Interview with Electric Wizard vocalist/guitarist Jus Oborn | By Addison Herron-Wheeler
Despite their extreme cult status, England’s Electric Wizard haven’t had an easy go of it. From multiple lineup changes at inopportune times to a constantly nagging record label lawsuit while they were experiencing cataclysmic metal success, they have suffered numerous frustrations and setbacks. Their long-awaited ninth studio album, Wizard Bloody Wizard—out Nov. 10 via Spinefarm Records—might be the first record the band have released somewhat at peace.
Recorded using vintage tape machines, and written to capture the essence of sex, drugs, and violence, the band’s latest offering brings them back to the roots of early metal and heavy blues. Rather than taking things to the extreme with brutality and anger, this album sounds triumphant. “The new lineup was a big inspiration,” says vocalist and guitarist Jus Oborn, speaking of the addition of Clayton Burgess on bass and Simon Poole on drums for this recording. “We did a lot of gigging over the last few years, and we ended up with a pretty awesome rhythm section, so that opened up a lot of possibilities.”
Wizard Bloody Wizard really does get back to basics. While 2014’s Time to Die was a pure shot of nihilism and hate, this record allows in a few rays of light. Oborn’s vocals are as snotty as ever, and the guitar tone is still as distorted and dark as it was on their doomier records. But the riffs are simple and bluesy, bringing to mind Blue Cheer, Cream, and, of course, Black Sabbath. “I guess the last album was really dark—a really heavy album,” Oborn continues. “It was hard work to make, kind of puts you in a really negative vortex listening to it, and that was the intention of the album. But after that, it was like, ‘Fucking hell, maybe we’ve gone as far as we can with a certain sound and it’s time to strip down and start again.’”
In addition to their new record, Electric Wizard have plans that fans—accustomed to the constantly tenuous nature of the group’s future—will celebrate. “We are putting a tour together at the moment, and we are definitely going to do a U.S. tour in the new year,” Oborn insists. “We’re also going to do Japan, because it’s been a few years, and we are going to South America, because we haven’t been there.”
Not only do they have plans to record new music, it is already in progress. “We are already recording an EP,” Oborn reveals. “There’s not much we can say at the moment, but I think it’s going to be better than this one. We’d like to tighten the screw a bit more.”
Does he hope that Electric Wizard will continue for some time with their current lineup? “Jesus Christ, hopefully. That would be good,” he laughs. “Always fingers crossed, but someone could have a baby or some shit.”
Don’t mistake any of this for Electric Wizard giving up their beloved horror-infused aesthetic and primal sound. It’s the same old Wizard on Wizard Bloody Wizard, just a more refined, stripped-down, classic version with a slightly more optimistic tone. “This record is pretty similar lyrically to past albums,” Oborn admits. “It’s meant to be a little more on the dark side rather than the end of the world or some homicidal, suicidal shit. This one is a bit more about evil. It’s hard to say—the whole album is kind of like a conceptual idea around exorcism; the end of the album is almost like rays of the sun rising.”