WITCH HUNT – INTERVIEW

 Witch Hunt are without a doubt Leeds’ hottest new duo. Comprised of Chris Mulligan and Louisa Osborn, Leeds College Of Music graduates, they play an instantly arresting brand of blues tinged rock and roll that ranges from the beautiful and haunting to the straight-up kick ass. The fact that they are both very talented guitarists combined with Louisa’s gorgeous voice and Chris’ penchant for programming, means that they come off just as weighty as a full band and are guaranteed to peak your interest. Seen as they have their second single, Crawl, coming out on Dead Young Records next week, JAM caught up with them for a chat.

JAM: How do you guys split the song writing and musicianship between you?

CHRIS: Well, I play guitar. We record together but I take care of most of the heavy-duty production.

LOUISA: And I sing and play minimal guitar.

J: What would you site as your main musical influences?

L: I think we have quite similar musical tastes, almost identical really. I think a lot of the Thom Yorke, ‘Atoms For Peace’ stuff, we’re really influenced by. As a collective, ‘The Desert Sessions’ by Josh Holme and PJ Harvey…

C: The White Stripes.

J: I guess The White Stripes are quite an easy comparison.

L: We love The Kills as well. We get compared to them quite a lot, obviously because of the girl/boy duo thing.

C: And then just good rock, like The Queens Of The Stone Age and The Dead Weather.

L: Anything Jack White does.

J: What are your first memories of music in terms of what got you into playing?

L: I think mine was The Beatles’, ‘Revolver’ album and Nirvana ‘Unplugged’. Kurt Cobain really got me into playing guitar.

J: That’s much cooler than most people’s answer I would imagine.

L: Well, I skipped some!

C: My Dad was a massive Beatles fan and had an acoustic guitar, so I just wanted to learn that from the age of about eleven.

J: I know you were both students at Leeds College Of Music, which seems to be a real hotspot at the moment, with a number of great bands. Did you guys start playing together there or was it something you did independent of that scene?

L: We didn’t have anything to do with each other at college really.

C: You were still in your final year and I’d just left. I think I’d seen you play some acoustic things and you’d seen my other band, Buffalo Bones.

L: It was a Buffalo’s gig at the Rock’N’Roll Circus. Every six months they do a thing called ‘Freak Out’, which is just a night of madness and music and I saw Chris playing there. That’s how we met really. It wasn’t anything to do with the college.

 

J: How do you feel that you fit into the Leeds music scene?

C: There are certain groups of bands that seem to stick together. I mean, living in this house, we have Alice from Post War Glamour Girls, so we see them a lot. I think in general, the Leeds music scene is great because, you can just do what you want. You don’t really have to fit in and there’s always going to be people enjoying what you do and wanting to help you out. I think it’s great for that. It’s so refreshing to see so many bands doing their individual things, as bonkers as you want, and there’s an audience for and people who want to put on the gigs. I think that’s great.

J: What kind of reception has your music had?

L: Really good actually.

C: yeah, it’s been really surprising, really encouraging. We’ve had people getting involved. We’ve had fans make us gifts.

L: Oh my goodness! At the launch a guy gave us a wooden plaque with Witch Hunt engraved on it. I couldn’t believe it that he’d taken the time to do it and come to the gig; an absolutely lovely guy.

J: You’ll have to feature it in the next music video then ,I guess.

L: Yeah! I think we’re going to take it to our gigs.

C: If only we hadn’t lost it!

L: No, no! Nick has it, thank god.

C: It got to the end of the gig and we were like, “Where is that wooden thing?!”.

L: It’s because there’s only the two of us, we have so much gear to sort out. It was the only thing we forgot at Oporto! Our friends do have it though and they’ve taken photos of it, so I know they have it.

C: The only thing people ask is “Where’s the drummer?”

L: I suppose it’s totally fair but it’s becoming more of a thing to see two people in a band. We get a lot of people asking if we’ll get some drums and a bit of keyboards in there and it’s like, “No, not really”. I think the whole challenge of Witch Hunt is to sound like a full band with only two people. It’s not as though we’ve forgotten to add those elements. We have Witch Hunt as two people because we work so well together.

