Witchthroat Serpent interview with Niko Lass
Sanguis draconis is a thick, blood-red resin extracted from exotic trees. Since the dawn of time it has been used in medicine, crafts and of course… magic.
Witchthroat Serpent are ready for the upcoming European tour and today they’re releasing new 7” EP “Striped Dragon” on Svart Records.
Psychedelics, shamanism and DOOM!
Witchthroat Serpent so far released two albums. Latest being Sang-Dragon. What’s the story behind it?
Well, nice question. Sang-Dragon
was a name we came up with in Barcelona where we were waiting to play our worst gig ever. At this moment we talking on the terrace of a bar near the Mediterranean Sea, drinking the most expensive beer we’d ever bought (no beer was provided by the concert promoter) and the idea to name our new album after the incense we use on stage appeared to us as obvious. Sang-Dragon incense is a really special resin, surrounded by mysticism and magic, so we always like to use it during our shows with a special mix of herbs… Red Dragon needs company to be well-catalyzed.
What do you consider to be your first real exposure to music?
The three of us started to play music as teenagers, playing various kinds of music like noise, grunge, black metal or grindcore. Each of us took our own way to learn music and finally crossed paths while forming Witchthroat Serpent. We already knew each other before. Lo and I played in Artemisia Absinthium and Fredrik and I played in Habsyll.
What triggered you to decide to form your own trio?
We decided to form WS after Habsyll was on standby. For health reasons the Habsyll guitarist couldn’t play anymore so Fredrik asked me if I wanted to form a new doom band. After some discussions and reflection we decided upon the band name and musical direction and we asked Lo if he wanted to join us to finalize the line-up of WS. After some rehearsals we were satisfied with the result and started to record the first album in our home studio.
How would you compare your debut release with Sang-Dragon? Your latest album sounds way more “mature” and the ideas behind it are more developed.
Like I said before our first album was recorded entirely by ourselves in our home studio. As we are not sound engineers we tried our best to give life to what we had in mind at this moment with our rudimentary equipment. It was a great experience recording live in our rehearsal room but of course we were limited technically, and that’s the big difference with the recording of the second opus. After playing a bunch of concerts our musical skills improved, our sound was better shaped and we entered a professional studio (Drudenhaus) where we met Benoît, the perfect guy in the perfect place to record Sang-Dragon. We didn’t forget to add a challenge because we recorded it live in one day, then added guitars, vocals and organ over the following 2 days and then mixed it for a total of 6 days in the studio. We are really satisfied with the result, one step further for the band, our third full-length will be recorded for sure at same place under the same conditions, all fitting perfectly with our will.
In your interview with Outlaws of the Sun you said that you’re influenced by shamanism and sorcery. Could you explain in-depth what the concept behind Witchthroat Serpent is and what inspired you to create this particular kind of music?
We are interested in the spiritual, human beings and all the invisible things around us. It’s a part of our lives and we always refer to it when writing lyrics or music. While playing live we seek a trance-state and the letting go experience, the moment when the vibes surround you, your brain empties and fills with the energies around, allowing you to feel the magic which rises from music. In our personal lives we practice and experiment with all kinds of stuff related to magic and alchemy, from growing plants to transforming them or using them to learn more about ourselves or playing music in a meditative way, all of this is part of WS experience. The tempo used in our songs is like a crawling serpent, slow and ravenous, it helps us to reach this special shamanic trance we are seeking. This kind of music is just perfect for experiencing the mystic, and our concerts are to share this with the audience. When everyone is connected by the Red Dragon everything seems possible!
Socotra dragon tree is your sacred incense from which you gave the name of your second album. Since you’re so much into rituals and shamanism, do you actually use psychedelics and if so, can you explain what kind of effects they have regarding your music and particular what you like to use?
Yes we use psychedelics on special occasions, in special places for a special purpose. Psychedelics are not recreational for us. The last one I took was DMT, a great journey into personal energy, really enjoyable and fucking intense! A text is about to be written dealing with this experience. My personal favourite are magic mushrooms–always a great experience for the senses and mind, an incomparable feeling with music, colours and most generally the sounds around you. Before and during our gig we like to drink spiritual brandy, a great way to reach the perfect state of mind to make our music catchy and heavy or even dreamy in some parts.
What is the song writing process for the band?
Fredrik writes and records the guitar parts and then we practice the songs during rehearsals, making arrangements and grooves until we are satisfied. Lyrics are written by Fredrik and me, most of the time before the music, and then we can choose which lyrics fit best with the music. All this process is pretty quick, we don’t rehearse a lot (around 3 hours per month) and with our experience we can feel quickly which song is good or not, no random writing. Do you have any upcoming plans for a new album? How about touring? Where can we catch you?
Right now we are practicing songs for our third full-length. All the songs are almost written, we are setting them up during rehearsal and thinking about the arrangements. We plan to record them in early 2018 and release the album thereafter. On June, 2017 we will release on Svart Records a new single called Stripped Dragon on a 7’’EP format. Two exclusive new tracks coming from the Sang-Dragon recording session. Then we will hit the stage with the Rising Sun Tour in Belgium, East Germany and France.
And then on August 16th we will open for the mighty Cough in Paris.
Who are some of your personal favourite bands that you’ve had a chance to play with over the past few years?
A good experience was to share the stage with Saint Vitus and Confessor at the Day of Doom Festival in Barcelona 2014 or Weedeater’s crazy guys at Hellfest 2015 and of course Jucifer and Bathsheba in 2016. French bands we were happy to share the stage with are Mars Red Sky, Huata, Akasava and Pillars. Always a pleasure to meet friends on the road!
Let’s end this interview with some of your favourite albums. Have you found something new lately you would like to recommend to our readers?
We think Acid King will always be one of our favourite bands, their last album Middle of Nowhere Center of Everywhere is awesome. The last Cough album Still They Pray is really heavy and of course the first Bathsheba album Servus is a monster of doom metal. The Wounded Kings last album Visions in Bones is also unavoidable for fans of doom metal. And don’t forget to check Beastmaker Lusus Naturae and their next offer Inside the Skull–your ass will be kicked!
Thank you. Last word is yours.
Many thanks for this interview, be ready for our next release and see you on the road. DOOM ON!
– Klemen Breznikar
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