Just promoting really, and doing interviews like this one. Witchclan is obviously not a touring band so that's what makes it different really. Any normal band would be touring at this point but for me, apart from the promoting, this time is pretty much all reflection time. When an new album is released, you get to hear all the comments from other people and different non-biased reviews all with something different to say. I spent months listening to the new album when it was being mixed and produced so I've heard it hundreds of times already and to be able to have fresh ears listen to it and hear it in a totally new and different light to the one I was hearing is a great thing and long overdue.
2.Recently you have released a new album, how would you describe the musical sound that is presented on the recording and also how does it differ from the stuff you have released in the past?
The music contained on the new album, for all intensive purposes, is Black Metal. However, it does go deeper than that really - from a song writers perspective anyway. I'm influenced by a lot of different stuff - from 80's thrash metal, doom metal, death metal, traditional heavy metal, punk and of course black metal. I think that a lot of those genres and styles can be heard across the whole album, it all blends together to make what I like to call Bestial Hell Metal. As for how it differs from the last album, I suppose you can just say it's a natural progression and improved song writing. The general feel of the new album 'The Dark Binding' is as dark, if not darker than the last one and I feel that it reeks of atmosphere, more so than 'Misanthropist'.
3.Your lyrics over the years have covered Satanism, Necronomicon, occultism and Anti Religion topics, can you tell us a little bit more about your interest in these topics?
I've always been very interested in the Occult. It's a fascinating subject, and one that excites and feeds the imagination. The majority of the lyrics on the new album are occult based, although a couple of them are just generally anti-religious. I do strongly dislike religion. It's the root of all evil and is the reason that the world is in such a bad state. I cannot believe that in 2014, the majority of the human race are still worshiping false gods, and limiting themselves physically and mentally. Religion controls you - and religion is controlled by the governments. So your government is controlling you and telling you how to live your life. All my lyrics are saying is to fight back and take control of your own life.
4.The band is considered one of the first second wave black metal groups in the United Kingdom, do you feel that you have been a huge influence on some of the later bands that have came out of the country?
Witchclan IS the first. The band formed in 1990, and the only other bands who came afterwards was Dead Christ in 1991, and then Thus Defiled and Xaztur in 1992. Witchclan was the first, although I didn't actually join the band until 1993. As for being an influence, I really wouldn't know. Back in the early 90's the band was relatively unknown and to be fair, still is. It's all about having an underground following as far as I'm concerned. I have my dedicated fan base, and I'm happy with that. I'm just making the music I want to make, if other people like it and if bands get influenced then that's cool but that's not why I do Witchclan.
5.The band was broken up for a long time, what was the cause of the split and also the decision to reform the project?
Yes, the band split up half way through 1995. The reasons behind it aren't very exciting I'm afraid. It's the same old story - musical differences and dedication issues. We were all very young at the time, so some of us took it more seriously than others and certain members were more into other genres and so ultimately, Witchclan had to split up and go separate ways. One of the guitarists and I practiced with a couple of different drummers but nothing worked out so in the Summer of '95 we called it quits. Witchclan stayed dead and buried for 17 years until I resurrected it in 2009 as a solo project. At this point, I was ready to do something in the music industry again but I was indecisive over what the band should be and what name it should have so it was my wife who suggested that I reform Witchclan - the rest, as they say - is history.
6.The band in the beginning went through a lot of name changes, what was the cause of that and also what is the meaning and inspiration behind the name 'Witchclan'?
The name changes all happened between 1990 and 1992. It started out as Crypt, then changed to Curse and then finally to Hellgrind before they settled on Witchclan in 1992. There was a demo recorded under the name Hellgrind but I've never personally heard it.
The name Witchclan stems back to Newcastle, UK in 1992. The founding members Peter Leathley and Sharad Anand were at school at the time and there was a group of skank girls who looked like witches and were known as the clan. They both hated them so they decided to call the band Witchclan as a way to poke fun at them. The name of course also represents a group of witches.
7.Currently the band is a solo project, are you open to working with a full band again in the future or do you chose to remain solo?
I will never work with a full band again. It was very hard with other people in the band. There were times where someone wouldn't turn up to rehearsal - and if that was the drummer for example, that would obviously prove to be most unsatisfactory when you're trying to practice songs. There was also, as I mentioned before, the matter of other members having different musical inputs and not agreeing with the direction of the band, and so on.
Being a solo project suits me perfectly. I get to do things at my own pace, there's nobody to argue with or have musical disagreements with. I get to have 100% creativity and do exactly as I please, so the end product is entirely my creation. I like it this way. I am a complete control freak and if things aren't going the exact way I want them to go then things can get fucked up.
8.When you had a full line up did Witchclan ever do any shows, if so how would you describe the stage performance and also what where some of the best shows that you have played?
No. We never played live. To begin with, when I joined the band in 1993 it was already difficult to rehearse because I lived on the south coast of England and they lived right in the middle of the country so even travelling there would have taken hours. They recorded the music in Newcastle and then I added the vocals here in East Sussex. It was a strange set up but it worked nicely for about a year and a half until they left the band.
The replacements I found were local, but we only ever rehearsed. I guess at the time I didn't think we were good enough to play live. We were all very young and really not completely competent with our instruments. The two demos recorded during 1993 are very messy - and then there was an unreleased demo from 1995 which was recorded on a 4-track but the guy we borrowed it off only gave us about 30 mins to record everything so there were so many mistakes and it sounded terrible. Playing live just wasn't really an option at that time, and nowadays of course it could never happen being that I'm the only member and I would never want to use session musicians.
