It’s been six year since WITCHERY’s latest release to return with a new full-length record called “In His Infernal Majesty’s Service”. Metalpaths conducted an interview with guitarist Patrik Jensen who talks about the new album, the line-up changes of the band and touring plans.
How do you feel now that your new album is out?
I feel fantastic! The reception the album has gotten has been overwhelming and eventho the album celebrates the band’s 20th anniversary, I think the band still sounds like it’s a young and hungry band. I am very happy with the outcome of the album.
Can you tell us a few things concerning the composing and recording process of the album? It took you 6 years since your previous release.
The reason to why it’s taken 6 years is that the different members of the band all have so much else to do with their main bands. There’s always someone on tour or in the studio, which means they are unavailable for working on Witchery songs. However, the usual writing process for Witchery goes like this: Our rehearsal places is located under an office, so we can only start making “noise” at 17 o’clock during weekdays, so rehearsals start at 17. We rehearse until around midnight, but sometimes keep going until 01 or 02 in the morning. The next day I go back to the rehearsal place at around 10 o’clock to work on the problems we had from last night and to write new riffs/songs. The others come down at around 17 o’clock and they have take-away food with them for me. I eat, and then we get going on what I have written before they arrived. We usually keep that going to about a week at a time. After 3 or 4 of these get-togethers (we live in different cities) we usually have enough songs for an album ready. What feedback did you receive for your new album so far ?
In fact pretty overwhelming reviews! We knew that the material was good and that the album sounded great, but we weren’t prepared that others would hear it to. I think the choice of recording with Daniel Bergstrand really helped us a lot. He understood exactly what we were trying to achieve and brought that out onto the album. We sound raw and full of energy, and Daniel was capable to transmit that to the album.
You also had some changes in your line-up. Can you tell us a few things concerning the departures of Magus and Martin and some information about the new members of the band?
In Caligula’s case it’s pretty tragic. We were planning on him singing on this album all up until the first week in the studio. Then he called us to tell us he had seen his doctor. We knew that he had had problems with his balance during the reunion tour of the classic line-up he did with Dark Funeral a few months prior to us entering the studio. He thought it was just something temporary and that it would go away by itself, but it didn’t. His doctor told him that he had had a sudden decrease in his hearing and that there was a problem with his inner ear which caused him to experience vertigo when subjected to loud volumes of noise and/or music. His doctor said he couldn’t expose himself to any loud environments anymore due to risks of losing his hearing completely, so.. he had to quit playing music. A very tragic ending to a long and successful career in music. Luckily, Witchery guitar player Rikard knew this guy in Witchery’s “home town” that sang in a band called Nekrokraft. We met up with him and decided to give him the job. As we were already in the studio things were pretty stressful without having a singer, but Angus turned out to be a godsent. He really delivers on the album and carries some of the songs almost on his own! Martin left due to our scheduling problems. You can rehearse without a guitarist, without a bassist or without a singer, but you always need the drummer to be present. Martin volunteered to leave the band to not hold us back from creating a 20th anniversary album. The Haunted’s Marco Aro recommended Chris to me and he also fitted into the band perfectly with his very energetic style of playing.The album at some points sounds to me a bit more “punky” in comparison with “Witchkrieg”. Do you agree, and if so, was it something that came out naturally or did you plan to do it this way?
I think what you hear is the difference between the two producers on the two albums, Tue Madsen and Daniel Bergstrand. Tue has a heavier but cleaner sound to his productions in general. Daniel listened more to what the band was about and captured that in his production. I am personally very feed up with too clean and too perfect productions, where everything has been edited so much that there is no personality left in the music. Some bands/producers feel that a perfect production is one without playing errors and has perfect time-keeping, I see a perfect production as choosing the song take that has the been feeling to it. The take where you can really hear how much the band is passionate about their music. I am very happy with the production on this album even if some people might perceive it as more “punky”, because you can hear that we aren’t not playing on being safe or playing detached to the music. People have said about this album that it sounds so passionate that it could’ve been your first album! I don’t know many bands that have been around for 20 years that you can say they sound just as hungry on their 20th anniversary album as they did when they started out.
Do you think there are any limits for experimentation within the thrash metal or in case you pass the borders then you probably won’t be thrash anymore?
I personally think that it is really hard to pinpoint what style of music Witchery plays. It’s a mix of thrash metal, heavy metal, black metal and even hard rock. Because of this I don’t forsee any limitations to what we can do. But we would never limit ourselves by calling the band a “thrash band” because that would make things both harder and.. more uninteresting, I think.
How difficult is to priorize things between two full time bands?
I am no longer a full time musician. I went back to the university a few years ago and now work as an IT consultant, but before that it was The Haunted that was paying the bills for 13 years. In such a case you really do have to prioritize that band that pays the bills. We have however always had a very positive vibe within Witchery, so even though its sometimes been long between us getting together to play live or to make an album we have never thought about splitting up. We simply have too much fun in this band to end it. I think this latest album in a way proves us right. We are still relative even after being around for 20 years.
Are there any plans for touring ?
We would love to tour. We would also love to play festivals, so if you or anyone who reads this have connections within the Greek metal festival scene, then please spread the word that we are very much a live playing band again!
Any chance to see you here in Greece?
Its just a matter of getting in touch with our booking agent. We want to play Greece since we kow the Greek fans are very dedicated and loyal.
Thank you for your time Patrik. Anything you want to say to the Greek fans?
Thank you so very much for your support. Greece is an incredible place to play live in so we cant wait for the chance to go there to play! Please help us make it happen!