Singaporean old school heavy/speed metallers Witchseeker has come a long way since their humble beginnings in 2012. 5 years since their formation, the band finally drops their blazing full-length album this Sunday, 16 December. We have a short chat with founder Sheikh Spitfire, and Brandon to learn more about the growth of the band through the years, and discover their undying love and passion for heavy metal.
More details on their album launch at this location: https://www.facebook.com/events/140675523229520/
Hey guys, thanks for taking the time to talk to us. Witchseeker was started in 2012, and now has gained a steady following in the local scene. Under what circumstances was the band formed, and what does “Witchseeker” mean?
Sheikh Spitfire (bass/drums/vocals): Thank you for having us. Yes that is correct, Witchseeker was formed in late 2012 by myself, initially as a one man project. My idea at that point of time was to just write, record and just release music through social media, but after putting in some thoughts, I decided to evolve the band into a 3 piece act.
At that point, I decided to form Witchseeker because there wasn’t much of a band around here that was doing the music that we play today, Heavy Metal. A lot of them were mainly either being trendy or just trying to be more extreme than the other bands, which gotten really dull in my opinion. Somebody had to take the first step somewhere in making a change. Plus this was the kinda music that I grew up with and made me want to play music in the first place. The name of band really, has no proper meaning. When I was searching for a band name, throwing ideas here and there, the name Witch Hunter came in, mainly derived from Sodom’s former drummer, the late Chris Witchhunter. So I tweaked it and named the band Witchseeker.
The last release of the band was the three-way split with Sintoxicate and Axagon. How did this unholy trinity come about to release something together?
Sheikh: This whole project idea was from Siddique Headkrasher (Sintoxicate). This was right after, probably a month after we released our debut EP, Night Rituals in 2014. At that time, our style was pretty much a mixture of thrash/punk/heavy etc. So Siddique proposed the idea of getting all 3 bands to come together and make a 3 way thrash metal split album, to promote the thrash metal scene of Singapore and also because, all three of us were close and cool with each other.
The release date was supposed to be in September 2014. But due to unforeseen circumstances, it got pushed til late February 2015. Time was really limited. I had to put on hold my other demos, and had less than a month to write the 2 songs for the split album.
It’s been 2 years since the band’s last release, and now the band is finally releasing its first full length, When the Clock Strikes. Listening to the first single, Speed Away, the songwriting of the band is obviously much more polished. With the band being a 2-piece now, how has the songwriting process changed from Night Rituals to When the Clock Strikes?
Sheikh: Songwriting changed a lot because we now have one common direction in what we want to do. Not to mention, we’re finally out of National Service so that gave us much more time and freedom. Back when we started off, we played various styles like Thrash, Rock, Metal and some Punk. But after some thought, we decided to just be simple, straightforward, fast, loud, Heavy Metal.
Listening to Speed Away, and the title track, the band seems to have a heavier speed metal sound this time round. Who are the main influences when it came to writing the album?
Sheikh: Our influences derives from plenty of bands that we grew up to love. There’s a lot to mention but I would say mainly bands like Judas Priest, Exciter, Razor, Saxon, Iron Maiden, Agent Steel, Savage Grace, Angel Witch, Tokyo Blade, Scorpions, Crimson Glory, Loudness, Riot, Running Wild, and countless other NWOBHM bands. I can go on with this. Haha.
Sheikh, you handle the vocals, bass, and the drums on the album. How has it affected you as a songwriter, now that you have to handle an additional instrument compared to before?
Sheikh: It definitely brings a new challenge for me recording-wise, because now I have to learn all the drum parts for the songs. When our previous drummer left, Brandon and I were looking for someone to handle drum duties. But after some thought, I decided to handle drums myself. It wasn’t really much of a hassle. I connect well with Brandon because back then before Witchseeker even started, Brandon and I were in the same band where I was the drummer. We nailed down the songs pretty fast since we were already familiar with each other’s playing style. On top of that, I was having fun again.
There’s a lot of speed, aggression, adrenaline in the lyrics of Witchseeker. Where does the band find inspiration for the lyrics?
Sheikh: The inspiration really comes from everywhere really. I don’t really know how to explain this specifically. A lot of the lyrical ideas just come about at the weirdest timings, like when I’m taking a bus, watching the news, or going to bed. Sometimes fantasy, maybe personal or someone else’s experiences, etc. Sometimes a title just pops in my head and I’ll just scribble down some words here and there, and a song is born. I try not to write too much about a specific, or current events. But what I can tell, that musically, the best inspiration to write music is when you listen to new music. That’s where you’ll get more excited and creative to write more material.
With only 2 tracks as the preview of the new album so far, are there any surprises that the band has packed in the album for followers of Witchseeker?
Sheikh: It is really something different compared to what we have done with our last 2 releases. It’s a new year, a new release, a new chapter of Witchseeker. You’ll definitely hear some of the fastest, yet slow, yet head crushing, riff catching, heart singing tunes. We have more to say than just Wishing You Were Mine. Haha. In other words, there’s a song for everyone on this album.
Brandon, you’ve also played for local “funcore” band, Truth Be Known. What was the experience like, and how has it helped you grow as a musician and a performer?
Brandon: Unfortunately, I have left Truth Be Known in October 2017. But of course, the experience was great. TBK has been around in the music scene for a long time and being able to play with them was definitely an honor for me. It initially started out to be a session role for their overseas shows in Taiwan and Hong Kong, and they eventually decided to make me their permanent guitarist. It was an unforgettable trip with them, and being able to hang out with other great overseas bands like Charm Charm Chu (HK) and Truth Corroded (AUS), forging friendship and sharing knowledge with each other was something money can’t buy.
Playing with TBK allowed me to acquire knowledge and experience playing locally or overseas, and this was part of what helped me to where I am now, to know the actual preparations needed to be done before each show. As TBK always promises a show filled with stage presence, every show for me was always running, headbanging, jumping and stances while playing, which slowly developed into the way I play live with Witchseeker now.
Finally, the band is releasing its album on 16 Dec, this Saturday. What can fans of the band expect, and where does the band go from here?
Both: What people can expect from us is a full-on high, loud, head-banging set from us! Some surprises but most importantly a good time!
Sheikh: From here on, we look forward to playing more shows locally, as well as overseas. Also, working on new material, perhaps an EP or maybe a second album. It’s already in the works, so let’s see shall we?