This year Witchorious released its first full-length album since its inception. We have doom metal here, but somehow played a little differently, and grasped differently. And here are some questions and answers about the band, playing, and this album.
Alan – Hello band. What year have you been around? You write the year 2019. Is that when you first met? Or when did you start the group?
Antoine Auclair – Hi Alan! Yes we started this band in late 2019, but we already knew each other. Actually Paul and Lucie are brother and sister, and we already had other bands together but were kind of bored of what we were doing. We wanted to create something darker, with more space for the bass and drums, to sound heavy and be able to talk about issues we had on our minds. So we started this project, and I think we named ourselves "Witchorious" around December 2019.
Alan – The name Witchorious is not only derived from witches and witchcraft. You took it a little deeper, yes?
Antoine Auclair – Yes, actually we wanted to both play with the clichés around witchcraft that we intended to put in our music and make something unique up. We wanted our name to summarize the message of our lyrics. Since we had already started to develop the character of the Witch in our songs as a representation of a fighter against oppression, we wanted to pay tribute to her: she would be "glorious". Mixing both "witch" and "glorious" made "Witchorious".
Alan – Regarding the form of playing. So you don't even have your form of doom metal in the established sound of doom metal bands. We might be a little more interested in this.
Antoine Auclair – Well, we grew up listening to a lot of doom and heavy metal stuff. Black Sabbath, in particular, has always been one of our favorite bands, if not the biggest. So I would say the way we write is very influenced by them. We also love a lot of recent doom bands like Electric Wizard, Monolord, or Windhand, who clearly made us want to sound fuzzier, with a spotlight on the bass guitar. On the other hand, we also listen to a lot of more modern music like nu metal, post metal, metalcore, that have also inspired us in many other directions for the sound. I think we are still pretty traditional in our sound, very stoner doom / heavy metal, very vintage with a lot of reverbs, but you also have hints of more modern ideas with the drums, screaming vocals, and chorus on the guitar.
Alan – You have released one EP and two singles since your inception. Why did we wait so long for a full album?
Antoine Auclair – When we started the band, we were at a different step in our lifes. We were serious about it, and wanted to create something solid, but I think it was more of a hobby. Back in 2020, we intended to write a second EP, but the Covid-19 pandemic created a pause for everything. We postponed the idea of the EP because we wanted to tour when releasing it, which was not really possible in 2020. During the lockdown, we started to write new songs, and little by little the project of an EP turned into the one of a LP. We had the feeling to have something good that we loved a lot, so we took our time to finish the songs until we were really satisfied, then to find the right studio. We recorded and mixed everything carefully in December 2022. Finally, since we wanted to release it in the most professional way as possible, we took the time to look for the right partner label, and here we are: ready to release in February 2024!
Alan – You play in a three-piece. Does it suit you? Won't you take another?
Antoine Auclair – Yes it does suit us! We've always been huge fans of three-piece bands because very often they sound so loud despite being only three! The less musicians you have, the more important is everything you play. As you don't have three guitarists to play rythm and harmonized solos, you need to remove stuff and work a lot on the dynamics, which makes it so raw and powerful. It is also easier to organise and get along, when you are only three. We really want to maintain and grow this precious connection between each other, so I don't think that we will add anybody very soon... For sure we would love to have guests on future records, but not permanent members.
Alan - Back to the album. The lyrics part of the album? What are you dealing with in the texts? You don't have only the cult of the dark, etc.
Antoine Auclair – The cult of darkness is especially here to set this atmosphere that we love, and to play with all the classic elements that we use a lot as metaphors. In the album, we address different topics around mental health, dealing with depression, mixed feelings about living in this world, what is the point to be here, how hard it is to be someone good depending on the situation. Several songs are about rebelling against this system in which the rich have so much power, how politicians despise us... There also three songs that respectively talk about how bad we are with environmental issues, sexual predators, and a guy who falls into a mix of fanaticism and madness to find the meaning of his life.
Alan - I'm not sure, maybe I'm wrong. Some texts you have about huuuu huuuu wizards, the devil, etc., it seems to me that you take everything more as a joke. Which is fine by me.
