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Interview with Celestial wizard
What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
Seeing KISS for the first time is what got me into music, it was mind-blowing. Gene Simmons did his blood thing, it was absolutely incredible Paul Stanley’s stage presence was so inspiring, and I knew then that's what I wanted to do. If I hadn’t gotten into music, I’m not sure where I’d be. Maybe do music reviews, or be a youtube personality lol. Music means so much to me I can't imagine life without it in some regard.
What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
I’m a huge music collector! I have to have over 1,500 CDs, records, and tapes. I even have a limited edition floppy disk from some artist I can't even remember, so some real obscure stuff. I like to spin that stuff while I’m playing all sorts of RPGs. I’m also way into comics, currently, I’m reading “Batman: Year 100”. It's the weirdest run ever. It’s some dude who’s not Bruce Wayne pretending to be Batman, set way in the future. I’m digging it though. My favorite of all time though is Planet Hulk. It was the first series I read all the way through, so I’m really nostalgic about that run.
How long has your band been around?
As Celestial Wizard, about 3 or 4 years ago. We “formed” the band in the studio as we were recording our first album as another band. The band name we had was a pretty common one in the black metal scene, and we didn't want to clash with the other bands. In spirit you could say we’ve been around for a decade, myself and Nick (the guitarist) have been in projects together about that long.
Where are you based out of and how did that influence your music?
We’re based out of Denver, Colorado. Living so close to the mountains, I was drawn to a lot of black metal. The atmosphere that environment created lent itself to a lot of mystery and emotion. I can't say I'm still into a lot of it, there's a lot of friction between subcultures in that genre that makes it tough to enjoy. I also went to high school really close to a Black and Read, the local record store. My friends and I used to hang out there all the time. Paul Riedl, who worked there at the time, is the vocalist and guitarist of Blood Incantation. He’d always show me bands and tell me crazy stories and was a real inspiration to me as a growing metalhead. All that stuff I took with me into my projects.
How did you come up with the name of your band and what does it mean to you?
When we decided we needed to rebrand, we all picked a bunch of names and words that we thought were super sick. I wanted to name the band Fractal Throne, but that sounded way too math-centric, and boy we are no good at math. Another name on the list was Stormblood Berserker, stolen straight from a Magic The Gathering card. Eventually, we landed on Celestial Wizard, and that one just stuck. The name reminds me of a great friend we have in the scene named Aaron Saye, who always has a slight air of mystery around him in the coolest way. We have a shirt design that has a wizard on it that was designed to look like him, so to me, he truly is The Wizard.
Tell me about your most memorable shows.
We played with Aether Realm and Gloryhammer in late 2019, which was a huge show for us. We’ve looked up to Aether Realm for a long time, and getting to share the stage with them was incredible. That's also where our current drummer Tim saw us for the first time. If you dig way back on our Instagram you can see him wheres-waldo style in the crowd, looking nice and angry.
One time way back, when I was in Solarfall, I opened up for Insomnium and Omnium Gatherum. It was such a weird experience, we were so high energy compared to the rest of the bands. Every time I’d try to get the crowd amped up, they just stood there stone-faced. By the end of the set, I thought “boy they must really hate us”. As I was running the merch booth we had so many people come up to us saying how stoked they were on us. I was so confused, but flattered nonetheless.
What is your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you have not already?
The Marquis Theater in Denver is one of my favorite places to both perform at and attend shows. It’s a small venue, but that makes it intimate. It still has plenty of room for people, and some of the best pizza I've ever had. I’d really love to play The Summit in Denver, it's such a cool venue. It's been a bucket list stage for me. We’ve played some larger venues but not that one yet, so it's a personal goal for me.
I know it’s not technically a venue but I would kill to play Knotfest. That's a festival that always seemed huge to me since it started, and to find myself eventually performing there would be a dream. The crowds there seem insane!
If you could play any show with any lineup, who would be on the ticket?
