Rebel Wizard: Expression, spirit and the negative (interview)

Not often to you see a band just carving out their very own niche in a rather established genre. Maybe it’s not even a niche, but more of a return to the more pure expression that Rebel Wizard persues.

Rebel Wizard is Bob Nekrasov, in the notes of the album ‘The Triumph of Gloom’ put down as NKSV. He has been making black metal music the way he deems it to be right for a ling time now, either with Nekrasov or with Mors Sonat and in the past with Whitehorse, but Rebel Wizard is special.

When I was listening to the album, the most noteworthy element was its almost jubilant expression with old school heavy metal riffing and overwhelming approach. Just everything pouring out at you at once. All this from Melbourne in Australia. I was so excited about the record that I contacted the Rebel Wizard for a little Q&A. This is the result and it’s far more informative than I’d have expected. So thanks to Bob for taking the time to answer these.

As for you… enjoy reading!

How did you get started with your project Rebel Wizard?
I’m not sure. I’ve always written and made music like this. However ‘back in the day’ it was just guitar onto a 4 track recorder. I grew up obsessed with music, listening and creating. These days the process is all unconscious and done as a way to fill what I feel is missing.

But I guess it properly started as “Rebel Wizard” doing that first EP three years ago now. I just did and sent it to a couple of friends not really thinking anything of it apart from I enjoyed doing it and I liked the theme that was coming out of it.

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What are your favourite bands? I’m assuming there actually is a combination of thrash, nwobhm and black metal there?
Cripes, that’s a huge answer. Many. All the usual however it does change. My favourite bands though are more a ‘presence’, attitude and uniqueness. Developing their own thing against trends etc. Big influences are Bolt Thrower, Mercyful Fate, Crass, My Dying Bride, Econochrist, Man is the Bastard, Bathory etc etc

There’s something really classic heavy metal in the sound of Rebel Wizard. How did you develop that, to me, rather unique sound?
That’s really nice to read as there is normally complaints about the ‘shitty production’! For me it captures an energy that got me into metal which was then the pathway into punk, anarchy, philosophy, occult and breaking the shackles of a warped and fucked up conditioning.

I just have my sounds that I like that I have been using for a long time. I just do what resonates with me that I feel doesn’t show up anywhere else. No way am I saying my sound is important or ‘fucken raw as fuck broodal BM’ or ‘pure old school’ – there’s no point to it other than this is what makes me react in certain ways. I like ‘honesty’ in production – not ‘slickness’ or sterility which is so common. I just do what I enjoy. I tried to make each release sound unique whereby the production meets the riffs. Production, for me, is ‘spirit’/ atmosphere of music. Compare Iron Maidens original production of Somewhere in Time to Book of Souls and try not to cry.

How does Rebel Wizard relate to your other bands Nekrasov and Whitehorse, what made you start a different project from Nekrasov for this new outlet?
No way related to Whitehorse, nothing I do relates to that band. Nekrasov and Rebel Wizard are both things that are completely personal. They are not attempts to fit into anything other than being various expressions coming purely from my sub conscious nonsense. I’ve always done both from a young age. Whether it was playing guitar or making horror soundtracks as a kid.

I guess I feel older now and am able to channel a life time of influence whether musically, philosophically etc into either projects. They both allow me to be free to do as I feel I need to do. To be honest I wish I was a plumber.

You’ve been quite prolific in releasing music in 2015 with five EP’s seeing the light of day. How do you get so much out? And what made you decide to go for the album format now? What’s the advantage of the EP format?
Habit mainly. I’ve just always done this kind of thing. I’ve tried to quit over and over but I just ‘need’ to do it. I don’t really think about it.
I grew up with a metal and punk background, late 80s early 90s. Mostly I bought 7”s. There were tons of bands that would come out of no-where with these fucking amazing and powerful eps that you’d play over and over. Normally the full lengths would never meet that standard. I miss that feeling so I started doing it for Rebel Wizard. I like that ‘powerful’ ep life. There’s such a big deal on albums and their mostly boring these days. I mostly don’t give a shit what modern folk are on about and can’t spend an hour on their torture. But that’s just me. I probably shouldn’t really speak of such things as I am still stuck in the past.

Can you say a bit about your album ‘Triumph of Gloom’. What is the story that you are telling on the album and how much work went into it?
I’d prefer not to say too much. I like that it’s kept completely open for the listener as I hope it spanks various sized buttocks. Lots and lots and lots and lots of work, and then lots more. Then I spend way more harder work.

You’re releasing the music on a very limited run of physical formats, what is the reason for that?
Again habits from the past. Everything was done handmade. It makes it personal/ special. I still like doing that. I find that insane glossy inverted cross digipak nonsense is what Disney would do. I have a small audience so it’s easy to do and I enjoyed making something unique for those sad cunts who are hurting themselves with my stupidity.

What is the concept of negative (Wizard) metal? What is the idea you’re conveying with your music? Does it feel right that it’s received as such a positive, vibrant and energetic bit of music that it actually is?
‘Negative’ metal is lots of things: golden shower on bro metal, resurrection of anarchic mysticism on contemporary energy drink sub cultures, emphasis on negative concepts however not the ‘depression’ format and the use of the ‘negative’ to move away from what’s being told is ‘something’ to returning to ‘not this’ etc..

What’s your writing and recording process like, how do you actually get those great records into being? What are the things that inspire you or that you need to make music?
I literally do not know how to answer but it just comes out. There’s no trying. I just do what I need to do. I’m not trying to be anything. It covers all that I resonate with in all life matters. It’s habit.

My life has been long, rough and epic in so many ways. Like everyone who feels that ‘thing’ with the kind of music we do, it is a life line. I try not to let too many outside influences in. Of course they are imbedded. I would say that it comes from doing things I feel are missing for me. In so many scenes there’s a strong sense of replication, this exists is ALL scenes these days. There’s just shit I need to do that I feel is missing, for me. I don’t bother with marketing or labels as I feel it’s not what ‘the people’ want. I am a particular type of ass. I would not release anything if I felt like it was jumping on a band wagon but I also don’t think my way is the way, it’s just what works for me and what helps me process the multi levelled, super layered elements without jumping naked off a plane into a glass roof restaurant.

Since you do all by yourself, I was surprised to read on your Facebook page you’re putting together a live set. How is that working out?
It’s going very slowly and painfully. I am almost thinking it’s a stupid idea.haha.

Where did you get the samples on Triumph of Gloom from? Is it important to you to have these samples to invoke a spirit or convey a message?
That’s for me to know and you to do whatever you do with it all. Haha.

What would you like that people take from your music?
That’s completely up to them.

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 As I understand it, you have little love for contemporary metal music. If you had to name some bands that do get the spirit of what it is you’re doing, which ones would that be and why.
I have little love for all things ‘contemporary’! haha. I’m not aware of anyone doing a Rebel Wizard type thing. Now, this sounds like an asshole thing to say! Haha. But what I mean is that I make the Rebel Wizard stuff as I feel no one else is doing it and I enjoy it. It simply entertains me and offers me some therapy for this completely absurd and increasingly idiotic/ conservative world. That’s what bands of my early years did for me. If there was someone else capturing the ‘spirit’ of RW I wouldn’t do it so it’s best I stay ignorant. There’s tons of projects I have huge respect for. There’s just too many to name.

What future plans do you have?
None at all however I would really like that Triumph of Gloom on LP. That would be nice. But there’s no plans on anything.

Finally, if you had to describe Rebel Wizard as a dish (food), what would it be?
Urine soaked unicorn steak.

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