They Put a Spell on You: Wizards of Ghetto Mountain land recording spot with Steve Albini

Huntington-based Doom band Wizards of Ghetto Mountain (L-R: Garrett Babb, Chuk Fowlord, Bob Caution, Jim E. Toledo) play the V Club Friday night. Reposted from the Huntington Herald-Dispatch

Fear. Shock. Relief. Excitement.

All of these words describe the response the guys in Wizards of Ghetto Mountain had when hearing that renowned producer and engineer Steve Albini would be recording their debut album in July.

The story of how the Huntington-based “Doom” metal band, together for than less than a year, fresh off making a two-song demo for their Pittsburgh-based label and preparing to record a full-length with Bud Carroll, got studio time with Albini, who has famously worked with bands like The Pixies, Slayer and Nirvana, has to be read.

“I suggested it to our label rep just as a complete shot in the dark,” Singer Chuk Fowlord explained over phone. “He was like ‘Why would Steve Albini want to record your band?’ And I said ‘One; we’re from West Virginia, two; we’re awesome, and three; we’re called Wizards of Ghetto Mountain. Sounds like a winner.’”

Montage of the band rocking out in doom fashion; slower tempos, deeper guitar tunings and fuzzier tones, with heads, of course, banging.

“A couple of weeks went by, and he calls me,” Fowlord went on, “and I’m like, ‘What’s going on?’ And he’s like, ‘It’s a go.’ And I’m, like, ‘What?’ And he says, ‘We’re going to do the record with Albini.’ And I dropped the phone and almost passed out.”

The Wizards (Fowlord: vocals; Garrett Babb: guitar; Jim E. Toledo: bass; Bobby Caution: drums) are scheduled to take their version of stoner rock and doom metal into Albini’s Electrical Audio Studios in Chicago in July. Wow.

Drummer Bob Caution recounted getting the phone call.

“When Chuk called me at school with the news, he was in such hysterics I thought either Garrett or Jim had been killed in some horrible accident,” Caution said. “So I was greatly relieved and then massively excited when I found out that we were gonna be recording with Albini.”

“Like Bobby said,” Babb followed. “Chuk called me in hysterics, gasping for air, freaking out; he sounded like he was crying. I thought something terrible had happened to Jim or Bob. Then he told me about Albini. I didn’t believe him…it still rattles me that we have this amazing opportunity.”

The Wizards have been making moves at whiplash speed. They’ve got on Ulja Factory, a Pittsburgh-based label, played several shows with bigger-name, regionally touring stoner and hard rock acts, mainly in Huntington, made a few fans, and now, landed a highly coveted recording session with one of rock’s best producers.

Keep in mind this band hasn’t been together for roughly eight or nine months, and has played maybe twenty shows. They practice every Sunday at a friend’s house, maybe a nod to Black Sabbath, one of their biggest influences.

Toledo said that, regardless who produces their record, people who will like their version of music would probably like it anyway.

“[Albini] isn’t going to make people like your music who aren’t already predisposed to liking that sort of thing.”

“If you’re great, that’s going to come through, whether it’s Steve Albini, Phil Spector, or one of your friends on a 4-Track. It’s on us to be a great band in the studio when it comes time to record, and if that happens, then the music will sell itself regardless of who produced it.”

And Caution said that, regardless of who records the Wizards, they’re still going to rock.

“People who like stoner rock and doom metal are gonna like this album,” he said. “We’ve crafted an appealing sound.”

“I don’t like to brag, but we’ve got a really powerful thing going on here…it shows every time we hit the stage. I think Ulja Factory did help speed the process, and I’m eternally grateful, but this band is going places no matter what the circumstances.”

Babb kind of summed up the shock value of how fast things appear to be moving for the Wizards. “If you would have asked me about this stuff going on when this band started, I would have said you were a nutbag. I suppose we’re doing something right!”

“Honestly I feel this is the best music I’ve ever made,” Fowlord said. “I’ve been in bands for 10 years. There’s something special with this band; each time we play live we’re getting better. Good things are happening.”

“I can’t wait to see what this is going to sound like,” Toledo said of the debut record. “As for now, we’re saving and planning. That’s the only way off Ghetto Mountain.”

--- photo: Jimbo Valentine

--- Related: Our chat with the Wizards from January


larry in the dub said...

that is some craziness! albini producing and they've only been together 8 months?!? wild! where can i hear something from these guys?

and big props to wvrockscene for exposing somebody like me to local bands i never would have heard of....rock!

WVRockscene! said...

hey man, they've got a couple of songs uploaded on their myspace page and some live footage too...

(see link)

side issue: sprayed so much WD-40 all up in the red bones bearings yesterday, the spit fires, for all practical purposes are now perpetual motion machines... still rollin!