Vintage, adventurous proto-metal that taps into the deep well of ’70s rock! Formerly known as Witch Hazel, SPELLBOOK marries Black Sabbath, Pentagram and progressive rock for seven songs of entrancing classic metal! A must listen for every classic metalhead!
Hello Nick, firstly we would like to go to the origin of the band. You were named as Witch Hazel but you decided to change name to SPELLBOOK, when and why?
We started Witch Hazel in 2007 out of our mutual love for 70’s hard rock. Line up changes over the years but we really hit a stride when Andy Craven and then Seibert Lowe Jr. joined the band. The first album with that lineup was our (WH) last album Otherworldly(2018). We considered the name change then but ultimately didn’t feel comfortable yet so went on as WH. When we wrote the material for this most recent record, Magick & Mischief, we really felt we were onto something. A good friend of ours, Darin McCloskey, from the band Pale Divine instilled in us that we needed to push for proper label support and he was exactly right. Cruz Del Sur is a great label and we’re thrilled to be included on their roster. Once talks with Enrico and Tom Phillips from the label got serious we thought it was the perfect time to make the switch to SpellBook. There were just too many cases of people mistaken us for other Witch Hazel’s, both in our own region, and over seas. Cruz Del Sur fully supported the change.
Apart of the name what are the differences between Witch Hazel and the Spellbook project? When did you start composing the new songs? Are they all new or they have some connection with WH
None lol. This is the exact same band with same goal of writing the best songs possible. For those that don’t know us as Witch Hazel it’s easy to think of this as a brand new idea or different direction, but the reality is if you listen to those past albums you’ll see how diverse our influences and sound is right from the beginning. This could have very easily been the next Witch Hazel record. Thankfully though it’s not, as we’re very excited to start “fresh” in a way. It’s the best album of music we’ve written yet.
As WH you had released 3 albums independently but as Speellbook you initiate your path by the hand of the Italian label Cruz Del Sur Music, right?
Yes this is our first album for Cruz Del Sur. They’ve really been putting in the work for us and we have absolutely no complaints. We’re very fortunate to be on their great roster.
We could say that Spellbook is a fair heir of the sound of bands as Black Sabbath or Pentagram?
Oh definitely. Look Black Sabbath is the end all be all right? Volume 4 is personally my favorite record of all time. But…we’ve felt for years that many focus a little too much on the “heaviness” of Sabbath. It’s usually the same songs and albums constantly referenced and we like to showcase ALL the elements of classic Sabbath. Of course they were a heavy band but they also could boogie, there was jazz, there was beautiful instrumentals. Bill Ward wasn’t just a basher you know? He could swing, the whole band could. So we like to bring that aspect of them into our sound combined with all the great 60s and 70s hard rock /metal artists. I mean it’s impossible to list them all but we love it all from Captain Beyond, May Blitz, Sir Lord Baltimore to the straight up huge acts like Deep Purple, Thin Lizzy, UFO, BOC, Alice Cooper, Humble Pie… It was just such a great time in music and we love letting it all inspire us in this band.
It seems clear that besides the 70s flavour there is also a progressive approach in your music
I’d agree and I think that comes from everyone’s background playing in metal bands growing up. Now me personally I never did. I was in a punk band and more of a garage rock type thing as well. But everyone else has. We’re talking everything from power metal, black metal, trash metal. So yeah these guys know how to write riffs lol, but the thing that has taken time is writing SONGS. Emphasis on hooks, harmonies and knowing when to end a song. We’ve been working towards this for years and I think this album is kind of the “ahah” moment.
The artwork is really fantastic and enigmatic, what can you tell us about it?
Yeah we’re blown away by it. The artist is Chad Keith and we heard from him by a podcast we’re into called Say You Love Satan. He did some artwork for them and our singer, Nate, thought he’d be perfect for this to make us stand out a bit. The cover he did is a collage of all the tracks on the album. Very old school horror movie vibe and we absolutely love it.
What are the lyrics about?
Nate writes all the lyrics in the band typically but on this record Andy (guitar) wrote Black Shadow and Dead Detectives. It ranges from fantasy, beyond this realm things to everyday real life situations. I know Nate likes to write with the vision of anyone can interpret it how they want to. Personally I’m a big fan of his phrasing and love how his vocals turned out on this one. I think his strongest yet.
Amulet was a song that you had already played live before the recording, right?
Yes. Amulet almost made it on Otherworldly, but we decided on that album that we wanted the classic 8 song approach that so many of our favorite bands have released over the years. Our debut as WH, Forsaken Remedies(2012), had some great songs that we’re still proud of but that album is just too long. We realized ear fatigue is real and learned from that. But back to Amulet, we knew we had a good one with that when during the second time playing it people were singing the chorus back to Nate.
Songs as Dead Detectives are a clear example of the freedom you show when composing the songs
Absolutely. I think a great example to see what this band is all about is take a look at our one song offering Nocturnity(2015). That was a deliberate idea to do something different. That’s the first recording Andy played guitar on and it was our response of getting tired of learning old material with a new guitarist. We were so burned out on relearning that debut album with different guitarists over the years. That was treated as a studio project not meant to ever be played live. But the point of this being these are still the guys who wrote that, and enjoy that cinematic and ambitious angle. Dead Detectives, at least for me when I first heard Seibert’s bass line, was like wow this sounds like it could be an old school Alice Cooper group song. Had that show biz vibe, with the top hat and cane and I’m a sucker for that haha. So put that together with Andy coming up and saying I got this great story for this one…you have Dead Detectives. That’s the one where we didn’t care how long or nutty it got.
Nate Tyson is like the cherry on the cake, actually his singing is what those songs demanded
I think everyone has a band where they go “oh man this band rules!”…and then the vocals hit. And it sucks haha. So yeah I think there’s great riffs and solos and hooky bass lines everywhere but it means nothing if you don’t want to hear the vocals. And as I said earlier it’s Nate’s best performance to date.
US is one of the countries with more infected people by covid19, how are you dealing with that?
I think we’re dealing with it well honestly. We’ve been rehearsing for the past two months now and starting to write the next record. There’s no shows going on so we’re laying down the blue print for what’s to be the next release.
Has the pandemic affected your activity or plans regarding your debut?
Well everything is going to plan as far as release date and not getting held up at pressing plant. The obvious huge disappointment is not being able to get out in front of people and play this album live.
Any plans for the future?
Just writing the next album and staying sharp on the M&M tunes because once we can finally get on a stage that’s what you’ll be hearing and we can’t wait.
Thanks for you attention and congratulations for the good job on Magick & Mischief, if you wish to add something…
Thanks for the interest in the band Alberto. We’re just pumped to see what everyone thinks about the record and to get up on a stage and play it. You can preorder it from us (USA) through spellbookband.bandcamp.com or through Cruz Del Sur https://tinyurl.com/y8jblwc9. Thanks for the chat! Cheers, Nick