Saturday, October 28, 2017

WICCANS Interview - Bad Habit Release Party

left to right: Aran, John, Bill, Jeff, Kelly

Listening to WICCANS always evokes the sense of slipping through a portal, or happening upon a séance. Aran Ruth and Kelly Jean Caldwell conjure ethereal melodies over minimal but entrancing rhythms, spellbinding a listener with their harmonies. Ruth plays guitar and sings, while Caldwell accompanies on vocals adds flourishes on flute. Candles are lit. Bay-leave laurels are donned. A vibe, or an energy, or whatever you want to call it, is mesmerizing in the way its cast down upon the stage.

Long ago, in a mystic and wild mid-west, two young Witches were united. Having been cast from their respective covens, they bonded over their own unique sanctities: 70’s Coven Life, dragon stories, weed, beer, hanging out on blankets, candle magic, and Thee Sacred Scrolls of the Gnome.

“More specifically,” Ruth says, “we met at a downriver house party, got drunk, and sang along to the entire KISS Destroyer record. Then! Spontaneously we picked up a dusty witch book and read a spell together, aloud. That same natural spirit continues to bless and inform our music, and our kinship. Blessed be!”

Ruth and Caldwell each write and perform their own music, either solo, or with a band. And they’ve been around the scene for several years. While Wiccans has always been their combined eerie enchantments, they have typically always had John Szymanski (of The Hentchmen) adding percussion or other elements. A few years ago, though, they transformed, becoming Electric Wiccans, as it were, with amplified, fuzzy synths, bass, and a drum kit (adding Bill Hafer and Jeff Fournier). The sound is something that can carry one away, tidal and beautifully turbulent, entrancing and wraith-like.

This Saturday, WICCANS release their new full length album, Bad Habit. The celebration is two-fold: not only will they be headlining a formal album release party in Hamtramck, but the location of the show, Outer Limits Lounge, is officially kicking-off its very own inhouse record label. Bad Habit is one of five projects recently recorded inside the elegant dive, (engineered by Szymanski), including The Kelly Jean Caldwell Band, and The Cheetahs.

Bad Habit’s snaky, celestial melodies coax you down into a resplendent netherworld, radiating with those crunchy, fuzzed-out emanations one typically anticipates from the witchier blends of 70’s psychedelia. Ruth and Caldwell’s chemistry and creative energy also draws in somewhat more tender strands of folk and the incendiary shreds of punk, but the phantasmagoric timbres of synths and guitars vault much of Bad Habits songs into these foggier, mystical stratospheres.

To put it more bluntly than that^… Ruth said that she and Caldwell “smoke some weed to aid our visions, and consult thee sacred witch books. And we allow the Elder Spirit to guide us and trust in the wisdom of the crone!”

Kelly further clarified the source of their sorcery-ish/supernatural sounds… “Aran used to live in a house that was haunted by the spirit of a clairvoyant physician…who spoke to us in a vision. We intercepted the message and interpreted it with precision. We twice conjured thunder storms when we jammed it. For the recording (of Bad Habit!), we just got real stoned and invited a half-elf over to play singing saw..."

"Oh Holy Maiden" 

My personal favorite song on this new record is called "Maiden," and it's exemplary of their tender kite-in-a-tornado-style arrangements of sweet psych sounds that crest into a few different movements, where however much the guitars/synths might roar or purr, the bewitching vocal harmonies consistently sail across the top. An original version of it, with Fred Thomas on bongos, is streaming below........

Rush and Caldwell said that "Maiden" is in fact the oldest song among the batch collected for Bad Habit. It's that potent song, they said, that served as a catalyst to "recreate" their "group in full electric splendour to fully express its designs!" Adding: "We can only hope that the power of the Goddess inhabit each who heaer her call!" Concluding: "Street weed will set you free." 

And they, as WICCANS, are typically extolling to these brief, subverssive, cryptic, or defiant answers. Weed came up more than a couple times in our interview. But when I took the opportunity to gauge their take on the current scene's state regarding its conditions of inclusivity, acknowledgement, respect, for women participating in the realms of rock music. And so sayeth WICCANS; "...HEX THE PATRIARCHY! HEX THE MUSIC CREEPS! SO MOTE IT!" 

The Gnomes' influence on their creative trajectory comes up, again, when I ask about the future of WICCANS. 

Ruth said that "...the Gnomes have beckoned toward a second record. We are making songs about the Dark Crystal, and the Laughter of Demons. The USJE. We recently got a Mystic Witch Tome from a couple of British Wiccan Spirit Guides to aid us in our quest..."

And Caldwell concluded: "As far as Outer Limits (Records/Lounge) goes, we're open for business NOW! Slinging beer and playing our house records every day. Anyone can stop in and hear what's up with our catalog. The Hentch Dudes just finished recording their new record, so we're all stoked about that!" 

Until then, stay tuned to this blog for a bit more about Outer Limits Lounge Records. 


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