WITCH RIPPER: "Melding both of those styles, the classic anthem rock and progressive sludge metal, we’ve developed this sound which feels like our own"
With the recent release of their new album "The Flight After the Fall" and their great way of musical story-telling, melodic sludge band WITCH RIPPER have certainly hit a nerve in the metal-loving community, and already delivered one of this year's wonderful surprises for me (you can find my review here).
You're welcome to follow me to Seattle, where we stop for a chat with founding member, guitarist and main song-writer Curtis Parker. Read more here:
Hey, thanks for making time to answer my questions. How are you today?
Doing great, and thank you for the interview! We appreciate you helping show the album to people.
My great pleasure :-) Could you please introduce yourself and WITCH RIPPER to our readers?
Of course! WITCH RIPPER is a progressive sludge band from the land of rain and clouds, Seattle Washington. The fellas, Brian, Chad, Joe and myself are just a big bunch of blue collar nerds who like making fun prog music. I personally play guitar and do all the harsh vocals for the band.
You just released your marvelous, new record. How do you feel about it, and how was the reception so far?
Oh man, the reception has been overwhelmingly positive, which feels great. We really poured a lot of ourselves into this one, and then had to wait quite a bit for the record to actually come out. So for people to be enjoying it as much as they are feels fantastic!
It’s a funky progressive sludge album with hard sci-fi themes, so you never know if people are going to connect with the music. But they have really been receptive, and seem to get the real emotional themes that flow through the album.
That's awesome to hear, and well deserved :-) Let’s take a look at the stunning cover artwork. What can you tell us about its origins, and how does it reflect the album thematically?
The artwork was done by a wonderful artist named Chris Panatier. We wanted something visually striking and bright. Even our label was not quite sure about the art because it’s not in a typical metal or doom style, but we wanted something that stood out in the sea of albums, and Chris nailed it. He managed to capture the sci-fi and romance themes of the album in a way that was not cornball.
With “The Flight After the Fall”, you take your listeners on a crazy, epic space-trip. What inspired you to create this story?
Being fans of prog rock and metal, we knew we wanted to write a big concept album. Personally I love old school science fiction, and I think space themes have always fit our music well. The hard part was making it relatable to the listener, so we created this story about a scientist trying to save his partner to give the album an emotional center. Hidden in this adventure are themes of love, loss and acceptance that people hopefully can connect to.
Music-wise, the album comes along with sludge elements and sound, but also has a strong progressive approach in your song-writing and performance. What is your musical background, and where do see your main influences?
As the main song-writer I’ve had a history in progressive metal for a while now. When I lived in Minneapolis I played bass guitar in a progressive metal band, Iron Thrones, that was influenced by bands like Opeth and Cult of Luna. For WITCH RIPPER, I wanted to keep the music progressive, but bring in elements of classic rock and sludge metal.
Earlier in our career Mastodon and Neurosis were big influences. As we’ve grown we’ve really started being influenced by artists like David Bowie, Electric Light Orchestra and Queen. Melding both of those styles, the classic anthem rock and progressive sludge metal, we’ve developed this sound which feels like our own.
Could you briefly describe your writing and recording process, please?
We start by writing all the music, lyrics come later like icing on the cake. After the songs are written, we home record the entire album so that when we hit the expensive studio, we know exactly what we have to record and can see ahead of time what works and what doesn’t. After the music is mostly tracked, I start finding where I would like to add synths and extra textures.
Let’s make a little time-trip: When and how did you guys get together?
I started by writing and recording our self titled EP myself. When it came out I was able to find our drummer Joe Eck, and we started playing shows with a few other band members as well. Throughout the years we’ve let some people go and gained new band members. Having Brian Kim on bass as well as Chad Fox now on guitars and clean vocals has been amazing. It feels like a really solid group that is firing on all cylinders.
Indeed :-) How did you come up with your band’s name, and is there a story behind it?
I named the band when I recorded the EP. Over the years I’ve grown to hate it, haha. I feel like a lot of bands feel this way about their names after a while.
Its origins come from wanting to be different from my previous projects. I always loved the band name Electric Wizard and wanted something that felt similar. Later the giant doom boom happened, and 3000 bands with the name Witch goat bong cobra popped up, so it became a little cliche. At this point we've just accepted that this is what the band is called.
Let’s talk about Witch Ripper live: What was your most memorable show so far?
By far our most memorable show was playing as part of Knotfest when it came to Seattle. It was our first arena show ever, which was a mind blowing experience. We got to share the stage with Behemoth, Gojira and Slipknot, which was absolutely nuts, and played in front of a couple thousand people. Doing that was an experience that's hard to describe. When the energy of that many people comes together to fuel a band playing, it is magical. Overall it was a huge highlight of our musical careers.
Awesome! Seattle clearly has its place in music history, but how would you describe your local rock / metal scene at the moment? And did you notice changes over the past years?
The heavy music scene in Seattle is the best in the country. Every band in the city is fantastic. From death metal to psyche doom, every band crushes it, I can't stress that fact enough. Seattle is criminally ignored in the grand scheme of heavy music, but people should really check it out. The fans are also fantastic, and shows are always packed over here.
Sounds like a wonderful place for me :-) What can you tell us about your future plans?
We are about to head out on a west coast tour starting March 29th, details are on our social media. After that, we are planning some regional shows and would like to start playing more festivals! We also would like to start playing more support shows for bigger touring bands, and are hoping to do that in the future!
Before we wrap things up, do you have any further thoughts you’d like to share here?
We just want to say thank you to everyone who is checking out the album. We really appreciate the time, and it means the world to us that people are enjoying our music. Thank you for the interview, and were looking forward to playing this album for everyone!
You're most welcome :-) Thanks for these insights into your work, and all the best for you and your musical plans \m/