Oh man, that’s a hard one. Turisas would have to be in the bill. They're a band that is incredibly important to Nick and me, they're the first band we ever saw together as young musicians. Their music is so inspiring to me as well. Aether Realm is another band we’d love to play with again. They're great dudes and great musicians, and their music is incredible. There you have it; Turisas, Aether Realm and Celestial Wizard.
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into playing in a band and some advice that you would give to your younger self?
Go out there and just do it. Play what makes you happy, and make as many friends as you can. You’ve gotta be social and build a connection. Music is a huge part of it, but networking is where your opportunities come from. Be respectful and genuine as well, that will take you such a long way.
I’d give the same advice to my younger self. I was very antisocial in the beginning, and not super approachable. Fronting a band, you have to have a solid image and I’ve worked hard at developing an incredibly positive one. You have to be engaging for the fans.
If you could go back in time and give yourselves advice, what would it be?
Maybe everything happens for a reason, and continue to do what you love. Soak in as much as the journey has to offer. Listen to all of the advice from people you look up to and do things the way that makes sense for you. Also, if something doesn't feel right, it probably isn't. Make sure you're comfortable with every step.
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
On our new album, the song that means the most to me is Steel Chrysalis for sure. I wrote about self-discovery and embracing who you are. It is about individuality and embracing who you really are. When I wrote it I was really struggling with who I was, and who I wanted to be. I wrote this song for myself and also for everyone else who is dealing with what I am as well.
Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most?
I really enjoy performing Powerthrone, the cadence of the vocals feels good when I nail them live. There are also subtle emotional breaks that I really enjoy. The title track of the new album, Winds Of The Cosmos, is really fun to play. The pacing of the song just feels right, and I can't wait to play it more live. Witches Bane off the first album gets requested a lot. I do some crazy vocals in that, and it's just a heavy, solid track.
What is the creative process for the band, and what inspires you to write your music?
When I came into the writing process, Nick and Guillermo would have a semi-finished demo to listen to. For the songs I wrote, I would build lyrically from whatever the nicknames of the songs would be and flesh them out. For Undead Renegade, I took inspiration from iZombie which is a TV show. I came up with that song name initially with the idea that each song is its own little video game in an arcade, and that the character in that specific song would be named “Renegade”
As a whole, what inspires me to write music is knowing that I can create something that means something to somebody. Being a musician, we’re given a unique opportunity to create something that can inspire, and even comfort people by writing from the heart. I want to create things lyrically that not only hold meaning for me, but can also hold importance for others as well.
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music?
For me, I hope to get across to people a sense of inner strength. Embracing individuality and being confident in who you are. Don't let people tell you how to live your life, and that you are good enough.
Getting stuff like that across to people is super important to me. We’re living in a time that's volatile for a lot of people. Things have become incredibly divisive and people are struggling to be who they are, and it's important to give people hope and strength.
Do you ever have disagreements in your band, and how do you get past them?
That's a great question. For the longest time, Nick and I really butted heads with our music tastes. We both had our own vision of exactly what we wanted everything to sound like and had a hard time compromising. As we’ve grown as collaborators, we’ve developed trust and flexibility over time. We know that each one of us is going to give our all in every take, and honestly in every aspect of the band. We’ve also learned how each other works, and that helps us maintain perspective and come to a quicker understanding. It all comes down to communication.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that is coming up?
In the future, we’re hoping to get some solid tours under our belt. We have our sophomore album “Winds Of The Cosmos” coming out soon that we’re really proud of. It's the strongest material we’ve ever made, and we plan on using that as a new foundation to build our band off of. We don't necessarily know what the future holds, we’re still a relatively new band. Things are ramping up nicely for us and I’m excited to see what the future brings! The future looks bright, and I couldn’t be more grateful for the group of boys I get to share this adventure with.
Music Video - Ice Realm - https://www.decibelmagazine.com/2022/06/02/video-premiere-celestial-wizard-roll-the-dice-with-ice-realm/
Song Stream - Eternal Scourge - https://metalinsider.net/new-music/track-premiere-celestial-wizard-eternal-scourge