Saturday 18 May 2013

Interview with Daz from Space Witch

The Alchemy Paradox - EP - 2013 cover art

Today on Sludgelord I am interviewing Daz Rowlands from Space Witch – The amazing Space RockSludge/Stoner Metal band who have blown the whole blog team away with their amazing new EP – The Alchemy Paradox

I recently described this album as - “It takes a band with talent to make you feel emotionally involved with their music when they are relying on their music alone. But Space Witch have pulled off this big time.

The Alchemy Paradox is a stunning debut release that I urge you all to check out now. Definitely a band to keep an eye out for. Lets hope they don’t go an extended hiatus as before. You need this band in your life.

Believe us folks that these guys are something special. Their EP is going to blast these cosmic sludge rockers hopefully onto a bigger stage.”
The band have been going since 2007 with a few lineup changes but the constant person behind Space Witch is Daz Rowlands (Guitars/FX) – who has kindly agreed an interview with me. So lets get started with this insane and highly talented individual Ladies and Gents 

Q1 – Hi Daz, Thanks for doing this. How are things with you and the band Today. 
Hi Steve, we're good thanks. For the record I've been called insane many times, but never talented! The band is currently preparing for a string of shows we have booked in May, June and July. We've recently recruited 2 new members and are working hard to get the balance right for the shows, in particular for the mini tour in June in support for our latest release 'The Alchemy Paradox'. It's all coming together and we're extremely happy with how the new members have contributed to the sound so far...

Q2 – For people not in the know can you give them a brief history of the band and how it came about.

I started the band back in 2007 with a close a friend. It was definitely an opportunity to switch off, release and deal with some things I had going on at the time. After a few months we got a steady lineup and wrote some solid songs based on experimenting with some riffs and the electronics we had available to us at the time. 

In 2008 we started doing some local shows, a few out of the area, recorded a 2 track demo 'Space Witch' and was added to the Future Noise roster. In 2009 we played with Bill Steers' Firebird and attempted to record a longer release. In mid 2009 we went on hiatus which gave us all the opportunity to focus on other projects. I focused on a side project called 'The Weird Head', but always had the intention of continuing Space Witch.

In 2011 it became clear that a couple of the original members didn't want to return as they wanted to focus their efforts purely on their main project.

At that point I recruited a new drummer and an extra guitar player. We rehearsed over a 6 week period and started to gig again locally and in Bristol. After some discussions with the members in 'The Weird Head' we decided in 2012 to merge the band into Space Witch by the end of the summer the merge had failed. 

After speaking to a couple of close friends within the local scene I decided to look for new members and with their support recruited Daniel Mansfield on drums and Ian Hickton on bass. Over a couple of months we wrote 2 new songs and reworked one of the older tracks. We did our first gig as a 3 piece at the end of the year in December. At the end of January 2013 we recorded 'The Alchemy Paradox' and gained support from Bristol based label Cosmic Tomb who offered to put the EP out on cassette.

Since then we've done a number of shows in and out the area and released the EP as well as securing further one-off shows, a mini tour and a couple fest appearances. 

Q3 – During that time you have been on extended hiatus and had a few lineup changes. Was that a hard time to carry on going. Or did you feel you everything would come together one day and that time is now.

During the hiatus I was busy focusing on 'The Weird Head' as well as promoting some DIY gigs I was putting on at the time so I didn't find it that difficult. 'The Weird Head' were quite busy locally and we self released an album during the hiatus period. 

Like I said I always had the intention of continuing Space Witch it was just a matter of when really and with whom. In my humble opinion each lineup change has been an improvement on the last as working with different people keeps things fresh and interesting. I certainly enjoyed my time with each lineup and appreciate the contribution each member has made to the band past and present. 

Q4 – How would you describe your sound. As I would describe it Cosmic Space Rock/Sludge/Stoner Metal

I wouldn't disagree with your description, but it is what it is really. Get Your Rock Out in a recent review described it as a fusion of Post Rock, Doom and Jazz, I wouldn't disagree with that either. There are certainly elements from different genres in our music, but rather than trying to categorise it I'd prefer to say we have moments of heaviness, minimalism and spaced out vibes. 

Q5 – Which bands and artists influence you directly as musicians. 
We listen to so much music it would be difficult to list them all. We certainly don't listen to a particular genre either, we like what we like and what we listen to changes based on our mood. What I can say is it isn't main stream music we listen to. 

Q6 – Are you all full time musicians or do you have regular jobs to paythe bills.

We all work full time jobs to pay the bills, music is our hobby. We do it because we enjoy doing it nothing else.

Q7 – Are your family and friends supportive of your music. 
Very much so, our family and friends have been extremely supportive. They understand why we do it and continue to do it, this is an outlet an expensive hobby.

Q8 – What is the song-writing process in the band. Is it a group collective or is just down to one individual.

It's very much a collective process as we use jamming as the main approach to generating ideas and getting the feel right just as we like it. It wouldn't work if one individual come in with a completed song, we work best where we all contribute to the writing process. It's very much an open book where everyone throws in their contribution into the melting pot.

Q9 – Your new EP – The Alchemy Paradox. – What a brilliant release. Congrats on that one. Now what the hell is it all about. Or do you want people to draw their own conclusions.

Thanks for your kind words. We can't believe the response we've received to be honest. As I've said we do this for ourselves, but when people like it, it's an unexpected surprise to say the very least. Ian came up with the title of the EP and its certainly up to people to draw their own conclusions.

