Interview with Jamie Gilchrist and Laura Donnelly | By Addison Herron-Wheeler
The world can be a dark, dark, place, and while the funeral doom bands who immortalize this darkness with their bleak lyrics and slow riffs can be cathartic, sometimes you just need rock ‘n’ roll. This is an attitude that Edinburgh, Scotland’s King Witch embrace wholeheartedly on their debut full-length, Under the Mountain, out Feb. 9 via Listenable Records.
“I was always into old-school heavy rock more than specifically doom, although bands like The Obsessed, Trouble, and Candlemass have definitely shaped the way I write music,” guitarist Jamie Gilchrist explains. “When we started King Witch, this just felt like the natural kind of music to write, and it ended up with a dark and heavy vibe.”
King Witch charge straight ahead with furious, doom-tinged heavy rock reminiscent of the classics. Yet, even though their sound is inspired by the roots of metal, they manage to avoid the easy clichés: beer-fueled throwback thrash and campy satanic power metal. Instead, their take on the genre is fresh and potent, with literary lyrics inspired by “Moby Dick” and vocals more reminiscent of Janis Joplin or Canned Heat than the thrash vocalists of yesteryear.
“I have always been a huge fan of ballsy, powerful vocalists such as Dio, Messiah, [Robert] Plant, Janis Joplin,” vocalist Laura Donnelly says. “I enjoy watching and listening to vocalists who can really express themselves, and I guess I try to adopt that in my own style. I’ve been on a bit of a [Scott] Wino binge recently by listening to Spirit Caravan and The Obsessed.”
Lyrically, Donnelly has described her themes as relating to “the beautiful and unfamiliar,” but both she and her lyrical and vocal stylings give one the sense that while Donnelly has an obsession with the strange, she greets it on familiar and friendly terms.
“I tend to write about the darker side of humanity or the strange and occult,” she explains. “I find human behavior really interesting, and I’m a massive fan of occult horror and anything out of the ordinary. I don’t think I focus on issues as such; I just write lyrics based on how the music makes me feel.”
Following up their 2015 debut EP, Shoulders of Giants, Under the Mountain is King Witch’s first real plunge into the depths of the metal world, their first full-length musical offering to the masses. They are thrilled to see the release come to life and get distributed.
“I’m really excited about getting it on a sweet limited-edition blue vinyl,” Donnelly gushes. “It looks awesome! I’m also really excited about Listenable Records taking us on and putting the album out. They’ve been really supportive throughout the whole process, which, to me, shows they actually care about the music.”
“I’m looking forward to getting to as wide an audience as possible,” Gilchrist adds. “I’d really like to tour as widely as possible and play places we’ve never been before. I hope the album goes down well. I think it’s an intense listen and am really proud of the sound we managed to get. I think the songs are strong.”
Look for King Witch’s debut record on Feb. 9 and more heavy rock goodness and announcements throughout the year.
Photo by Alan Swan Photography