If you are in the market for a really cool heavy metal record, influenced by the greats whilst maintaining homage to classic hard rock of the 70’s, the this band are for you. The Wizards released one of the best albums I have heard this year recently, this is a band whom have been on my radar for quite some time and based on their last opus, I really felt that ‘Rise of the Serpent’ was a massive leap forward for the band. I had to chance to fire some questions to lead guitar player and backing vocalist George Dee of this highly talented Spanish band.
AN: Congratulations ‘Rise of the Serpent’ is an excellent release and as I have read, it will indeed keep all headbangers happy! What has been the reaction so far? I am sure mostly positive right?
Thank you very much! The reaction has been amazing, we are pretty overwhelmed! We knew we had done something special, but it is always a pleasure to read kind words about your record. Some of the reviews have been mind blowing! It sound cliché but is the best album we recorded to date, the best effort possible in our hands. We worked our asses off and the result is convincing and promising. We are really happy that we are getting a wider audience into our music.
AN: What happened in terms of inspiration from ‘Full Moon In Scorpio’ to ‘Rise of the Serpent’? The sound and songs is much more in depth, and have a fair few varied influences. There is a lot more epic metal whilst maintaining the classic hard rock influence, something that originally drew me to The Wizards.
When we lock ourselves in the rehearsal room to write new songs we don’t usually have a plan, so everything flows naturally. With ‘Full Moon in Scorpio’ we pushed everything further and just before we started writing ‘Rise Of The Serpent’ we had been playing a lot, so it was fun for us to play something more demanding. We all love classic metal, so it may be an unaware attempt to relive those glory days for heavy metal.
AN: How do you write your songs, does the music get written first before the vocals etc, is it a group effort or do individuals come up with their ideas and jam it out?
Usually guitar player Phil The Pain and I come with an idea (sometimes with almost a whole song) and we all together work it from that in the rehearsal room. I write a lot of lyrics, so we always have material to work with. And sometimes the lyrics come first, you can never tell. Also this time Phil The Pain and I wrote a song together from his idea and lyrics (‘Distorted Mirrors’). I love writing songs, but they always decide when and how they have to be written.
AN: It was mentioned in the PR material that a lot of work went into the drums, did you feel this was an area that needed further improvement based on previous releases? The results are great by the way; I didn’t find anything wrong with the two previous releases!
Our producer Dean Rispler wanted a bigger room to record the drums, so we decided to rent Garate Studios for a couple of days, probably is the best studio in Basque Country. Lots of influential albums were recorded there. Drum tracks are the foundations of a record, so we wanted a big and powerful sound, just the one we got! The demos for the album and the guitars, bass, vocals and arrangements were recorded at Gaua Studios where we recorded our previous album. We wanted to work with the same tech crew and studio team, we have a great understanding and the same sonic vision.
AN: With the sound in mind, what is your typical set up, guitars/amps etc? It’s mentioned old 60’s and 70’s mics and gear was used for the drums.
We love classic gear and we use old Marshalls and Orange amps, Gibson and Rickenbacker guitars and bass guitars. I remember when I was a kid learning to play the guitar, and I dreamt with a Gibson Les Paul and a very big Marshall, and now that’s still the gear I prefer. For the recording we used a lot of vintage mics, old Telefunken mics from the 70’s and some Neve gear. But we didn’t record it on tape, we used pro-tools. So we used the best of both worlds, analogue old gear and modern digital software. In the end we found the warm, big fat sound we were looking for!
AN: Which track (if not all!) are you most happy with, a favourite?
It’s difficult for me to choose, but I’m really happy with ‘VOID’. We worked a lot in the studio with this song because it was the last we wrote for the record, and even if we are not used to that the song grew and we are really proud of it. Everyone in the band has his own favourite, there are 8 great songs so it’s difficult to decide!
AN: Quite rightly, you’re against anything mainstream. Is this in terms of culture, music, politics or a little bit of everything?
Just a little bit of everything, but we try to stay positive. For us, playing in this band is a way to forget the daily grind and continue growing as musicians. There is always this romantic side of playing in a band, it feels like fighting against everything you don’t like and making a statement, and so we do. It’s our personal revolution, our magical war.
AN: How did Rafa Garres get involved with the artwork? It’s very vibrant and a little less sinister than previous album covers. Did you feel the music evolution changed your outlook on how the band should be presented in terms of the album cover? Or did you just like it!?
We had an idea and we thought that Rafa could make a great job, so we just called him and he accepted. He doesn’t work with many bands for album covers, so it is a pleasure for us to have this opportunity to work with him. We all love comics and we wanted something brighter and epic, so that was just what we got. We sent him and written idea of what we wanted and a small doodle and he came up with something beyond our expectations. We recommend everyone to check out his work for DC Comics, Marvel or Verotik.
AN: Are there any plans for live shows in the future, especially over on our little island in the UK?
We would love to tour your island, since a lot of our favourite bands are British and our goal right now is to play outside our country as much as we can. We are working hard to make it happen and all help is welcome. So please ask your local promoters to bring us or if any interested promoter is reading this, please call us!
AN: Your debut album is hard to track down in terms of a physical copy, are there any plans to re-release this?
Not at the moment. It was a really small release and we don’t have any plans about that. But with the time more and more people asking for it so maybe in the future, who knows! What we are working on is in a re-issue of our second album ‘Full Moon in Scorpio’, stay tuned because we will have news soon!
AN: You are trapped on a deserted island, strangely with a working music player! What 3 albums do you have?
Pink Floyd “Wish you were here”
Stooges “Fun House”
Judas Priest “Defenders of the Faith”
AN: Alive or not, is there an artist you would love to play live with?
We have played with many amazing artists (Turbonegro, Iggy Pop etc) but I personally would really love to open for The Rolling Stones. Haha! They are icons and one of the most influential bands ever.
AN: Have you started plans for album number 4?
Yes. We are always writing new material. We are in great creative shape. We hope to release it next year, we cannot stop. Our favorite bands from the 70’s and 80’s released albums every year, it’s a great way to create a nice legacy. The new songs are going to be even better, we promise.
AN: Outside of music, do you have other interests?
We love philosophy, history, literature, films, comics, animals, comedy, weird things, occultism, magic, skateboarding, saying stupid things, laughing at everything, word jokes, and many other disgusting things. We are really interesting human beings, besides being a loving bunch of weirdos.
AN: If you want to, describe yourselves to our readers!
We are a five-headed serpent ready to rise and conquer the world, like a real rock band should be, come and join the cult!
AN: Thank you for your time, and big thumbs up once again for ‘Rise of the Serpent’, it’s a great release.
Thank you very much for your interest and kind words!
Interview by Paul Maddison