1. Can you give those of us who aren’t familiar with Wizard Eye a brief history of the band and can you please describe your sound for those who have yet to hear your music?
Erik: Wizard Eye existed as a band concept before I was involved. Dave (bass) and some other guys had the name and were writing riffs together for some time before they decided to replace one of the original guitarists in 2007. They placed an ad on Craigslist, and their words grabbed me right away. It said something like, "Looking for a guitarist into Motorhead, Sleep, Black Sabbath, Monster Magnet, etc."
At the time, those were not bands I saw commonly mentioned on Craigslist ads, so I had to check them out simply on the basis of the possibility of meeting kindred spirits. It's 2015 now, so I guess you could say things worked out. We've been through some personnel changes, but Dave and I are still here, and we couldn't be happier to have Mike behind the drums. It's a very satisfying experience all around, and I feel very lucky to play, write and record music with two of the coolest, nicest, funniest, most talented guys I ever met.
As for our sound, I think we're still fairly true to the words that caught my eye in that Craigslist ad back in 2007--Motorhead, Sleep, Black Sabbath, Monster Magnet. There are other sounds happening in our mix, and I don't think we necessarily sound too much like any specific other band, but that's our overall vibe. Dark, trippy, riffy rock music.
2. Why did you want this band to be a trio as opposed to a full fledged group? Are you happy with it being this way or would you want it to be the other way?
Erik: There's a strong precedent for power trios in rock music, notably bands like The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Cream and Sleep. I don't think many folks would argue that those bands lacked anything, and they all enjoyed a great deal of success.
When I first started playing with these guys, there was another guitarist in the band named Paul (who designed our most recent album cover and logo). He and I had a lot of fun creating harmonized guitar parts and other musical elements of that nature, but he eventually had to stop playing with us due to work obligations.
There was an initial period where we considered looking for another guitarist to fill the space he had left, but we ultimately decided to continue on as a trio because everything still sounded great, and we liked the compact nature of three people working together. At this point, I think it would be kind of weird to add another person to our circle. We have our own language and shorthand, and I have a feeling that another personality might throw off our balance.
3. Who is Wizard Eye? Is it an actual Wizard or is the band's name just that, a name and nothing more?
Erik: Wizard Eye isn't actually a "who"--it's a "what." It refers to a couple of things. Most significantly, there's a perpetual storm on the surface of Neptune that looks like a giant splotch. Scientists called it The Wizard Eye. Pretty cool stuff. Wizard Eye is also a Dungeons and Dragons spell that allows the caster to see something like 100 feet ahead. It's kind of a crummy spell, really, but it's a cool name.
4. It's been five years since the release of "Orbital Rites". Why such a long time period between albums?
Erik: As I mentioned, we've had some personnel changes over the years, and those changes have been mainly in the drummer department. Needless to say, a lot of the work involved in bringing a new drummer into the fold requires building their familiarity and confidence in the material. That needs to be nailed down before attempting a recording. The timeline for that process differs from person to person, so we really needed to have the right drummer in place before making a new album. Once Mike came along, we knew we'd be able to make a solid record fairly quickly, and we were able to write a bunch of new material together. While we had confidence in Mike and his abilities, he didn't join the band until 2013, and we recorded the album in early 2014. We signed with Black Monk Records around the end of that year, and the vinyl duplication process took a long time. Here we are in late 2015 with our second full-length album. It's been a long, strange trip, as they say.
5. With your new album you decided to go Self-Titled. Do you feel that's a big statement? Band's tend to name their albums self-titled when they feel it's indicative of the sound they've been trying to craft. Do you feel this is the sound you've been trying to achieve with the band?
Erik: We toyed with some other album titles, but, since we were working with a new label, we figured this particular release would be our introduction to a lot of new people, and we wanted everything about it to be a strong statement. Going with the eponymous option seemed to be the best way to make that point. As for the sound, I think this album is a very clear reflection of our general vibe at the time of the recording, and I think our future efforts will continue to do that as we grow and become more of our musical selves.
6. What was the recording process like this time around? Was there anything different that happened or was it the same old studio thing?
Erik: We did a lot of rehearsing before recording, so we were very clear on everything we wanted to track. From tempos to overdubs, we had everything planned out in advance. We were extremely prepared. This was also our first experience as a group in an actual studio. We recorded Orbital Rites in our old rehearsal space with a little digital 16-track recording unit, so there was a degree of adjustment involved in working with a new person and that kind of professional environment. Luckily, Steve Poponi (of Gradwell House Studios) shares our sort of humor, and he is very adept in capturing the sound and vibe of a band.
