Interview with Witchclan’s Matt Bass22nd October 2014 0 By Craig
Witchclan is a band comprised solely with one member who defines the music of Witchclan as “Bestial Hell Metal”. Having only just discovered Witchclan for myself this year and having recently reviewed their soon to be released album entitled ‘The Dark Binding’ – I wanted to find out more about the band and the album, so I did. Here is my interview with the one and only member of the band Matt Bass.
AATR – Hi Matt, first of all, congratulations on the new album – so far I have seen nothing but praise for it. I know you’ve worked hard on it – how do you feel knowing it’s gone down well?
Hello mate.I’m pleased but I always say there’s room for improvement. It’s not all been good though – there was a problem with a review in Zero Tolerance magazine where the guy who reviewed it gave it such a bad mark that the editor pulled the review and gave it to someone else to do. On the whole though, yes – the album has been received pretty well so I can’t grumble really.
Yes definitely. The music is raw so it needs a raw production. The first Black Metal that I really got into back in the early 90’s was stuff like Darkthrone, Burzum, Profanatica and Emperor. These are the bands that shaped Witchclan in the 90’s and it’s the style of Black Metal I prefer so it’s natural for my records to have a similar style in production.
Don’t get me wrong, I listen to stuff that has a thicker production too. Troll’s ‘Neo Satanic Supremacy’ is a prime example really, it’s super polished but sounds fantastic. Who knows, perhaps the production of my records will change over time but for the Bestial Hell Metal tag the band has, I think for the coming years you can still expect Witchclan to be raw as hell.
AATR – Can you tell us a bit about the album in terms of what influenced the lyrics? What other music and bands were you listening to that have had an influence in the album?
Well, lyrically the majority of the songs take a massive influence from the Necronomicon. If you’re familiar with any of those ancient works at all then you will recognise what I’m singing about. It’s more than that in essence though because it tells a story. It’s about an female Occultist who becomes obsessed with uniting the ancient ones with this world once again. She achieves astral projection past most of the nine gates but as she gets deeper, the ancient ones take hold of her more and more until ultimately, she goes insane.
There are a few other subject matters in there too. The opening track ‘Worms of Hypocrisy’ is a good old crack on the chin of religion. It basically describes religion as an infection, and uses a few clever metaphors to tell you to think for yourself. The track which follows that, ‘Treading on Angels’ is a full on old school blasphemic take on my disgust towards religion – nothing more, nothing less. The only other song on there which isn’t part of the Necronomicon concept is a song we originally wrote in 1994 called ‘Neverending Funeral’. The lyrics for that are dedicated to my friend who comitted suicide earlier this year. It was a good way for me to vent my anger and frustration at him but at the same time give him a bit of a send off.
So really, there are a lot of factors which influence me when writing lyrics. The driving force has, and always will be anti-religion and I can’t see that changing any time soon. Muscically, when it comes to influences I guess it always comes back to a few bands but it’s really changed as the years have gone by. When the band formed in 1990 they were playing stuff like Slayer, Venom, Bathory, Possessed – that kinda stuff. It wasn’t until 1993 when I joined the band that I brought more of a modern Black Metal sound to things. My vocals at the time were heavily influenced by Darkthrone and Burzum stuff – and that certainly shows on those early recordings.
These days I suppose the influences are pretty much old Burzum, old Darkthrone, Darkened Nocturn Slaughtercult, Urgehal – that kind of thing. Those are the bands I like to listen to but I will point out here that Witchclan is an original entity in itself. I would never go out to rip other bands off, I respect those bands and they are great musicians so naturally some influence will rub off on me.
AATR – I noticed that the album is also being released on cassette – how did you reach the decision to go “old school” with cassettes?
Well I grew up in the days of tape trading. Those were special days and I never really let go of that nostalgic feeling, or more downright refuse to more like. I don’t like digital stuff, I am a true lover of all things analogue – there’s something very special about holding a rare tape in your hand or a classic bit of vinyl, you can’t beat it. All the Witchclan releases in the past have been released on tape – with the exception of the last album but that’s getting a cassette release next year through Darkness Shade Records.
The new album ‘The Dark Binding’ was always planned as a tape right from the word ‘go’. I have been signed to Darkness Shade records for the last 3 years now and Paul from the label had always said he would put this one out as a tape rather than a CD.
