The Wytches talk to GIGsoup’s Aimee Robinson in this exclusive interview. Edited by Gavin Wells. Header photo by Keira Cullinane
The Wytches have just exited the stage after the first date of their UK tour, a sold out show at Leeds’ Headrow House, and the electric buzz their set has created is no where near dying down.
Storming onto the scene in 2011, by 2014 The Wytches had signed with London’s Heavenly Recordings and released their gritty “surf-doom” album ‘Annabel Dream Reader’ in August of that year: a noir pleasure from beginning to end.
Yet, despite their continuously growing fame, the Peterborough born bunch remain polite, down to Earth and humble, unaffected by the hype that is swarming around them.
“It’s hard to gage it actually, we wouldn’t say that we were really,” says guitarist Dan Rumsey, when asked about how they are handling their ever-expanding popularity within the alternative music scene. “We’re just plodding along.”
Despite their loud, thrashy and often anguish ridden sound, upon introduction the band themselves couldn’t have been further from that. Funny, polite and clearly a very intelligent bunch, spending time with these guys feels more like hanging out with your mates – whilst utilising any stage equipment available as seats. What makes the band even more special is just how apparent their passion for performing is. “It doesn’t mean that much to us [the fame],” says 22-year-old front man Kristian.
“It felt like this thing that existed to everyone else, but not us… Then after tonight’s show, it’s just really great that people enjoy it. People singing along and stuff.”
Yet the first date of their tour is not only a poignant one due to its popularity.
“Tonight was really special because we got our best buddy Mark on keys now. This was the first, official show where Mark played more songs with us,” explains Kristian, clearly chuffed to be joined back on stage by former, original member Mark Reed.
Although the band’s new music stays consistent with their sound: a hint of early 90s grunge and melodic adroitness, a more explorative use of organ has been added.
“The new album is going to be very organ orientated so there’s one guy to do it and that’s me,” says Mark.
Although it is not his main instrument, having previously been the band’s second guitar player, Mark is described as “a very good all rounder.”
Drummer Gianni Honey, who performed with Bell pre-Wytches in teenage band, The Crooked Canes, back in their hometown of Peterborough, a constant source of dark humour, ‘Harry Enfield’ quotes and general laughs throughout our interview, also joins the fellas.
This coming December will mark the 4 year anniversary of the band; when asked about its origins the room erupts into noise as each member tells his side of the story, a scene comparative to the American sitcom ‘How I Met Your Mother’, according to Gianni.
“You know in comedies where something has happened and everyone’s giving their side of the story and it’s kind of ridiculous – this is kind of like that,” seconds Kristian, before breaking down the “real” history.
“Me, Mark and Gianni jammed loads of songs and then Mark has a [clothing] company called Hoodbats, which he runs all by himself so he couldn’t move to Brighton.”
However, as unfortunate as Mark’s personal commitments were to the band, it also saw the arrival of Dan Rumsey – who found his way into the band via a hand drawn poster that looked “just like him”. Luckily, their artistic attempt at finding a new member certainly paid off, as Bell puts it simply, “We got Dan, we loved him.”
Like any other band, when origins are being discussed, early inspirations are key. ‘Led Zepplin’, ‘Misfits’ and even some reminiscent laughs about ‘AFI’ are all brought up, yet ‘Nirvana’ are the most important band named- mostly because of the constant media comparison to ‘The Wytches’ sound since they erupted onto the scene. “I have to agree with that,” Bell modestly admits.
“It’s drilled into your brain, everything that you listen to as a kid. And I think that’s quite sincere, ‘cause that’s my favourite band ever so I couldn’t help it really. It’s like gold for a kid,”-and, why not? As Reed rightly states, “There are so many bands that will copy ‘Nirvana’, but ‘The wytches’ are not doing that.” Indeed, this psych-grunge band are simply taking inspiration from their early lives and making it their own- it is clearly working.
Metaphorically speaking, the guys compare themselves to a “tacky restaurant” that does everything with “that waiter who is really passionate” about all of the various dishes that are served. “It’s not just like he is trying to make as much fucking money out of as many markets as he can,” Kristian enthuses, “he just loves all of those foods, so he wants to cook all of those different styles.”
“I think that a lot of it is the sonic sound between all of us playing,” he expands, “Which isn’t anything to do with inspiration. It’s literally the tones [we play]. It does sound like Nirvana, it sounds like The White Stripes, whatever, but I think it’s just like the sickly tones that we all use that makes it sound like what it is.”
However, their dark, doom, reinvented grunge sound isn’t the only thing that makes The Wytches distinct. Ask anyone who has been to a Wytches show, and it is clear that their on stage prowess is a big player in their success. From skulking on stage, a shadow of black hair and darkness, exploding into an anarchic chaos that engulfs the room: it’s clear that live performances are at the heart of this band.
Having just finished a tour with indie band The Cribs, who Bell says “were really kind to us” and “shredded it” every night, the band are looking forward to the rest of their personal tour dates. Mostly because, having recently left University, Gianni and Kristian are back living at home:
“It’s sincerely a really fun thing at the moment just because, being back in a village, it gets so boring. There is literally nothing to do, so to get away from it is pretty good.”
Alongside a tour, which after its first date seems certain to be the most insane to date, the guys have a new scope of creativity before them. Although, when asked about it, they put it simply: “music”, because at the end of the day, music is at the heart of the buzz that this band are creating.
‘Annabel Dream Reader’ and ‘Thunder Lizard’s Reprieve’ are out now via Heavenly Recordings.