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We were invited to take a look behind the scenes as Welsh band Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard launch the third of their full-length albums and support it with a series of spring/summer shows, so we took the opportunity to have this chat with guitarist and co-founder Paul Michael Davies.

Interview with Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard.

Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard: Paul Michael Davies (Glockenspiel, Moog, Keyboards, Guitars), Stuart Sinclair (Moog, Guitar, Bass), Jessica Ball (Moog, Cello, Vocals), James 'Carrat' Carrington (Drums, Percussion), Wez Leon (Glockenspiel, Moog, Keyboards, Guitars).

Welcome to Doom-Metal.com. Could we start with bit of an introduction - who you are and where you're from?

Iím Paul and Iím from MWWB. A band from North Wales.

To quote your Facebook page "all band names are stupid"...is that a mission statement, post facto justification, or mischievous humour...? How did you decide on Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard?

All of the above ha. Theres been so much shit said about our name we just laugh at it. We make music. Fuck the name. If some doom fans won't even listen to our music because of the name then that's great.

And, from the same paragraph: "Doom is Dead". Is it? If so, how wise a choice was it to form a Doom band?

We formed the band to make music. Call it doom or whatever. We had no concern of the doom scene. We all love classic doom but In 2019 the doom scene is stale. Everybody sounds the same and are obsessed with tone and gear. There is very little innovation or even decent riffs. Spending 5k on hipster guitar gear then putting out boring Sleep or Electric Wizard rip offs is like cooking frozen chicken nuggets in expensive extra virgin olive oil from an Italian monastery.

While we're on the topic, what would you say are the key elements of Doom, and how do they inspire you musically?

Great riffs sounding heavy. We don't listen to much doom so I try and write what I think is cool and will fit MWWB. There are some doom elements to our music but I think we have something more.

If the 'net is to be believed, you formed in 2014, from members of Mother Of Six. How did that come about, and what kind of a different vision did you have for MWWB - how would you describe the sound you were aiming for?

MWWB didnt really exist until 2015. Mo6 had to end as the singer got really ill. But the seeds of MWWB can be seen in the last EP Mo6 did. We knew Jess from a band called Warsisters so we wanted to add some kind of celestial female vox to the music. Heavy space rock.

'Nachthexen' followed in early 2015: a single-track 31-minute EP is a pretty ambitious debut. How confident were you about it finding an audience? And how much attention did it generate, initially and after the later tape release?

We all came from unsigned bands so we didn't think it would get anywhere. The main reason we recorded was for me and the drummer to have something to listen to when we was off our heads. It got quite a lot of attention and coming from the unsigned world it was a bit of a shock!! I think Cvlt nation picked it up somehow then this cool cassette label started talking to us.

Then the tape sold out and we thought hang on, we need to maybe at least have a look at labels cos we can't do all this ourselves. We started talking to New Heavy Sounds cos we knew a guy in Black Moth. It took a while for them to sign us. We just forgot about it and had more offers from European labels and one USA label until somebody heard a guy from NHS mention us on a radio show so we thought, ok they gonna sign us then... And we haven't looked back. They are great lable. Well everybody in team MWWB is great. From the press guy, to the distributors and publishing people. We are lucky to have a good team behind us!!

Speaking of which, all of your releases to date have had old-school format physical releases, mainly on vinyl. As someone who well pre-dates CDs myself, that's very pleasing, and the four albums I have are very nicely presented heavyweight packages. How important is it for you to present real media (including the CD versions) rather than just downloads?

Ha. The majority of us in MWWB are the same. Grew up with vinyl. That kinda of helped us to decide to go with NHS. We knew they werent some bedroom label and that they had the capital and influence to put out decent formats.

You've just released 'Yn Ol I Annwn', a double-LP, and the third of what appears to be a trilogy. At least, they're linked by all having Welsh album titles, a sigil/glyph-based cover, and mythic/archetypal subjects scattered through the song titles. Is there a full concept behind them?

Yep. Spot on. The artwork is a concept in itself. The Pictogram evolves until it travels into space. We kinda like to leave the concepts open to the listener. And nobody can be wrong about the concepts or disappointed.

Discography (click to expand): 'Nachthexen' (EP, 2015), 'Totems' (Split with Slomatics, 2018), 'Noeth Ac Anoeth' (2015), 'Y Proffwyd Dwll' (2016), 'Yn Ol I Annwn' (2019).

It sounds like all the vocals, where they have words, are in English: have you ever felt you'd like to make more use of Welsh within your songs? Is there any particular reason you haven't published the lyrics - is that creating a deliberate ambiguity as to their significance?

We did get asked by fans to publish some lyrics so we did one or two songs. I write songs with concepts but Jess has final say on the lyrics. I can't speak for her personally but I think she likes to keep things ambiguous as you say. We think Welsh is cool. It\s a great historical language that is around us. But we aren't a political band or nationalist so while we have sleeve notes in Welsh we wouldn't do a complete Welsh album where everything, even the lyrics are in Welsh. Plus Jess is from South Africa so we have a wide influence of cultures.

