Voodoo Shock interview with Uwe Groebel
by Hegedüs Márk / Psychedelic Fanzine #8
After the split of Naevus, things have been very quiet about Uwe Groebel (guitar / vocals), but he didn't give up playing music, so he called to life a new project named VOODOO SHOCK, which is a power trio (with two End of Green members) worshipping The Obsessed and Cathedral. Many underground doomsters enjoyed their debut (like myself), so here is an interview with Uwe for their request.
- Hi Uwe. How is the life going in Germany? When and how did you celebrate the New Year's Eve?
Well we celebrated on December 31 2000, as we always do on the 31st. We didn't have a party; I just hang loose with my wife, had a good dinner and watched the fireworks over the town. Very easy. We both had a hard time working so we needed a time out really.
- The doom scene has known you, because of your band Naevus (RIP). When did you realize that you can sing and in which age did you start playing the guitar?
I actually started singing with three years; you may need to ask my mom about my talent... No, being serious we started with NAEVUS in 1991 and I was the only person who could handle a guitar and sing at the same time. I started with death growls like Nick Holmes / Paradise Lost. Very low, but you always understood my lyrics, that's been important for me. With more an more music I listened to, I discovered my normal voice, influenced a lot by Ozzy and Bobby Liebling. Today I also like Geddy Lee/RUSH, Chris Cornell/Soundgarden and of course Wino. I started playing acoustic guitar at the age of thirteen, one year later I got an electric guitar and was very impressed by such artists like Joe Satriani and Steve Vai. Fortunately I discovered real players like HENDRIX and went into this style which I prefer still today.
- Naevus has released an album called "Sun Meditation" on Rise Above Records back in 1998. How do you feel about the CD nowadays?
The CD could have been better in some points with the sound. We spent a great time in the studio in Berlin. All in all I'm still satisfied with it.
- I haven't seen the album advertised in the big magazines, so I think Naevus didn't get the deserved promotion from its label. There haven't been any tours too. What do you think about my statement and were you satisfied with the album's promotion back then?
What kind of promotion do you mean? We never got any. They just sent around one unit to every magazine for a small review so we never had the chance to get more attention on it.
- As for tours. I can remember that you told me back then that Naevus may support Cathedral/Orange Goblin/Terra Firma on their German dates. Sadly to say, it didn't happen, as Naevus split up at the time of the tour. What happened?
I've spoken to Lee at this point of time and he was interested. But it wasn't clear if Electric Wizard will show up as well. That was before Terra Firma joined the tour. Four bands would have been too much for this kind of bill. As well we were dropped by Rise Above in January 1999. NAEVUS split in May after the tour, but not as for this reason.
- Do you often meet your ex band mates in Naevus? Are you still in touch? What are the other guys doing these days?
No, I'm sadly not in touch. Sometimes I wish it would be. We live apart from each other and Mathias and Oli are permanent members of SACRED STEEL. I'm not sure what Sven's doing...
- I have the opinion that Rise Above Records turned through the years from releasing doom records (Electric Wizard, Dark Passages 1-2) into putting out stoner rock (it sells a lot better!) by mostly English bands. The label said, that there aren't any "real" doom bands around, but just look at the line-up of "At the mountains of madness..." or keep in mind bands like Dreaming, Reverend Bizarre, Warning, Shylock, Oversoul, the Maryland bands etc. What's your mind on Rise Above's new policy and what do you think about the doom scene at the beginning of the 21st century?
"... Obviously it has to sell..." Lee Dorrian once said. And he's right. No label can survive if he doesn't have one band to move further. Doom is no big seller, and if you need the money for your daily life it can be hard.
Today I see the other side as well but I do understand what you mean. They thrown away their ideals, they sold their souls... Whatever, I only know they did almost nothing for NAEVUS.
- It took quite a few months, until you gave the fans a sign of life about a new project. That was the Mammoth Project (today ELEPHANT MOUNTAIN) with Roger Kolb of Tollwuet. How did you hook up with him and please speak about the recording process and the songs.
Roger is/was a big fan of NAEVUS and he once gave me a two pages long review about SUN MEDITATION. I was quite impressed and we stayed in contact over the years. He saw NAEVUS at the DOOM IN BLOOM festival in Germany in 1997. He came up from Switzerland only for the show with a friend. I totally said he's crazy. We're really good friends today. As NAEVUS split I bought a drum machine and a 4 tracker to record every stuff moving in my head. For some songs I decided to do it as a project as not every song fits Voodoo Shock (didn't have a name actually). So I sent three songs to him and he sang his vocals in two hours and sent the tape back again on the same day! Since then we always talked about recording songs but we both don't have enough time... The songs are very different, sometimes 60's/70's stuff and sometimes real slow 52bpm doom like early CATHEDRAL/VITUS.
- Do you plan to continue working with him in the future? Are you good friends with each other?
Well yes, as spoken we don't have enough time but we want to get more songs together. He does spent some weekends here in my house, and I'm travelling to Switzerland sometimes for a weekend, we always have loads of fun and our phone bill is rising.
- After the project with Roger, you started working under the name of Voodoo Shock. How did you find Mathias and Oliver (both from the band End of green), are they also dedicated doom fans?
I moved to this area because of my job and these are the only guys I know from here next to MIRROR OF DECEPTION. First I played with GUNNAR from MOD, but he's busy as well, and a couple weeks later I had good doomsters playing with me. They like the stuff a lot, OLIVER (bass) is more into the old rock/70's stuff while MATHIAS (drums) is more dedicated to newer rock/metal stuff.
- Congratulation to your three track CD, it's an excellent listen, I think. How did the recording session go, who was the producer and where did you record the songs?
