Interview: Electric Wizard’s Liz Buckingham

Liz Buckingham –  Electric Wizard’s guitarist kindly agreed to do an interview with me. She delves into her love for the English countryside, ale and her dream of living in a cave, read on to find out more.

I’m half English because, my father was English, so I have a dual citizenship which made it easier for me to come here and live. When I was a little girl I always planned on coming and living here when I got old enough…..then I kind of forgot about it. When I joined Electric Wizard, it just made sense for me to move over here. I love England. I felt immediately at home and I’m always happy when I come back here when we’ve been away. I really, really love the actual land, it’s so alive. I’ve never been anywhere more beautiful. The countryside around where we live, I never tire of. When I think of the things I love about England…off the top of my head…. ALE(!), cider, oak, giant cow parsley, dark wooded lanes, the sea.

If you were still in the USA and had never picked up a guitar, what do you think you would be doing right now?

Man, who knows…..can’t even really imagine it. Before I started my first band, I had been apprenticing as a tattoo artist for a few years, I gave it up to concentrate on doing a band instead. I’m not somebody who can do two art forms like that at the same time without one suffering. I thought I needed to concentrate on one or the other in order to be really good at one. Maybe not the best decision considering what tattoo artists earn! but obviously that’s not what it’s about with me… But who knows, I have many interests…I could have ended up doing many things.

Electric Wizard use a lot of occult imagery which I love –are you religious or spiritual in any way?
I am a spiritual person and very interested in the occult and always have been since I was a child. My father and my grandmother were both really into it and so being raised with that way of thinking…it’s just like people being raised to be a Christian. It’s just how I think. I’ve always been surrounded by books on the occult and other esoterica. I am not a follower of any one belief system, over all I am most interested in the power of the mind. Metaphysics. But I like to explore many things, and have. It’s all about whatever it takes to centre your energy…and different people find different ways to help them in that goal. It’s a subject that although I might use publicly in our imagery, is something I don’t think needs to or should be discussed. The creation, outcome speaks for its self. Black magic, white magic…it’s all about the outcome. My everyday life is lived with these thoughts, practices and intentions.

A downside (or not!) to having my mind opened at such a young age, is it has caused me to be a bit of an outsider. I could never understand why some people were so horrible or intolerant of the “unknown”…and over time it eventually turned into a general pity and hate for most people, hence my reclusive tendencies and misanthropic outlook. I think the world would be a better place if the powers that be, forced narrow-minded individuals to take acid…….but of course, that’s the last thing “the man” wants……

Staying on the subject of imagery. Your t-shirts are great, I love them! I also love the artwork that features on Electric Wizard albums and posters. Who designs them?

We don’t like letting other people do art for us, we like doing it all ourselves. To us it’s just as important as the music and part of the reason we even do this. Even with the bands photos, we like to be heavily involved in the concept and outcome. I don’t think a lot of people realise how much we actually do ourselves. A lot (not all) of bands get their label to handle their graphics. We used to let some stuff get done outside and early Wizard had a lot of outside artwork, but in recent years we started to realise that no one was really able to get our aesthetic right, so we decided to start doing everything ourselves. Justin was trained as a graphic artist (old school, pre-computer design) you know, hand drawn fonts etc. I went to school for photography and design, so we are both very visually oriented people. Generally, t-shirts are me, and posters, Justin. Album art and layout is a collaborative effort. We usually find that the combination of both of our ideas is the best. It’s never as good if just one of us does something alone without the others input. It can get difficult though, we’re both pretty stubborn when it comes to sticking to our own idea of what we think looks cool….but it’s always worth the battle in the end.

What is a typical or an ideal day in the life of Liz?

Ha! There isn’t really a typical day, I have a bad habit of living in the moment and taking each day as it comes, regardless of what I “should” be doing. Also, I’m a bit of a hermit. I don’t go out and socialise. I really like being alone. The only time I really see people is when I play gigs. But, a typical day is usually consumed with something Electric Wizard. It may not seem like we do much from the outside, as we don’t spend our time doing the internet thing. But we do spend a lot of time creating, setting up and organising things for the band. A lot of tiny things go into all our creative output. We also do our merch/t-shirts by hand which is a full-time job in its self. Justin and I are creating electric wizard 24/7. everything we do, collecting, movies etc…gets put back into the band in some way.

An IDEAL day is when all I have to do is listen to the sound of the wind coming down from the moors.

I saw Saint Vitus a few weeks back and was so amazed by the energy the guys still have for music, do you think you will continue to be a musician until you have to be lifted off stage by the funeral director or do you have other plans for the future?

That’s what makes them still the coolest band around.

As for me, I always planned on becoming a reclusive witch living in a cave in my old age….or an eccentric collector of the bizarre in my castle …..but unless I win the lottery, I guess I’ll have to stick with the cave witch plan. (I’m practicing both, just in case.)

Um, but really…when I chose this path, there was no question as to when it would end (death). It’s a never ending creative desire. It’s what I chose as a life’s work. It’s what I am contributing to this world/existence. I will always be trying to write the heaviest riff. Always trying to create the music I want to hear. It’s my chosen path. It has no end. There’s no retirement. As for live gigs…well there may come a time where what I do may become a bit ‘undignified’ for an old lady…but then I can only hope for a natural progression into other ways to project my creative energy. But then again, I could easily just completely retreat and become a gardener…you never know, sometimes I like to go where life takes me.

Interview by Katie Doherty