Dead Witches

I was lucky enough to meet and interview the entire headlining band, Dead Witches at the Heavy Psych Sounds Fest. It was great to meet them and hear all about the inspirations behind their latest album, “The Last Exorcism”, released in February 2019. This was the band’s second album, but the first with the new line-up featuring their new vocalist Soozi Chameleone and Oliver Hill (Grave Lines, Sea Bastard, ex-End the Agony) on guitars. It was an absolute pleasure to meet the Dead Witches gang, and see how they have solidified as a band through writing their latest album together. The new lineup has brought many new dynamic assets to the band, and really progressed their music. But I’m very glad to hear they’re still committed to the original Dead Witches concepts and sound. Looking forward to hearing what they come up with next, and hopefully catch them at one of the festivals!
Dead Witches band pic
So, to kick off with, where did the bad name DeadWitches come from?
Mark: I’ve always been interested in dead things! I’ve always been fascinated by death, and afraid of death. So, I like the word dead! I was trying to decide what word would go well with it. And obviously I’m big fan of Halloween and Witches. It just came to me, and I thought it sounded cool. And checked there were no other bands with the name of course!
What drew you to the dark side, of Occultism and Satanism?
Soozi: Again that was inspired by Mark’s love of Occultism.
Carl: We’re all into horror, and it’s always been a big part of our lives.
Soozi: I wasn’t as passionately into it before, but since joining the band I have been digging into Occultism and concepts more when writing lyrics. For example, I have been looking into fear, what drives fear, and what instills fear in human beings. This then grew organically into the concept album, based around the central idea of this one last exorcism.
Mark: I would have an idea for what I would want to call a song, or what I want to base the song about. Which I would give to Soozi to write lyrics for.
Oliver: “It was a bit of a concept album about Demonic Possession.
So you’re a new band, having just released your second album, The Last Exorcism”. What are your expectations and aspirations for the band?
Mark: We want to get back to recording, maybe do some more gigs and tours. I would love to play more festivals; I really enjoy it as the atmosphere is great. So, basically, just to keep on going! Keep on writing new music, and see what opportunities come up! Keep on doing what we’re doing, and have fun.
I hear this is the first album to feature the band’s solidified lineup with Greening, Soozi, Oliver and Carl Geary. Do you feel this is the best lineup to date?
Mark: I think we have progressed a lot, and this was the first time we had all written together. I don’t thinks that the formula and the idea of Dead Witches has changed, we have progressed and got a lot better as a band, because of line-up changes. But the idea, formula and sound have remained the same.
Carl: The album came together in a very short amount of time. We started writing it came out very quickly.
Where did the inspiration for the album title “The Final Exorcism” come from?
Mark: I like to have a concept for an album, and I wanted this one to be based around exorcisms and possession, as I’ve always been obsessed by it. The idea just came to me, and it sat right with everything else, and everyone else really dug it. Everything just fell into place.
How do you feel the new album differs from your first album?
Carl: It definitely sounds a bit different, given that the lineup has changed, you will naturally get a different sound. Ollie’s a fantastic guitar player, and Soozi’s vocals are absolutely brilliant. I agree with Mark that the concept is still the same, but it’s changed the shape; I feel it has got a lot stronger, and a lot heavier. I think it’s a really good change, it’s been great progress, and I’m excited going forward.
Oliver: One of biggest changes I noticed is the increased dynamics, which is largely down to Soozi’s dynamics vocal work.
What lessons had you learned from your first album that you wanted to change this time?
Mark: I don’t think we tried to change the formula, but we have definitely progressed as a band with the line-up change. We also spent a lot longer writing this album, as our first one was quite rushed to get it out. So, for this album, a lot more thought went into it.
What have your fans reactions been to the new album, especially when you’ve been playing them live?
Carl: We have had a lot of people saying to us online that they’ve really enjoyed what they have heard.
Soozi: We’ve had so many positive reactions actually, it’s been great!”
Carl: We’ve had a few shows recently, but it’s been building up to this one, so we will have to see what people say afterwards!
I’d love to know for each of you, what’s your favourite song on the new album?
Mark: Ooh that’s really difficult, but I like it!
Carl: I love all the songs on the album, but the most absurdly over the top track is the last one on the album, “Fear the Priest”. I wrote that one after not having slept the night before, after having played a gig, then gone to watch Ministry. Afterwards I sat down to write the song in the worst possible state, and just came up with the most bizarre riffs! For me “Fear the Priest” is very elaborate and very dark, with a good riff rhythm”
Soozi: I’m stuck between “Fear the Priest” for similar reasons, and “The Final Exorcism”. I love how fragmented “Fear the Priest” is and it has lots going on. I remember when we wrote “The Final Exorcism”, it was the penultimate song we wrote. Afterwards we all just turned to each other and went “woah, this is incredible!” it was that final moment when everything had come together.
Oliver: I don’t want to repeat a lot of what has been said already! I would have originally said the same thing; I think the title track is a really strong song and a great way to open the album. For a fresh perspective, “Lay the Demon” is also really good, I love the opening riff.
Soozi: They each have their own personality.
Mark: All of them!
Elle (me): Nope, you can only pick one! (and we all laugh!)
Mark: “The hidden track! (he jokes – followed by more laughter). I’m just kidding, there isn’t one! I think my favourite track would have to be “The Final Exorcism”, but they all have their place so it’s hard to pick one!
You’ve worked with Doug Shearer (Electric Wizard) for the album’s engineering & mastering and with John Stephens for the recordings. Both of them are known to the band’s drummer from Electric Wizard. What has changed to the new album’s sound working with Doug and John?
Mark: Of course it did affect things, but we had a clear concept for the sound we wanted, and knew Doug and John would help us create it.
Carl: We went to great lengths to find Doug, especially Mark. And Doug was so lovely, it was a great journey hearing it go from on tape to actually there.
Mark: He managed to capture our live sound really well, there’s no computer trickery, and it came out how we sound live! Everything just came together.
My final question to finish on is what can your fans expect from Dead Witches in the future?
Mark: We want to start writing new songs for the third album. I’d love to play at more festivals and gigs, and just have fun really! We want to see how the reaction is to the new album and see where it leads us.
Carl: We also have a tour coming up in Ireland in April, which we’re really looking forward to!