Bog Wizard: An Interview

Bog Wizard are rolling a d20.

I came for the D&D and I stayed for the utterly compelling and fun Satanic Panic influenced Doom. 

Weirding: Ok, so you had me at 'Gelatinous Cube'. Tell me the story about how this whole thing came together.

Harlen: Spike from Dustlord and me had seen each other around various Doom, Sludge, and Stoner Facebook groups — either plugging our respective bands or talking music. At some point, Spike off-hand mentioned doing a split together sometime — we had both dropped our full length debuts the previous year. 

We started talking it over a bit in private and realized our bands complimented each other in a cool way. Not identical styles or sounds, but something we felt that both of our fan bases could dig in a different way. We had some music in the works and the stars aligned in just the right way that everything worked out to put it together.

Our song 'Gelatinous Cube' is one that we feel is like our heaviest song to date. We had a lot of fun pushing ourselves to get heavier and slower. We took a little Conan influence on the vocals, trying something different.

Weirding: Well, the split is great. Fantastic tones throughout (especially when cranked) — which in my opinion is the most necessary thing in quality Doom. Been talking to a lot of folks recently about how they managed recording and putting out new music in spite of the pandemic. How did you all deal with things?

Harlen: Our band takes the pandemic very seriously. We've been masking up for practices for the majority of it and keeping our distance from each other. Luckily, our jam space is large enough for this. 

We are entirely self-recorded, engineered, and mixed. We do everything in-house, right in our jam space. We've come up with some cool tricks to isolate the different instruments and we do all of our recordings live, playing together. We feel like it really helps the feel of our music for the genre, and lets us get away from the tight quantized sound and instead really play to each other. 

Weirding: So it sounds like you managed pretty well.

Harlen: I hate to say it, but I almost feel like we've thrived a bit during the pandemic. We're definitely itching to get back on stage, but we have massively taken advantage of the down time to write and record. We've got our next two releases coming together currently, and are hoping to record again in the next few months.

Weirding: So there are three of you in the band. Say I'm the Dungeon Master... what players are you bringing to the table? We're playing 5th edition.

Harlen: So for Ben, our guitarist and vocalist, I'd say Dragonborn Paladin. Our second track off the split is Paladin of Death — which is quite literally about Ben's Paladin he frequently plays. It's a character who worships the Raven Queen. 

Myself, I've always had a blast playing Rogues. I love tackling challenges in interesting ways, coming up with clever ways to manipulate situations to our benefit, being a sneaky bastard, and driving the DM nuts as I ruin their plans — sorry. 

Last, we've got to make a confession that our bassist Colby has not yet gotten to play D&D. He joined the band after Ben and I had put out our EP release and he was drawn to the music itself more than the topic. We had planned to get him behind some character sheets this last year, but after the pandemic hit, we've been limiting our exposure as much as possible beyond practices. That said, I could see him rocking the hell out of a Barbarian or Fighter — laying waste to those who oppose him in a brutal methodical way. Colby is pretty quiet outside of his bass playing, but I could see him letting go in character and slaying all who stand in his way.

Weirding: I can't interview a Doom band and not ask about gear. Spill the beans... guitars, amps, tunings, pedals. Overwhelm me with the description of gear.

Harlen: So one of the big influences on our sound is the fact that we started out as a two-piece band — drummer and guitarist. Our guitarist Ben ended up picking up an 8-string so he could reach down into the bass range and fill things out a bit. It was heavy as hell, but was still lacking in layers. Our EP featured us in this configuration. 

After the EP, we picked up our bassist Colby. He definitely added the much needed layer. We kept with the 8 string sound — which has been a hell of a challenge to mix, but which is definitely is a massive contributor to our noise. 

On drums, my signature Bog Wizard sound tends to be dryer cymbals with a more open big kit sound. 

Weirding: I noticed that immediately.

Harlen: There's just something interesting to me about the trashy quick decay of the cymbals and booming drums combined with our styles of music.

Weirding: And you guys are tuned-down and way fuzzed out.

Harlen: Colby tunes in Bb, Eb, Ab, Db. He keeps his setup pretty simple, and uses an Epiphone Gothic Thunderbird bass going into a Behringer SF300 Superfuzz — with a BDI 21 direct amp for his clean sound and a Behringer Bass limiter to boost things a bit. For our recordings, we experiment a lot with amp modeling to get the sound we're looking for on each track. 

