Tuesday 16 April 2019

Interview: Witnesses

NYC-based act Witnesses has been around since 2016 and since its formation the project, which currently features multi-instrumentalist and composer Greg Schwan and violinist Suvo Sur, launched three full-length releases. Their latest is this year's "To Disappear and to Be Nothing" which sees the project shifting more towards epic doom metal.
We talked with Schwan, and below is our conversation about the new record, why Witnesses will never play live, etc.
Alright, first thing is first. Before we dive into all the music stuff, how's life?
Life is strangely good, which perhaps means I should watch for what’s around the corner. But thanks for asking.
Speaking of new music, you have an album. What can people expect from “To Disappear and to be Nothing”?
Hopefully they’ll find some powerful doom metal. I don’t want to classify it much more than that, but we really put a lot of emphasis here on guitars and vocals. Everything is secondary to those two elements. Keyboards and strings are pretty light, and the drumming is very tasteful and restrained. Everything exists to set the stage for guitar harmonies and soaring vocals. In fact, I nearly shitcanned this album because we had such trouble finding the right vocalist. And a lot of people have commented that Kody’s vocals on this album are different. I find that a great thing. I waited to find the right person, and ultimately I think I found someone who really added something and brought the songs to life.
What was it like working on the album?
Like every album, something of a pain in the ass, though the end result is worth it. Technology made it all possible. There has never been a Witnesses rehearsal, nor will there likely ever be. Everything was done virtually with files getting shared across the wire. In fact, I think everything was recorded in five different states. Once everything was tracked I decided to mix it myself, for better or for worse. We looked at some pro studios, but nothing made sense. So I did it myself and released it. In the future I’d love to mix professionally, but it has to be the right set up. I’d only want to work with someone who truly gets what we are doing. 
Are there any touring plans in support to “TDATBN”?
No, 100%. Witnesses will never be a touring band. I basically hate playing live and don’t find it worthwhile. I do think that some of the material would work in a live setting, but I’d get nothing out of it, personally. So, it’s a pretty firm no.

While we are on the subject of touring, what countries would you love to tour?
None. I pretty much think touring would be miserable in any part of the world.
Who and what inspires you the most?
This really varies and changes at particular moments in time. And I am artistically motivated by more than just music. Film and television in particular inspire me a lot. Hell, the first song on TDATBN is called “A game of you”, which I hope some folks recognize from Neil Gaiman’s comic book, “The Sandman”. If I were to take a musical snapshot right now, I’d say I’m most inspired by Warduna and Heilung. This isn’t really apparent in anything we’ve released, but there is an authenticity to what these groups are doing that makes me want to continue. Also, I think these groups demonstrate a sophistication that we need more of. I’ve seen Einar Selvik do his solo performances three times, but in the most recent he remarked how populations are always on the move. This is an incredibly obvious, yet refreshing, perspective that many, many people in the world are forgetting. And in the context of a project that brings old ways into the modern world, very inspiring.
What other genres of music do you listen to? Have any of the other genres you listen to had any impact on your playing?
I listen to every genre of music. Obviously some much more than others, but it strikes me as small-minded to limit oneself. If you dig into our larger catalog you’ll note that we covered Marty Robbins, as an example. And while I don’t think you’ll hear me rapping anytime soon over doom metal, there is older rap from the golden age that I really still enjoy personally. Anyway, less on my playing, but perhaps more on dynamics, I find inspiration in Pärt. Don’t get me wrong, it’s absurd to even mention Witnesses and Pärt in the same sentence, but the lack of dynamics makes metal very boring. And I hope that we can really create great contrast between our quieter, moodier sections, and the big, crushing, down-tuned chords.
I really appreciate you giving us your time today. Is there anything else you would like to tell us and the fans before we wrap things up?

Thank you as well! The only thing I’d leave with is that there is a lot more to come! We will have a follow up single this year and are working on tons of new material. Time is the only limiting factor.

"To Disappear and to Be Nothing" is available from Bandcamp.

Post a Comment

Follow on Instagram

© Metalhorizons. all images are © their respective owners. Design by FCD.