Interview by Ridge Briel
Photos by Alan Ralph
Despite touring full time in 2012, you guys are already working on a new album. At this point in time, is there anything you can tell us about the new album?
Scott Hedrick: We’re recording with Kurt Ballou at GodCity Studios in April and are shooting for a Sept/October release. We’re most of the way through the writing process at this point. In addition to the usual ripping and tearing that you’d expect from Skeletonwitch, there is a lot of melody and more open rock parts. Definitely a healthy dose of black metal rock.
Kurt Ballou (Converge, Code Orange Kids, Gaza) has an impressive resume. What compelled to record with him as compared to past producers like Jack Endino (Nirvana, 3 Inches Of Blood, Cat Butt)?
Scott: We like to mix things up. We’ve never recorded with the same producer/engineer twice. It keeps us from getting complacent and making records that are sonically the same. We’ve wanted to work with Kurt for quite some time, but he’s a busy man and our timing never worked out until this album.
Do you feel that it will differ vastly from Forever Abomination or will it more or less continue that album’s legacy of thrash-fueled aggression?
Nate: It definitely will not be vastly different. It has gotten a little blacker in some respects. Also, the music has “opened up” a lil bit. Scotty has written a few complete songs this time around. It’s a very musical album but doesn’t lack intensity. Everything is still in the demo stage so vocals and bass and live drumming will definitely breathe more life into them. It sounds like Skeletonwitch, which is always a good thing.
When it comes down to writing, describe how a song typically comes into conception from the Witch’s womb.
Nate: Most of the time it starts with a drum machine and a guitar. I usually just start by programming a drum pattern or an intro style fill and just go from there. It’s always been easier for me to write riffs over top of a drumbeat. After a good beginning is established I try to write a complimentary second guitar riff to go along with it and basically repeat that process until the song is basically complete. Which is usually in the 2:30 to 3:00 minute range. (Laughs)
Scott: Like Nate, I work alone with a drum machine. In the past I sent Nate ideas, riffs, and various parts. This time around I made it a point to work on my composition and turn my ideas into full songs instead of snippets. Of course Nate helped me greatly with arranging it. I would say this is the closest Nate and I have worked together since the Permafrost days. Now the joke between us is that it’s going to be my fault if the album tanks! (Laughs) Once the basic composition is done Nate sends the demo tracks to everyone and they all come up with ideas for improving/changing it, as well as writing their own parts. Then when we get together and rehearse there is usually another round of changes and shaping the song to get it into “studio ready” form.
So what was it like adhering to the intense demand of the latest headline tour, of which you played 63 out of 65 days? What was the first drink you had after the tour was over?
Nate: It really wasn’t that bad. I have definitely done shorter tours that were harder on us than this monster was. The drives were generally short, so we got decent sleep every night. We had a few breakdowns, and Dustin got strep throat, but we powered through! It was a really cool tour and I would do it again in a heartbeat. I always have a celebratory beer and probably a diet Mt Dew.
Are you planning on touring on the same level as the past few years after the new album is recorded or will it be slightly more spaced out?
Nate: I think the plan is just as it’s always been. Tour as much as makes sense. We are looking to get to a few new places like Japan and Australia. We are planning some cool tours for before the album comes out and after. The busier the better I think.
What is some wisdom you can bestow upon younger bands who are yearning for the tour life?
Nate: I’d say yearn no more. Make it a reality. We booked our own tours for the first several years and that’s a big part of why Prosthetic noticed us. We weren’t afraid to work. Don’t wait to get signed to tour. Get in the van and fucking give’r. And being good doesn’t hurt either. (Laughs)
Out of all the tours you’ve done over the years, what was your favorite/most insane so far?
Scott: That’s a really tough question to answer. We’ve had some amazing opportunities and we’ve enjoyed different tours for different reasons. If I were forced to choose I’d have to go with Danzig. It was the first big tour that we ever did. We learned a lot, had a blast, and Glenn really treated us well. Hanging out with Glenn Danzig is not something you easily forget!