7. Can you tell us how this album differs from the previous ones? What can we expect and what is the message behind it?
Erik: This recording is head and shoulders above anything we could have hoped to create on our own. Steve had the skill, experience, gear and knowledge needed to capture our songs in an unobtrusive, natural way, and I think that comes across in the final product.
Orbital Rites involved a lot of stress and hard work on our part, and, honestly, we had to learn a lot as we recorded. The end result is a good album, and I am still proud of songs and performances, but making our current album was a much less stressful experience.
I wouldn't say there is a specific message behind this record other than our overriding desire to convey a feeling of strength and power through our music. We want listeners to feel both inspired and humbled by the riffs, because that's how it feels to play this stuff.
8. What does this album mean to you all?
Erik: Personally, I'm proud of the album. We worked hard to make a strong collection of songs, and we played them to the best of our abilities at the time of the recording. It's a snapshot of where we were as musicians. I like those songs, and I like the guys who played them. I'm looking forward to more of the same in the future, and I think I can safely speak for Dave and Mike on that point.
9. How long is your hair?
Erik: It's about 6' long, give or take an inch.
10. Why did you want it to be in dreads instead of it being straight? Would you ever want to try it out as just plain straight?
Erik: My hair is naturally very curly, so it wouldn't be straight whether it was locked or brushable. I decided to lock it because I was tired of dealing with the hassle of things like frizz, conditioners, split ends and the like. There's no greater meaning behind it.
10. How long did it take you to have it grown as long as it has?
Erik: It's been about 20 years. I'm hazy on the actual time because I didn't think to make a note when I started.
11. Would you ever cut it or have you thought about it?
Erik: I'm sure I would cut it at some point, and I've considered it, but I haven't encountered a compelling enough reason to do so.
12. How many times have you accidentally stepped on your own hair or hit someone with your hair?
Erik: I step on my hair all the time when I wear it down. That's part of the experience, I guess. It's not a big deal. I used to hit people with my hair quite often, but I try to be a lot more careful these days. Unfortunately, I have also been known to knock things off of shelves and tables with my hair.
13. Since your hair is so long in length, it must take you a long time to wash it?
Erik: It actually just takes a long time for it to dry. The washing process isn't too involved--imagine washing a long towel by hand.
14. Do you ever get sick and tired of having such long hair?
Erik: I'm used to it. After all, when you have something grow over the course of two decades, it becomes a very natural part of your life. I generally don't think about it very much unless someone asks me about it.
15. How many times have you had someone get jealous at the fact that you have such long hair?
Erik: I couldn't say for sure. Folks don't always broadcast their feelings of jealousy, but I'm sure it has happened as often as I have been jealous of people who were taller or better looking.
16. If you did decide to cut it off, whereabouts would you cut it, to your lower back, shoulders, etc.
Erik: I'm not sure. I would probably cut it really short just to have a totally new experience.
17. If the cutting of the hair, did happen, what would you do with the hair? Would you donate it or just toss it?
Erik: Locks of Love doesn't accept locked or overly processed hair, so I imagine it would go in the trash.
18. Do you think that having this hair style, is now a part of you like an iconic image, that cutting it off, would destroy that iconic image that everyone has known you for?
Erik: I don't have an inflated sense of myself, and I'm not famous or a public figure, so I'm not particularly concerned about maintaining an iconic image or visual persona for others. I keep my hair like this because I like the way it looks on me, and I'm pretty used to it.
19. What plans do you have for the future as a band?
Erik: We're planning on more writing, more recording, more playing, more albums and more general musical enjoyment. I guess you could say we're looking forward to doing more of the same.
20. Where can we listen to your band and where can we buy your stuff?
Erik: You can hear our music and buy it at https://wizardeye.bandcamp.com. We're also on Amazon, iTunes and about zillion other digital download sites. If you're into vinyl, you can order our two-color swirled record at https://squareup.com/market/vinylaltar/wizard-eye-wizard-eye in the US or http://www.discogs.com/Wizard-Eye-Wizard-Eye/release/7345756 overseas.
If you want to keep tabs on us, we're on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/wizardeye.