Music / White Wizzard

"You're gonna make it! You've got the fire!
Flames of your destiny, burning with desire!"
—"Over the Top"

White Wizzard is a Californian Heavy Metal band that, simply put, came 30 years too late for the party. And that's awesome.

In 2007, Jon Leon set out to remind the people of the Earth what Nu Metal and Metalcore genres seem to have forgotten: that heavy metal is about rocking out and having fun. Forming the original four-man lineup with himself on the bass guitar, Leon and Co. have released a self-titled and self-published EP in 2008. Soon thereafter, however, the band suffered creative disagreements incompatible with continued existence, so Leon fired everyone, who then went to form Holy Grail.

Reforming with a five-man lineup (though the drummer Jesse Applehans soon had to leave, too), White Wizzard signed in with the Earache Records label and re-released their EP under the title High Speed GTO in 2009, before recording their first studio album, Over The Top and going on tour in 2010. After finishing the tour, the guitarist Erik Kluiber and vocalist Wyatt Anderson left the band to pursue their own projects (or were simply fired). Michael Gremio (of Cellador fame) and Lewis Stephens replaced them for the upcoming Download Festival.

In case you missed the pattern, the vocalist changed again in September 2010, with Peter Ellis (previously involved with the band The More I See) replacing Gremio. Peter Ellis left the band in February 2011 because of organizational difficulties, with none other than Wyatt Anderson making a glorious comeback. Just a couple months later, Anderson left again, with Gremio returning as a stand-in singer on the on-going tour.

The second studio album, Flying Tigers, was released in September 2011. Recorded with just Leon (playing all the guitars), Anderson (before he left), Durst and the band's producer Ralph Patlan participating, Flying Tigers turned out to be a semi-Concept Album. Its first six tracks are unconnected songs but the second half (Starman's Child) follows an overarching plot written by Leon, which involves Ancient Astronauts, Alien Invasions, and humanity turning on its secret masters, with the Back Story additionally explained in the lyrics booklet.

In June 2013, the band released their third album, The Devil's Cut. It featured their fifth vocalist (Joseph Michael, who is a cousin of Ronnie James Dio) and their sixth and seventh guitarists (Will Wallner and Jake Dreyer). Joseph Michael was fired in early October under circumstances that are somewhat controversial: White Wizzard claims that Joseph was drinking in a pub opposite the venue and refused to perform, while Joseph claims that he challenged Jon Leon about issues relating to the way the band was being run (including alleging that Leon was stealing money owed for the other members of the band) and was fired, while also claiming that White Wizzard's album was only released because he had to sign a contract which effectively meant he could not receive credit for anything he wrote with the band. The two guitarists quit on 10th of October, less than a week after Joseph Michael did, as did drummer Giovanni Durst on the 11th of October, leaving Jon Leon the only remaining member of White Wizzard. Again.

The current band lineup is:

  • Jon Leon (bass guitar, lyrics, composition)

Former members include:

  • James-Paul Luna (vocals, the first lineup)
  • James J. LaRue (lead guitar, the first lineup)
  • Tyler Meahl (drums, the first lineup)
  • Jesse Applehans (drums, the proto-second lineup)
  • Wyatt Anderson a.k.a. Screaming Demon (vocals)
  • Erik Kluiber (lead guitar, the second lineup)
  • Chad Bryan (rhythm/harmony guitars)
  • Peter Ellis (vocals)
  • Lewis Stephens (lead guitar)
  • Giovanni Durst (drums)
  • Michael Gremio (vocals)

Stylistically, the band follows the formulas of the traditional heavy metal legends like Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Blue Öyster Cult, Dio, etc., and doesn't take itself too seriously, marking a refreshing change from all the angsty screamo metal out there. If you are a metalhead, go buy their album.

In case you are looking for their lyrics, see the band's Encyclopaedia Metallum page.

The band and their songs provide examples of following tropes:

  • All Your Powers Combined: The band summons the White Wizzard by putting together the split parts of the W amulet in the music videos.
  • Ancient Astronauts: Starman's Son explains that alien Energy Beings are responsible for transforming primitive apes into the first humans.
  • The Band Minus the Face: Inverted. Leon stayed while the rest of the original lineup had to go.
  • Beam-O-War: How the Witch and the White Wizzard duke it out in the "High Speed GTO" video.
  • Breaking the Bonds: In the "High Speed GTO" video, James-Paul breaks his shackles after receiving a metal buff from his comrades.
  • Concept Album: Flying Tigers is half-this.
  • Cool Bike
  • Cool Car: The topic of "40 Deuces". Also featured in "Over the Top" video.
  • Cover Version: The limited edition of Over the Top included covers of Cloven Hoof's "Gates of Gehenna" and Judas Priest's "Heading Out To The Highway".
  • Heavy Meta: "Out of Control".
  • Hell-Bent for Leather: The band's default outfits are ripe with leather.
  • A Hell of a Time
  • Hot-Blooded: Most of their lyrics.
  • I Am the Band: Leon.
  • Lead Bassist: Jon Leon is equal parts Type B and Type C.
  • Mascot: The eponymous White Wizzard, a horned white-bearded Cool Old Guy from their album covers. Bonus points for having been originally designed by Derek Riggs, the creator of Iron Maiden's Eddie the Head.
  • Metal Scream: "Heading Out To The Highway" opens with one. Well, duh, it's a cover of a Judas Priest song...
  • Never My Fault: Despite going through nearly as many band members in 5 years as notoriously ruthless veterans like Jon Schaffer have in 5 times that long, Jon Leon tends to insist it has all been down to bad luck or the other guy being to blame.
  • The Nth Doctor: The band lineup changed so often (with Leon being the only permanent member), they can be considered an example.
  • Number of the Beast: Referenced in "Strike of the Viper", among other Satanist messages.
  • The Plague: The "virus" that killed the original alien masters of mankind in Starman's Child back-story.
  • The Power of Rock: The "Over the Top" music video provides apt illustration of what it is all about.
  • Prima Donna Director: Leon's extreme Control Freak tendencies, willingness to burn bridges when someone isn't working out, and generally unpleasant demeanor have led to his gaining a reputation for being one of these.
  • Revolving Door Band: At the time of writing (October 2013), they have just lost their fifth vocalist, their sixth and seventh guitarists and their third drummer...and have only released three albums. For a band who have only been around since 2007, that is an impressive number of ex-members.
  • Rock Me, Asmodeus!
  • Rousing Speech: "Over The Top".
  • Self-Titled Album: The first EP.
  • The Show Must Go On: The band suddenly found themselves between lead guitarists when the pre-booked studio time for Flying Tigers rolled around. Jon Leon performed all guitar parts on the album despite not being a great lead player, and it shows in the final product. The band also briefly tried to invoke this after Joseph Michael departed mid-tour, with Leon Pushed in Front of the Audience on vocals along with former singer Peter Ellis (who was performing in the support band) before they ended up imploding completely.
  • Start My Own: The members of the original lineup went on to form a similarly-themed band, Holy Grail.
  • Stylistic Suck: Their music videos.
  • 10-Minute Retirement: Kinda. Kluiber was fired from the band in January but came back two weeks later.
  • Up to Eleven: Calls to "crank it up to ten" are common in their lyrics. Maybe, in the next album...
  • Xtreme Kool Letterz: Two zeds in "Wizzard", just for the cool of it.