If ye haven't heard, we slumbering scribes are putting out a compilation album on Oct. 2nd! Sleeping Village Caravan Of Doom (Vol. 1) is an exhibition of like-minded tracks that balance sludgy heft with an earthy stoner atmosphere. These are songs that would feel at home in the midst of a bog or mire, and we’ve brought them together, drenched in murk and algae, for your gloomy enjoyment. Pre-order here for the measly price of $1! That, dear reader, is a bargain.
In anticipation of the eminent release of Sleeping Village Record's inaugural compilation--a swampy collection of 10 previously released underground stoner doom tracks--we highfalutin peasants have invited the featured artists to our murky interrogation chamber for a chat. The first up is the estimable Bog Wizard, who bring up the rear of this compilation with the epic "Swamp Golem." If e'er there were a band to embody the murky and earthy vibe we've attempted to establish with this collection of tunes, Bog Wizard are surely it. Beyond that, however, we simply just like 'em a whole lot--check out our review of their debut From The Mire if yer looking for proof in that regard.
Before diving into the mire in question, I'd like to thank the boggy boys for agreeing to be part of this project, and for taking the time to answer my line of questioning. It's an honor and a privilege. Without further ado:
Sleeping Village: Right out of the gate: thanks for agreeing to be a part of our flagship compilation! "Swamp Golem" will serve as our closer--what can you tell us about the track?
Bog Wizard: Ben and I (Harlen) started the band as a two piece, and shortly after our bassist Colby joined, we started working on this track. The structure originated from an improv jam that we worked on for awhile before taking all the parts and smashing them into the full behemoth it is today. It was also one of the first tracks we wrote after I picked up my synth, so we went into it with the mindset of having some space for that.
Thematically, it’s telling the story of a pissed off wizard summoning a massive creature of mud and swamp crud to seek vengeance on his foes.
SV: Congrats on the release of "From The Mire!" We obviously enjoyed it muchly 'round these parts. Has anything about the public or media reception to the album surprised you?
BW: We’ve definitely been surprised by the overall positive reception and very little criticism of it. We’re not trained musicians, so there’s always a bit of impostor syndrome releasing something like this. We were happy with the project and thought it kicked a lot of ass, so it was nice to get that affirmed. We’re just some guys jamming in a basement in Michigan.
SV: What is it about heavy/doom metal and D&D that allow them to appeal to similar (if not the same) audiences? Do they share a specific quality or characteristic in your minds?
BW: There’s definitely a big overlap in the metal scene and the D&D/ tabletop gaming scene. In the 80s/ 90s both were heavily demonized in the satanic panic era, which is something we’ve found amusing and spoof off of heavily on our album. We love playing off the fear that came from these two misunderstood things. Fantasy themes and nerdy subject matter have tied into metal for a long time in various ways. Lots of doom sings about witches and magic rituals, or say, catching a ride with a wizard on the back of a dragon and flying off into the cosmos. We just decided to make it real blatant how huge of nerds we are, instead of beating around the bush.
SV: Beyond the thematic content provided by D&D, who influences your aesthetic? Obviously the usual Sabbathian suspects play a part, but beyond that, what bands have helped define Bog Wizard?
BW: Some of the more obvious influences are Electric Wizard, Windhand, The Wounded Kings, Conan, and Sleep. But we try to not be afraid to branch out into other genres of metal we like, so we also take a fair amount of influence from earlier Opeth and Gojira, albeit applied in a doomier way.
SV: Walk me through Bog Wizard's process of writing and refining a new track. Do you start with a riff first, and build from there? Is it a collaborative process?
BW: Each song ends up being written a bit differently. We’re very collaborative, but sometimes a riff pops up while improv jamming with each other, or it’ll be a riff I came up with at work and recorded a hum on my phone, that we jam on and figure out where we want to take it. We record almost every jam we do so we can go back and listen to them later, figure out what parts are working and what aren’t, and iterate the song in the direction we want to take it.
We actually take our D&D roots further with our lyric writing process. I’m credited on the album as DM (Dungeon Master) which in D&D is the person who runs the game, directs the story, tells the players what they see, but allows them the freedom to do what they want in that space, but generally you have a few overall plot points you want to hit. When we write lyrics, I’ll come up with a story we want to tell with it, where that story is going, and Ben and I will talk it out, with me pinging the general plot off of him as he fills in the blanks in between. Ben’s a bit more poetic than I am, so often he’ll take that conversation we have and turn it into the final lyrics of our music. "Swamp Golem" was written in that very story driven way.
SV: From the sludgy tone to the inclusion of organic sound effects, "From The Mire" truly feels like a product of, well, the mire. What is it about swamps, bogs, and marshes that make for an intriguing setting for lore and storytelling?
BW: Swamps are spooky. There's a certain mystery to these places, a mostly unknown place rarely traveled, especially the larger ones. They are treacherous, and are often shrouded with local tales of ghosts, and they are sludgy and thick. Perfect for doomy sludge metal storytelling.
SV: As a followup to the last: do you all have a favorite swamp-affiliated character, myth, monster, etc.?
BW: It sounds a bit self-absorbed, but the Bog Wizard himself at this point. We’ve invested a lot of time and energy into creating this character and backstory, a lot of which we haven’t fully explored with our music yet. Like any proper D&D nerd, we’ve got way more story than we’ll likely ever end up telling.
SV: And, because it affects us all--and musicians more than most--how has Bog Wizard's existence been impacted by the pandemic?
BW: We definitely changed our overall plans for the year because of it. Originally, we intended on doing a ton of shows to support the new album, even planned on putting together our own small local festival, but obviously that all fell through. So, we decided to change up our strategy for the year, and after taking some time apart to quarantine, we got back together, shook off the rust a bit, put together some streaming shows, and started writing new music. Unable to do shows, we figure our time can best be spent creating more content. The pandemic is going to lead to a lot more Bog Wizard content a lot faster. We’ve got 3 more releases in the works right now, and big plans for the relatively near future.
I hate to say we’re thriving a bit in isolation, but we ARE a bunch of basement dwelling nerds…
SV: Thank you again for taking the time! As always, we’ll leave the last word to you--is there anything you’d like to add before gettin’ out of here?
BW: If you are into what we’re doing, be sure to follow us on the usual social media stuff (links below!) As I said, we’ve got a lot planned for the future that we’re very excited about, so we hope you all stick around with us and check it out. Also consider buying some merch to help us justify doing this more!
All proceeds from this project will be split evenly between the bands and the label, with any of the Sleeping Village’s cut going to fund further compilations (or a possible physical release.) Pre-order here for $1! That, methinks, is a damn good price for an hour and a half of high-quality doom.
We provide thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy...and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a highfalutin peasantry.
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