The songs of London trio Invasion might be short, but they definitely ain’t sweet – wizard robes and monster riffs, delivered in sub-two minute psyche-rock nuggets. We put guitarist, Marek Steven, through the Future Hits treatment.
How did you meet?
Myself and our drummer Zel were already playing some of the same tunes together with a different singer from early 2006. She was good singer but ‘difficult’, and when she moved to New York we played a couple of instrumental shows to see what happened. Luckily our current singer Chan came to the second one on New Years Day in 2007. She told us she wanted to sing for us and amazingly she was just what we were looking for. We found a new, and better, singer before our old one landed in the US!
What made you want to start a band?
For me it was hearing Sleep and Kyuss for the first time when I was young. I’ve played heavy stoner metal in around 6 or 7 bands. The first song I wrote was a Cathedral rip-off called ‘Wily Wizard’ when I was 18. I spent way too long wasting time with crappy line-ups and people. It took me way too long to realise that if a band hasn’t got the potential to be 100% killer then don’t waste your time.
With which band would your dream support slot be?
We’ve played with one of my very favourite bands already; The Sword. A dream tour would be with them and then maybe do a few dates with them and ahem, Metallica. That would be the ultimate obviously. We talked to The Sword a bit about the Metalli-tour and it sounds unsurprisingly crazy. I kind of got more of a sense of both Lar’s charisma and his control-freakery from their stories.
What bands do you consider as part of your scene or as your peers?
The trouble with us is that we don’t have an existing ‘Wizard Metal’ scene in the UK to slot into easily. We’re way too heavy for the trendy scene but there isn’t a popular heavy-psych scene we can jump into. In the US there are a lot of heavy, Sabbathy type bands like Saviours, Blood Ceremony, Torche, Priestess, Black Mountain etc. I’m hopeful more bands will start here, we’re often about 4 or 5 years behind the US musically.
Your riffs sound like they should be part of 10 minute long stoner rock epics, but Invasion tracks for the most part seem to clock in under two minutes. Why this direction?
You have to do something new with music – why rehash another great band’s sound exactly? One thing I like listening to in other genres (bands like Municipal Waste) is songs that don’t outstay their welcome. I just think it’s less indulgent and more polite to get in and out quickly. Because we’re a stripped-down band with only one guitar (with 3 strings!) there is little chance for long jams to happen without it becoming a bit dull. That said, I do want to have a few longer sections in our new songs. I’m just listening to early thrash and sludgy death metal like Bolt Thrower right now, so it’s all mid to fast-paced chug-a-thons.
Tell us about Skill Wizard.
I basically wanted to give a platform to the best underground psych, psych metal, doom and other metal (thrash, death) and try and help any potential scene come together a bit. So I started a night – Skill Wizard – that’s mainly at Vice magazine’s pub, The Old Blue Last, every month. It’s almost always free entry, with loads of cool lights, decent heavy music and classic music DJ’d and generally, hopefully, good vibes. Bands always seem to have a really good time cos it’s usually really busy and the crowds seem to like it too cos the bands are different and good. I love the venue and putting on great bands is such a fun thing to do for a million reasons. I want to keep doing it forever (despite almost never making a penny out of it!)
What’s the deal with Chan and that robe?
Invasion has a fantasy/wizard focus with the lyrics and general aesthetic and so our singer Chan wears wizardy kaftans on stage to reinforce that and help with the general live vibes. We try and have a little smoke and lights when possible, a pentagram on the backdrop and (despite us all being nice and geeky people) I think metal bands should have a certain element of threat or mystique when possible. It’s often funny when we start playing because I don’t think people expect the full on riff-barrage when they see two girls and a skinny geek get up on stage.
What’s the best show you’ve played?
I think the best was possibly when we re-scored 4 short films for Future Shorts in front of 1000 people at Latitude last year. It was a pretty slick and big event to involved with and we just managed to get our shit together in time so the music locked in well with the images. It was fun because we were easily the heaviest band playing that weekend, the films were good and we had a fantastic response from a crowd who had no idea who we were.
Watch the video to ‘Moongazer’ by Invasion
What have you got planned for the future?
We have two 10″ records coming out in the summer, and then our debut, The Master Alchemist, is out in September. We recorded it in 4 days at Toerag Studios. It’s raw and retro-sounding with loads of tape flange, but heavy as usual. I actually want to record an even heavier new album before the end of the year though, as out material improves all the time. We write songs very quickly but we don’t rehearse enough!
James Shaw from Simian Mobile Disco is an unusual choice of producer for a band with Invasion’s sound – what prompted that decision?
He works with our record label and I think he liked what he heard of us I guess. As soon we met him it was obvious he’d be great. He was awesome to work with because he has an amazing ear and generally is really bright and incredibly laid back. I didn’t really understand a producer’s role properly until we worked with James. He helped sort out weak parts of songs, kept everyone focused and happy and calmly prioritised everything for us. His wife was basically in labour during our 4 day recording and he only missed one morning. It was nuts!
What other band should everyone find out about?
I really like a new London psych/doom/synth band called Lasers from Atlantis, they’re young and properly awesome live. Promoters need to book them! My favourite new bands in the US right now are Cauldron and White Wizzard. White Wizzard are making some awesome true metal with Dio style vocals but a fresh feel and killer riffs. The fact that 90% of their new songs are about wizards is a big added bonus for me. Ha!
Invasion release their ‘Conjure War’ EP in May on This Is Music. The band are also playing at this year’s Camden Crawl, as well as a few other select dates – check out their official MySpace page for more details.