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Interview with Gorilla Wizard
What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
The whole band is very artsy fartsy. We all have a deep love for all things metal and have bonded over that. It's literally forged our friendships.
Unfortunately art usually doesn't pay the bills. All of the band has been making music on the side of their day jobs for some time, but GWiz is the first time they've all really poured themselves into it.
Without music we'd a.just be playing video games and drinking beer probably. We do that already though, so more of it?
What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
For the most part, the band likes typical nerd stuff. Gaben is into paleontology, Mikal into video games, Ry into filmmaking, and Bertrum is chasing whatever will keep his interest for more than 5 minutes.
The whole band is constantly drawing from all forms of media and stories to continue to push our creativity. From mythology to comic books and everything in-between, we all love storytelling but use different mediums to effectively do it. Ry with film, Gaben with drawing, Bertrum writes down his magical stories, and Mikal… does Mikal stuff?
How long has your band been around?
The band has been playing together in some capacity since 2012, but in 2018 the band became a real band.
Where are you based out of and how did that influence your music?
The band is from the NYC area. Overall, they've had exposure to tons of different kinds of heavy music and it's really helped expand what they consider is possible in a genre. Gorilla Wizard tends to seamlessly shift from stoner/doom to death/thrash without skipping a beat.
Groove is the central theme of the writing, but we try to borrow from anything and everything we can. We've been fortunate enough to live in an area where there's tons of amazing tours and festivals. They really exposed us to a little bit of everything from scenes both international and local.
How did you come up with the name of your band and what does it mean to you?
Bertrum is a 10,000 year old gorilla who ate a space banana and gained immortality and magical powers. One day he was walking in a record store and saw band names and thought bands just call themselves what they are. Thinking that KoRn was anthropomorphic corn, the B-52s were singing fighter jets, and the Beatles were beetles on a rooftop, Bertrum decided his band would be called what he is: a Gorilla Wizard. Plus it just sounded good.
Tell me about your most memorable shows.
We don't play many shows, but Totally Live at the Portland Film Festival was a pretty cool experience. The Tales From the Cauldron album release show was also an amazing experience with lots of pomp and circumstance. It was an experience. We had King Kong playing in the background, opened the ritual with a spell and served banana chip communion. The few shows we do we try to make a very memorable experience.
What is your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you have not already?
Mr. Beerys in Bethpage is our go to spot. Saint Vitus in Brooklyn is on our bucket list.
If you could play any show with any lineup, who would be on the ticket?
GWAR (with Oderus AND Blothar!)
Cannibal Corpse Strapping Young Lad Gorilla 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?
Play more. Practice more. No riff is too dumb if you play it with feeling. If you give a shit, you're far less likely to suck at anything. Giving a shit is half the battle.
If you could go back in time and give yourselves advice, what would it be?
Pay more attention in school. Take up instruments earlier. Learn music theory earlier. Don't waste time drinking bad coffee.
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
Probably Closer Monster Shuffle. That's the first riff Mikal and Bertrum tackled together.
Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most? Maple Crunch is hella fun to play. Bertrum loves playing Infinite Wave the most.
What is the creative process for the band, and what inspires you to write your music?
Bertrum usually lays down a skeleton of riffs. Sometimes it's good enough to slap drums to and run with it, but most times, it requires some massaging. The band pokes and prods at it from a few different angles. There's lots of cutting, adding, and swapping parts and riffs. We settle on a structure and in come vocals. Rinse and repeat.
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music?
Metal can be stuffy as hell and how do people take such ridiculous music so seriously? Bertrum stands as a symbol of big hairy chest thumping riffs with a dash of magic.
Do you ever have disagreements in your band, and how do you get past them?
All the time. We usually just gang up on Mikal and tell him he's wrong. Then the whole band tells Bertrum his stubborn ideas are too ridiculous and has to bring him down to earth. Then Gaben pokes and prods at things that don't need fixing. Finally the whole band tries their hardest to get Ry involved. After all the problems arise, Gaben fixes the things that were actually broken, Mikal delivers a bunch of great new work, Ry does his bass in 1 take and it's perfect, and Bertrum has some really solid ideas along with the next perfect riff. It's a process.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that is coming up?
Make lots of content. Comics, D and D style games, more music videos, a novella, maybe a podcast are all things we've toyed with. Any creative ways to tell the stories.
Stay tuned for the release of the upcoming EP: White Knuckle/Black Magic! Some cool stuff coming right after, including a split with the mighty Titanosaur! Stay tuned to GorillaWizard.net for all the latest happenings.