Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Haunted Regulars

A special editorial note, before the next post...which concerns the Detroit-based rock group, The Witches.

This casual and rambling musical memoir (Deep Cutz) hasn't necessarily had any stringent aim - but it's definitely spent most of its time unpacking the cluttered house of Detroit's music "scenes" (through the 2nd half of the last decade).
Whatever the cause of this incorrigable inclination towards this regions music, it's onsetting moment is: The Witches. Seven years ago, I saw my first "local" show...The Witches at the Magic Stick. But, before that even - it stemmed from a song placed on a mix, made by my friend Pierce Reynolds (DevilFish / Oscillating Fan Club) - "Demons All Around Her" by The Witches.

I won't get romantic on the details. It's that old cliche of "...and I was hooked!"

But, the Witches, themselves, are a curious specimen, when they're scattered onto the examining table amongst all the rest of the "garage-explosion" era bands (-many of whom, it should be underlined, are still working, playing and touring today, the Witches included, beyond the fickle sustenance of an media-attention explosion).

As the next screed will highlight - they were, possibly, the paradigm of that scene (98-03)'s
"tradition" of sharing and switching members. Inevitably I can't help conjuring an albeit cartoonish image of its unique frontman (and ever-consistent member/leader), Troy Gregory, with his black-dominant wardrobe, darkly circled blood shot eyes and short yet tussled hair... And thus, see the Witches as the outsider type, the eccentric kid rooting around in the shadows with his notebook at the edges of the playground, talking about spirit worlds, demons trees and creeping through other people's galaxies...

It should be noted (and will be noted again), that my "door" to the Detroit music scene was a little album called Sybil - an ensemble compilation dreamt up by Troy Gregory from 2002 that brought 13 different Detroit bands from that era together to play backing band to a batch of his songs. The title referenced the Sally Field movie about an early poster child patient for schizophrenia - as the album, front to back, would shift personalities for each track (including The Dirtbombs, The Sights, Outrageous Cherry, the Volebeats and the Wildbunch). This was a haunted person's guide to the Detroit music scene, as I saw it.

The densely intertwining branches in the Witches "family tree" demonstrated by the various connections to other bands by way of its revolving cast of players, not to mention the nuances brought to each recording by the various influences and talents brought in by each player, is just one of the many things that make the Witches unique. They were never garage - and never quite space-rock and never quite psychedelic... definitely not goth and not-exactly pop...

Thus they did stand out...and yet...they didn't... There were some of us who loved (and love) The Witches - but their shifting line ups (and inevitably shifting periods of activity) were one of many reasons they remain a bit of a mystery...

Alive Naturalsound releases A Haunted Person's Guide to The Witches this month. They play Small's bar on Feb 25th...

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