Debut album 'Noeth Ac Anoeth' included the track 'Nachthexen' - was that reworked at all? Were there any differences working on a full-length, rather than shorter EP, release, and how satisfied were you with the final result?

It was the same version that was split up on a few releases. We all love Nachthexen. It was written at a pretty dark time for all us for various reasons and I think that may come out in the music. Maybe we could re-record or remaster it as it was done on a tiny budget but I think that adds to the overall vibe.

What did you feel were the main improvements for the following 'Y Proffwyd Dwyll'? That was the first time I remember seeing the band name being circulated: were you getting some proper recognition by that point?

Yeah I think it kind of took off then. We got nominated for the BBC Welsh music prize off that album so I think it made us more accessible to more than just doom fans. It was definitely a turning point. The band shifted up a gear.

You took some time out for a split LP with Irish band Slomatics in 2017: musically, it's a great match-up. How did that come about, and how was the experience of actually making it?

Thanks man. It was great to do. I think Dave from Slomatics messaged me about our latest album at the time and we just started chatting. Then at some point somebody said 'lets do a fucking album!' I love the production on that too.

Which brings us to the new album, which I would personally describe as better in all dimensions: bigger, bolder, spacier, clearer and better engineered, more confident and with wider instrumental textures. Would you say that's a fair precis, and was that the intention all along?

Yeah. We finally had the time and money to really make something I wanted to do. I have so many influences outside the doom scene I wanted to make it all make sense. Its just the tip of the iceberg hopefully.

What's the feedback been like regarding 'Yn Ol I Annwn'? Have you had much from either fans or press - and do either or both of those mean all that much compared to your own degree of satisfaction with your creation?

Reaction has been fucking great. Off fans and press. To my knowledge, we've had like one or two weird/negative reviews but they just didn't like it and we accept that even though we put our life's blood into the album, some people WILL think its shit. Can't win em all.

You're supporting the release with a few shows over the next month or so. Sadly, I couldn't make any of the dates, otherwise we'd be doing this interview in person - how have those been going?

The gigs went well thanks. Mix of large and small venues. We have Manchester in July so we are all looking forward to that gig,

What's your position on performing live, in general? Is it a vital and welcome part of the band experience, or would you rather stick to studio recording?

Great question. We are at a weird point in our career that we can play large or small places and get sets from 30 minutes to over a hour and if you are doing a festival you won't get a soundcheck. We have multiple synths and in ear monitors in weird feeds so its always a race to set up properly at festivals or all dayers. Each venue has its pros and cons. At a small venue you may get techincal difficulites or have monitor issues for instance But we always manage to put on a show. Our live shows differ from the albums slightly as they are more free form. We are thinking about expanding the band soon though. Maybe add an extra keyboard player.

Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard - 'Live In Bourlon' (2017):

Do you have any particular plans for the near future? Would you see yourselves continuing this direction of steady evolution and refinement, or have you any more radical ideas you'd like to explore?

Another great question. As the main song writer I'm looking to expand/evolve MWWB yes. We will always keep the key elements such as heavy drums and big riffs but always want to progress and take this shit in to deep space.

What would be your ultimate goal for MWWB? Still redefining the boundaries of Space Rock fifty years on, like Hawkwind, or slapping down a perfect trilogy of Doom albums and closing with a 'So Long, Suckers', like Reverend Bizarre?

Haha. Not gonna lie. Trilogy of albums and 'so long suckers' is/was a very very real posibilty. We got families and very demanding jobs so its tough doing this but we realise not everybody gets the opportunity to do this so its humbling. I can say ONE option I've really thought about.. We do a concept album/rock opera thing. War of the Worlds meets Black Mirror. Double album, gatefold sleeve, accompanying artwork. booklet, the fucking works. Now I don't know if this is even feasable but that's MY personal plan. Haha. We'll see what happens. My personal thing is after the trilogy we have to go big or go home.

And what, after five years together, is the absolutely best thing about Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard?

Not having killed each other!! We were all friends before MWWB but its pretty stressful on friendships doing all this and I'm really really happy that we are all still good friends and are all happy doing this. We've had a few bust ups but its testament to our friendships that we still all get on. (Funnily enough I'm just in a MWWB group Whatsapp now as I write this. Talking shit!)

To close, thanks a lot for your time and participation, and I hope we've managed to put together a decent picture of the band. If there are any last words you'd like add, now is the timeÖ

Just like to say thanks for the support of the fans. It sounds obvious but this band was built on fans sharing our music all over the globe. You guys keep sharing and we can keep creating!!

Editor's Note:
You can still catch Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard live this summer at:
Rebellion Manchester, with Slomatics, Old Man Lizard and Opium Lord on Saturday 6th July (more info: Facebook event page)
ArcTanGent three day Festival Bristol, on the Thursday 15th August line-up (more info: ArcTanGent website).

Click HERE to discuss this interview on the doom-metal forum.

Visit the Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard bandpage.

Interviewed on 2019-06-05 by Mike Liassides.
Thermal Mass
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