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Interview

Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard Guitarist Paul Davies Discusses "Yn Ol I Annwn"

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Band Photo: Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard (?)

Right now, metal may very well be the most exciting it's been for a long time. There's bands doing something new, there's others creating excellent material from time tested genres and then we have bands creating something fresh, from aforementioned sub-genres. A perfect example of this would be Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard, the Welsh doom outfit who've been crafting a celestial and dream like take on doom metal. With a new album, "Yn Ol I Annwn" now available through BandCamp, I caught up with guitarist Paul Davies to discuss the record, as well as the history of the band, what the future holds and the importance of the Welsh language.

Diamond Oz: First of all congratulations on the new album, "Yn Ol I Annwn." What I've heard thus far is absolutely stellar. What would you say is different about this record to previous releases?

Paul Davies: Thank you. we had more time and more money basically. Also I had a clear manifesto from the get go on what I wanted it to be. I'd say it's more progressive and I wanted to expand on what we are about musically. Also to be nerdy I think the drums on this are fucking excellent. Carrat really pulled it out of the bag. The old joke was that he was the best shit drummer in Wrexham (our town) but the guy has really come along. He's never had lessons and can't play any other instruments but he just hits the drums like King Kong in his own style.

Diamond Oz: This is the final part of a trilogy which also includes "Noeth Ac Anoeth" and "Y Proffwyd Dwyll". For the uninitiated, could you explain the concept of the trilogy?

Paul Davies: Each album evolves into the next but its also a loop. There are subtle cues in the titles, lyrics and artwork that allure to the concepts and we like fans to make their own minds up.

Diamond Oz: The artwork for "Yn Ol I Annwn" is absolutely gorgeous. Who created it and how well do you feel it represents the songs themselves?

Paul: Thanks! It was done by a friend and MWWB collaborator Andy Garside. He's done every official artwork for MWWB. When we need album art we usually meet up for a coffee and really go into detail about the songs and what I think the artwork should encapsulate. He now lives in a van in Europe with his wife and 2 dogs so we had to discuss things over email but we did ok and he really nailed it. We wanted the artwork to evolve with the trilogy. So the first pictogram was sparse and prehistoric whereas the last album has a retro future element to it. There is the usual pictogram on Annwn in there but its being swallowed up by deep space and electronic circuitry. He really captured the feel of the album.

Diamond Oz: Much has been made of the band name. Overall do you feel it's a help or detriment when trying to book gigs or reach new fans?

Paul: The issues with the band name just shows the vacuous nature of most people involved with the doom scene or any music scenes. We make music, fuck what name we use. Our stand is If the name influences your opinion of the music then are you even a music fan?? This name sorts out the real fans. The internet has been great for our music. Luckily people rate our music so to the real fans the name means nothing or some may even like it!. We're never gonna change or modify our name. This is about music.

Things have worked out that we don't try and book gigs. Work and family commitments mean we only do shows we are offered. Luckily we get offered some really cool shows! But yes we do probably miss out on certain big festivals due to the name but nobody is in the band to be rock stars or play 'big' festivals with our heroes. We make music. That's our main concern. If we continue to get offered shows that are worth doing then we WILL try and get out and play to people. As yet we don't use a booking agent but as we get bigger we are chatting to various people and most agents are very understanding that we have work and family commitments so we cant commit to 4 week tours etc.

Diamond Oz: The band is also notable for the use of synths. It actually works very well with the music, especially given the celestial vibe. When you started the band, did you always intend to use synths or was it supposed to be more in the vein of traditional doom?

Paul: Great question! There are actually synths on the first album. Even the first EP we recorded. They are pretty low in the mix and we didnt have the money to spend more than 2 days in the studio. We all love classic doom but there was always a synth element planned and as the band progressed i had more time to write with synths in mind. My plan is to write an album of synth based stuff. Either as a standalone or maybe a double album. 1 disc big dark riffs and stuff and the other disc celestial synths!

Diamond Oz: Another thing that sets the band apart from others is your use of the Welsh language. How important to you is the language itself? Do you use it in day to day life outside of music or do you see it more as a tool to put yourself and Wales on the map in the world of heavy music?

Paul: Another great question. Welsh has been around the Welsh members of the band since we were small kids. Its all around us every day. We also think it sounds fucking cool. The language is so old and has so much history we thought we had to introduce it to the music. Some people can take national identity to fascistic levels but we are proud to be Welsh so we like to include it into the music, Its not really a political thing.

Diamond Oz: The band has been going for five years now. In that time, have you exceeded your expectations as a band and what do you think you can achieve together in the next five years?

Paul: The first time we appeared on anything digitally was 2015. If we take away all the silly bullshit with the name then its been unreal and amazing. We've all been in tonnes of bands before but hopefully MWWB has the ingredients to be a great band. We never set out to get this far let alone get a record deal. We just had the urge to make some heavy spacey music. We could never have expected the reaction from the fans. Without their worldwide support we wouldn't have made the 2nd album never mind any more. Its very humbling.

We've been invited to some really amazing shows too and when we sold out our album launch in London we though 'Oh dear this shit just got real!'. We are always trying to improve our playing and stage set up and are currently setting up a web store so we can get better organised with the selling of merch too.

Diamond Oz: What's the plans for the rest of 2019?

Paul: Some cool gigs including Focus Wales festival, Cardiff Psych fest, ArcTanGent festival, a headline show in Manchester and probably start writing album 4.

Diamond Oz: Thank you very much for taking the time to speak to me. Best of luck with the new album!

Paul: No worries.

You can check out Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard live on the following dates:

16th May - Focus Wales, William Aston Hall, Wrexham w/ Skindred
18th May - The Rumble At Rebellion w/ Kurokuma, Mastiff, Goblinsmoker & more
24th-26th May - Cardiff Psych And Noise Fest
6th June - Rebellion - Slomatics, Old Man Lizard

Diamond Oz's avatar

Ollie Hynes has been a writer for Metal Underground.com since 2007 and a metal fan since 2001, going as far as to travel to other countries and continents for metal gigs.

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