Bordeaux based trio W!zard (not to be confused with festive favourites Roy Wood et al) released their new EP Definitely Unfinished via Luik Music this week. Like a jigsaw made up of the pieces from half a dozen different puzzles, it presses together grainy noise rock, jagged post-punk, cathartic post-hardcore howls and math-rock detours and has been invoking tinnitus and ear to ear smiles in equal measure at Joyzine HQ ever since it popped into our inbox.
We asked bassist/vocalist Romain Arnault and guitarist/vocalist/synth player Manuel Cayla to guise us through the record track by track.
THE ONE I BLAME
Romain: This song is the first on the record, so it was logical for us to start with this track.
The intro is slow and heady, the floor tom is dirty and deep in the mix, then suddenly you get these massive hits in the face which really puts you in the mood, now we have your attention!
The first part is a loop pattern, you hear it over and over again. It’s as meaningless as a hamster in a wheel! It’s like a moment in your life when you feel stuck and you need some answers.
Manu: The lyrics also work very well with the intentions of this track: very simple and very broad at the same time, with a “loop” feeling (just like the guitar). We wanted the track to sound cold and fat, like a dead elephant stomping around!! We composed it very quickly, and once we had the basic idea of the intro we had the feeling for the rest of the track. It was also the last one we composed if I remember well.
Romain: I came up with the lyrics, chords and structure of this song within 5 minutes, on a day when I was immersed in sadness and anger, and the words just flowed naturally out of my mind onto a piece of paper.
When we recorded the EP, we knew immediately that this song was going to be the tune of the record!
This is why we decided to make a video clip where we are sitting on a couch and many things happen around us. The idea was to create something really visually dynamic and punchy. It represents many real-life situations ranging from the degradation of a couple’s relationship into abuse to the representation of death.
Manu: As Romain said, all the ideas were already there when we began to work on this one. It was almost logical to play it this way right at the beginning, it’s the kind of thing we really love to play live: heavy noisy riffs and screams of anger. We worked really hard during the recording of this one to give all the energy we could in one take, to make the instruments scream in a perfect and chaotic harmony. We’re pretty happy with the result.
Romain: This song could be seen as a math-rock track because of its unusual structure. As a result of a brainstorm we had with the band, there were quite a few ideas which were left on the table, so we used some of those ideas to create this song.
It’s the only song which is a bit more produced on the EP. All the EP is recorded live (drum, bass, guitar and even the lead vocals) and we wanted something different on this track. We used a folk guitar and some percussion, a bottleneck on folk guitar through dirty pedals…
Unfortunately, due to time constraints, I couldn’t record a piano part, and I’m quite sad about that (haha), hopefully on the next album!!
We used more instruments to give this a sorrowful/nostalgic feeling because this song is about our world collapsing, and it’s too late to fix the problem and even our love can’t fix this…
Manu: This was such a hard tune to compose! I think we had like five or six versions before finding the right one. We even stopped playing for a while. Then as time went by, we found the right sound and combinations between the different parts to make this track exist as a new one. We arrived with this version to work with Amaury Sauvé (who recorded and mixed the EP), and he said to us “Guys, that’s absolute madness, I love it! But… let’s work on it now.” So we were vindicated in our choices.
It’s also a very tricky tune to play live for all of us, there’s a lot of parts and different rhythms, and also a lot of pedals to activate for me!!
Romain: There are three points of view: the male partner who is blinded by toxic passion and tries to justify the violence towards his lover; his girlfriend who blames herself for her partner’s actions, and finally an impartial bystander who is able to see the actual situation and tries to save the victim.
Like the song ‘Dead Space’, there are a lot of parts in this song but you can discern three different movements which symbolize the three points of view.
Manu: We tried to push every feeling to its limit, in the sense that every part had to be really extreme in its own way. So we worked on playing it with a lot of dedication, hitting hard, screaming hard, breaking the tempo etc. Every part tries to draw out precise feelings that all come together in one angry and chaotic song.
Romain: Sometimes, Manu and I have discussions about death and about how we feel about it. It’s always at 4am at a party when we talk about this! Anyway, this song is an attempt to face our main fear, the fear of death.
The main idea of the song was to create total chaos in this simple pop structure. We decided to choose keywords that represent discomfort and fear, and we wanted the song to conclude in this huge chaotic scenario.
As I said earlier, all the instruments were done live but I couldn’t do the vocals because my voice was broken… So I did it in overdub but my voice was still broken and I couldn’t do it. Amaury said to me: ‘’Try to sing and play the bass at the same time just to get in the mood”. But I still couldn’t do it, on the 7th/8th take … My anger was growing and suddenly I just exploded. I broke my bass on the floor and I said: ‘’Ok, now I’m ready’’ and here we are, the take was done!
Manu: This one is kind of the holy grail of what we wanted to do with Definitely Unfinished. The ideas we wanted to talk (scream?) about, the kind of sound we wanted for the instruments, the freedom in the composition and its possibilities, but still playing something that could talk to anybody, in the right or wrong way.
The evolution of this one was very interesting because we always played it with the same intentions, the same ideas, but we made a lot of things evolve inside it: our attitudes first (ALWAYS play it like it was the last time), then a lot of work on the sounds, the “silences”, the madness chaotic part at the end (always improvised) to make it something really unique. The strange kind of fuzzy loop you can hear at the beginning is a result of one of those improvisations.
Amaury helped us to go even deeper into those feelings, by playing it again and again until something truly huge was there. It was total hell in the studio during every take, the glasses were steamy and we were shaking with anger and pain. I will remember it as one of the most painful and beautiful experiences as a musician.
Introduction by Paul Maps
Photograph by Robin Rauner