It’s been a while since we’ve heard from San Luis Obispo’s favorite psychedelic punk band, Pancho & The Wizards.
Starting as “Pancho and the Mucho Wizard Jam Band” in 2015, they gained traction through releasing tapes online and opening for local band Ragged Jubilee at SLO Rock & Brew, a landmark venue in San Luis Obispo. Throughout their career, the band has had an ever-changing roster, changing musicians nearly 10 different times in the few years they’ve been playing. With the release of their first full-length album The Return in 2018, they solidified the lineup.
Consisting of Tristan Wildey on vocals & guitar, Keagan Kelley on bass, and Trenton Class on drums, the group has crafted their trade in the realm of heavy psych; inspirations of early metal, fuzzy psychedelic, and punk coalesce to form Pancho’s warped sound, bent on the likes of Ty Segall and Thee Oh Sees.
In 2019, Pancho put out their sophomore album, Cemetery.
Fast forward to 2021, and the Wizards have their third full-length album fully recorded and awaiting release, produced and engineered by legendary musician Chad Ubovich of Fuzz and Meatbodies. The album, set to release in the next few months, was supposed to come out March 2020 but was delayed due complications caused by COVID-19.
“With COVID, we just kept pushing it back,” frontman Tristan Wiley explained. “We ended up recording in October, [and] finished it. It’s eight songs and we’re still looking to get it mastered, waiting to figure out exactly how we want it to sound.”
The Wizards traveled all the way to Los Angeles to collaborate and record with Chad at Gold Diggers studio; the band was thrilled to work in a professional studio with an LA legend.
“It was definitely different than how we’ve recorded in the past. More like a real, heavy-duty studio, [and] we were able to work with fancier equipment. We did a lot of things that we hadn’t really done before because of Chad. He showed us how to record and mix certain pedals and tones differently. We were hesitant at first, but it ended up turning out way better.”
I asked Tristan what it was like to work in Los Angeles, especially during quarantine.
“Well we’d been talking about [the album] before COVID, but when it came time to finally record we all got tested and self-quarantined, went down and recorded. We finished all the tracking in just two days, and I stayed with Chad a bit longer to mix and edit some songs. Then we went back to Chad’s place and finished the additional mixing at Chad’s at-home studio. We’re making a few more minor changes and then onto mastering, then it’ll be all done.”
As the local music scene has grown to love the grainy, feral sounds of The Return and Cemetery, I was anxious to hear if they’d stick to a similar sound or move to something else.
“Yeah, I mean we’ve always been kinda inspired by the LA music scene, but while I was writing a lot of this stuff I was listening to a lot of different stuff than I did before. A lot of ‘90s music like Sonic Youth and Smashing Pumpkins. I feel like it influenced the writing. I wrote these ones a little different than ones I’ve done in the past, formatted a little differently, which is a good thing, I think.”
Keep your eyes peeled and your ears open for Pancho & The Wizards’ newest album coming soon, available on streaming services everywhere.
Catch a live, in-studio sneak peek of some songs from the album on our website, YouTube, and Instagram – also coming soon.
Robbie Baker is .WAV’s Playlisting Director, he wrote the article. Nushi Iyer is a .WAV staff member, she created the graphic