Quite some months have passed since the announcement of a new sonic offering from one of the most hailed and yet quarrelsome bands around: Over two decades into their outstanding carrier, Dorset Doomsters ELECTRIC WIZARD have recently stepped away from their long-term label and partner, London-based Rise Above Records – founded and run by former CATHEDRAL mastermind Lee Dorrian, just in case someone didn't know that – to release their latest attempt, entitled "Time To Die..." through Satyr IX Productions / Witchfinder Records on September 29, 2014. To dive into the depths of the bands' upcoming Riff-o-Rama, Occult Rock Magazine had a little chat with the Wizard - centered around guitarist & vocalist Jus Oborn and his spouse, axegrinder Liz Buckingham.
OCCULT ROCK: When did you begin recording ‘Time to Die’ and when was it completed?
JUS OBORN: We started it in the summer of 2013 and finished it around April 2014. It took a while, but mainly because it wasn’t recorded in one go and there was a bit of a problem getting back into the studio in the middle, if that makes sense…
OCCULT ROCK: Has parting with Rise Above or the recent line-up changes had any effect on the development or the song-writing process of ‘Time to Die’?
JUS OBORN: No, not at all.
OCCULT ROCK: Not to get into details, as there has been enough talk and what not online and printed these days, is the fact that you’re releasing the new record under different terms a whole new chapter for the band or just a tiny part of the puzzle?
JUS OBORN: It can be viewed both ways. I hope it’s a new chapter for the band, but in terms of the bigger picture, it’s probably just another step on our hideous journey into hell…
OCCULT ROCK: It's not a secret that the band is basically the creative outlet of Jus and Liz – the question on everyone's lips might be: Will there ever be a constant ELECTRIC WIZARD lineup again?
JUS OBORN: There is a constant Electric Wizard line-up. Me and Liz.
OCCULT ROCK: Talking about the album or rather its concept, if there is any to speak of, I noted the rather (colour) reduced cover art work: How important is the visual concept of the ongoing promotion or overall work with the band?
JUS OBORN: I always think we’ve been a very visual band, and of course the artwork is very important to the album / LP format. I mean, we’re not a singles band, we don’t release 3 minute songs, we release long, epic tunes that cover one whole side of an LP. So we always conceive the artwork to go with that concept, and we’ve almost always done it ourselves. I think it’s become almost half of what Electric Wizard is… the visual element and the ideology and everything else that goes with the band, that’s part of the attraction, really. Something deeper than just music...
OCCULT ROCK: Has censorship ever been an issue for you (For example the E. Wizard/Reverend Bizarre Split 12” cover artwork...)?
JUS OBORN: That was censored by our label back then – I think they were worried about it getting into the shops. But, no, we haven’t had as much trouble as you might imagine really, although of course we’ve had the odd Puritan soul who complains about us. Actually, one gig we played was pulled mid-song because the town council didn’t like the video we were showing – that’s happened once or twice, more than with most bands, I guess. We’ve shown some pretty hard-core porn on stage and people being burnt alive, all sorts of horrible shit, you know, just to destroy peoples’ psyches, really. I think if you come to see Electric Wizard you already know what you’re in for…
OCCULT ROCK: The most current step on the Wizard’s march of global conquest is the video for the second single "Sadio Witch", which holds a certain resemblance towards the timeless "Black Mass" – would you like to tell us something about this certain song, why it has been chosen and how you got engaged with underground film maker Shazzula Vultura?
JUS OBORN: Obviously, we’d been meaning to put out a promo video for a long time, it just wasn’t possible with our previous label. So when the opportunity came to do it, we approached Shazzula because we liked a film she’d made a year or so ago, ‘Black Mass Rising’. She’s very influenced by Kenneth Anger and Jess Franco as well, so we very much met on the same page artistically, and it was just a case of us allowing someone else to do something for us and work with us instead of us doing everything ourselves.
The song was chosen because it was written as a single – it’s bloody 4 minutes long! But I don’t think there’s any shame in that. I am really surprised by the rules that some people put on music. A single is supposed to represent your band in usually 3 minutes, so I think we actually went too far in making it 4 minutes, haha. I think the song is perfect as a 7”, which of course it now is.
OCCULT ROCK: You've just played Desert Fest Antwerp. What are the international touring plans for ‘Time to Die’?
JUS OBORN: Well, the album is meant to be played live. I think that’s pretty obvious from the way it sounds, which is raw and brutal. To be honest, we are probably going to end up touring the fucking world by the end of this album’s life… I’d like to get to South America eventually, and the US tour is coming into play around April 2015, and then we’ll be back to playing in Europe, so hopefully a world tour by the end of the cycle…
OCCULT ROCK: Doom Metal went through several stages of development and might now be enjoying its highest point of popularity. Do you consider this to be connected to the cultural/social/political climate of the post-millennium? Is it maybe even a kind of musical/artistic counter concept to neoliberalism?
JUS OBORN: Well, I think it’s doomy times now. The world sort of feels like it’s entering the doom, and doom metal is the music for it. I think Black Sabbath had that period of popularity when people felt a lot of doom and gloom at the beginning of the ’70s, with the Vietnam war and the fuel crisis coming in, and there wasn’t a lot of money around in that period, it was kind of brutal. So when times are hard, people do listen to heavier styles of music... So I think the time is perfect for Electric Wizard. We are a pop band, as far as I’m concerned… we just don’t sell enough records, haha!
OCCULT ROCK: Did you guys ever notice that the drums in “Dunwich” are actually more or less a classic funk pattern?
JUS OBORN: Yeah, that was Shaun (Rutter), he’s really funky, don’t be put off by his grim visage. He’s the funk master, definitely.
OCCULT ROCK: How’s your book on ’60s & ’70’s porn in Europe coming along so far?
JUS OBORN: Umm, not very well, actually. It’s very difficult to write because the more you delve into it and the more people you interview, the bigger and more horrible the story becomes, so I wonder if it can be done? I may just have to cut it down to ‘The Guide To The Bust Of…’, haha. It’s a long and brutal story.
OCCULT ROCK: Final question: Is it really "time to die" yet?
JUS OBORN: Yes, I fucking hope so.