This week, we’re featuring the upstate New York stoner/doom trio Witchkiss in Meet The Band. Their debut album is The Austere Curtains Of Our Eyes. Vocalist/guitarist Scott Prater, drummer/vocalist Amber Burns and bassist Anthony DiBiasi introduce us to their band.
Chad Bowar: Give us a brief history of Witchkiss.
Scott Prater: I was jamming with a drummer but it wasn’t flowing, it just wasn’t working out. Amber mentioned to me that she always wanted to play drums, so for her birthday I took her to a rehearsal space to let her try it out. We actually wrote a couple parts that first night. The following week she bought a drum set and we started jamming a lot. Shortly after we placed an ad on Craigslist looking for a bassist. Anthony responded and after that first session with him we knew we were complete. That was just over a year ago now.
Describe the songwriting and recording process for The Austere Curtains Of Our Eyes.
Amber Burns: Scott would write and record a lot of riffs. We would jam on them at rehearsal three times a week as a band. We would do a lot of practice recordings and I would take them home and write and record lyrics to them late at night while sitting in my car. That was pretty much how we wrote “Blind Faith,” “Seer” and “Spirits of the Dirt.” As for “Death Knell,” “A Crippling Wind” and “A Harrowing Solace,” we improvised those during the actual recording session. The first title of “A Crippling Wind” was “The Imp.”
How would you characterize its style/sound?
Scott: A heavy flow of pure and uncomfortable raw emotions.
What lyrical topics do you cover?
Amber: Honestly, we like to leave it up to the listener’s interpretation. Like watching a movie and forming your own opinion on it, paying no mind to the rotten tomatoes rating. But yeah really, a heavy flow of pure and uncomfortable raw emotions.
How did you come to sign with Argonauta Records?
Scott: A good friend of ours, Matt Bacon suggested sending it to Gero at Argonauta. He thought that we would be a perfect fit for each other. Gero thought so, too.
What has been your most memorable Witchkiss live show?
Amber: All of our shows are memorable. Every show is a learning opportunity and we get to meet lots of really interesting people. But if I had to pick one, it would be playing with one of our favorite bands, Subrosa.
What are your upcoming show/tour plans?
Scott: We have a bunch of regional shows this summer, a three day stint with our buddies Backwoods Payback 7/21-7/23. We are playing with Spirit Adrift in Baltimore on 7/29, we are playing a fest with Murphy’s Law on 8/18, we are doing a tour with our label mates Hollow Leg at the beginning of October and a short Northeast run at the end of October.
How did you get started in music?
Amber: I was in elementary band but my band teacher wouldn’t let girls play the drums! I had to suffer through playing the clarinet!
Scott: I was given my great grandfather’s acoustic guitar as a kid. I didn’t know how to tune it for a long time but that didn’t stop me. As a teenager I heard Nirvana and that was it for me. I got an electric guitar and started writing songs and recording them with an old Panasonic tape recorder. I still have most of those tapes. I was also a drummer too, though. I bought a vintage Pearl kit from a garage sale and used to play in my bedroom. I wish I still had that kit.
Anthony DiBiasi: At an early age I had a love for any type of instrument really, but as I got older I knew that strings were it for me.
Who were your early influences and inspirations?
Amber: Blondie, Danzig, Bad Brains and Fugazi.
Scott: Nirvana, Pantera, Obituary and Nine Inch Nails.
Anthony: My early influences come from my mother, listening to tracks from the ’50s and ’60s, Jimi Hendrix and then I found bands like Metallica, Slayer and AC/DC.
What was the first metal concert you attended?
Scott: My uncle took me to see Dream Theater when I was 13. That was pretty life changing for me. That was actually my first concert. I got to meet the band because my uncle was the promoter at the club. I remember Mike Portnoy’s kit, I feel like it took up half the stage!
Amber: It’s not a metal concert but definitely worth mentioning that my first concert was seeing Stevie Nicks when I was 11. There were ladies in the crowd with ferrets on leashes.
Anthony: Tattoo the Earth at Giants stadium with Metallica, Slayer, Slipknot and Sepultura.
How’s the metal scene in upstate New York?
Scott: There’s really not much of a scene, but there are a few other bands that we are friends with that actively play live. We are trying to keep it alive.
Seen any good movies/DVDs lately?
Amber/Scott – We just watched Blockers. We laughed our asses off. John Cena butt chugging!?
Anthony: Straight Outta Compton far surpassed my expectations.
What’s currently in your heavy musical rotation?
Amber: Cult of Luna – Mariner, Whores – Gold, YOB – Our Raw Heart, Subrosa – every album.
Scott: YOB – Our Raw Heart, YOB – The Great Cessation, VRSA – Cult Of Machina, Electric Wizard – Wizard Bloody Wizard, The Carters – Everything is Love.
Anthony: YOB – Our Raw Heart, Insect Ark – Marrow Hymns, The Armed – Only Love, NIN – Bad Witch.
Anything else you’d like to mention or promote?
Scott: By the time you read this our album will be out. You can get it from Argonauta or directly from us at one of our shows or on our Bandcamp. We have lots of merch too, so come see us live and say hello!
(interview published July 21, 2018)