I have always thought that classic rock bands like Led Zeppelin, Cream, and the Grateful Dead would indeed remain classic. Well, as the music industry changes, the audience shifts their attention from rock to pop to electronic. Even though the popular demand dictates what is accessible to listeners on the radio, there is a growing number of artists who seek to bring back this classic sound in their own original way. Bands like Electric Citizen, Earthless, and All Them Witches have been at the top of my radar for some time. These artists were so heavily inspired by the groups of the ‘60s and ‘70s that their sound takes you back to a time when the riff ruled popular music.
All Them Witches are an act out of Music City that focus on great psychedelic and fuzzed out jams. They recently concluded the recording of their third album in three years as a band. I had the chance to converse with guitarist Ben McLeod and discuss their work on the upcoming LP. Topics of conversation included the recording process, how the band writes on the road, and their upcoming tour with The Well. He was kind enough to talk about how the Grateful Dead have inspired them to create live recordings for their performances. These recordings are available on their website for streaming or purchase. Check out what Ben had to say below:
You guys have been a band for about three years now. I noticed you are also currently working on your third record. How is that going so far?
It’s going great. We wanted to change things up a bit, so we ended up renting a cabin in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. For this recording session, we worked for about 10 hours a day for five days. Our dear friend and engineer Mikey Allred brought his entire rig with him so we could get this one down. He has recorded all of Across Tundras’ stuff, as well as the latest Inter Arma record, The Cavern. He truly is a wizard.
That’s quite a track record! In terms of the writing, was most of the material written before heading into the cabin, or did you draw some inspiration there as well?
Well, we had about half of the songs written before heading out there. The other half we actually made up in the studio. We have been writing this way for a few albums now, and it just seems to work out best for us.
Do you tend to do your writing while on the road, or is some of it done in between tours?
The stuff that was written were tracks our singer and bassist Michael Parks wrote a while ago. He showed us and we all would take time and jam on them acoustically when we were in our hotel rooms on the last few tours. There were also a few jams that we really dug from some of our past shows. When we were on stage we improvised and some of the pieces that were written on the spot, we loved.
You guys posted an acoustic performance of a new track on YouTube. Will this one remain acoustic on the album as well?
When it comes to playing acoustic versus electric, we are generally pretty clear on what we want for a song. Of course, it will vary from song to song and album to album. For this one in particular, we really dug the acoustic vibe, so we kept it that way for the beginning of the tune. We did add some electric guitars to create a fuzzed out ending to it though. But like I said, it varies.
With three albums in three years, do you guys work on a timeline of when you want to produce new music? Or have you just been lucky enough that you are able to record when you want?
We try to stay away from having a timeline. It basically comes down to us just wanting to record. Now that we have a team behind us, we do have to plan our releases out a bit more. But that does not stop us from putting out our cassette and instrumental jams. To us, that is where the real magic is.
Is there anything else you can discuss about the upcoming record?
Absolutely. It would not be an All Them Witches record without some great heavy psych jams. There are some really great freak out moments in there. It is also going to be very different from anything that we have done before. Parks wrote some amazing songs that we think have the potential to attract a wider audience. Although he didn’t write them with any intention in mind, we do think it will be a bit more accessible to a larger crowd of people.
You have toured with a lot of really great bands. Windhand, Electric Citizen, and The Well to name a few. These are some of the bands that I have been getting into heavily over the last few months. What are some bands that you are listening to at the moment?
Oh yeah, our tour with Windhand was pretty epic. We are big fans and good friends with The Ghost Wolves and King Buffalo. Any chance we get to play with those two bands is great. I feel the same way with Across Tundras as well. Lately we have been listening to a lot of weird stuff like Pharaoh Overlord, Agitation Free, Grails, and of course the Grateful Dead. Parks and myself are really into a band called BRONCHO and another band from Boston called Pile.
What brought about the idea of putting the live recordings up on your Bandcamp page?
That idea basically stems from the Grateful Dead. We love how well they made their live show recordings as integral pieces of their discography. It’s really a great thing to be able to offer what a live show sounds like and be able produce the recordings. Currently, we have a number of shows available for purchase from August, September, and October for a couple of dollars. These are also available to stream on the website as well.
And you are embarking on a short tour from Feb. 4-15. Is there any chance the fans can expect to hear some of the new material at those shows?
You might hear about one or two of the new tracks. What you can expect is a lot of jamming. We are really looking forward to these shows, they are going to be a blast!
Will anyone join you guys on this short tour?
We are so amped up because we are going to be joined by The Well. They are really a great bunch and we are happy they will be supporting us again. They rip.
Is there anything else in the works that you would like to discuss?
We will actually be releasing a live album. I believe it is set to come out in February. It is definitely going to be sick!
All Them Witches will take the stage with their friends in The Well at Mercury Lounge in New York City on Feb. 5. For more tour dates and information, go to allthemwitches.org.