White Wizzard, high speed time machine

The music of this LA band is like a time machine, a crack in the metal sky. We talked with Jon Leon (bass) about their excellent first piece, "Hight Speed GTO", somewhere betweeen Diamond Head and Iron Maiden.

Can you tell us more about the birth of White Wizzard ? What was your musical background before forming the band ?
Jon Leon : The birth came from just a strong passion for good old school melodic metal. My favorite bands are Rush and Iron Maiden along with bands like Priest, Scorpions, Diamond Head, Mercyful Fate etc.... Bands with great songs, energy and melodic feel, and great singers. Just want to continue making that kind of great music mixed with killer hooks and good songs. I have an extensive list of influences-and I listen to alot of different stuff-some metal and some not....

Why did you choose this name ?
The name was on a list and sounded the most epic. We love all that Dragon and Wizard stuff and it just fit the theme of the band so well and we wanted a cool mascot and now we have a cool Wizzard..... Should be coming on the road with us soon.... Tim the enchanter Ram horns and all !

You're nostalgic to 80's metal and the NWOBHM. Is it important to be faithfull to these metal roots ?
To a point -but I think it is more important to remain true to the passion of what we feel. We are not trying to just rip off or copy old bands. We invoke alot of that sound in what we do, but we really feel what were doing and we mean it and I think we are developing our own sound. That is important to us. But the formula of Nwobhm and 80's metal are a very big part of our sound. It is my favorite music and it needs a revival of some new bands. Melodic guitars with songs driven by the bassline is the foundation. Same as Rush or Maiden in that regard I guess.... But our songwriting and singer give us an original edge in alot of areas.

Let us know more about the recording of your first 7 songs EP ? Was it a self-production ?
We worked with a local LA engineer and then our current producer Ralph Patlan did a quick mix on it. It was thrown together quickly. I wrote some songs then formed the first line up and we hit the studio fast.

How did you get in touch with Earache records and signed a deal with them ?
They found us and it grew from there. They put one of our songs on the comp cd "Heavy Metal Killers" and then we talked from there. Happy to be on the label. Great people working there that have passion for good music.

How was the recording of this first album ? Was it a hard work ? Discuss about the sleeve.
Just was really something that happened quite fast actually not hard-very natural and fun. The sleeve was brainchild of the label. Just a fun throwback to leather and old school metal... We also have an art piece by Derek Riggs of Maiden fame on the inner sleeve.

Let me know about the shooting of your vidéo "High Speed GTO" ? Is it a sort of "tribute vidéo" to 80's metal ?
We set out to be funny and serious as well...is a tribute but we are a serious band. It is very entertaining. Was a blast to make... We wrote the song about my 69 GTO I drive around LA. We wanted to get in the car breaking the law style and the director had all the great themes and the vision. We're very happy with it...

What will be the next step for WW ? How do you feel about playing with cult bands like Tygers Of Pan Tang, Demon, Savage Grace or Whiplash at the KIT XIII in 2010 ?
Recording our full length album next month. Have a new stronger line up and singer and the new material is very exiting. Excited as hell about KIT. Love all those bands and the german metal fans are some of the best. So is the beer so I see nothing but good times ahead...

Interview by Laurent Gilot
Photo : DR

White Wizzard, High Speed GTO (Earache Records)
July 2009


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