WHITE WIZZARD – “I Always Wanted My Band To Be Like RUSH…”
January 23, 2018, a year ago
White Wizzard rides again, and is doing so with a ripping sound and rejuvenated lineup.
Rising above the muck and mire of negative press and a revolving door of members, White Wizzard is back with classic members Jon Leon, vocalist Wyatt Anderson, guitarist James J. LaRue and drummer Devin Lebsack, for their first album in five years Infernal Overdrive.
“We all think it’s the best thing we’ve ever done,” Leon shared with BraveWords. “I’ve been saying that I think the best of White Wizzard has always been Wyatt singing, me writing songs and him taking the vocal melodies and making them his own. We always have a great chemistry in the studio. Then we have what I believe is the best lead guitar player in James J. LaRue, who was there with me in the beginning when I started this band, and was making business cards in the trenches with me.
“I kind of feel that with all due respect to everyone else who have been in the band, that James and Wyatt are the best at those two roles. Any band like this, the vocal and the lead guitar are very vital aspects of the band. Me as a songwriter, it’s like having DeNiro and Al Pacino to work with. You have two fantastic talents that are doing something that is far and above in my opinion. I think Wyatt is the best singer of his kind in the past 20 years. That’s my personal feeling.”
White Wizzard have always had a sound that draws obvious comparisons to NWOBHM – Judas Priest comes immediately to mind. While the heavy vets are in no danger of being labeled copy cats, they’re more than happy, and willing, to wear their influences, and passion, on their sleeve.
“Most bands I gravitate towards have a lot of emotion and they’re in music for the right reasons, their passion for it,” says Leon. “I also feel our lineup of guys is really in it for the music, and we always have been. I think that’s really what has seen us through all the bullshit, because at the core we’re in this for one reason. I think White Wizzard has stayed consistent because of that, because there’s a lot of passion for what we’re doing.
“We’re fans first,” he adds. “I’m not afraid to say that and there are times we have certain things that may throw your ear back to our influences. That’s not something we try to hide. At the same time we try to find our own sound, our own voice. It’s walking a fine line between those realities. My attitude was that I always wanted my band to be a band like Rush where we were not afraid to try new things and expand and grow and progress.”
Leon would be the first to admit that White Wizzard have withstood their fair share of shitstorms in recent years. It took a brief hibernation – and a well-deserved period for reflection – to renew that fire that is so scorchingly evident through Infernal Overdrive.
“There was definitely a long period where I didn’t want to do anything associated with the band or really even think about it. If you’re a natural songwriter and these things come out of you and you have a natural passion for this kind of stuff, over time no matter how much you get away from it you start writing songs and they just start coming out of you.”
That ebb and flow of good and bad times go hand-in-hand with the business, Leon explains.
“There’s always going to be a yin and yang in everything. Being in a rock band and going through things bands go through, it’s a very strong bi-polarness to the yin,” he says. “The one side of it is really amazing and it’s an amazing thing to be in a band and to create music and to have to feel that power. Playing shows and going around the world is something that everybody dreams of doing. There’s always going to be another side to that and usually it’s just as extreme on the other end. The downs can be just as intense and difficult as the highs can be big highs. There’s no in-between. Doing something that we do or any band does is always going to be something that’s a lot of extremes.”
Those extremes, particularly those that have skewed decidedly negative, make the vicious Infernal Overdrive all the more impressive.
“When you have that type of talent that you believe in around you it just elevates everything,” Leon said. “We’re really stoked to be there considering we’ve kind of come full circle from everything we’ve kind of been through.”
Infernal Overdrive is out now through M-Theory Audio on CD, limited double vinyl edition and digitally.