Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard are lighting up the UK’s heavy underground with their vivid voyages into unchartered space. Following the completion of their opening trilogy, Rich Holmes caught up with guitarist Paul Davies to find out what’s next… and hear his views on the state of the doom nation.
“Same riffs, same scales same vocal style. It’s now about blogs, memes, merch, gear and fuzz boxes. Bands lazily aping other bands trying to be rock stars is killing the scene.”
Paul Davies, guitarist with Wrexham’s Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard, pulls no punches when describing the current doom/stoner scene. He rails against the cookie cutter approach taken by so many bands… and the downward spiral caused by acts copying each other ad infinitum.
Indeed, while doom and stoner acts have spawned across the UK in the last five years, Davies doesn’t agree that quantity necessarily means quality. He points to acts such as Boss Keloid, Kylver, Slomatics, Possessor, Hogslayer and Lumphammer as bastions of orginality and inspiration, who refuse to stick to a tried and tested format.
Look at the wider scene though and he’s clearly not impressed…
“Contemporary doom music is so easy to do,” he argues. “That’s why it’s so big. Get a fuzz pedal and a valve amp. Tune down and play simplistic, droney chords. Or mimic another doom band.
“Doom fans will be so obsessed with your tone they won’t consider that you have no riffs or decent song. Save up and record, get something on Bandcamp, bingo! A massive doom scene. Sorry to be cynical but that’s the long and short of it.”
You could never accuse Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard of aping anyone, ever. Their magical, astral soundscapes, gloriously weaved together by the ethereal vocals of Jessica Ball, are lightyears away from slo-mo Sabbath dirges or NOLA-fried stoner grooves. Heavy? Certainly. But the likes of Hawkwind, Pink Floyd and Amon Düül II are as much a part of their DNA as Tony Iommi’s blunted fingertips.
New album, Yn Ol I Annwn, expanded their colourful sonic palate even further, garnering plenty of 10/10s for its marriage of catchier, more direct songcraft – the title track being a fine example – with the act’s trademark interstellar excursions (The Spaceships of Ezekiel, Five Days In The Abyss).
And with a sweep of festival dates in the pipeline, the Welsh outfit could finish 2019 on a (mellow) high.
There’s a first appearance at Bristol’s left-field ArcTanGent shindig in August to savour, a stint at Cardiff’s Psych and Noise Fest later this month, plus shows with the likes of Slomatics, Kurokuma, Old Man Lizard and even compatriots Skindred across the UK in the coming weeks.
ArcTanGent will see them run shoulders with acts as diverse as Coheed and Cambria, Zeal and Ardour and Carpenter Brut. “Obviously it’s not the ‘usual’ crowd,” says Davies. “But we will just get on and do what we do and hope the crowd digs it. It’s great to be offered interesting festivals. It’s keeps us on our toes!”
Is there now a sense of momentum behind Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard? Is the hard graft finally paying off?
“Yeah,” replies Davies. “Due to our name – yes seriously – we’ve faced some elements of negativity from some of the doom scene but our music speaks for itself and people buy it… and our fanbase keeps on growing.
“Our music isn’t for doom scenesters that obsess over names or style of vocals. We put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard and this must come across, because we keep on selling records and people come and see us.
“So the momentum is caused by the fans that support us and we are very, very grateful.”
Yn Ol I Annwn (Welsh for Return To The Underworld) concluded a trilogy which began with their 2015 debut, Noeth Ac Anoethand and included 2017’s titanic Y Proffwyd Dwyll. Following this, Davies reveals that any new material will have a huge synth element to it, while keeping the ‘kick ass riffs’. “I just want to expand our range. I want to combine accessible FM rock radio style tracks, synth soundtracks and weird creepy heavy shit. You can’t have all darkness. A bit of light makes the dark even darker.”
The next step may come as something of a surprise though…
“We have just commissioned an 8 bit-style video game so I’m involved with that at the moment,” Davies explains. “A doom metal Druid Kung Fu adventure game. It’s looking cool actually!”
If Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard’s music and aesthetic is anything to go by, we bet it is…
Yn Ol I Annwn is out now on New Heavy Sounds.
Mammoth Weed Wizard bastard upcoming dates:
May 16 – Focus Wales, William Aston Hall, Wrexham with Skindred
May 18 – The Rumble At Rebellion, Manchester with Kurokuma, Mastiff, Goblinsmoker and more
May 24-26 – Cardiff Psych And Noise Fest, Cardiff
July 6 – Rebellion, Manchester with Slomatics, Old Man Lizard and Opium Lord
August 15 – ArcTanGent Festival, Bristol