Wizard’s Beard Interview
What’s that ‘orrid racket I can hear emanating from that piss and Doombar-soaked cellar? Oh, it’s Leeds-based doom merchants Wizard’s Beard. Having bounded on to the UK doom scene with their debut album ‘Pure Filth’ (released through PsycheDOOMelic Records) Wizard’s Beard have been collecting praise and tearing down venues across the country. I recently spoke to the band about their upcoming European tour, life up North, the stresses of recording two albums in seven months and the influence Woody Guthrie has on their music. Warning: this band kills fascists…
Hello fellas! Thanks for taking the time to do this interview. Firstly can you give us a little history of the band? How did you form?
Craig: Well, me and Trav (bass) were together in Solitary Mass (where he was the vocalist) and when we called time on that we both knew that whatever we did next, we wanted to do it together. We work well together and we have fun doing it (mainly due to acting like dickheads in tiny little rehearsal rooms!). We both wanted to take things in the direction that we have done and it made sense seeing as I already had a load of material in the vault waiting to be used. We asked about for a drummer and Dan (from Kronik Tyrant) stepped up straight away. I already knew Dan from being out and about and after a couple of jams things came together (even though we could tell he was bricking it!).
We started working on the songs and after we were a few songs in I decided it was time to add a vocalist. Originally we were flirting with the idea of Trav doing bass and vocals and us being a 3 piece. Problem was, I knew a certain ‘orrible bastard out there with no band! Agent Of The Morai were one of my favourite bands when they were kicking about and Chris had a voice that was just fucking disgusting, not a voice you forget in a hurry…..and that’s exactly what we wanted. Chris was more than keen to get back in to the swing of things!
You’ve not been together long and yet you’ve already gotten a name for yourselves. What do you attribute this to? Has anyone been particularly helpful or influential in the success of the band?
Craig: Well the initial attention we got was from me peppering the internet with our song ‘Paint the Skies’. I posted on more forums than I care to remember and was sending about 20-30 emails a day for a bout a month just trying to get featured on blogs and get reviews in. But that’ll only get you so far and soon enough we had a bit of help.
I think the initial thing that kicked it off was the review we got from Doomantia. Ed’s opinion is well respected in the doom circle and off the back of that alone I got a flood of orders for the CD and requests for copies to review. There were many other sites that gave us great reviews and they all really helped us get some attention. In fact this particular website was pretty kind to us!
Having PsycheDOOMelic Records get involved helped a lot too. It’s a name a lot of doom fans are familiar with and also is remembered for working with Ramesses. So that helped a lot.
Speaking of Ramesses, who are your influences?
Craig: There’s just too many to list, they’re so varied too. Right before I sat down to work out these riffs I had (this turned in to ‘Paint the Skies’) I was listening to Woody Guthrie, and I still had the feel for that stuff when I was working on the song. I was still in that mood, and so ‘Paint the Skies’ was largely influenced by Woody Guthrie! Go figure. I love the fact that one minute I can be listening to Sunn O))) and the next I could be listening to Bukka White or Bessie Smith. I think my biggest musical influences however are William Elliott Whitmore, Tom Waits, Neil Young, Palehorse & Iron Monkey.
Trav: Iron Monkey, Crowbar………..
Craig: Trav’s talkative today.
Chris: My influences range from Iron Monkey, Grief, Down, Kyuss through to Propaghandi, Black Flag, Cancer Bats, Coalesce. As well as much more lighter music. I don’t want my music taste to be limited to what I enjoy performing.
Dan: Too many to list and they’re very varied, from Hooded Menace and Iron Monkey to King Crimson and early blues. Oh, and Fred Dibnah – Fred Dibnah should be worshipped.
Indeed! With that in mind, what are you favourite albums? (One each please chaps)
Craig: It’s hard to single one out, there’s just so much music I’ve fallen in love with over the years. But I’ll have a go at picking one…..Tom Waits – Small Change. Absolutely love that album, ‘Tom Traubert’s Blues’ is heart-wrenching every time I hear it!
Dan: Entombed – Left Hand Path.
Trav: Neurosis – A Sun That Never Sets.
Chris: I could never pick a single album as all of my favourite albums have different qualities that I love… At a push since I was just listening to it White Pony by Deftones.
Who are your favourite international bands at the moment?
Craig: There’s loads again. Where to start….. Neurosis, Cough, Acid King, Weedeater, Alcest, Boris….just too many to list.
Dan: Skit System, Crowbar, Neurosis.
Chris: Phil Collins & Bryan Adams. In fact they’re also the main ingredients in my fantasy threesome. [Tom: A vivid image that I won’t soon forget].
Trav: Weedeater, Acid King, Cough.
Craig: Come on Trav, loosen up a bit, let those words flow.
A fine selection – particularly Bryan Adams. How about bands closer to home? Who are your favourite UK bands?
Craig: Undersmile, Wiht, Tree Of Sores, Palehorse, Conan, A Forest Of Stars, Diascorium, Slabdragger, Khuda, The Afternoon Gentlemen, Dragged Into Sunlight, Bastard Of The Skies and Gentlemen’s Pistols. There’s so many other awesome ones out there. We’re coming across great new bands with every gig we play.
Trav: Palehorse, Dragged Into Sunlight.
Dan: Salute (Bristol), Cruciamentum, Khuda, Astrohenge.
Chris: Palehorse, False Flags, Canaya, Undersmile… too many to mention.
What is your band ethic? What goals do you have as a band?
Craig: To do whatever we like and do it on our terms. That’s pretty much all there is to it. In terms of goals, we just wanna be heard and play as many gigs as we can. We’re definitely a live band. The recording studio is a necessary evil, but once we get on stage we feel at home and we let loose and have some fun. We’re not here to preach about anything or ‘owt like that. We’re just 4 mates who deal with the crap life chucks at us all by making horrible noise and stomping round a stage while doing so. It’s a fucking ace way to be, man.
