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[INTERVIEW] Witchgrinder

“Well, I’m leaving that up to everyone else to come up with their own story as to who ‘they’ are,” teased vocalist/guitars/programmer for Melbourne’s Witchgrinder, Travis Everett, on their recent single ‘They Walk Among Us’. “When I first wrote the song and listened to the sound and creepiness of it – I can’t actually remember exactly the story – but I was thinking of the movies that I used to watch like Invasion of the Body Snatchers and stuff like that where there were loads of people walking among in them and you didn’t know who was who, but also when I started writing it I was thinking about just when people get paranoid, say you’re on a train or something like that and you think people are looking at you and you don’t know who they are or if you’re in trouble. I left the song open for people to make their own story out of it because I thought it would be more fun like that. All of the other stuff that I’ve written about horror movies and characters are pretty straight forward and straight into it but with this one I thought it would be fun for people to guess a little bit more. It’s also a single on its own. It’s not gonna be on an album or anything like that so it’s more a case of putting something out there to remind people that we’re around and writing. We’re working on an album at the moment but I wanted to put a song out that was a little bit different probably to what we’re gonna do on the album – or up to date with what we’re doing. Our new stuff is faster; a lot faster and different to this one so I kind of slowed it down and tried something a little bit different because I wanted to experiment a little bit but also give fans something while they waited.”
Witchgrinder’s previous two albums have both come out in two-year cycles in 2013 and 2015 respectively, so in keeping with that timeframe the next release should land sometime this year, but Everett apologises when he says this one will break that trend.
“It’s not out until next year,” he stammered. “We’re running a little bit late because I’ve worked hard on this album and I turn into a perfectionist when it comes to some of the stuff that I write, and this album is essential to me because it’s our third album, so I’m putting heaps more into it. Of course, I put a lot into the other ones too (laughs), but I am running behind schedule a little which is another reason we released the single just to let everyone know that it’s still going ahead.”
While still not finished, Everett has a fair idea of what direction the as yet untitled album will take.
“It leans a bit more towards the first album, The Demon Calling, rather than Haunted,” he offered. “It’s as fast as Haunted but a little bit rawer. I went back and looked at guitar tones that I used to use back even when we did the first E.P Through the Eyes of the Dead. All my ideas when I first started the band were maybe less on the Industrial side. It’s still going to have industrial sounds but maybe a little bit less. Our sound then was more thrashy sort of metal with an ’80’s thrash guitar tone and with the samples, I’m going back to a lot of voice samples that I’ve either got from really old horror movies that a lot of people won’t even know and samples that I make myself. I think on the last album we used a lot of synth and other things that were cool. There will be some of that, but the first album was a lot rawer. It will be a mix of both albums.”
With some bands doing the same sort of Industrial thrash/groove metal and horror rock kind of thing, Everett says he doesn’t put much thought into making Witchgrinder stand apart from the rest in a competitive sort of way but prefers to let the music and its direction dictate proceedings.
“It just happens,” he measured. “It’s not something that I think about that much because I’ve been writing for so long and making the Witchgrinder sound. We’ve got influences but we always seem to have our sound, and that just comes naturally. I don’t wanna copy anyone or do something that’s been done before, so when I write I have influences from some different bands, but I don’t focus on one particular genre. I won’t focus on a band that I love and try to do exactly what they’re doing and change little things here and there. I’m adding stuff from a bunch of bands that I love in nu metal, bands like Korn and Metallica and Slipknot, and throw that in the mix with bands like Rob Zombie and Rammstein which I’ve always done. I’ve also grown to know what Witchgrinder’s sound is now so I look back at my other stuff and think how can I better those songs so the main influence is now actually Witchgrinder. I want to write our kind of style but more interesting.’
After changing the way Haunted was written, Everett says with the new album he is taking back more control over the process in line with the E.P and first album. Not because he is dismissive of the way his bandmates approach the process, but more because he knows what he wants out of the music.
“The first album and E.P I wrote alone,” he reflected. “I’d been around the music scene but hadn’t released anything as big as I’ve done with Witchgrinder so to me that was a long time ago – nearly eight years. The Haunted album was written as a group with the band and myself so the guitarist would bring in his riffs, the drummer programmed heaps of stuff, and it was a collaborative thing. Now I have amazing players but I just wanna write, so the new stuff is back to being written by me again rather than a group effort. Everyone puts in a little bit with ideas but I’m the main songwriter again, and from eight years to now I’ve come a long way musically. I listen to a lot of different things now. I’ve been playing with and watching bands that we’ve toured with and seeing a lot of bands over that eight years, so those sorts of things will come into play as well.”
Although there are some bands doing a similar thing musically around the world, Everett feels the music put out by Witchgrinder maintains a level of freshness and individuality that sets them apart from their contemporaries.
“In Australia there’s no-one really doing what we’re doing,” he surmised. “There are a couple of bands who are bigger that stick to the same kind of style but with more of the American pop side or commercial side of things but we’re sticking to the more old style stuff that I’ve grown up with and that won’t die. When you think about thrash metal and bands like Korn and any of those bands they’re always going to stay relevant because there are so many kids growing up who are angry and going through stuff as teenagers. People need to remember that even though they may have grown out of the whole thing there’s still a bunch of kids out there that are angry and need to listen to music that’s fun for them and let some energy out so I really just try to make people feel… the way we stay relevant is I try to reach out to the kids that might feel like they’re a bit different or don’t fit in and I also focus a lot on what our fans would like because a lot of us don’t fit in. I never really fit into a certain genre of people myself. I always felt like an outcast like a lot of people do so I try to write music to help people forget about that and relax a little bit.”
written by Kris Peters

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