J: Aside from the obvious guitar, how do you build a whole song?

C: It’s all drum machine and then I can kind of change that by adding echoes and delays and chopping bits up. I can do all of that on stage so it all becomes like an instrument in of itself. It’s not as though we’re just pressing play and then jamming along. I can alter it all live.

L: And you can build it as well which is the most important thing because I think that does add the volume of a whole band, the technology becomes, like Chris said, a live instrument. We’ve definitely been writing more stuff that builds as a whole song, like a drummer would play I suppose, which is really cool. I hope it gets recognised that we don’t need a drummer!

J: I believe you had a release party at Oporto on the 1st for your new single, ‘Crawl’, which comes out later this month. Could you tell me about the label that it comes out on?

C: It’s Dead Young Records, which is a local Leeds based label and I’ve known the guys who run it since I’ve been in the city. They’re putting it out as a free Internet download or as a special edition CD that comes poster-wrapped.

J: How did the single launch itself go?

L: It was really awesome, thank you! We had a band on first called Quit Yer Sen, formerly known as The Shithawks Of Time, and they did a cover of ‘Crawl’, which is one of the best things I’ve ever seen.

C: It was half an hour of improvised stuff and then they had a sample with bits of ‘Crawl’ on it and just spoke the lyrics. We didn’t even know it was going to happen.

L: I really enjoyed Battle Lines, I hadn’t seen them before, and Herb Diamante as well, was incredible as always. It all went really well, we sold some CD’s. It was just a weird little party at Oporto.

C: I’m glad that we could just do our own kind of night, with loads of weird bands.

 

J: Have you appeared with any notable artists and also, who has been your favourite to play with, thus far?

C: Recently we did Veronica Falls at the Brudenell Social Club and we did Wolf Alice but my favourite so far is definitely Thomas Truax.

L: Thomas Truax is awesome!

C: Thomas Truax is this guy from New York who has this persona as this, sort of, Edisonian inventor. He invents instruments, one of which is a gramophone with a microphone inside that he shouts into, he has another which is a drum machine made from a big bike wheel that spins round and hits things. It’s incredible, amazing really.

L: I think Herb [Diamante] as well.

C: Yeah, and Herb. I think we just go for those kind of characters. People who are doing something so out there.

L: They egg you on.

C: I loved Herb last night because it was Oporto and free to get in, so not everyone was there with the understanding of what the gig was about. You ended up with the perfect combination of people who were there for the music and some people who were just coming in, like “What the fuck is this?!”

 

J: As we’ve talked about, you have a single out now. Are there any plans in the works for an EP or album release any time soon?

C: We have a bunch of tracks recorded and we’re looking at around autumn time to do something but we’re not quite sure what.

L: It’s nice just having some tracks there, hanging in the balance, but we’ll see what happens. We have a secret link on Soundcloud but that’s about it so far.

C: We have the tracks so we’ll probably do an EP at some point, possibly autumn but there’s nothing official planned.

J: I noticed you guys are on the line-up for Long Division Festival, which we will actually be covering. Do you have any more festival bookings for the summer?

L: Yeah, we have Live At Leeds, which we’re really excited about because it’ll be our first year there and they’ve just announced Liverpool Sound City, which we’re actually playing the Friday before Live At Leeds. So, that’ll be a good couple of weekends.

C: I think that’s about it for now. We’re working on other festivals though.

J: As a final question, to wrap things up, what’s your favourite dinosaur?

C: I always liked the Diplodocus, the big one with the long neck. I’m not sure why, I just always liked it. Maybe its because it’s a veggie. A big veggie!

L: Is there a dinosaur that like, lays down?

J: You mean like a snake-dinosaur?

L: Like a lizard.

J: Er… Maybe.

L: Ok, the flying one.

Crawl comes out as a free download or a limited edition CD with a hand printed poster, on Dead Young records next week. See the following links to get your copy.

Image, Words & Interview: Benjamin Paul

www.facebook.com/deadyoungrecords

www.facebook.com/wearewitchhunt

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