The label is stricly a tape only label, with the exception of the previous Witchclan album ‘Misanthropist’ which was on CD only. I signed to Elvester Records much more recently and it’s that label who are releasing ‘The Dark Binding’ on vinyl and CD. But to answer your question – I suppose that tapes are a massive part of my history and I will always stay true to those early days. There are a lot of bigger labels like Nuclear Blast and Season of Mist releasing tapes again these days which goes to show that tapes might have died a death in the late 90’s but they are certainly back now.
Well I would initially say Black Metal, but a lot of people have said that it goes way deeper than that and I would agree with them – which is why I put Witchclan under the exclusive ‘Bestial Hell Metal’ banner. There are a lot of different styles that show through in a lot of the songs such as 80’s Thrash, Death and Doom Metal. This is apparent on the previous album too.
When I sit down to write a new song, it’s really only Black Metal that’s on my mind but because I listen to such a vast selection of different styles of Metal, I suppose that a lot of that filters through into my writing process without realising. So really, if you like early 90’s necro Black Metal but also enjoy a bit of the aforementioned styles then Witchclan is likely a band for you.
AATR – Witchclan is now a one man band, it never used to be – can you give us a bit of history as to how this happened?
Yeh well the band formed in 1990 as a 3-piece. One of those members left the following year and I joined in 1993 making it a 3-piece again. Those other two guys left and I got another three guys into the band in 1994 so that was the first time we’d actually had a bass player and more than one guitarist. The sound at that time was fuller than it had ever been but we were kids at the time, none of us were much older than about 14 so we didn’t take it as seriously as perhaps we should have.
There were a lot of the old cliche ‘musical differences’ where I was more into Black Metal, two of the other guys were going more down the punk route and the two guitarists were more Thrash guitarists than anything to do with Black Metal. By Spring 1995 Witchclan was a 2-piece which was me and one of the guitarists. We tried out a few drummers but nothing worked out so we threw in the towel later that year.
It wasn’t until 2009 that I was thinking of doing a new band when my wife suggested I started Witchclan back up but as a solo studio project. This was the best time for me to get back into the music scene both mentally and in my personal life. I got to work on some new material, baring in mind I hadn’t picked up a guitar in many years – that resulted in the 2010 ‘Descend into Darkness’ demo which sold really well considering it was on tape and 4 years ago tapes didn’t sell as well as they do now. That led onto another demo, record deals and albums – the rest, as they say, is history.
AATR – With it being a one man band, how long did it take to fully record and finish the album?
The new album took over a year and a half to complete from start to finish. I am a father of two, and a husband – plus I hold down a full-time day job so I get very little spare time. My wife is really supportive with both my bands though and she made sure I had loads of spare time each week to record stuff by sacrificing our time together and looking after the kids for which I am eternally grateful for.
I can honestly say, if I didn’t have so much support from my wife – there probably wouldn’t be a Witchclan.
Yes, without doubt. I don’t get on particularly well with fellow musicians because I am very controlling and I like everything to be my way – which was perhaps one of the downfalls of the band as a 5-piece.
As I’ve already mentioned, I have very little spare time so if I was actually in a band with more than just one member, I would very quickly get fired because I would never be able to turn up to rehearsals or play any shows.
Honestly though, I prefer being a one-man band. I get to write everything, direct the artwork, do all the production and choose exactly what happens with the band so it’s a good feeling but I suppose that’s just showing what a control freak I am.
AATR – Whats in the pipeline for Witchclan? Will you ever do gigs or is it just purely studio only?
I have no need to play live. I have only ever made music that I want to hear – if other people like what I do then that’s a bonus but I don’t make music to please others, therefore I would not play live. It’s better this way anyway, it means I don’t have to find session musicians and to be completely frank, I just wouldn’t have the time anyway.
AATR – Do you have any final comments for our readers?
Yes. If you are serious about underground Black Metal then you need to buy ‘The Dark Binding’. It is available from October 31st 2014 on vinyl and CD via www.elvesterrecords.com and on tape via www.darknessshaderecords.blogspot.co.uk
You can also visit Witchclan on Facebook, Bandcamp, Myspace, and the official Witchclan website at www.witchclan.co.uk where you can purchase music and merchandise. Thank you for the interview!
Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions.
Find Witchclan here:
How useful was this post?
Click on a thumb to rate it!
Average rating 0 / 5. Vote count: 0
No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.
About the author
Owner of All About The Rock and just a generally really nice guy...honest!...Ask anyone ;)