Dive deeper into the mind of the evil wizard.
Deep within the port city of Oakland, CA lies a tower of power best known for have given birth to a multitude of heavy juggernauts. This tower, Earhammer Studios, conceived NECROT's Blood Offerings, MORTUOUS' Through Wilderness, and EXTREMITY's Coffin Birth to name a few. Behind it all lies a man with the Midas touch. That man is renowned sound engineer Mr. Greg Wilkinson.
After years of working on exceptional records and tearing through sets as an active member of DEATHGRAVE and BRAINOIL, the Evil Wizard (as he's often called) has put together his solo LP Perpetual Animation under the LEATHER GLOVE moniker. If you've paid any mind to the recent filthiness of OSSUARIUM's Living Tomb or UNDERGANG's Døden Læger Alle Sår, then you know what kind of grotesque composition Perpetual Animations must be to come out of Wilkinson's tower.
LEATHER GLOVE was born in 2014 as Wilkinson's recording experiment and has now evolved to become a full-length record. Featuring the likes of Bay Area all-star cast Chad Gailey (NECROT, VASTUM, MORTUOUS), Dustin Ferris (APRAXIC, ENGORGED), Sean McGrath (GHOUL, IMPALED), Shelby Lermo (VASTUM, ULTHAR, EXTREMITY), Eric Cutler (AUTOPSY), and Danny Corrales (AUTOPSY, ABCESS), LEATHER GLOVE's Perpetual Animation is a death doom tank that bombards audiences with putrid riffing, menacing solos, and cataclysmic drumming.
We had the opportunity to talk to the Evil Wizard himself about all things LEATHER GLOVE:
Before we dive into the interview, can you let people know where the Evil Wizard nickname originated from? Following our conversation with Daniel Kelley of Ossuarium, it seems to fit you well.
Greg: Nicknames that stick are usually given by other people. This was the case with me. I went on a camping trip with a lot of friends almost 20 years ago. People just started calling me “Gandalf” & “Wizard” during that trip. There are probably people from that era of the Oakland scene who never even learned my true name and just call me “Evil Wizard”, “Wizard” or even “Gandalf” haha. It morphed over a few months into “Evil Wizard." It just stuck.
Perpetual Animation is obviously a huge step forward from Skin of Glass in every aspect.
Musically, what was the goal coming into this record?
Greg: Honestly, every time I record for Leather Glove, it starts as an open slate. I knew I wanted to spend more time on the recording, layering, content & the mix. There were two songs that were shitcanned as it paled up against the eight selected tracks. Other main objective was to make this record darker and more oppressive than the demo.
As an audio engineer, how did you approach the creative process for the making of this record?
Greg: Most riffs are written within a few hours before the drummer arrives. This is done to keep the project spontaneous. Overthinking a song during its conception is a death kiss. It will never turn out how you envision it. Then on off hours I will spazz out on layer ideas and riffs to see what sticks. This is sometimes done before or after vocals pending on the track. Nothing is or should be too regimented while creating music in my opinion.
Seeing that Perpetual Animation has been in the works for a little over 2 years now, did your work as an audio engineer on various records for other bands influence or change anything on Perpetual Animation? Specifically in the time between Skin of Glass and the date you finalized the LP.
Greg: Sure. If it didn’t, I would be failing at my day job as an engineer. Every session is a learning experience. Not to say these sessions influenced the riffs or song concepts. But workflow and mixing techniques most definitely.
Also, this project was started to expand my recording skills on my time rather than other sessions time. Apply new tricks so to speak. If they fail, it’s not somebody else’s money I’ve wasted. I can then apply these new techniques to other bands sessions.
You’re an active member of Brainoil and Deathgrave and also take on studio duties, so why go forward with a full length and add another layer of responsibility to your already stacked schedule?
Greg: Although Brainoil & Deathgrave practice weekly and play out frequently, they do not record frequently. Leather Glove is a recording project that is very active when one or both bands are down on sebadacle. I’ve always been a very busy person. Waiting for somebody to return from vacation, tour with another band, etc. doesn’t work for me. After many years of icing creative progress waiting for people, this gives me an outlet to continue. When the bands reactivate, I’m still flowing and repurposed. Writing music is a muscle. If it’s not being used, it atrophies.
What was it like working with Chad Gailey, Shelby Lermo, and all of the other excellent musicians on this project? Was there something in particular you were looking from each musician?
Greg: Amazing! Chad and Dustin are both amazing drummers. Chad did a killer job (as for everything he touches) on the demo & wanted to continue with him. Dustin & I spoke for years about jamming. This was a logical outlet.
As for Sean, Shelby, Eric & Danny (in that order on the LP) yes. They are all talented as hell. Sean & Shelby’s solos created an amazing contrast. I can’t play guitar like that… but they can. Danny and Eric, I just wanted whatever the fuck they wanted to lay down in their selected locations. Both are impressive as hell soloists. A blend of extremely classy, yet sleazy and trashy as hell. I don’t know how they do it.
Having heard the album countless times, it’s evident that the many different musical elements you incorporated throughout flow seamlessly with one another. How do you establish said cohesiveness without it sounding like a bunch of random elements merged together?
Greg: One brain creating the melodies? It’s a blessing and a curse that everything I write wreaks of my sound. I rely heavily on collaboration with my bandmates to sculpt “the sound” of the project. This project, aside from the drums and shredding solos, is all me. Therefore, it seems easy for me to reign it in to a cohesive sound.
Despite the varied elements, this is a filthy death doom record through and through. Would you say Leather Glove is your outlet for exploring music outside of Brainoil’s sludge or Deathgrave’s deathgrind?
Guide us through the cover art choice, which depicts a group of dead bodies being piled on to one another. Are these the bodies of people who have heard the solos on the title track?
Greg: Probably haha. Here is where I need to mention Max Rain. He is the artist who realized the images for this album. Most of the pieces he drew were specific visions I had in my head from lyrics to the songs. Max is one of my favorite artists and I’m honored he painted these for me. The front cover is from the track “The Resurrectionist.” That track is about grave robbers hired by “doctors” in the 19th century in the name of science. These robbers were coined as Resurrectionists. The painting does a very accurate depiction of the lyrics.
With that of dead bodies being stacked on the cover art, are there any lyrical themes you aim to portray with Perpetual Animation?
Greg: They lean towards oppressive subject matter whether based on true facts, fictional stories based on real events, or nightmares I’ve had. Usually a bleak reflection which encompasses the dark cold nature of a world controlled by humans whether in the present, past, or in the spectral realm.
I hear some Disembowelment and My Dying Bride on the record. Were there any bands or albums in particular that had a heavy influence on the making of the record?
Greg: Honestly, no. Not that I’m a genius or special. It’s just I wanted to avoid classifying the albums sound to a band or two and try to make something new. Although those bands are great and fit well with this album, I would really mess up the bands sound if I tried to mimic them somehow.