Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard may have a funny name, but their music is far from a joke. The band have produced music that is hypnotic, gripping and majestic on so many (astral) levels. Despite interviewing the band last year, I was keen to interview them again in the lead up to Desertfest. Luckily guitarist Paul Michael Davies was on hand to answer my questions.
Jack: Hey guys, thanks for taking the time to speak to me again. How are you doing?
Paul Michael Davies (Guitar): Fine thanks.
Jack: Last year you released your second album Y Proffwyd Dwyll, are you happy with the response?
Paul: More that happy. we honestly didnt expect it to sell out so quick. The label had to do a repressing. which also sold out..
Jack: There was a nine month gap in between albums, what was the reason for such a short space in between?
Paul: Well I had stuff and ideas and we were all pretty free at that period so we told the label we could do the 2nd album.
Jack: Paul, you said you wanted to push the doom template a bit more, what was the reason for this?
Paul: To us, Doom has got very boring. Fuzzed out one finger chords, open hi hat, slow drum beats, vocals sounding like a dog being sick, and recycling Sleep, Conan and Melvins riffs. Doom is such a kick ass genre that we love but people are just trying to copy bands they like. It seems bands have stopped writing riffs and just playing chords at stupid volumes. Dont get me wrong, bands like Hogslayer are great and are breathing life into what you would call modern doom/sludge but the ubiquitous bands that are all about ‘sunn amps, slow tempo, satan , hating everything is not something any of this band are into. We like bands that explore what people would call ‘doom’ or ‘Stoner’. bands like Slomatics, Kylver, OHHMS etc. Okay if you wanna be in a band and sound like Sleep or Conan then thats fucking great. Respect to you. But we wanna personally see where we can take ‘doom’ and we buzz of bands introducing new elements to what you would call doom music.
Jack: The songs are also shorter, was this a conscious decision before going into the recording?
Paul: The label suggested that maybe we try and see if we could explore different approaches to writing songs for the second album so I kinda did more songy type stuff and people seemed to like it. I’ll say that the third album (the final in our trilogy) will be a return to our roots but with a sprinkling of one or too short-ish numbers.
Jack: The album also translates into The False Prophet and the theme is worship, why did you settle on this theme?
Paul: It was a kinda a number of things. The world is kinda in limbo now with god, technology and ‘the self’ all in this fucking furnace. Moore’s law kinda indicates that technology is propelling the human race to some kind of oblivion. Humans have been worshipping deities and entities for like 100,000 years but now in the western world, religion is slowly being erradicated by science and technology. But you’ve also got religions that are holding firm and kicking against technology and science so its like a malestrom of beliefs and ideas. Who/what will be worshipped in the future? Will all churches or places of worship be turned into wetherspoons?
Jack: There seems to be a lot more John Carpenter influenced Synths on this one (especially on ‘Gallego’), was there a reason for this and how did you create this sound?
Paul: We all love kraut rock and film scores. We made all the sounds with a Moog Minitaur and a software version of a Minimoog.
Jack: What was it like working with Chris Fielding again? Did working with him before help?
Paul: Its always good working with Chris. We’ve known him for years and he’s a natural choice for us to record with.
Jack: Is there any significance to the album cover?
Paul: Yes. All the albums in the trilogy have a pictogram on the cover. If you look at the 2nd album, the pictogram has evolved from the pictogram our first Album. There are cues in the artwork that refer to the tracks on that specific album as well. One spoiler will be if you look carefully at the artwork to Y Proffwyd Dwyll you can see a design not unlike the artwork a roman shield. Now the track ‘Testudo’ refers to a shield formation used by the Roman army so theres a lot of stuff like that if people can be arsed looking. [Laughs]
Jack: How was it supporting Ufomammut?
Paul: We were surprised by the amount of people that watched us. We were on first before a new local band so we thought we’d be playing to the merch guys but we had a geat crowd!
Jack: When I saw you in London you had five members on stage. Are MWWD a five piece now or are you still a four piece?
Paul: At the moment We are now officially a five piece. Pete has joined on bass so Jess can play synth on stage.
Jack: You also went on tour with OHHMS, how did it that go? Did you have a favourite show?
Paul: That was really good. Ohhms are great lads. Favourite show? Thats a tough question. The quality of all the support bands was unreal. All the venues were packed out. Newcastle was great as we got to see Kylver and have a beer with them but my favourite show was probably Brighton or Bournemouth. Its all a blur but it was one beginng with B.
Jack: What do you like about OHHMS music?
Paul: They are very energetic live and they are really good musicians. Plus the fact that they are really fucking sound guys kinda adds to it. Id say its heavy but not boring.
Jack: You’re also playing Desertfest in April, what are you looking forward to the most about Desertfest?
Paul: We won’t be staying to see any other bands as we have to travel but I’ve heard the venue is intimate but very cool so it will be great to play to a load of dooms fans in a place like that. Plus its a festival so people will be willing to party and headbang the shit out the place.
Jack: Are genre specific festivals like Desertfest the future?
Paul: If promoters but a wide range of bands within a genre then yeah it could be.
Jack: For a Metal Hammer compliation you covered Napalm Death’s ‘Scum.’ Why did you pick this song and was it hard converting it from grindcore to doom metal?
Paul: Well we are big original Napalm fans. I’ve seen them a few times in the old days. I’d say this band isnt made of doom musicians. We’ve never been a band to play in a certain way and we’ve all played in different genre bands in the past so recording a grindcore track was relatively easy and a shit loads of fun.
Jack: What are your plans for after Desertfest?
Paul: Pack the stuff in the van and have a beer. [Laughs]. Nah, we’ve got festivals in Poland, Germany, France and Holland this year as well as going into the studio to record a Pink Floyd track for a compilation released in the US. In November we are doing something really cool in the studio, but as per we can’t really say anything at the moment.
Jack: Finally have you ever encountered any issues because of your name?
Paul: We make music, that’s the long and short of it. Its all about the music. Fuck the name or what conclusions people come up with. Yes promoters, agents and some journalists may not take us seriously but we honestly don’t give a fuck. We’re never gonna change or alter the name. Isn’t the genre about the music? Too many bands or journos are too wrapped up with image of bands and all that crap in this genre. Our fans love our music and so thats all that counts. Its a simple equation:
Do you like the music? YES. Well put the fucker on your turntable.
Do you not like the music? NO? Well listen to something else.
The name is irrelevant