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KING WITCH on Scotland's Metal Scene, Music During Times of Crisis and the Magic Behind 'Body of Light'

Alan Swan Photography

You may not be well acquainted with Edinburgh, Scotland's King Witch, with their powerhouse vocalist Laura Donnelly and bandmates Jamie Gilchrist, Rory Lee and Lyle Brown churning out old-school-meets-new doom married metal on steroids. If that's the case, take this time to fix that.

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Following up their highly acclaimed debut LP Under the Mountain in 2018, the band is set to double down on their witches brew of style meeting substance with Body of Light, which touches down May 22nd through Listenable Records.

Donnelly and Gilchrist caught up with Metal Injection for a walk through Scotland's metal community, insights into their varying influences and the reality of releasing a sophomore record at a time when music fans are more than ready for a welcomed distraction.

On COVID-19 and the Music Industry

Jamie: Yeah, It's really a hard time. I mean, from a practical standpoint, at the moment almost the entire tour has been canceled … It's unlikely that there will be any live support for it for some time. Of course none of us really know how long that's going to be. It's uncharted territory. We don't even really know when we're going to play in the same room again.

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Laura: We'll just need to get a bit inventive if we're not able to play live shows or be in the same room together. Maybe we'll see if we can do some sort of online live-streams possibly, because obviously people are home a lot more. I think it's going to require a bit of creative thought.

Jamie: On the other hand people have lots of time to be listening to new music. The people will be listening to new music, but this time the plan is to make sure that the people hear it.

On the Evolution of King Witch

Jamie: Our first EP was basically a demo that came out quite good and got a good response. So we released that as an EP. The first album, which I really loved, came together in the midst of quite a few lineup changes. We were still quite a new band and we started recording shortly after the demo, but we got a lot of interest quickly. And it was quite a mad process, the first album. The writing process was a bit disjointed. But with Body of Light and with the kind of solid lineup that we've had over the last couple of years, there's a writing process and the way the songs came together just felt like one continuous line, if you like. We started it, demoed it, tweaked it, and went into the studio. And then we did the whole album. It was more of a natural flow.

Alan Swan Photography

On Influencing Forces
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Jamie: We never aim to sound in a particular way. That's kind of how it has been since we started the band. It's like we just want to write songs that we feel come out naturally. I always think if a band is aiming to sound a particular way, you can usually tell and not necessarily in a good way. So we're just going to write the songs that come out.

But the combination of influences is definitely a two sided thing. You have your classic 70s sounding stuff and then you have your modern, more heavier and I think maybe it just works. It goes together.

When I was a kid I was just really obsessed with Black Sabbath and Metallica. It wasn't really until I was older that I had any interest to play lead but I was just obsessed with Hetfield and Iommi. Master of RealitySabbath Bloody Sabbath and Master of Puppets when I was like twelve years old, I became deeply obsessed with them. As I got older stuff like Rainbow, Candlemass and then Mastadon really had a big effect on me when I was growing up.

Laura: I was really into Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd's The Wall in and Zeppelin's Physical Graffiti in particular. I'm also a huge fan of The Song Remains the Same tour album from 76. Just amazing. Hendrix, I was a huge fan of Hendrix as well, and Sabbath too, but like Jamie was saying as I got older it was bands like Candlemass, High on Fire and bands like that. Initially it would have been sort of a more broadly kind of classic rock kind of style.

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On Scotland's Metal Community

Jamie: Well, when I was growing up and going to school there was like two metalheads in my school and I was in a fuckin' huge school. There was like 600 people in every year. It was massive and it was only me and one other guy in my year. Everyone else was into Oasis and Blur and fuckin' Britpop. So, yeah, it was weird. It wasn't till I left school that I started to meet more like minded people. Kyuss was a big influence on me when I was a youngster. When I first heard Sky Valley it blew me away.

Me and Laura were in another band years ago, Firebrand Super Rock, for quite a long time years ago and we kind of came up through the Edinburgh scene. The Edinburgh scene now is really, really cool. It used to be quite disjointed. You'd only have one bill, and it would just be death metal or one bill would just be thrash or punk and it was quite segregated. But these days It seems really healthy, a much healthier scene and you'll hear a lot of different kinds of music.

On Laura's Album Art
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Laura: Yeah, I think it's been really cool. And I do graphics as my day job anyway. And we've always been doing stuff in our own DIY way. One, because it helps moneywise because there's obviously not alot of money in the music business these days, but it kind of feels and makes it a bit more personal. Particularly with this album. Vocally or politically, a lot of the songs actually have sort of a running theme. And I thought that this image of some astral projection, space-vibe on the front covered quite a lot of the ideas running through the songs. It was really fun to do as well. And I'm happy that people seem to dig it.

On Thinking Outside of the Box

Jamie: With the videos we've always just kind done what presented itself as an option with someone to work with at the time. We've never really been one to just shell out a lot of money and get a fancy performance video done. We've just been lucky enough to be able to work with people, and come out with some really cool or creative ideas that are realistic for us to achieve. Mentioning "Beneath the Waves", that was a really cool concept that was really well pulled off and a lot of fun. And it's really cool to have something like that to add onto your music.

Parting Thoughts & Potential Future Plans
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Jamie: Logistically, even before all this, VISA-wise it has always been quite tricky (to tour North America), but we've been contacted by a fair few promoters in the past. So if it was something that we can make happen, that would be fantastic. So we'll see what happens. Realistically, after all this calms down, we're going to see a sort of a mad rush for everyone trying to rebook their tours for anyone who has had theirs cancelled. Obviously everyone wants to play the big festivals and stuff, and we'd like to do some of that as well. But we generally love getting up close and playing in new countries and places we've not been before. So I really see this album, that the songs are good and I think it's a really solid piece of work. I'd like to see it promoted as well as we were able to do it. Just how we do that remains to be seen.

Alan Swan Photography

I've been in a few bands and have recorded quite a lot of albums … most of the time when you spend that much time working on a piece of music, by the end of it you don't know what you think of it. You step away and wait to see what people think. But this one really does feel different.

Laura: It does feel different. I've got a good feeling about it. It gives me goosebumps when I listen to some of the songs, which is cool. And the song "Of Rock and Stone" that we put out recently, quite a lot of people have said the same thing. I thought that's pretty cool to hear people say that.

Jamie: The wave of feedback that we're starting to get now is really looking quite special. I'm just really proud of it as a piece of work. I think it flows well and I'm just really looking forward to seeing how the world receives it.

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