Just over three years ago, Brighton based (via Peterborough) doom rockers The Wytches gifted the listening world debut album Anabel Dream Reader, a stellar effort overseen by ex Coral man Bill Ryder Jones, and one that expertly exhibited their thunderous riffs, hollering vocals and dark lyrical imagery.
What's followed has been a development not only in terms of personnel, but also in attitude and the overall sound of the band, who welcomed early contributor Mark Breed to join permanently ahead of the release of 2016 album All Your Happy Life. With additional firepower coming via another guitar, the Wytches have become an altogether more expansive outfit, with experimentation a clear part of their work, as well as an absolute obsession with the perfect guitar tones for each track.
The band's recent show at Victoria Warehouse for British Sound Project gave a glimpse of new music from the now four piece, and ahead of the band's show at All Years Leaving at Hare and Hounds in Birmingham, we caught up with singer and guitarist Kristian Bell to talk more about new tunes, Hallowe'en and drunk sound engineers.
Hi Kristian, what have you been up to today?
I've been putting down some guitar on a new song which will hopefully go out in a week or something like that, we'll just be putting it out online as a freebie so I've been doing some guitar in my garage for that.
Is that how you do a lot of your work?
The last couple of years, since our second album, everything we've put out has been DIY. We did a mini album and that was all in my garage, it means you can experiment a lot more and doesn't cost as much.
My set up isn't that professional so it means I can spend time on the actual sound and make sure the guitars are spot on. We play everything live and then overdub afterwards. We have got this hall in the village next to the one I live in and we just set up in there and then record all live and then go back to my garage and experiment for as long as we want. It's just an easier way to do it, I've been learning about it since A Level and i's just so much easier, if you want to go all night and get trippy with a song then you know that you can.
Is this all in Brighton then, or are you still based in Peterborough?
Our bass player and our drummer live in Brighton, I live in a place called Holme in literally the middle of nowhere and then Mark the other guitarist lives in the town opposite. I've been in and out of Brighton, and run out of money, then come back.
You played in Manchester very recently at British Sound Project, how was that for you?
Yeah it was good, we haven't played properly in a few months so I felt really old and got really tired [laughs]. I think we tried a new song and completely bombed it, which was the first track, so it wasn't the best start.
The new songs you are teasing, are they for the album?
No I doubt they will be, we're just going to put them out as they are. One of them is an older song that we've tried recording a few times and failed but since Mark has been in the band and added more guitar over it, it's come together again. There's two more, that are just sort of tracks that fit together as the three most recent recordings. We were going to release an EP at the beginning of the year, but we had to abandon it, a home recording thing, but we had to let it go, but we've learned a lot since then.
It seems to me that there is a My Bloody Valentine, Loveless kind of thing going on where you're extremely particular with the guitar tones?
Yeah, well there are so many nuances on that album and I can see why it would have taken ages. You can get a millisecond of your mix that sounds perfect but then will never be able to recreate it, so it can very frustrating and you can spend like five weeks trying to get back there and it can send you out of your mind. That's basically what happened to me, I was trying to mix it, master it, engineer it and I just gave up on it because that was never really our style so we dropped it.
With Hallowe'en around the corner it would be out of place for me to not talk about your obvious connections with this time of year, does that ever get tiresome?
Well the subject matter for a lot of our songs is quite dark and so is the general sound - some bands get seen as a bit of a novelty when they choose this kind of horror image. We like horror because of old horror, where it's purposefully bad acting and the old practical aspect of old horror films before CGI. There's an almost comedy to it, a light hearted nature, rather than two hours of someone being bludgeoned or whatever. Mark also has his Hoodbats clothing which is probably bigger than our band. That's horror themed but I'm totally cool with it, I think it's fun.
Do you try and tie Hallowe'en into your shows this time of year? What's the weirdest outfit you've ever seen at a show?
We did a show last October where we got people to dress up because we were shooting a music video. So everyone was jumping around and moshing, so when you have people dressed up doing that it means the footage is great. The best or weirdest I've seen is our mate Sam who didn't know what to go as and went through about three different costumes before he decided on the right one. He went with sunglasses then plasters all over his face and a lab coat and turned out really well, it was very weird.
I've been looking through your Facebook and picked up on Martin's Polaroids and my particular favourite is the sequence entitled 'Damien's drinking problem' - what's the story behind that?
If there's any one thing I want to plug during this interview it would be this. Damien was the lead character of a sketch me and Mark made, it's on YouTube actually, it's called Travis and Steve Studio act or something and I played a studio engineer called Damien who is basically an alcoholic and we made this sketch around it, his face is a weird mask turned inside out.
In the sketch he feels a bit disillusioned by everything and doesn't know what is going on, watching it explains what it's about. We tried to make a sequel about when it all gets out of hand, and that's what the photos are from. He tries to clean himself up and get a job - so check that out if you can.
All Years Leaving comes at the end of October - have you been involved before?
We did one, maybe 2015, we did with Kagoule at the same venue - I don't remember a lot, I think it's maybe Hallowe'en themed, it has a scary poster anyway.
Catch The Wytches at All Years Leaving on Saturday 21st October, alternatively you can watch Idles, Traams and more on Sunday 22nd October -