Words by Simon Hadley.
Photos: Groan and Thee Claw.
With the release of The Sleeping Wizard in October, Groan have established themselves as the best doom-worshiping four-piece to come out of Britain in the last decade.
I spoke to Groan to find out how they are adjusting to life as Britain’s newest doom export, as well as their unhealthy obsession with Zooey Deschanel.
When did you guys first meet, and where did the name Groan come from?
The Riff Wizard: Groan was sort of around this time last year or possibly before that. I wrote ‘Witchy Woman’ in 2008, so it was a long time brewing. Then it was just a project idea to have an EP online with a guy called Bill on bass and a vocalist called Dave. But it never really happened with us having other bands and commitments.
Groan came about again by accident actually, because I was in another band and we were getting a line-up together. There was this one dude [and I didn't want to make him feel left out], so I was like: “Oh yeah I have seven songs partially recorded we’ll just use them.”
That was Bill again. I think we parted ways in April because it wasn’t gonna work. The rest is probably best told by the others.
Forest-Dwelling Fuzz Creature: I’ve known The Riff Wizard for a few years through mutual friends and attending gigs. I was the last member to join Groan and didn’t meet the other two until after the album had been recorded!
Mazzereth: The Riff wizard said he had a photo of me in a compromising position with Jesus Christ. If I did not join he said he would sell the picture to my lady partner, I had no choice. I did not want to be responsible for the fall of an entire religion. Not yet anyway.
Thor’s Hammer: I’d met Lord Mazzereth at a couple of gigs before, and he mentioned on a forum he was singing for someone new. I had a listen and wanted a piece, so I fired an email off to The Riff Wizard five minutes before setting off to Roadburn. Again, I met them after we had recorded.
Are there any bands that you consider to be more important than others, in helping to define your take on the doom genre?
Forest-Dwelling Fuzz Creature: For me it has to be Black Sabbath. Everything that’s bunched under the doomy umbrella owes its existence to Sabbath.
The Riff Wizard: Sabbath and Cathedral.
Mazzereth: Queen & Van Halen.
Thor’s Hammer: Pentagram, Sabbath & Spirit Caravan.
How did you end up getting signed to Doomanoid Records? Also, how supportive have they been in promoting your work?
The Riff Wizard: I sent them an email when we had very rough demos at the start of Groan’s second form really. Steve messaged back and the ideas just escalated from there.
You are currently playing small venues around the UK. Surely it will only be a matter of time before the likes of Cathedral and Electric Wizard start taking you on tour?
The Riff Wizard: The gigs we have played are more than I could dream of, so if by some fluke we get to gig with these bands, I will be happy.
From what I understand, the four of you are spread out in different parts of the UK, fulfilling different commitments. Has it been hard to keep the momentum alive during gigs, due to the individual distances that you have to travel?
Forest-Dwelling Fuzz Creature: It’s tricky, but I think we’re proof that it’s entirely doable. Mazzereth has to travel furthest for rehearsals and he deserves a great big doomy medal for his commitment. We’re all really into Groan and all share the same ambitions with it. From the first day we met it was self-evident that we all knew what we wanted to achieve and how we’d go about it.
Thor’s Hammer: I open the Hotel Thor’s Hammer especially for whiskey and wine soaked jamming weekends in Sheffield. Because of how tough it is to get together, it always ends up turning into more of an event or a party.
On a similar point, have you got any tracks locked away that could make it on to your next album?
Forest-Dwelling Fuzz Creature: We’ve got about three albums-worth of unreleased material. The Riff Wizard’s youth is matched only by his, if I can invent a word, ‘prolificness’.
I got an email from him about a week after The Sleeping Wizard was released with nine finished instrumental demos. Throughout the following week Mazz was sending us all these totally righteous lyrics that he’d written for these songs.
I think we’re going to take our time to refine these ditties and hopefully all get together in a studio somewhere towards the end of next summer to lay them down.
The Riff Wizard: Yeah, I wrote like 30-odd songs and started writing music again last night.
Has there been any contact from any metal-based festivals in Europe, due to the well deserved praise that The Sleeping Wizard has received?
Forest-Dwelling Fuzz Creature: We haven’t heard anything yet, but I’m positive that we’d drop any previous plans at the drop of a hat to play some festivals next summer.
Thor’s Hammer: Southern Ireland is classed as Europe, right? We got offered something there but couldn’t make it. We’ll get our elegant asses to Europe sometime, I’m sure.
A lot of the themes addressed on your album tend to come from medieval myths and fairytales. Where did your interest in medieval Britain come from?
Mazzereth: For many, many years I have been interested in all History. I think it stems from sitting with my father when I was a little Mazzereth and watching lots of History documentaries. I guess I just got sucked in.
As far as fairytales go, I have always had a strong imagination and often as a child I would be happy playing on my own with toys and creating strange worlds. It was not as though I had lonely childhood, far from it, I had lots of friends. My father used to make marvellous wooden swords and shields and my friends and I would run about the village having big battles.
I also live near Stonehenge and Avebury Stones, so I think some of that cosmic energy must have been absorbed by my body. I don’t really get on that well with ‘normal’ life. I find it very hard to talk about Top Gear or X-Factor, so I enter the world of the Wyrde to avoid such dullness.
Having listened to The Sleeping Wizard countless times already, surely the Riff Wizard doesn’t need university to showcase his talents?
Forest-Dwelling Fuzz Creature: Sadly, a copy of our album will get you laughed out of most job interviews. At the end of the day, even Cathedral have day jobs!
The Riff Wizard: The only talent I have shown at Uni is how much a northerner can actually drink.
When did the obsession with Zooey Deschanel begin?
Mazzereth: I think it started with the Film ‘Almost Famous’. Those big blue eyes punched me in the nuts and my life was never ever the same again.
Could Zooey Deschanel and doom live hand in hand?
Mazzereth: I think it can. I think Zooey is doom and doom is Zooey. I would imagine that Zooey would get down with ‘Doom over the World’ by Reverend Bizarre, or any pop-doom track.
Thor’s Hammer: She WILL love us.
Are there any other bands on Doomanoid Records that you could recommend to our readers?
Forest-Dwelling Fuzz Creature: Iron Void rocks my socks.
The Riff Wizard: Yeah… Iron Void are top notch!