There are so many bands out there doing so many interesting things, it's hard to know where to turn. That's why we've created Uprising, a recurring feature offering a concise introduction to a band or artist that we think slays, covering their origins, process and vision. Our latest subject is Bewitcher, a diabolical trio from Portland, Oregon, who's blackened speed–meets–trad metal assault is displayed on their forthcoming third record Cursed Be Thy Kingdom (dropping via Century Media on April 16th).
We recently caught up with vocalist and guitarist M. von Bewitcher to find out what makes his band tick, and how, exactly, Bewitcher are manifesting "the eternally burning black flame of the devil's rock & roll."
WHO IS BEWITCHER? PLEASE GIVE US A BRIEF HISTORY ON HOW YOU CAME TOGETHER.
M. VON BEWITCHER Bewitcher officially started in 2013 as a studio project between myself and [bassist] A. Magus. I wrote some songs and we recorded them in his apartment. Those recordings resulted in a handful of demo tapes which we released over the next year or so. We started working with some drummers and began playing live shows in 2015. Three LPs, many tours and one new drummer [A. Hunter] later ... and here we are.
IF YOU HAD TO DESCRIBE YOUR BAND'S MISSION STATEMENT, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
We are the torchbearers of the eternally burning black flame of the devil's rock & roll.
HOW DID YOU FIRST GET INTO EXTREME METAL?
I had cousins and friends that were always introducing me to heavier, faster bands when I was 12 or 13. It starts with AC/DC and Metallica, then you work your way up to Slayer and Sepultura, into death and black metal ... I suppose it was probably Kill 'Em All or Show No Mercy that was the gateway drug, so to speak, to everything else.
BEING IN A BAND, WHAT'S THE HARDEST CHALLENGE YOU HAVE COME ACROSS SO FAR, AND HOW DID YOU OVERCOME IT?
The biggest challenge is just constant change and adapting to whatever comes at you. When you have a "regular" lifestyle you get up, go to work, come home ... wash, rinse, repeat. On tour every day is different. When you come home you have to figure out how to pay the bills, so you're always hustling. There's just not a lot of room for any routine, so you live with more of a survivalist mindset.
OBVIOUSLY LIVE SHOWS ARE ON HOLD RIGHT NOW, BUT BEFORE COVID WHAT WAS YOUR PRESHOW RITUAL?
Guitar warm-ups, cocktails, light stretches, evacuate bowels ... not necessarily in that order.
WHAT'S THE BEST PART OF BEING ON TOUR AND WHAT'S THE WORST PART?
Being away from home is the best and worst part ... because regular life can be boring in comparison. But sleeping in your own bed is mighty righteous.
SPEAKING OF SLEEP, WHAT'S THE WEIRDEST PLACE YOU'VE CRASHED OUT ON TOUR?
Sleep on tour? That's cute.
WHAT'S THE MOST MEMORABLE THING THAT'S EVER HAPPENED AT ONE OF YOUR SHOWS?
The craziest thing for me is still when people show up. I'm too distracted by that to notice anything else!
HAVE YOU DEVELOPED ANY NEW CREATIVE ROUTINES OR OBSESSIONS OVER THE LAST YEAR DURING THE PANDEMIC'S RESTRICTIONS?
Exercise, meditation, healing and repairing old injuries.
OUTSIDE OF THE BAND, AND MUSIC IN GENERAL, WHAT ARE YOUR PASSIONS?
Forest walks, history, weed, old-school wrasslin', road trips with the girlfriend.
THE VIDEO FOR "VALLEY OF THE RAVENS" TAPS INTO SOME SERIOUS RITUAL-KILLER MOVIE VIBES. IS HORROR A BIG INSPIRATION FOR YOU?
I'm not much of a horror buff, but I like the old Texas Chainsaw movies, Halloween, Dawn of the Dead...
DO YOU HAVE ANY MUSICAL INFLUENCES THAT MIGHT SURPRISE LISTENERS?
It's probably not too surprising, but old blues and 70s rock are a pretty heavy influence. It's the foundation of everything we do musically, so you have to show the proper respect!
WHAT BAND OR MUSICAL ARTIST ARE YOU THE BIGGEST FAN OF? ANY SUPERFAN STORIES?
Metallica, Bathory, Judas Priest, Thin Lizzy, W.A.S.P. ... can't say I've met any of 'em.
IF YOU COULD ONLY PLAY ONE OF YOUR SONGS FOR SOMEONE TO INTRODUCE THEM TO YOUR BAND, WHAT SONG WOULD IT BE AND WHY?
"Electric Phantoms." It best encapsulates the band's current overall vibe.
BEWITCHER EXPLORE SATANIC OR DIABOLICAL THEMES IN YOUR MUSIC. DO THESE IDEOLOGIES ALSO PLAY A ROLE IN YOUR LIFE AND WORLDVIEW OUTSIDE OF MUSIC?
It's really just about following your own path, figuring out what works best for you and focusing on fixing your own problems rather than worrying about what the fuck everybody else is doing.
THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST BOASTS NOTABLE METAL ALUMNI LIKE AGALLOCH, TOXIC HOLOCAUST, YOB, MELVINS, THE ACCÜSED AND MORE. HOW WOULD YOU SAY BEWITCHER FIT INTO THAT LINEAGE… OR STAND APART FROM IT?
I really don't think about it. We haven't been around for nearly as long as those bands, so it seems silly to compare us to them in any way.