’t know what peo­ple will think of this al­bum. maybe we’ve been pi­geon­holed as some­thing we never were any­way. When we started off we were to­tally into Saint Vi­tus and Trou­ble, but then we started get­ting into the whole space rock thing and weird noisy shit like Loop and my Bloody Valen­tine. You just de­velop. We never set out to be this or that type of band.”

But as if to re­as­sure wor­ried fans, he adds that cer­tain things have re­mained very much the same on the new al­bum.

“The lyrics cover the same sort of sub­jects as usual,” he grins. “It’s all necrophilia, drug abuse and Satanism. I like to tick all the boxes, ha ha! But it’s more of a Sa­tanic party al­bum than a mis­er­able riffs al­bum. I don’t know… it’s a bit more sexy, maybe?”

The last time Elec­tric Wiz­ard re­leased an al­bum, Ham­mer vis­ited them at home. This time round we were po­litely, and not un­rea­son­ably, told to fuck off. Luck­ily, we found a com­pro­mise po­si­tion and Jus and his band­mates se­lected a new lo­ca­tion for our pho­to­shoot. No­to­ri­ous in rock’n’roll folk­lore, The Hell­fire Caves can be found in West Wy­combe, Buck­ing­hamshire, and be­came leg­endary for The Hell­fire Club, an epi­cen­tre for de­bauch­ery and oc­cultism among the rich and pow­er­ful in the 18th cen­tury. No fur­ther ex­pla­na­tion re­quired, then…

“I’ve al­ways wanted to go there, so this was a good excuse!” Jus laughs. “The whole idea for me is to re­flect on what we want to achieve as Elec­tric Wiz­ard, as far as at­mos­phere goes. That’s what gigs should be like. The Hell­fire Club was a to­tal bac­cha­nal, and that’s what we dream of do­ing one day. Led Zep­pelin used to have par­ties there. There were nuns hand­ing out acid! It was a bac­cha­nal of mu­sic and drugs, which was also con­sid­ered a way to pass over to the dark side. That says it all re­ally. That’s what heavy metal should be about.”

And you know he means it. De­spite count­less line-up changes and a fair amount of be­hind-the-scenes tur­moil, Jus has been in­cred­i­bly con­sis­tent over the years, mak­ing al­bums that have con­tin­u­ally re­freshed the orig­i­nal Elec­tric Wiz­ard blue­print, while al­ways de­liv­er­ing a co­her­ent splurge of Sa­tanic im­agery, psy­che­delic hor­ror and a per­sis­tent, stub­born ha­tred of shiny moder­nity. Newly re­vi­talised by his re­cent change of cir­cum­stances, what he re­ally wants to achieve is to push Wiz­ard World to its log­i­cal con­clu­sion.

“I still like the idea of play­ing in front of a lot of peo­ple in the open air, like the [1974 fes­ti­val] Cal­i­for­nia Jam or some­thing like that,” he says, au­di­bly ex­cited. “I’d love to have our own fes­ti­val. We did the Elec­tric Acid Orgy at road­burn a few years ago and we want to bring that back. We want to have some­thing where peo­ple re­ally let go. more drug and al­co­hol abuse, more peo­ple go­ing crazy!”

Jus be­gins to warm to his theme and sounds gen­uinely ir­ri­tated by what he de­scribes as “a lack of dan­ger” in the mod­ern metal scene. Let’s face it, you don’t of­ten hear mu­si­cians be­ing cheer­fully pro-drugs or fully in favour of to­tal chaos any­more, do you?

“IT’S THE SAME AS USUAL BUT...SEX­IER”

JUS DOESN’T BE­LIEVE WIZ­ARD HAVE STRAYED TOO FAR

“PEO­PLE NEED TO FEEL MU­SIC AGAIN, NOT WORRY ABOUT TAK­ING FUCK­ING SELF­IES” JUS MISSES THE DAYS OF SPIR­I­TUAL TRAN­SCEN­DENCE THROUGH ROCK’N’ROLL

“When I was grow­ing up, it was part and par­cel of rock’n’roll that you’d be provoca­tive in any way pos­si­ble, to fuck with the sys­tem and the sta­tus quo,” he says. “But it doesn’t seem to be like that very much any­more. We’d like peo­ple to be­come im­mersed in the mu­sic and to not be think­ing about tak­ing a fuck­ing selfie. Peo­ple need to feel mu­sic again. It would have to be the full sen­so­rial ex­pe­ri­ence. It’s about those mo­ments when you reach some state of spir­i­tual tran­scen­dence… and yeah, that does sound like hip­pie bull­shit, ha ha ha! But I think you can do it with darker im­agery, the whole sex and vi­o­lence an­gle. Those things are pri­mal and peo­ple are af­fected by them in­stantly.”

Any­one who has ever seen Elec­tric Wiz­ard live will know that Jus is a man of his word when it comes to mak­ing peo­ple feel mu­sic. re­li­ably dev­as­tat­ing and loud as all hell, de­spite on­go­ing bat­tles with the mod­ern PAs that Jus curses for their “stupid fuck­ing deci­bel lim­its”, they con­tinue to be one of the heav­i­est bands on the planet, re­gard­less of the new al­bum’s po­ten­tially di­vi­sive pro­duc­tion val­ues. Hav­ing played their big­gest ever shows in re­cent times, not least a much-hailed con­quer­ing of the round­house in Lon­don in may 2015,

Jus avows that his band are ea­ger to keep that mo­men­tum go­ing and 2018 prom­ises to be a busy year.

In between the live shows, of course, Jus and Liz will re­treat to their new head­quar­ters in the wilds of Devon, where mo­bile re­cep­tion is sketchy at best but in­spi­ra­tion is in plen­ti­ful sup­ply, just the way they like it.

“When I was younger, tele­vi­sion was the thing that al­ways dragged you in, like so­cial me­dia is to­day,” Jus con­cludes. “But when I stopped watch­ing TV, it was a re­ally free­ing thing, to not be on the same wave­length as ev­ery­body else, with the same news, the same thoughts, the same ref­er­ence points. Things have only got worse now, so be­ing com­pletely out of the loop will ei­ther be dis­tress­ing or en­ter­tain­ing, depend­ing on your point of view. I must ad­mit, we are re­ally dig­ging it.”

Wiz­ard Bloody Wiz­ard IS OUT ON NOVEM­BER 10 VIA WITCHFINDER/SPINEFARM

Elec­tric Wizard (left to right): Jus Oborn, Liz Buck­ing­ham, Si­mon Poole, Clay­ton Burgess

Liz and Jus dig out their glad rags

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