Party Wizard: Seizing Life One Track at a Time
Soon to grace the stage at 512 Brewery this past October 25th, band members of Party Wizard imbibed and relaxed before their show. Sitting on a blanket near the stage under an oak tree to block out the sunlight, I spoke with the vocalist and one of their guitarists. The rest of the band mates came and went throughout the interview.
Live music was booming in the background as Amplified Heat played nearby. We had to sit close and speak loudly to hear one another over the amps. Thankfully I knew to bring a pen and paper for a live music event and not my recorder. I mean, I was going to meet a pack of local musicians at an outdoor event sponsored by a brewery. And their name is Party Wizard. Obviously I wasn’t anticipating anything quiet or demure, and Party Wizard did not disappoint.
Originating in 2010 and re-created in 2014, Party Wizard consists of five musicians: Oriah Lonsdale (vocals), Mike Daniel (guitar), Ian Burrowes (drums), Tom Balentine (bass), and Greg Hitchens (guitar). Three of the band mates are from Texas – the others hail from Utah and Canada. One by one, they all crossed paths in The Lone Star State and began creating music in Austin, Texas.
The first time I saw them play was in April 2013 at Holy Mountain. A show none of the band mates except the vocalist was very willing or eager to talk about. I admit the show at the brewery was much livelier and lighthearted than the one I’d seen before. At 512 Brewery, Party Wizard’s music invoked the intimate sized crowd to lift Lonsdale with their hands and carry him around like a rock star. The day had not even turned to dusk and by the end of their set – Party Wizard excited the crowd enough to beg for an encore. Naturally the band conceded to the wishes of the crowd.
Mallow: Tell me, what compelled y’all to name the band Party Wizard? And how did the band come together?
Party Wizard: The name trails back a few years and it’s based off an inside joke. We are real big on humor. Most of the members have known each other since the late 1990’s – admiring one another’s musical crafts on stage from afar. But in 2010, our party of five came together.
Mallow: Tell me about the music. What is your sound and which bands influenced the music?
Party Wizard: We are sort of an infusion of 70’s hard rock and heavy metal. The band all shares similar tastes in music. Some other bands before our time that influenced our style or inspire us include Mastodon, Iron Maiden, Thin Lizzy, Boston, Kraftwerk, Rush, and Motorhead.
Mallow: Obviously y’all write the music together, but who writes the lyrics?
Party Wizard: Oriah is our lyricist. His words tell the stories. But we all work as a group and each band mate makes a defined contribution to each song. The music has grown a lot stronger and we are all really stoked to see the progress! All of us have grown and excelled as musicians. Party Wizard members are all in our early 40’s, except one younger band mate. My point being that even though we’ve all been doing this a while, the band is still improving and learning new skills, which is awesome. There is a lot of healthy competition among the group that keeps us working hard. And we certainly have a lot of fun in the process.
Mallow: Will you guys be playing from an album today? What songs are on the set list?
Party Wizard: We have yet to finish an album since the group re-aligned last year. However it’s in the works and soon to be completed. Today we are playing ten songs – one of which took us a year to create called “You Got Me Right”. It’s about the inner turmoil and angst of heartache and life changes. It’s a song about the awakening that sparks when illusions end and reality sets in. Overall, our songs are about life. The music helps us work through life. The Latin phrase ‘carpe vita’ are words that reflect our drives to keep creating music. All of us in the band share a passion for life and want to make the most of our time.
Mallow: I noticed on your set list that another song is titled, “Osiris and Isis”. That stood out to me given those are names long before our lifetime. Is history a reoccurring theme in the lyrics?
Suddenly I see Lonsdale staring at my notepad, which is covered in Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics and symbols. He asked me, “Have you ever read the Egyptian Book of the Dead?” I nodded my head yes. For a moment we talked Ancient Egypt and the afterlife –before I geared the conversation back towards music.
Mallow: The last time I saw y’all play was at Holy Mountain in 2013. How has the band changed since then?
Immediately upon asking this question, I feel intense emotions flying through the air. This is not a time that any of the band mates remember fondly. It was the first show without their friend and former guitarist, Jasper, who died tragically of a sudden death in April 2013.
Party Wizard: That was a rough show… Since that show, a new feeling to the music has evolved. The band really came together after we lost Jasper. It was a hard loss, to say the least. The silver lining in the dark, one good thing that has come from all that pain, is that a stronger sense of camaraderie has developed among the group. We all really look forward to meeting each week and playing music. The music and lyrics help us all work through life together. I guess in a way it’s like a brotherhood through the power of music.
Mallow: Are there any other songs you boys are eager to play today?
Party Wizard: The track “Masterpiece” is another favorite. It’s a story about the inner-artist in all of us and how the one thing we all share in common is life. The journey of life and the all-consuming effort it takes to make your life a masterpiece; to be the master of your life.
For more information about the band, booking, or upcoming shows – please visit the official Facebook page of Party Wizard at https://www.facebook.com/PartyWizardATX.