BNU tracks down Electric Wizard’s Jus Greaves a few days before they embark on grass-roots Aussie tour.
In typically underground fashion, the Dorset UK-based act passed on the budget-sucking hype of a record company tour. Instead, Electric Wizard accepted an invitation from friends Pod People to make the trip Down Under and share a stage with the likes of Peeping Tom, Fire Witch, Whitehorse, Clagg, Grey Daturas, Pod People and Van Sun.
Their most celebrated record, 2000’s Dopethrone is possibly the most unremitting, crushing assault of doom ever committed to tape.
In Melbourne at least, promotion for the event has been low-key, but this has done nothing to slow ticket sales. Testament to the passion of local fans, word of mouth has spread the news. Rather than play a succession of soulless barns with supports booked by a label executive with both eyes glued to the bottom line, the band will perform at grass-roots venues alongside the independent local bands that worship them.
Formed in 1993 by ex-Eternal member Jus Oborn, Electric Wizard signed with Rise Above Records and went on to release five seminal albums including the hellish Come My Fanatics (1997) and their most celebrated record, 2000’s Dopethrone — possibly the most unremitting, crushing assault of doom ever committed to tape.
In 2003, a lineup change saw friend Rob Al-Iissa take over on bass, and then ex-Iron Monkey member Justin Greaves got the call most metal drummers dream about. New York doom/crust band 13’s guitarist Liz Buckingham was also recruited to join the forces of evil, and she somehow manages the fill the band’s deliciously thick tsunami of sludge even more, if that’s possible.
Electric Wizard’s recent album We Live (2004) was recorded with the current line-up, and the group’s sixth long-player is in the pipeline. Brown Noise Unit caught up with drummer Justin Greaves.
What’s the best thing about being in Electric Wizard?
JG: There’s a best thing? I guess for me, when I was playing with Iron Monkey I always considered the Wizard to be my favourite UK band. I got to be friends with Jus, so when he called me up to ask me to join the band it was a no-brainer. Of course I was going to do it!
Now I think myself lucky to play in a band I respect and love, and the fact that we are all good friends is a real bonus.
Besides other bands in the genre, are there many other groups out there that influence your sound — whether musically or by their attitude to music?
JG: I try not to let other music influence me, but it does. I don’t listen to just doom, in fact if I’m influenced by anything it’s soundtrack music, or anything that makes me feel something.
If you listen to just one style of music it makes you narrow-minded and stagnant. Everything in life influences you in some way, whether you show it or not.
How does it feel to have your music appreciated by fans who seek it out for themselves, rather than having it sold to them like a product, as is common with other styles of music?
JG: I don’t really consider us a metal band, but when people appreciate what we’re doing it kinda validates it. We make music for ourselves first and if people like it, that’s cool. But yes, I would always prefer to be part of a band with that kind of appeal. I could never be part of something that whored itself to the masses, I’m just not interested in doing that.
How did you get your sound? How long did it take to refine it to a point everyone was happy with?
JG: Jus [Oborn] has been doing the band for a long time and when you have done that, you develop the sound over time.
Personally, I think it’s an ongoing process. I know how I like my drums to sound but always try to find ways of making it better. Basically, I’m never happy.
There’s recently been a line-up change to Electric Wizard. How do you think it’s changed the band’s sound and how would you say the new material differs to the back catalogue?
JG: The sound has changed because there are different people playing it. Obviously the guitar sound is a lot thicker because there’s Liz playing too. Maybe this is the way it should sound — there are no rules in my book.
I think there is a common thread running through the whole Electric Wizard catalogue, but every album is different, the next one will probably be different again, but always Wizard… I just want to make it not shitty.
What have been some of your favourite shows you’ve played in the past, and why?
JG: So far, with this band, it has to be the show in Paris . We played on a boat and the vibe of that show was great… I enjoyed the last time we played in Birmingham — that felt like a real old-school show.
We usually hate every show afterwards but the next day we start to realise it wasn’t that bad after all.
Coming to Australia under your own steam, and playing with such awesome Aussie bands must be fun. How do you reckon doing a tour like this differs from doing a fly-the-flags, label-sponsored tour?
JG: I have always hated the “label” tours, the ones that are supposed to be well-promoted and last forever. They never turn out to be what you expected and everyone expects you to be so bloody grateful for the opportunity of a tour, that you’ll play for nothing and be friends with everyone, kissing arse…
Doing our own thing has always given a lot of rewards, and you know that the people who turn up to the shows are there to see you and not because they’ve been told to, or are just coming to “check you out”. We like not to tour too much, but ones like this Aussie tour are much more enjoyable. But we shall find out, eh?