We recorded one weekend, originally for the Saint Vitus tribute CD on RAVEN MOON RECORDS. With it we thought to record our first three songs ever. So we did and it came out really good. We decided to release it just to ship it around and let the people speak what they think. We recorded in a small but good studio with the End Of Green producer Ecki. We finished PATRA at the weekend and a couple weeks later the vocals on the other songs.
- Let's talk a little bit about your lyrics. Has the writing method and the theme of the lyrics changed since the Naevus years? What are your songs about?
My lyrics always touched myself deeply. Expressing thoughts and feelings is not easy for me. Sounds really cheesy now. I'm not sure if others can imagine a story with the lyrics. The lyric style didn't change, but I need more time (a lot more) to write them down.
- Talking about the name of the band, do you think it goes hand in hand with your music?
Actually I didn't think about it. I fist recognized the name VOODOO SHOP in a JAMES BOND MOVIE. It turned into VOODOO SHOCK after a few weeks.
- "Living in paradise" will be a part of Psychedelic Fanzine's "Out of focus - Vol. I" compilation CD. What do you hope from this underground compilation? Do you think it's the right support for the band?
Any support is good even if it's a small support. I love to be on samplers with other good bands which support underground music. Doom is in the move today and there are new promising bands coming hopefully.
- Do you aim to look for any labels to sign for? I think it would be really hard for you to concentrate a lot of time for albums/tours etc, knowing that you're quite a busy person, making your own business...
Oh yes I want to have a deal of course, that's what everybody dreams of. If it comes to touring or stuff like that, the time will tell. I can't plan too long. We need decisions at the right time.
- As many of us know, you're a busy person in everyday's life, you've a wife (hi Meike!), you do contribute a lot to Psychedelic and it's WebSite... How do you organize everything and how do you find the time for Voodoo Shock?
Sometimes I don't really know how to work on it. You asked to get the interview and reviews back on January 20th, so here I am, writing my interview in the morning at 2.30 am on the 20th. Sometimes I'm totally burnt out, but my wife is hooking me up and I always got some goals to do.
- How often do you rehearse and how are the new songs, that you work on, when you compare them to the songs on the promo?
Sadly not too often as MATZE has got a job 120km away, we only rehearse at the weekend, but then End Of Green has got their live shows... We find some time anyhow. The new songs are not too different. We still have the slow tempo and heavy intense mood. We recorded live in Switzerland on Jan. 6th. Maybe I can send you stuff when I got it on tape.
- I have to say, that Voodoo Shock has a lot of more promise than Naevus has had back then. I think, Voodoo Shock is more of a real doom band; you seem to play the music with your band, that one (who knows you) expects from you. It's sad, Wino influenced doom rock. Any comments on my statement and what do you like on Wino's guitar work and his previous/recent band(s)?
Oh, thank you. I definitely see the VOODOO SHOCK way like it's been in early NAEVUS, maybe around 1995/1996 when we had good doomed out rock. We are more heavy and intense as a three-piece which I never expected. We can vary a lot more, or maybe more differently. Wino maybe is my most influential drug in my musical life, I love every single tone he plays and sings! Total worship!
- As for Wino. Voodoo Shock pay tribute to Saint Vitus by playing an incredible heavy cover of "Patra (Petra)". How did you get onto the Saint Vitus Tribute and are you satisfied with the turnout of "Patra"?
We've just been asked to do so and we did it. PATRA is from the album 'V' which is the first Vitus album I got to know by Vitus. I love it. It's a love song, just listen to the lyrics. I think our version is pretty good and heavy, It's even slower than the original version.
- As you told me in many of our conversations, you're a big supporter/fan of the Maryland scene. What do you like on the MD bands, what makes them different to other doom bands in your opinion?
I think the Maryland scene is a very good friendship. I guess everyone played in every band at least once a time. Just take Gary Isom (SPIRIT CARAVAN). He played drums for Unorthodox, were in Iron Man before, joined Wretched and decided to enter Spirit Caravan after being in Pentagram. David Sherman (SC as well) the same, he played (sang) for Wretched and has got his own band EARTHRIDE today (worth checking out). Wino played in Lost Breed as well for a short time. This is only to name a few of them. They are a big family, that's what I miss sometimes in other scenes. We don't have a real scene in Germany. There are some doom bands around but they don't play too often. GRIEF OF GOD disappeared from the surface, why ever. Maryland has got this special kind of attitude which I miss everywhere. They've got a kind of scene in the UK too, but I think not that strong (maybe someone needs to correct me here, drop me a line).
- Things are getting rolling for Voodoo Shock, as the band has been asked to play live on the 10th anniversary party of Mirror of deception plus the band played on the 6th of January in Basel/Switzerland. Would you speak about both gigs? How did the fans react to your songs?
We entered stage before Mirror of deception on our first Voodoo Shock show. It's been quit a hectic as I missed the time a bit and went to the club at 9.15 pm and needed to go on stage immediately. No time being nervous. It was okay for the first show but not perfect. The crowd were addicted doom fans so we had good chances to let them move. Switzerland was a really good show (with two new songs) but the crowd was lousy. My amp closed down and I needed to change the AMP while the intro already - a bad start, but it turned out good. We had good friends there in Switzerland, Roger (TOLLWUET) and Michi (WINDFALL/PHASED 4°F).
- What future plans do you have with the band and how will you see the band in 5 years in your standpoint?
I'm not sure what and how it will be in 5 years. This year we will contribute our songs on a split with TOLLWUET (YEAH!!!) and maybe a split 7" with them as well. I know Psychedelic Mark will distribute both!:-)) Thanks for the interview, glad being back in the scene again, hope to hear from all of you. Get the songs from me only for postage costs, or just drop me a line and we speak about it. SUPPORT VOODOO SHOCK. (firstname.lastname@example.org) Visit the Vooodoo Shock WebSite at: http://www.voodooshock.de
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