Interview: Witchseeker – Singaporean Speed Metal Mania

Interview with Sheikh Spitfire, bass player and vocalist of Witchseeker

Singapore—the island utopia. This multicultural country, known for the merlion, gardens by the bay and scorching temperatures, is also home to some equally scorching bands. While grindcore is the most well known musical export from Singapore, there are bands who match the heat of the 80s. We talk to speed metal band Witchseeker, who have brought the tight leather and long nights of the decade back to the island.

The ’80s is alive again! What is it about this time period that inspires so much bad-ass content?
You said it first; it’s simply bad ass. Music from the past, especially in the ’80s, was more diverse and honest, I would say. And also, it’s just timeless. I can understand that music fans also enjoy music of the ’80s is because of the nostalgia factor. Compared to the music where it is out there now, where it is just too much electronica, overproduced or having horrible content.

Singapore is known for grindcore, but not a lot of ’80s-inspired artists. What led to the decision to perform speed metal?
Playing speed metal came to me naturally because I’ve been listening to this type of music all my life and during my formative years, when I was attending local shows, there weren’t many traditional heavy metal bands in Singapore. The bands here were simply trying to see who was more brutal than the other. It was just not for me. So, that became the main factor for me to form my own speed metal band and to play the music I love.

Let’s talk about the witch theme. What is the basis for this?
There isn’t much of a theme, honestly. When I form the band, I was just penning out ideas for a band name that will just stick out. Plus, I am a huge fan of the band Sodom. And I admire the drum work of the late Chris Witchhunter (RIP). So, his stage name kinda caught my attention and I just played along with words changing from hunter to seeker. So yeah, that is how the band name was formed.

What type of crowds do you notice come to Witchseeker shows? Are they different from fans who come to shows of other metal genres?
I would say we have a diverse kind of crowds. You would see those thrashers, extreme metal, punks, hardcore and sometimes mainstream folks coming to our shows. I’d say we got quite a unique following.

I’d like to ask about that Devouror show. Malaysia has a problem with black metal, but what about your style?
Oh, this show. It became a problem ever since that saga when Watain tried to perform here in Singapore but got stopped by the authorities at the very last hour before the show happened, when some right-wing Christian activist kind of knew about the show and brought it to the authorities. Because of this Malaysia authorities also took notice and extreme metal bands there got some heat.

We were supposed to play with Devouror with a few of our local friends here in Singapore, but again, the show got stopped because of that Watain incident initially. I would say both Singapore and Malaysia are still very conservative. But for our style, it is still alright, just that most of the time we need to go through some screening with our background and lyrics to see if it contains any hate or satanic speech, profanities and such.

What guidance do you give artist Mario Lopez for your album art?
With Mario it was pretty simple. I just threw the album title to Mario and gave him some artwork examples for reference. And then he will draft out a sketch and I will input in some ideas and there and he’ll start working with the painting about two months or so. And it turned out fatalistic. Mario has never failed to blow my mind with his artwork.

How was the experience opening for Exciter?
Man, for this, it’s like something I thought that would have never happened. Exciter are like one of my favorite bands and one of the few that became the gateway for my interest in the whole speed metal thing. The guys were cool and down-to-earth; we hung out and all. It still amazed me that now I’m friends on Facebook with them.

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