WHITE WIZZARD’S ERIK KLUIBER TALKS FIRST TASTE OF SUCCESS IN METALSUCKS INTERVIEW
I’ve known White Wizzard guitarist Erik Kluiber since 2001 or so, when his old-old band Inner Recipe was working the club circuit in Southeast Michigan. When that band changed their sound to an ’80s metal throwback (way before it was popular to do so), they also changed their name to Overloaded and did quite a few gigs with my own band (“Vince Neilstein was in a band?” I hear you asking. Yes, kids. We’ll get to that another time.). Kluiber was also one of MetalSucks’ earliest supporters (oldschool commenters like Sammy, Wayne and hibernum should know him as “ERiK”).
Now Kluiber is all big-time, having moved to L.A. to join White Wizzard whose MetalSucks-approved High Speed GTO EP dropped on September 8th on Earache Records. I caught up with Kluiber at the band’s recent show in Brooklyn supporting Ross the Boss; we talked about how he came to be a member of White Wizzard, moving to L.A., finally having the support of a record label after years of grinding it out, recording the band’s first full-length record, and what the future holds.
So how’s New York City treating you? Is it your first time here?
Absolutely, first time. It’s a concrete jungle, and I absolutely love it. I love steel structures, pavement, fucking trash picked buildings, loud sirens, pizza, and the subways. It’s just outstanding. Also, I have not seen one Nikki Six haircut. If the city of Los Angeles initiated a tax on Nikki Six haircuts, it could solve all of California’s financial problems overnight.
How is it compared to: A. Detroit, B. Los Angeles (or wherever you are)? Are you in Los Angeles proper?
I’m in Hollywood. The weather is obviously a little bit different. This [rainy weather in NYC] is more like Detroit weather.
I’m very used to this. This is what I’m used to. Detroit is a great city. It has a lot going on. It’s just spread out a little bit. It’s not so centralized. L.A. is a lot of fun, man. A lot of the stereotypes I don’t think really exist. It’s just happening. I love it, man. A city is a city, and I’m a city boy. I’d be happy in any city.
Well, in November, I started to scout Craigslist and the first place I went to [on Craigslist] was Los Angeles. One of the first listings I read was for White Wizzard. I saw the video for High Speed GTO and immediately became a fan. It was in the back of my mind, and I started learning a couple of tunes like High Speed GTO and Octane Gypsy and taught them to my students. I was in the band Overloaded, and things fizzled out. I was like, “You know what? Now is the time if I got the balls to go for it.” I figured that they had somebody because it had been about 2 months. Fortunately for me, they hadn’t. So I did a YouTube audition, and Jon [Leon, bass] liked it. I flew out and did a live audition. I did it secretively. I had a lot of options, so now was the time to figure it out. It worked out great. I said “give me 48 hours to give you the decision,” because you know, it’s a big fucking decision. Then I was like “let’s do it, let’s sell everything I own,” and I drove out in a Ford Ranger to be a part of White Wizzard.
That’s awesome man. So far so good?
Absolutely, man. It was the right decision. What’s also neat about it is that I just got back from the studio in Phoenix where we’re recording with a producer named Ralph Patlan. That’s going to be for the new CD coming out in 2010. The music is done. They’re going to go back and finish the vocals in a week or 2. Obviously the EP will be released in the United States September 8th. We’ve been doing a lot of small shows to warm up, and then we’ll be touring and doing some fun things like that. That’s what I’ve always wanted to be – I’ve always wanted to be in a band that’s doing it.
Yeah. Has it so far lived up to that? Is this part of a tour or is this just a one off?
This is a weekend. What I think it is is a secret test that Earache is putting on us to see if we can deliver the goods, so no pressure there or anything.
No, not at all.
It’s a weekend on the East Coast. Shit, I wish we were out here for a couple of weeks. After that, hopefully we’ll be doing that. Keep in mind, I’m just the guitar player. I’m pretty much kept in the dark with all the business proceedings.
