Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Interview with Lizzard Wizzard

Interview by Elek Malcolm-Madill

Luke Osborne, Michael Clarke, Nick McKeon and Stef Roselli of Brisbane, Australia Doom/Sludge Metal band Lizzard Wizzard released their first, self-titled, album during November of last year and it's been catching the eyes (and more importantly ears) of doom and sludge fans the world 'round. I interviewed Nick McKeon, one of the guitarists in Lizzard Wizzard and got into such fine subjects as doom/sludge metal cliches, dingus-slamming, and horse armor.

FBN: To start, tell us a bit about yourselves and Lizzard Wizzard's music

Lizzard Wizzard (Nick): I'm 24 and play guitar solos and yell over my dudes in Lizzard Wizzard. To make bank for that I work as a Respiratory Scientist at a big hospital in Brisbane doing breathing tests with people and I've got a Master's Degree in Clinical Science which is pretty cool, I finally got a study on the way this year with an abstract accepted by a journal in Europe. Generally really stoked.

I think what's super important for us is that our tunes are rooted in good vibes. We don't try to worship other bands' riffs, we walk into the jam room after hanging out super hard, turn the lights off and big heavy sounds come out. In saying that, we do worship our guitar/bass gear like, a lot, we're always tinkering with new things and accidentally breaking stuff in the room with crazy frequencies. I just got this SunnO))) Beta Lead head and it's nuts, trying hard to get it to play nice today after some weird noises it made last night and I can see very good things coming out of it soon.

FBN: That's awesome, congratulations on your study being accepted man. Its funny the word Sunn O))) should pop up by the way actually because I was already going to ask you: your music definitely doesn't take itself as seriously as a lot of other doom, stoner, drone, etc bands (very much unlike the great, but ever-melancholy works of Greg Anderson and Stephen O'Malley of Sunn) which is definitely refreshing, do you think more doom acts should try tone those aspects of the genre down a bit?

Lizzard Wizzard (Nick): Kind of! I feel that the overtly serious thing often seems disingenuous. I can appreciate people aiming to make a certain sound or craft a band image, it's just that you get so much more out of it when it's 100% channeling what you actually are as people at the time. I LOVE the shitty self-loathing that 90's sludge bands like Dystopia and Eyehategod were able to channel just as much as I love Weedeater being amped on wizards and hot donuts, you know? I absolutely love my friends, weed jokes, dogs, bad puns, video games and what have you, so that's what ends up in the tunes.

I heard a rumor somewhere that a band printed a shirt with the O))) thing at the end, I think they were pop-punk or something, and so Greg sends through a cease and desist....so they printed that up as a shirt as well. I want that very much. Irony in its purest form.

FBN: Wow I haven't heard that before actually, I'd love to get my hands on one of those as well.... anyway, I was also curious about the formation of Lizzard Wizzard- when and why did you start playing together? How did you all meet? Also as a side note to all of that, what would you say some of your musical influences are?

Lizzard Wizzard (Nick): It took us a year or so to get the lineup we have now, but it's definitely super solid as it is. We're all really good friends who actually like eachother and hang out a lot which I feel is really important. We started out with Clarke and I jamming riffs, eventually we had enough for 2 or 3 songs and the rest of the songs kinda snowballed from there.

Luke has been my wonderful giggly friend since grade 10 high school, we're really glad he agreed to play drums because at the time I don't think he was really looking to drum in another band. He is the walking weed cred for our band. I hope that one day he receives a bouquet of tulip-joints from the prettiest Korean girl in all the land. His PV-hardcore thing SMHG (ex-Sparkle Motion, http://smhg.bandcamp.com/) is actually fuckin' sick, they're the reason I started going to shows, albeit Burpengary swampmosh shows. Great times!

Stef is some kind of creative genius. He whips up amazing artwork on the fly and always has really interesting musical ideas and layering things which I love. We met through our incestuous band thing over here, Freeman who yells in his band Fvck Mountain also crushes Bass in my band The Fevered. They were recording their first EP early 2012 at Sun Distortion Studios and I went to hang out, Stef's there trying to deal with 15+ overdrive pedals and what to use and I think I was in a real sleeveless assertive guy mood. I believe he said "Pet Sounds" a lot. It was real good.

I met Clarke through an online metal forum called Brismetal, people who remember that will probably have a bit of a cringe, haha. Lots of in-jokes and way too much time editing posts. I can't remember how we met, but it was probably doing something really chill, maybe while seeing the band Spacebong, I'm not sure. Clarke really has his shit together, he works full time as an Architect and still finds time to skate, play in the band and be an all-round great human being.

Musically we are all over the fuckin' place. Very much whatever feels good at the time, as a group we mostly listen to pop-punk and 90's dance. As far as heavy bands we like I think we all dig on Bongripper, Conan, Weedeater, Neurosis, Electric Wizard, Converge, Sleep, Black Breath, Kowloon Walled City, seriously, there are too many great bands to name.

