Hailing from the UK, GROAN is a young and promising band whose debut album immediately caught my attention. It is packed with great songs that are often naturally saturated with the spirit of very early Black Sabbath. Based on that, it may be a good idea to compare them to San Francisco's Orchid, but with more precise observation, it can be heard that there are also a lot of differences. Despite its closeness to the essence of early Black Sabbath, GROAN also worship the NWOBHM and they have a strong fondness for large grooves and a psychedelic-flavored atmosphere. Despite the doomy mood of their album, these four guys don't take everything too seriously with the exception of their music. It is therefore hardly surprising that some of the lyrics as well as their pseudonyms are pervaded by a sense of tongue-in-cheek irony. All of this and more was reason enough for Cosmic Lava to get in contact with GROAN for a detailed and informative interview. My questions were answered by Mazzereth (vocals), Riff Wizard (guitar), and Forest-Dwelling Fuzz Creature (bass).
For me, your debut album 'The Sleeping Wizard' was an excellent surprise. Hard to believe that GROAN was formed in 2010, because you sound as if you are playing together for years. What have you done before GROAN and what do you think is the reason for the good chemistry within the band?
Mazzereth: I guess we just got lucky with the way things turned out between us. I did not know Dan or Leigh before the band started and I had only met Steve twice before. There is no previous baggage between us and that has helped a lot. Also because we don't have the traditional once a week practice that often brings up tensions due to last minute cancellations etc then there have been no growing frustrations. We are all still pretty "new" to each other and I'm sure in time we will begin to piss each other off, especially when they smell my bad farts every night if we ever go on tour. Overall I think the chemistry is good because we all like the music we are making, we are serious about getting the music sounding right yet we all have a good sense of humour, we can all laugh at ourselves and we all don't take ourselves to seriously.
Do you have played in any other bands before GROAN, if so, what kind of music did you make?
Mazzereth: I sang in a band called BATTLEWITCH that (so we were told) sounded very NWOBHM. I also sang in a 70's rock sounding band called PEACE, we recorded a lot of stuff but did not really leave the local area. I also sang in a short lived power rock band called TREBUCHET. I currently hit the drums and sing in an ultra blues band called RATZ ASS.
In your press info I've read that each member of the band recorded their partsin their own abode, and that your guitarist created your album at home. Does it mean that you never meet each other before the release of your first album? I can imagine that this was a pretty difficult situation...
The Riff Wizard: You'd think it would be a bit awkward, but it just felt quite natural. Leigh and I had met a few years before queueing for an ArnoCorps gig and we got on well already. I had never met Mazz but was a fan of his vocals, and Mazz drafted Steve in. When we all met we just had a really good time playing the tracks and getting high.
What is the situation at present?
Forest-Dwelling Fuzz Creature: We're all still scattered across the UK. We keep in contact regularly through the internet and sometimes Steve will come and visit me in Manchester and we'll drink a load of whisky.
'The Sleeping Wizard' has been released by Doomanoid Records. Are you happy with their support?
Forest-Dwelling Fuzz Creature: Doomanoid have been great to us. Groan would be a one-man project still at the demo stage if it wasn't for them pushing us. The pressing of our album was the biggest CD run they'd ever done. It's those types of gambles that really show when a label has faith in a band.
I think that your debut album has a pretty earthy sound and I like it a lot. It's definitely not overproduced. What's your view?
The Riff Wizard: This is the first album I've ever produced. It could have gone better but the sound has a bit of a charm to it. I tried to model the sound on early Sabbath records. Mainly 'Master of Reality'. Early 70s stuff has a really stripped down vibe to it all and hopefully that comes across on our album.
Tell me about the lyrics from 'Ride of the Antichrist'. I really like the gory and horror-ridden content.
Mazzereth: In my head I pictured a huge army of demons and undesirables being led by the Antichrist and laying waste to the land. The religious aspect of the 2nd verse is influenced by the Viking Raids that occurred in England. I was putting myself in the position of not only the monks but also the average man/woman of the time. It must have horrifying for them to see these Vikings approaching and destroy everything in their path. Then again I suppose it could be about any small community that has been affected by raiding parties during any war. The sense of hopelessness and sheer terror must have been overwhelming.
Another aspect of the song is that I'm trying to document the sense of DOOM that is rippling under the fabric of society in England at the moment. We are currently going through a period of huge financial uncertainty and people of a certain age and who have followed the "dream" are about to have the rug pulled out from under their feet. They have mortgages, 2 kids, 3 cars, nice shiny new material things that they MUST have because lifestyle magazines and TV have told them they should have this stuff. The thought of having to loose some or all of this of this is scaring them shitless. This is what happens when you spend money you don't have, when you become greedy, when you try to IMPRESS people with expensive stuff that in the greater scheme of things does not really matter. Perhaps these people deserve to have rug pulled from under them. Fuck them - ha ha..sorry I'm ranting.