Rolling The Dice: An Interview With Dungeon Weed

By Theron Moore

If there’s two things I’m always down for its super, heavy, rock N roll and gaming like Dungeons and Dragons, Gamma World, RPGs like that. I discovered Dungeon Weed through a review a writer did for a record that didn’t cut it and he recommended that if you were looking for real deal heavy psyche Dungeon Weed was your band.

So I did, I checked out Dungeon Weed’s ‘The Eye Of The Icosahedron’ and the band’s sound blew my mind. It was cosmic and hypnotic, I couldn’t stop listening to it for the rest of the day. Dungeon Weed is that rare band that pulls off a sonic experience unlike anything you’ve experienced before.

Weed’s sound was psychedelic in a way that I hadn’t experienced the genre in quite some time and the heaviness behind it was a steamroller, something on the same level as Electric Wizard, Windhand, bands like that. I’m proud to bring you a great interview with Dungeon Weed, the newest installment in a series of articles I started a few years ago entitled: “When Dungeons And Dragons And Heavy Metal Collide: The Intersection Of Gaming And Music.” The die has been rolled. It’s a “20.” Critical success!

Cosmic Monolith: Please introduce yourself to everyone.

Dungeon Weed: I am Dmitri Mavra, Dungeon Weed mastermind.

Cosmic Monolith: If you were to describe Dungeon Weed to someone, maybe a fellow metal head, would you describe the band as “stoner rock” or “psychedelic / sludge metal?” How do you normally describe the “heavier than thou” sound Dungeon Weed makes?

Dungeon Weed: I think the only acceptable description is “Psychedelic Wizard Doom.”

Cosmic Monolith: Is Dungeon Weed a full-fledged band or is it just a project you do by yourself?  Have you or do you intend to play live gigs as Dungeon Weed?

Dungeon Weed: Dungeon Weed is my project, with collaborators Chris McGrew (drums) and Thia Moonbrook (vocals). I do the writing, guitar, bass, synthesizer, vocals, recording, mixing, and artwork. Dungeon Weed II, ‘The Eye Of The Icosahedron,’ also includes additional synths and sound design by the mysterious RAMA. We don’t have any plans to play live because I can only play one instrument at a time.

Cosmic Monolith: Tell me how the band came about because I’m still trying to wrap my head around your records, ‘The Eye Of The Icosahedron,’ and ‘Mind Palace Of The Mushroom God.’

Dungeon Weed: From 2013-18 I had a band called Skunk, which was original songs in a retro heavy rock style (Grand Funk, James Gang, Zeppelin type stuff). That band folded and I started a similar band called Slow Phase. Slow Phase is still going strong, but during the pandemic we had to take a break, like everyone else.

About a month or two into the pandemic, May 2020 I think, my old pal Chris McGrew shot me a message saying, “send me some riffs and I’ll lay down drum tracks.” Chris is not only a great drummer, but also a recording engineer at San Francisco’s legendary Hyde Street Studio. Hyde Street has been around (with various names) since 1969. Many famous albums were recorded there, from the Grateful Dead to Herbie Hancock’s “Headhunters.”

Chris explained to me that he was just hanging out in the studio with nothing to do, since the pandemic had killed all their business. I told him that as a matter of fact, I had an entire album ready to go called Dungeon Weed. I had written the whole thing in just a few days, maybe a week, back in 2018, but I had never really planned to do anything with it. 

Once we got started I would send the basic tracks to Chris and then got on a zoom call with him while he was recording the drums so I could produce from afar. After I got the drum tracks from Chris, I recorded guitar solos, synths, vocals, etc. I mixed it and did the artwork, and wrote a short story, then I put it up on Bandcamp. I honestly didn’t think anyone would really notice it. But within a couple days I had worked out a deal with Forbidden Place Records, a great label run by a couple of cool dudes that really dig heavy music. A couple months later we were already doing a 2nd pressing. I think ‘Mind Palace of the Mushroom God’ may have been the first “pandemic” album as it was released August 19, 2020.

Cosmic Monolith: It’s truly hard to comprehend how psychedelic and massive Dungeon Weed is from a sonic standpoint. The heaviness quotient is right up there with Windhand and Electric Wizard. How much influence did other bands have on Dungeon Weed such as Ty Segall, or Fuzz, Dead Meadow, even older groups like Blue Cheer, Strawberry Alarm Clock or The Lemon Pipers, for instance? 

Dungeon Weed: None of those bands were an inspiration. I’ve written hundreds of rock songs and I’m always trying different styles. Other than my general influences (things like Zeppelin, Sabbath, Hendrix, etc.) I think the one album that directly inspired me to sit down and write a bunch of doom songs was “Dismal Planet” by Coffin Torture.

They’re a heavy as hell two-piece doom band from South Carolina that I just stumbled on one day because of the amazing cover art. I thought, “hmm, I want to do something like that.” I don’t really know what their songs are about, but I knew I wanted to make mine into psychedelic wizard doom!

My other influences come from playing folk music. I’ve played fiddle and banjo for years, and also rebetika, a kind of Greek underworld music from the 1930s. A lot of the rebetika songs are about smoking hashish and other underworld subjects, and they use non-western scales and rhythms. I definitely slipped some of that in there, especially on the 2nd album.

Cosmic Monolith: How do you get into a creative state of mind to make Dungeon Weed music? And if you don’t mind, I’d like to ask the obvious question: Do drugs, such as marijuana or mushrooms, play a role in this process?