9.The new album was released on Elvester Records, how would you describe the support they have given you so far?
Elvester Records have released it on vinyl and CD, I have also stayed with Darkness Shade Records who have released it on tape as well. Elvester have been absolutely fantastic. The label is run by Erik Epperson who plays in the U.S black metal band Locust Fork. He's been extremely supportive from start to finish and also very patient. I'm a father of two, and I also hold down a full time job which I travel two hours per day to get to so all those factors mean that I can be slow at responding to things the label have asked me to do such as sending out promos and so on. So Erik has been very understanding and patient with me which has really helped out. He also co-produced the album so all in all, he's put a massive amount of time into this record, not to mention a massive investment.
Paul from Darkness Shade Records has also been very cool. I've been signed with Paul since he released the last album Misanthropist back in 2011 and he's always been very supportive and always met the needs of the band.
10.Over the years how has the feedback been to your music by fans of black metal?
Very favorable. You get crap reviews, you get great reviews - it's all just opinions and on the grand scale of things, opinions are just people's personal thoughts that they choose to share so I don't really take it all that seriously because what one person thinks is amazing, the next person might think it's crap. I'd say about 90% of the reviews I've seen have been very good - the other 10% not so great. But, and I've always said this - I make music that I would like to listen to, the way I want to make it. I try to create albums that I personally would want to own and if other people also like it then that's just an added bonus. I love music, I love creating it - so if I get some praise for doing what I enjoy doing then that's okay with me.
11.This is the first album to be released in 3 years, can you give us an update on what was going on during that time frame?
Just working with my other band Deadman's Blood, and a lot was going on in my personal life too. My daughter was born in 2012 and then earlier this year my son was born. I recorded and released 'Product of a Deranged Mind' by Deadman's Blood between this time so you can see I haven't been slacking, I'm always busy with something. I'm currently on a break from writing though, at the moment I'm just promoting for Witchclan, doing interviews and stuff so I will most likely begin recording the new Deadman's Blood material in Spring of 2015.
12.What is going on with your death metal project 'Deadman's Blood' these days?
I work by bands on a rota - I work on one new release for one band and then get that released, then I have a break of a few months and then get onto recording the next release for the other band. I recorded and released 'Product of a Deranged Mind' back in 2012 which went down with people really well and is completely sold out now. I'll be beginning writing and recording the first full-length for the band next year but I would like to get it released on a label rather than self-funding it, which I find to be a real pain in the ass. I'd much rather get it out through a label and relieve some of the stress and pressure from me. We'll see what happens, I am still yet to record it so I'm jumping the gun a bit at this stage.
13.Where do you see yourself heading in the future, musically?
Well Witchclan and Deadman's Blood are both here to stay, there's no doubt about that. I have no desire to change the framework for either of those two projects, so they will always be extreme metal bands. I would however, like very much to venture into more experimental genres with some kind of new project. It's all just thoughts in my head at the moment but I listen to lots of different styles of music, and in order to keep my current bands pure to what they're meant to be, I need another outlet so that nothing else bleeds into those bands, even on a subconsciously influential level. It's important to me that Deadman's Blood is always 100% rotten old death metal and that Witchclan is always black metal, so another project might have to creep in at some point.
14.What are some of the bands or musical styles that have had an influence on your newer music and also what are you listening to nowadays?
Well in the very early days of the band it was a very 80's influenced sound. Imagine Slayer met up with Possessed and got drunk. Then on the way home they ran into Bathory, took some acid and ended up back at Venom's house and all had a jam together. So it was a mixture of those bands, but not played very well.
These days, there are so many bands who have an influence but I suppose the main ones that I owe it to would be Bathory, Burzum, Darkthone and Darkened Nocturn Slaughtercult.
As for what I'm listening to at the moment. Well each week is different for me. I have the privilege of being able to listen to music all day long at work so I tend to get about 7 hours of music per day usually. I have ripped about 50% of my music collection to MP3 so this is what I listen to at work - then when I'm at home it's the vinyl and tapes which come out. Over the past couple of weeks, my listening has been pretty varied - Intense Degree, Electro Hippies, Pentagram, Beastcraft, G.G.F.H, Godflesh, Scorn. To be honest, it's been a very mixed bunch as you can see.
15.What are some of your non musical interests?
I love film. I watch several films a week and I try to get out to the pictures with my wife as often as we can. Horror movies are mainly my bag, although I do like Sci-fi and Action Thriller stuff too. So I collect movies, mainly on VHS - and mainly stuff from the 70's and 80's which were my favorite eras. I also collect other stuff like skateboards, stickers and all sorts of weird and wonderful things so I'm always kept busy hunting things down.
As I've mentioned, I'm a husband and I'm a father of two, so most of my spare time is spent with them. My family life is very important to me and if the music all went away tomorrow I would still have my wife and kids so I'd be alright!
16.Before we wrap up this interview, do you have any final words or thoughts?
Firstly, thanks to you for this cool interview and thanks to all the people who have so far bought the new album. If you haven't bought it and would like to know more about me and my bands, please go to the following websites -
If you're interested in buying the new album, check out the following links to the record labels -
Buy vinyl, tapes and CD's! Support the underground!