Antoine Auclair – Yes definitely. I write most of the lyrics and, as I said, I use a lot of this occult stuff for metaphors. The three of us love death / doom / dark metal and horror movies, so it was natural for us to create something from this culture. We are not religious, but are always fascinated by how so many people like to depend on religion to explain everything. This just makes me want to use religion to talk to society and give them Satan as a friend, haha. And there is this thing in metal to be serious about the devil and Hell, to look mean and badass... We love it, but it makes us laugh sometimes, so we told ourselves "guys, we are doing a metal album, let's go for it all the way!"
Alan – Where did you shoot + record the album? How long did it take – 4 years?
Antoine Auclair – The writing of all songs took around two years, then we recorded a lot of demos for almost 6 months at home. We eventually took our material to Studio Sainte-Marthe in Paris, to record with the great Francis Caste who is an expert in metal in France (he has produced albums for Hangman's Chair, Bukowski, Pogo Car Crash Control...) The recording and editing took around 4 weeks, which was a huge and enjoyable time when we had the opportunity to try a lot of things. The mixing and mastering took one more week, so it is roughly one month in total.
Alan – Did you send the recording to different places? Different publishers? Or did you immediately agree on a release with Argonauta Records?
Antoine Auclair – We sent the album to around fifteen labels because we really wanted to find a partner for the release. We had several offers, but we finally chose Argonauta Records because we thought it was the best for our strategy. I mean, look at their portfolio! We have been following them for quite a while now, and were so happy when we received their proposition.
Alan – About the music. Did you create the set yourself? Or did someone help you?
Antoine Auclair – We write all songs. Usually, I come up with some guitar riffs that I present to the others, and they choose what they like. Then, we start jamming together with the bass and drums. Finally, I add the lyrics and try some vocal melodies. And we refine the structure together until we have the feeling that we are done. Now, when finalizing the album, Francis helped us on some structures, cutting a few ideas off or adding spice here and there.
Alan – Still to create. Do you do the lyrics and vocals first and then build the music on top of that?
Antoine Auclair – Not really. I always write down potential lyrics, punchlines, that come to my mind, saving them for the future. Then when we build a song, we start from the music, and I start trying vocal lines and thinking about the lyrics, either from scratch or using some ideas that I jotted. Lyrics and vocal melodies usually evolve a lot before I am really happy.
Alan – Is this your first time, where besides France will you go to show your work? Concerts/festivals?
Antoine Auclair – It is the first time we do such an accomplished album, and so many gigs. For now, all the shows we book are in France. But we can't wait to go abroad. Hopefully we'll get to make it in 2024, maybe starting with Belgium and Germany.
Alan – the Czech Republic or Slovakia, isn't that where you're headed?
Antoine Auclair – We would love to! It is currently not planned, but touring Eastern Europe would represent a great achievement for us, all good bands do it. Czech Republic and Slovakia are definitely places where we would love to play.
Alan – Do you know any Czech or Slovak groups?
Antoine Auclair – Not really to be honest, but I came across Cosmic Lord last summer, very ambient.
Alan – How is metal music (doom bands) doing in France anyway? Does he have any background there?
Antoine Auclair – The French Doom scene is quite small in my opinion, but very active especially thanks to its close links to the stoner community. There are great bands to discover, from pure traditional doom like Barabbas, Conviction, or Father Merrin, to more grungy sludgy hybrid beasts like Clegane or Fatima. In general, French stoner doom metal fans are very enthusiastic and supportive, they go to all shows and love to headbang... France is definitely a country that loves underground metal!
Alan – Just curious. Which event you played do you remember the most?
Antoine Auclair – We have so many good memories from our gigs already, but we really had a blast at Westill Fest last November. It was our first time in front of so many people and the crowd was very welcoming. The staff is made of passionate young people who would do everything for you to have a good experience. And we had the privilege to share the stage with incredible bands like Mars Red Sky, Stonus, Kadavar... Such a dream!
Alan - Hopefully we'll see each other sometime. Thanks for the interview and good luck.
Antoine Auclair – Thank you very much Alan, it was really fun to answer your questions. Thanks for the support, wish you the best, and can't wait to meet you in person!