Are there any bands you’d particularly like to play with?
Craig: Well we recently got added as support for Ufomammut when they play Leeds in October, and they’d be pretty high up there! Other than them…….Rihanna, so I can stare at her lovely bum for a while.
Chris: Down, anyone of similar style and party ethos!
Trav: Eyehategod, Crowbar.
So who would be the ideal band to record a split recording with?
Craig: There’s loads of bands we’d be happy to do a split with. Five Will Die, Undersmile, Bastard of the Skies…….
Trav: Five Will Die.
Chris: Undersmile, Five Will Die… maybe some of the awesome hardcore bands around the UK since I think a split should introduce other styles of music to fans of the other band!
Dan: Five Will Die, maybe Slabdragger 🙂
You’re involved with a few labels – could you tell us a bit about them and what they do for you?
Craig: Pure Filth was released on and distributed by psycheDOOMelic. So they did some promo for it and paid for the print run and CD duplication etc…… Mark is a really sound guy, I have a lot of time for him. We were actually putting the CD out ourselves when he got in touch and asked if he could put it out. There was another label we’d spoke to about it but there release schedule meant we’d have had to wait a year to put it out. So instead we went to put it out ourselves and said we’d work with this particular label on the follow up. But we haven’t announced anything yet so I’ll save that one for another day.
Your debut album Pure Filth has received some great reviews so far – where was it recorded and who was involved? How does this feedback affect you guys?
Craig: To be honest we were a little shocked at the positive reviews. Not that we expected a load of bad reviews, but to get so many glowing ones was unexpected. I don’t think it really affects at all to be honest. It’s nice, don’t get me wrong; but we don’t do this because we want people to pat us on the back. We do it because we love it, that’s all there is to it, and we’re just glad people happen to like it. It’s the same with negative reviews, not everyone will like what we do, and that’s just fine by us. Doesn’t really affect us at all.
We recorded the full thing in 2 (long!) days at Ghost Town studios in Leeds. Ross the guy that runs the place is amazing. He makes such an effort to understand what we want to accomplish and goes out of his way to achieve it for you. Those two mammoth days were just the 4 of us & Ross…..and whisky, beer, cigarettes, cake, bread, hummus…..cream soda!? After that album I don’t think there was ever any doubt we’d be going back there to do the 2nd album, and that’s exactly what’s happening.
There’s a great doom/sludge scene happening up north at the moment. Who are your favourite bands in it?
Craig: To be honest I think the scene is more vibrant down south. Bands like Slabdragger, Palehorse, Undersmile & Desert Storm are all from your end. Though I won’t disagree we have some belters. Tree Of Sores, Wiht, Conan and a load more.
Dan: Wiht (Leeds), Conan (Northwest) Sunsmasher (Scotland)
Trav: Tree of sores & Wiht
Southern bands like to write songs about things like drinking tea and eating crumpets – does northern life inspire your songs?
Craig: Yeah absolutely. Every time I write a new song it’s always inspired by life and the world in which we exist. But with living in the north that’s obviously going to have a more direct influence on everything. It’s seen as pretty grim up here, and it probably is. And I can tell you all the bad shit at any time, but at the end of the day I love it up here. I love all the down sides as much as the upsides. It sounds daft but I need misery & negativity in my life, that’s what inspires me and makes me creative. Even when I’m at my happiest I’m still an angry man at the same time.
Dan: Life does in general. The human condition seems pretty bleak and hopeless and you can only see it getting worse. The North however is grim, and I think intentionally or not it comes out in the music (Joy Division, Black Sabbath etc.)
Craig: Sabbath are from the midlands Dan. I’ll buy you a map.
Chris: Not particularly.
You’re about to leave the UK and embark on a European tour – where are you going and who will you be playing with? Who arranged the tour?
Craig: It was us and the Five Will Die lads that sorted it. Me and Trav know them well from our Solitary Mass days. It’s been a bit of a nightmare to be honest but luckily when people have let us down there’s usually been someone else willing to help us out. So we have a lot of gratitude for those people. The European dates slimmed down from what the original plan was……but we’re still getting there 🙂
Get on our website and check out the line-up, we’re playing with some awesome bands. The UK dates alone sees us playing with Conan & Slabdragger 🙂
Awesome! What are your future plans after the tour? Rumour has it you’ve got a second album on the go…
Craig: Yep, we enter the studio on September 2nd to record it. It’s gonna be almost double the length of the last one. 7 songs, around an hour in length and we cannot wait! By the time we’ve recorded it, it’ll mean we’ve recorded two CDs within 7 months. Gonna be waiting a bit longer before the next one!
I think it’s a lot darker than Pure Filth. If you exclude tracks 3 & 4 on Pure Filth, then the other 3 give you more of an idea about where we’ve ended up. It’s bleak, and it offers no hope.
It’ll be out in March next year, and there’ll be an announcement made about it around October time. Can’t wait to get it recorded, it’s been stressful as hell pulling this one together. It’ll be nice to have a bit of breathing space again and just play as many gigs as we can get!
Anyone else you’d like to give a shout-out to?
Craig: I think we’ve given all the shout outs in our answers along the way. I would like to say a huge thanks to all the people buying our music and turning up to our gigs. Underground metal needs you people to survive and I know we definitely appreciate people giving us the time of the day. Cheers everyone! And thanks to you for taking the time to do this interview. Hopefully see some of you on the road!
For more info check out www.wizardsbeard.co.uk
Interviewed by: Tom McKibbin