They just tell you where to go.
Yeah, they’re like “hey, write a solo for this. Learn this song.”
That must be kind of nice after running the show for awhile [in Overloaded].
It is nice.
You’re also not the only new member. There’s actually a lot of them.
There’s actually 4 new members. Jon is the founder and visionary of White Wizzard. Jesse Appelhans plays drums. It’s not A-p-p-l-e, it’s A-p-p-e-l. It’s Appelhans [a pehl hanz], everybody misspells it. Wyatt is from Jacksonville, Florida, and he moved out. He’s the singer. Chad is from Hollywood. He’s been there [in Los Angeles] for about 10 years. The new lineup, I believe Chad and Jesse joined first – about a year ago. Jon found Wyatt on the Internet. He was actually looking for another band – a singer that he thought sang for November 88, let’s say, and he was in a band called November in Florida. He was like “hey you got a good voice,” and he flew him out. They actually recorded the 3 songs that were before me that will be a part of the new CD: Over the Top, 40 Deuces and White Wizzard. Jon played all the guitar, wrote all the music, he played the solos, and Ralph played a couple of solos as well. That was in December. So when I came out, which was early February for the live audition, they had just gotten the songs back and they played them for me. So when I moved out in March, I knew 4 songs and immediately learned the rest of the set including those 3. A couple of months later, it was really crunch time. We had to write the record. Jon had had the foundations for the songs already written. It was a whole new experience for me being presented the songs with the arrangements pretty much there. It was like learn it, put a solo on top. I might have added a couple of touches here and there – a couple of riffs, a couple of harmonies, and maybe rearranged one riff just a little bit. It was pretty much here’s the song, learn it on guitars without amps or anything in a living room. Then we would take it to rehearsal, and the drummer Jesse is super fast. I couldn’t believe we put the songs together in like 5 weeks.
Then we were in the studio. It was serious pressure, and I was like “is this really going to sound good or like crap?
Absolutely! Especially after doing it, it turned out even better than I thought. I do a lot of the homework at home – writing solos and fills and whatnot. We did the drums pretty much live. They were all almost first takes. The drums were done in less than 4 hours.
Which is cool because it gives it all an organic feel. The only thing is that it makes overdubs a fucking pain in the ass like when you got to double the rhythms exactly and stuff. I had 3 days to do the guitars, and it was really intense. It was 12 hour days. Ralph really didn’t get a chance to help us in the traditional producer sense with “okay let’s swap this part here, let’s do this.” He helped me out quite a bit by keeping me focused because there was so much work. He was like “what’s the next part,” and I’m like “oh I don’t even fucking know yet.” He would be like “oh that was a good take” or “that was total crap. You’re out of tune. Go smoke a cigarette, learn how to play guitar and come back.”
He helped me deliver the best performance that I can. When it was all said and done I couldn’t be happier with it.
Yeah. I haven’t heard any of the vocals. They’ve been writing them in secret. I know how the music sounds, so the big mystery will be revealed when I finally hear the album in its whole.
The full-length will be out in 2010, maybe?
Yeah whenever that shit gets done.
Yeah that shit takes awhile. Is it cool for you personally to be in a situation when you’re in a signed band and . . .
And there are budgets and . . .
Well, it’s just being taken seriously. You guys are really cool to us and helped out Overloaded. I really appreciate that. The little things like being in Kerrang magazine. That’s cool. I don’t care what anybody says, it’s fucking awesome.
Yeah, like I said, I really don’t know what’s happening there. I’m ready to go. The band is ready to go, so whenever they say “hey you’re playing here,” we’re ready.
Are there any immediate plans to tour?
See, like I said, not really. First of all, I think they’re waiting to see how we do tonight, then waiting to get the CD done. Then they’ll take it from there. Hopefully we’ll be opening up for Neil Diamond or Belinda Carlisle.
Yeah, why not?
We’re really going for it.