Posted: March 11th, 2009
"I would label it more as stoner punk."
Interview by Rex Reason
How did Witch come together?
Dave Sweetapple: I moved from Boston to Brattleboro, Vermont in 2001. I got to know Kyle from hanging out at a record store where he worked. A lot of the music happening around here was all kind of art-based, a folk-rock kind of scene. We just decided to get together and do a heavy rock thing.
Kyle Thomas: In 2005, Dave, who plays bass, and J Mascis, who plays drums, were friends. They wanted to play some heavy music. There’s not much of that going on around these parts. I was playing in a band called Feathers at the time, which was much more acoustic. I wanted to do something louder, too. I asked my friend Asa Irons, who plays guitar, to do it too. We just made the first self-titled album pretty quickly in 2006 and didn’t really tour or anything. Then we didn’t do much for a year, but it seemed like there were a lot of people into the album, so we made another one called Paralyzed.
Now that you’ve done another record, will you leave the band alone again for a year?
Kyle: It seems like a little bit more is happening this time. We just went on tour in Europe for a few weeks. We’re going to do a West Coast tour in the fall. We’re going to try and keep recording here and there.
Dave: It’s sporadic and it’s mainly due to schedules. J’s always on the road. He’s in Greece today, I think. It’s hard to get together.
Do people call Witch a side project? Does it bother you?
Kyle: It does get called a side project a lot. It doesn’t matter what people call it. They can call it whatever they want. If “side project” means that it’s not as good for some reason, then whatever. It’s something we do for fun.
Dave: It’s not really a side project as such. People keep calling it that—“J Mascis’ side project.”
The main difference between your first record and the second seems to be that the tempos are faster on Paralyzed. What was the reason for the change?
Dave: We were all coming from a thing where we had knowledge of old rock, and we’re all into punk rock. We brought the other stuff we were into to the table on this new record.
Kyle: Personally, I am an ADD-style songwriter. I write all different kinds of music. It’s always changing. So there was no way Paralyzed was going to be just like the first one. It wasn’t quite as Sabbath-y. This album was a lot more influenced by the punk stuff I grew up listening to, like Rudimentary Peni and shit like that. I just get bored writing a certain way. I don’t think bands should make albums that sound exactly the same.
So you’re busy guys, and Witch is something you find time for?
Kyle: I didn’t say I was busy… It just kind of happens when it happens.
So if there’s a third album, people should expect something different again?
Kyle: Who the fuck knows what it’s going to be like! I have no idea. It’s always going to have the element of loud and heavy, but whatever form that takes is unknown.
It seems like Witch would be lumped in categories like doom metal or stoner rock. How do you feel about those labels?
Kyle: I honestly don’t care. That’s one thing musicians hate—when their music is categorized and lumped into a certain genre. It’s similar to stoner rock and stuff like that. But I would label it more as stoner punk. That’s a new genre for you.
The band’s artwork, lyrics, and even name seem to be reminiscent of early Black Sabbath.
Kyle: The lyrics on the new album are inspired by comic books. I’ve always been into that style of artwork—stuff like Swamp Thing, Jack Kirby, Mad magazine, Garbage Pail Kids. I’m an artist as well. That’s the stuff I grew up being obsessed with.
Is it ever intimidating to play in a band where you’ve got a guitar hero like J Mascis playing drums?
Kyle: I guess maybe at the very start it was, but I really don’t think about it at all. I know him. He’s just J to me.
Do you skate?
Kyle: I try to. I always have a skateboard. I ride around and ollie and shit—not much else. I’m really bad at jumping. Can I give a shout out to my local skate crew? It’s Loccos Only from Brattleboro, Vermont.
Dave: We’re all into skating. We’ve all snowboarded. You wouldn’t picture this band as a skateboard band, but sometimes it catches on with a certain group. J and I are the same age. When I was young that’s all I lived for—going to see hardcore bands, and skating to the show, and skating around afterwards. I’d love if that were a similar thing for Witch—people skating down to the shows and hanging out.