FBN: On your bandcamp page you describe your music as “Four Player Turn-based Stoner Doom”, and you guys have even gone as far as to add a D-20 to the cassette package of your album that ended up selling out- themes from fantasy have been a staple in the doom metal genre for ages, how did you guys personally find inspiration from fantasy novels, roleplaying games, movies, etc? How would you say your own take on fantasy subject matter differs from other doom metal bands?

 Lizzard Wizzard (Nick): For sure. None of us have finished the Wheel of Time series, but we could probably tell you just about anything related to Dune, Elder Scrolls, Diablo, Zelda, Lord of the Rings and whatnot. So many series get way too played out, generic protagonist and his friends all get super powers and beat up the big bad guy til they're up to fighting God or something. I think maybe they should all take a leaf outta George RR Martin's book and kill people at random, keep things interesting. That or have a more inclusive narrative with some real people. Hey, that's just me. Too jaded from getting halfway through eight book long hardcover motherfuckers before realizing they suck.

Luke has mentioned this series he's reading called "The Painted Man" which sounds pretty cool, there's a guy covered in ritualistic magic tattoos who wrestles the shit outta desert demons, also Bernard Cornwell books shred - powerful viking tales, would recommend.

I read a bit of hard sci-fi and have been super into China Mieville lately (The City and the City, Perdido St Station, Dial H), but as a group we're pretty broad with our reading. More about video games, movies, comics, TV series, man. I think that's what makes us different. We don't recap a book word for word with some muscley fuck getting his game on with some elves, more like, we'll talk about watching the 90's X-Men cartoon and decide that Charles Xavier is a dingus and slam on him for awhile. 

FBN:  Excellent- don't relent of the dingus slamming in any way. Could you also tell us a bit what the writing/recording process of your self titled album was like? 

Lizzard Wizzard (Nick): We do songwriting super relaxed and as naturally as possible, I think that approach is pretty important for the style. I'd say about half of the songs on the self-titled we jammed out and got 90% written in one practice, the other half we kinda constructed a bit more prior. It's weird how old riffs get transformed and re-used in ways that are totally different. Vocals were added after all the music was done, lyric writing mostly consisting of talking shit and getting as many back-to-back puns as possible.

We put a lot of doing into the production side of things. That was definitely the sticking point, we loooooove huge production on albums like Boris and Bongripper stuff. Mark Perry knew exactly what kind of sound we were aiming for and at the time had the free 24/7 access to Empire Studios to realize it. We got to use a lot of cool tricks and cool gear, but honestly the sound of the album comes from having a good producer to keep you focused, practicing your goddamn instrument, playing full force and bringing killer vibes to the studio. At one point over the three days we had I think 10-12 friends hanging out in and around the control room when I was doing solos. It was sick.

FBN: Definitely sounds like it was! So I gotta ask, a lot of people are really looking forward to see what else Lizzard Wizzard has in store for them- are you guys currently working on any projects as Lizzard Wizzard? If not do you have any idea of when we could expect another release? 

Lizzard Wizzard (Nick): We're working a quite a few things at once right now, we're real uh, high achievers, hahaha. We've recorded some killer split tracks for a REALLY excellent release, also we plan to get the second full length recorded this year too. We've written so many riffs for this thing already, I think we've got about 4-5 songs just about done as is. We've got a few more pieces of interesting gear and I think our vocals have improved about 10 000%, so I am pumped as fuck. It's going to be a powerful battle album, so I think fans should probably invest in DLC weapons, horses and horse armor to get ready for this one.
In the meantime we're also printing up a lot of cool new merch which people should get on quick, our shit seems to sell out really fast which is rad. I hope we can do as much superfluous fun merch with upcoming releases as we did with the tape packs, we have so many stupid ideas that need to see the light of day.

FBN: "Horse armor" good lord, 10/10 reference. Alright, last question- what band/musician would you kill for the chance to open for? 

Lizzard Wizzard (Nick): Any of those bands I listed before, but namely Sleep and Electric Wizard if You held a gun to my head! Conan are coming down in September and I think there's a solid chance we'll get to support those legends. Can't wait, regardless. Neurosis are also coming soon and I am out of my mind stoked, however I think we're way to silly to support them, haha.

FBN:  Excellent choices, here's hoping you do get to play with Conan. That about wraps it up too, thanks for taking the time to answer my questions man, the interview should be up soon.
Lizzard Wizzard (Nick): Hey, that's great! Thanks for for the opportunity, dude. Stoked to share it!

Lizzard Wizzard's self-titled 2013 release was reviewed here and their bandcamp can (and should) be checked out here. Be sure to keep an eye on their page for future releases and grab yourself some of their upcoming merch Nick mentioned before its gone.

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