Q10 – Was it an easy EP to write and record for.

The first 2 tracks on the EP took a lot of hard work for us to get it to feel how we wanted it from a 
writing perspective. The last track on the EP took no time at all and just dropped out pretty much. We recorded the EP DIY style over a couple of days at a local rehearsal studio and we only used 2 average microphones. OK, we spent a small sum of money getting a local studio to mix and master it.

Q11 – Now it has been released would you change any aspect of the album. Or would you leave it as it is

We'd leave it as is. We're happy with it as it captures us at a point in time and in it's rawest form as a 3 piece. Since we recorded we've added little things here and there, but that is purely by happy accidents when we've played them live.

Q12 – How big of a help has BandCamp been in getting your music across to the masses.

BandCamp really makes things easier for us as it takes the pain out of hosting our own site. The streaming, downloading and merch selling capability is perfect for us as it doesn't need much effort from us. We put the stuff up and BandCamp deal with all the technical stuff.

Q13 – Congrats on releasing the EP on Cassette Tape and selling nearly all of the copies out. Was that an easy decision to make to release it on Tape. Is there a chance of a CD/Vinyl Release in the future. Or is it too expensive.

The tapes have now sold out. We heard the release on cassette for the first time recently and the sound of it is amazing. Not only do cassettes sound great they are cheap to produce too, the perfect media for bands that don't have much money and want to put it out physically rather than just digitally.

When Nate from Cosmic Tomb offered to put it out we couldn't turn it down. There was no question in our mind it was the right media to put out and the right label to work with. Like any other band on the scene we'd like to put out a vinyl release in the future. Initially a split vinyl followed up by a double gatefold would be ideal. Cost is a big issue for us, we have no money to put into a standalone vinyl release. CD media for sure at some point.

Q14 – Is there a scene in your home town for you guys to gig regularly.Or do you have to travel further afield to perform live.

The scene in Stoke on Trent was pretty healthy on the DIY side of things. Plenty of people turning out for shows and showing their support. More recently its been difficult as a lot of the venues that allowed DIY shows have shutdown or have stopped doing it due to company politics. 2011 and 2012 we were very active in the local scene, 2013 has seen us play more shows out of our area.
Back in the day there wasn't as many doom/sludge/stoner shows put on within travelling distance, but at the moment it seems to be very active and we could easily go and see 3 shows a month. With us being based in Stoke we can easily travel to Manchester and Birmingham, and just make an evening of it.

Q15 – In five words what is the Space Witch live experience like. (Folks – I will have my own live review coming up when I see them perform live in June 2013).

Moments of Minimalism(1), repetition(2), heaviness(3) with dynamics(4) and feel(5).

Q16 – What is your fave track off the EP. Mine has to be – Black Pyramid. Not one of the longest tracks but some of the best riffs are on that track.

For me it has to be Hang the Witch, but that song has more of a personal connection to me. Black Pyramid we threw together in about an hour and to be fair was pretty forced at the time we wrote it. Not usually the way we go about things, but with 2 weeks to go before our debut show (with the new lineup) we had little choice, but to knock it up quickly.

Q17 – What are your favourite bands around at the moment. Do you listen to modern day rock/metal or do you just listen to the classic era of Stoner/Sludge/Doom/Post-Rock/Post-Metal.

There are so many bands, eras and genres that I listen too it would be difficult to list them all. I tend to listen to the underground more than anything else to be honest that is where I feel the best modern music is created. Theres been a few bands this year (thus far) that have absolutely blown me away; Undersmile/Comawall, Yowie and Bongripper.

Q18 – What are your views of blogs such as Sludgelord featuring and reviewing your records

The support we've received from the scene blogs/zines/YouTube channels has been amazing. Without them we would of not been able to get our music out and heard to the extent it has been. We are very grateful for all the support we have received past and present. We see them as the core of the underground (DIY) based music. Blogs and zines keep the scene alive.

Q19 – What are the most and least rewarding aspects of participating with the band. Obviously the reality of how expensive it is being in a band could be considered as a negative aspect.

We do what we do because we enjoy doing it. The rewarding aspects are doing the shows, hearing the final masters of recordings, seeing your mates at least once a week, receiving support and feedback from various sources. Its a real bonus for uswhen we play a show that we enjoy which is followed up by folk telling us they enjoyed it too. The positives far out weigh the cost aspects in our opinion, but at the end of the day we do try to cover costs where possible, if not we share the costs between ourselves.

Q20 – What words of wisdom would you give to a band starting out or some friends wanting to start a band of their own.

Do it for one reason and one reason alone... For the love of it! If you want to get shows in and out of your area then networking is key. If you want people to listen to your music then make as much as you can freely available via streaming, downloads and YouTube. Use free or pay as you go services such as Facebook, BandCamp, Bigcartel, PayPal and Tourbox to help promote yourselves and build up a contact network. Above all else support the scene, go see bands in/out of the area and speak to people.

Q21 – Finally, Do you have anything to say your fans

A big shout out to the people that have been to see us, brought a T Shirt and/or brought the EP. All the guys in Space Witch are absolutely blown away by the support you have shown us. The people in this scene are the best!

Well Daz thanks for talking to me. Been great talking to you dude. Good luck with your excellent EP. No doubt I will catch up with you at the Leeds gig in June. All the best from Sludgelord.

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