Dungeon Weed: I’ve always been into psychedelic music. When I first started playing guitar in college I was obsessed with the Butthole Surfers, as well as Captain Beefheart, The Residents, Throbbing Gristle, plus a lot of Ornette Coleman, Coltrane, Bitches Brew, and free jazz. So yeah, there may have been a few tokes along the way, but psychedelic music is something I’ve been at for a long time.

Cosmic Monolith: We talked about this briefly online. You said you used to play Dungeons And Dragons but no longer have the time to do so, however, it does factor into the music you make with Dungeon Weed. Can you expand on this a bit and how it plays a role in your creative process?

Dungeon Weed: I grew up reading Tolkien and had a neighbor who was in high school that taught me and my friends to play D&D when I was just in 5th grade. This was late the 70s when AD&D had just come out. The original Monster Manual was new and like a bible to us. I probably drew copies of everything in that book while sitting in my bedroom listening to Rush (favorite album: ‘Hemispheres’).

For several years we played D&D constantly. Later I became a huge fan of short story writer Clark Ashton Smith, a friend of Lovecraft’s who wrote more about wizards and fantasy than Lovecraft did. So the fantasy theme and the psychedelic theme had been brewing for a while. They finally came together in my band Skunk when I wrote two songs that could almost be Dungeon Weed songs, “Wizard Bong” and “The Black Crown.” But that band was more straight ahead heavy rock, so I didn’t continue down that psychedelic fantasy path until I wrote the Dungeon Weed songs.

Cosmic Monolith: Have you considered (or maybe it’s happening right now) of turning ‘The Eye Of The Icosahedron’ and ‘Mind Palace Of The Mushroom God’ into D&D or fantasy adventure modules?

Dungeon Weed: I’ve had several attempts fall through. I don’t have the skills to do it myself, the folks I’ve collaborated with didn’t work out for various reasons. It might still happen.

Cosmic Monolith: Let’s go back to that time when you were playing D&D. Was it just Dungeons And Dragons you were playing or other RPGs as well? Maybe Gamma World, Top Secret, Metamorphosis Alpha, for instance?  

Dungeon Weed: We definitely played Gamma World, Top Secret, Champions. In 7th grade we created our own RPG that was a cross between D&D and Gamma World. It was set in the post-apocalyptic future. Back then the rules were much looser.

When my own kid started playing a few years ago I was surprised to see how rigid the rule system had become. In the early-80s it was almost like improvisation. Sure, we had the basic rules, but everything was flexible and we were more interested in playing off the cuff and having fun than following a rule set.

Cosmic Monolith: Who got you into gaming and at what point in your life did gaming kind of stop? I imagine it wasn’t for lack of interest but probably due to your professional life getting busier.

Dungeon Weed: As I mentioned, my older neighbor got me and my pals into it. I quit playing in high school, especially after I got into punk rock. After that, I didn’t really spend time on anything that didn’t have to do with music. A few years ago I played a bit with my kid, but the new rules were boring to me, and the kid got into a group with friends. I think the narrative possibilities always have appealed more to me than the actual gameplay. So it was lack of interest to some degree. I’m not really a gamer, I never liked video games, for instance. Music is my game!

Cosmic Monolith: Twitch seems like it’d be the perfect platform for Dungeon Weed and its fans. Do you have a Twitch account? Do you think Twitch is the future of music and gaming and how fans and performers (will) interact with each other?

Dungeon Weed: Well, I’m embarrassed to say I don’t know anything about Twitch. I guess I’ll check it out. My general approach is not to work too hard at promotion. I put a lot of energy into writing and recording the music and making the art, but when it comes to spending hours and hours online trying to promote stuff, I don’t know, I just can’t get into it. I figure people will find it if they’re meant to. 

Cosmic Monolith: Kind of riffing on the last question, does Dungeon Weed have a Patreon account for its fans and if so, what do you offer through it?

Dungeon Weed: No, all I have is a Bandcamp page which offers cd, vinyl, cassette, and posters. 

Cosmic Monolith: What does 2024 have in store for Dungeon Weed. What can fans expect?

Dungeon Weed: Dungeon Weed III, ‘Into the Myst’ is slated for release. The album is entirely recorded except for the vocals. The details of the release will be announced when I know more. Possibly an EP might happen too.

Cosmic Monolith: I’ll save this last question for you. What’s in store for the band in 2024 and just in general, what do you want to tell your fans?

Dungeon Weed: The next album will be a little different, just as the 2nd album was a bit different than the 1st. Will there be a 4th album? I don’t know. I don’t have any plans at this point but it could change. It’s been great getting messages from Dungeon Weed fans telling me how much they love the music or the art. A lot of folks have been inspired by Dungeon Weed. That’s really been the best part. 

Author: Theron Moore

Theron Moore Biography: Moore’s first writing gig was SLAM Magazine (Stateline Area Magazine, Northern IL / Southern WI) in 1989. A year later he launched the zine, Louder Than God followed by For Those About To Rock and The Saint Vitus Press & Poetry Review (print). Moore has contributed poetry to Red Fez, The Saint Vitus Press & Poetry Review, Poetry Motel, Poesy Magazine, Tree Killer Ink, and Criminal Class Review. He’s contributed interviews, movie, news, and music reviews to Yahoo,, Wormwood Chronicles (2015 to the present), The Sludgelord, Metal Forces, and New Noise Magazine (2017 to present).