He typically jams out on a big 8x10 Galleon Kreuger.

Weirding: That's... big.

Harlen: For live shows he's got a smaller 4x10 he tends to play out of — and some homemade subs he'll throw around if he really wants to rattle some brains.

Ben's 8-string tuning is Eb, Bb, Eb, Ab, Db, Gb, Bb, Eb. He's also the tone chaser in the band, with a more adventurous rig. He plays a Schecter Banshee Elite 8. He splits his signal off with an ABY switch — one half going directly into an Orange Dark Terror 15w running into a Blackstar 1x12 open back and an Orange 2x12 closed back. This tends to be his higher range more British sound in our mix. The other side of the ABY is going into an MXR Noise Clamp and an MXR Custom Badass Modified Overdrive to an Electro Harmonix Triangle Big Muff Pi — which routes to his Mesa Boogie 3-channel Dual Rectifier. That's what is pumping all that doom into a Line 6 Vetta angled 4x12. On the Mesa's effects loop he's got an MXR Carbon Copy Analog Delay and a Walrus Audio Descent reverb which has an Ernie Ball VP Jr expression pedal hooked to it.

Weirding: I love multi-amp set ups.

Harlen: We use this rig both for live and our recorded sound. More often than not the ABY switch has both amps going at the same time, but for certain parts he'll switch between them or click them on as the song progresses.

Weirding: And the drums?

Harlen: I play a TAMA Superstar Hyperdrive 5pc kit with a Ludwig Copperphonic raw finish snare drum (this is a new addition we haven't gotten to record yet). I use Remo Ambassador heads all around — with an Aquarian Superkick on my kick drum. I use mostly Zildjian K Custom cymbals: K Custom Dark 14" Hihat, K Custom Dark 16" Crash, and K Custom Special Dry 18" Crash for sort of my signature trashy sound. Also a K Custom 21" Organic Ride and A Custom 16" Fast Crash. And a ZBT 6' Splash, and a ZHT 8" China Splash. I don't really care about my splashes much, haha.

I also use a TAMA Speed Cobra hi hat and double bass pedals. In addition to my kit, I dabble in synth a bit with my Korg Minilogue for some intros and added bits here and there in songs. And I play our samples and noises with an Alesis Strike Multipad. My kit is sort of the command center for our live shows.

Last, Ben and I both use TC Helicon Voice Live Play pedals for our vocal effects live.

Doomers really are gear nerds, huh?

Weirding: I really like the idea of playing around with ideas and images of what I guess for lack of a better word we can call the culture of the original Satanic Panic. I'm interested in what specific artifacts and media from that era you gravitate towards. Like, the crazy Geraldo special on the "Satanic Underground". I remember as a kid being one of like twenty million people who tuned into that TV propaganda special. And by the end was like, "Satan... huh, seems kinda cool."

Harlen: We've definitely found the Satanic Panic era to be incredibly relevant to what we're doing musically. It was a time period where they were, quite literally, demonizing both heavy metal music and Dungeons & Dragons. So it felt natural to make heavy music about the subject and spoof off of the concept. 

Specifically, I've been really amused with a documentary called Escaping Satan's Web. This is a VHS that came out in 1987 (the year I was born, coincidentally) that features a pastor interviewing a guy in prison about why he murdered his family. Of course, he blames Satan — who he discovered through heavy metal music, D&D, and Ouijia boards. 

We actually sample this for the intro of our album From the Mire, with an absolutely hilariously long list of all the bad things D&D will teach you. 

There's another video called Deception of a Generation — which is another video that came out in the mid-80s of two guys explaining how every popular toy and cartoon of the time period was a path to Satan. It blames everything from D&D to Scooby-Doo, to He-Man, and even Care Bears. 

There's a ton to laugh at in it.


About

Bog Wizard: Doom/Sludge/Stoner metal riffing off the Satanic Panic era, with heavy fantasy/ D&D themes. Fat riffs and natural crits.

NERD DOOM.

https://bogwizard.bandcamp.com/

Twitter: @BogWizardBand

From the Mire: out July 3rd, preorders available now!

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