【face-to-face / interview】ELECTRIC WIZARD
English doom metal band, ELECTRIC WIZARD, will release its eighth studio-album “Time To Die” on September 29th, 2014 on its own label Witchfinder Records via Spinefarm Records. It was recorded at Toerag Studios and mixed by Chris Fielding. The album was produced by guitarist Jus Oborn. It is the first (and only) album to feature original drummer Mark Greening since 2002’s Let Us Prey. On 11 June 2014, Mark Greening left the band. Simon Poole has since rejoined.
Jus Oborn (vocalist/guitarist) said that all of your albums in the past have had a theme, revenge, drugs and so on – and the theme of this one is death. Can you tell us more about it ?
Liz : All the albums are related to whatever is going on in our lives. They are the reflection of us. They reflect what we are into at the moment of their creation. The last album was very difficult to make. There was a lot of forces working against it. I mean it, it was very, very difficult to make it. We were over-writing about death. We were exasperated and upset. We couldn’t take it anymore, we were really at the end of our tether, we were deeply worked-up. In the studio, it was like « Oh my God ! Please, die, I can’t take it anymore. I am going to kill you. Fuck you ! » (laughs). Death was always on our minds. So eventually, it turned out to be the theme of this new record. But you know, death is always linked to life, and no matter those difficulties, the band is still going, and is going strong, maybe stronger than before. We rose from the ashes (laughs).
What has been the biggest challenge of the new record ? Not killing each other (laughs) ?
Liz : (laughs) Actually, getting it done. The record label, Rise Above, wanted to stop us from releasing records and even using our name. They basically told us that they owned us. It’s like putting us in jail, it’s like taking our freedom. We have been fighting hard ! The biggest challenge was to deal with it, to deal with everything outside the music. We had to finance and pay everyting ourselves. We are completely broke now. It’s very expensive to produce an album.
ELECTRIC WIZARD has been going for 20 years. I know, you weren’t in the band at its debut but how would you describe the development of its sound over those years ? And, what would you say the return of Mark Greening has brought to the sound of the new record ?
Liz : I must admit that there is an obvious chemistry with Mark. He is not like any drummer we worked with. We are on the same page, musically-speaking. You know ? There is a connection, something special. You might hear it on « Time to Die ». It just flows with him. It is very easy to write songs with him. He’s very easy to jam with. Our personalities, however, just don’t match. I don’t think the music of the band progressed or changed. I don’t think we’ve developed at all (laughs) ! It’s always about basic and aggresive rock.
Getting back to Mark. Apparently, you sacked him from the band. What happened ?
Liz : A lie ! That’s a total lie ! He just quit. He’s weird and wants to upset us. I really don’t want to talk about it more than that because, he wants attention and I don’t want to give him the pleasure. I’m not going to lay it on thick. That’s stupid and childlish.
OK. That’s fine with me. The new album, “Time to Die” was recorded, once again, at Toerag Studios (UK). What do you like best about working there ? How special is it for you ?
Liz : It’s a pretty well-known studio in England run by Liam Watson. I just love that place ! The first time I went to it, I was amazed by the colors and all the pictures of BLACK SABBATH. It’s not a modern studio. It’s almost like a museum. There’s nothing after the seventies. There’s nothing like it. I love vintage recording equipment, you know. The first time was a very cool experience and we just want to renew the experience again and again. I think it works for our sound very well. Everything Liam does fits us. He does everything with his hands, he uses no computers. That’s the basic reason, working organically. We just associate to that very much.
You were raised in a classical music household. What inspired you to pick up the instrument and play heavy music ? Is classical music any inspiration for you ?
Liz : I don’t think it inspires me. I don’t really seperate the two though. Music is music to me. I’ve never really thought about whether classical music inspires my writing and playing. It’s a pretty difficult question to me (laughs). When I listened to classical music, I liked the heavier songs better. Then, I decided to play the guitar. I took lessons but I did not like it and did not retain anything from it at all. Eventually, I found out how to down tune my instrument. I liked it. I could finally make the sound I wanted to hear. I don’t really remember how I got into heavy music, it just came to me naturally. OK, I probably heard some songs on the radio first (laughs) ! I can’t believe what I just told you (laughs). Then I got into experimental and weird music. I wanted to play a lot of different instruments but I ended up with the guitar only because it was easier to write music with.
What do you like best about heavy music ?
Liz : It makes me feel good (laughs). Heavy music is the best way for me to express myself. It fits me better than any other genre. I really connect to it. It feels quite empowering too, which I love. It’s just me, you know. I can’t describe it with words.
Your music is uncompromisingly dark. “Time to Die” is no exception to that rule. What range of emotions do you go through when an album like that takes shape and finally sees itself as a finished product ?
Liz : We go through a lot of different emotions. But, it’s all about being as genuine as possible to the guys you work with. No hypocrisy, no waffle nor prevarication. Sometimes, the creating process can be fustrating : having these fantastic ideas and nothing’s happening. But eventually, when it does happen and it’s finished, you are obviously happy and proud. In the studio, you go through all of the emotions possible. It’s an emotional experience. It is hard, amazing, painful, powerful, tiring, exciting and so on (laughs).
As a female musician, what advances or setbacks have you seen regarding women in the industry since you first began ? Do you find that the playing field has leveled out ?
Liz : Not really. Sadly, I think it’s kind of the same. When I first got involved in the heavy music scene, it was very male-dominated. There are more girls in the audience. Today, I see a lot more girls playing. But despite that, I don’t really think that the playing field has leveled out — maybe a little bit. When I first started, it was really, really hard to gain respect and I feel like it’s still pretty much the same. The way some men think about women has a lot more to do with their upbringing than the amount of women playing guitar. So it will be a very long time, if ever, that things will change. It’s probably more acceptable and less shocking but that’s all the advances I see.
In your career so far, what has been your greatest achievement ?
Liz : I would say, the record “Witchcult Today” !
Anything left you want to achieve with the band ?
Liz : Yeah. Hum, I would really like to get more into making films, so you have visuals with the music. Having a movie along with an album. It’s definitely something I would like to get into.
Thank you Liz for the interview.
Liz : My pleasure. Thanks.