Death/glam rockers Death Valley Girls have already collaborated with punk godfather Iggy Pop, who starred in their 2018 music video for the single "Disaster (Is What We're After)." Now they've aligned themselves — in a totally different way — with another countercultural icon, Damien Echols, best known as the figurehead of the West Memphis 3, three young men who were convicted of the 1993 murders of three eight-year-old boys from West Memphis, Arkansas, due in large part to Echols' association with heavy metal and Wicca, and despite an overwhelming lack of physical evidence. The case garnered the attention of Metallica, Johnny Depp, Eddie Vedder, Marilyn Manson, Henry Rollins and others, who rallied behind the cause of getting the imprisoned men freed — which they were, finally, in 2011. Since his release, Echols has become an outspoken practitioner of magick and has published numerous books, including High Magick: A Guide to the Spiritual Practices That Saved My Life on Death Row.
Echols' story and his teachings play a big part in Death Valley Girls' new single, a bluesy, heavy cover of Seventies rock group Atomic Roosters' "Breakthrough," which the band has teamed with Revolver to premiere today (May 28th), alongside a brief interview with Echols by singer Bonnie Bloomgarden. Check out the cover and the interview below. Death Valley Girls' Breakthrough EP, featuring the title track and a B-side, is due out June 12th on Suicide Squeeze and available for pre-order now.
"'Breakthrough' is a song we were super into then became obsessed with once we found the lyrics! They are about breaking free from an invisible prison," Bloomgarden explains. "At the time, we were studying Damian Echols, of the West Memphis 3, and his ability to overcome being wrongfully convicted and imprisoned on death row for 18 years. He became a magickian, master meditator, and learned how to astral project. We asked him for a few tips on how energy, intention and music can keep you strong in these strange times."
"The healthier your body, the more energy/chi flows through you, which is what you're working with when you're working with magick." —High Magick
WE KNOW YOU HOW IMPORTANT EXERCISE IS TO YOU! DO YOU LIKE TO LISTEN TO MUSIC WHEN YOU EXERCISE? AND IF SO WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE SONGS OR BANDS TO LISTEN TO!
DAMIEN ECHOLS A lot of times I listen to music to change and expand my consciousness. I listen to music almost constantly from the moment I wake up until the moment I sleep. I listen to it when I am doing my daily ritual work. I do it if I am out walking. For me, I try to surround myself with things that lift me up things that inspire me. I think a lot of times people choose the music they listen to because it resonates with them. For example, someone who is angry likes to listen to angry music, or if someone's in a state of despair, they like to listen to sad music. Like if they're going through a break-up. I found that we choose music that resonates with us, but we can also do the opposite we can listen to music to change ourselves.
WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE SONGS OR BANDS TO LISTEN TO LATELY?
What I listen to now is a lot of unaccompanied instruments. I'm in a state where for the past few weeks I listen to a lot of Bach. Some of my favorite unaccompanied players are Hilary Hahn, Joshua Bell, and I also listen to a lot of Yo-Yo Ma. I find his music to be absolutely incredible.
WE LOVE IN YOUR BOOK WHEN YOU DESCRIBE RIDING A BIKE IN NYC AS PRACTICAL MEDITATION BECAUSE IT REQUIRES TOTAL PRESENCE, ATTENTION AND AWARENESS! WE HAVE A SIMILAR FEELING WHEN PERFORMING LIVE. ITS ALMOST LIKE AN OUT-OF-BODY EXPERIENCE. IS IT POSSIBLE TO ACHIEVE THIS FEELING THROUGH MEDIATION WITHOUT AN ADRENALINE RUSH, OR IS THAT PART NECESSARY?
What you are describing playing live, how it's a kind of rush to the point where it almost feels like an out-of-body experience, is the energy being directed at you. Yes, there are ways in magic, too ... A lot of what magic is, is interaction with energy. It could be the energy of places, the energy of things, the energy of other people. We even try to do things like cultivate our relationships so that all relationships, the reason your relationships exist is so that they serve as a vehicle for both of you to attain higher states of consciousness, help each other evolve. Really, energy is a huge part of our lives in ways that we don't even realize without a lot of introspection and examination and experimentation, so, yes, there are a lot of ways that we practice in magic to receive and give energy both to other people, to ourselves, and to environments. In new age circles, there's a saying that's pretty appropriate: "Where attention goes energy flows," meaning that whatever you put your attention on is what you're going to be directing energy into. Energy is very contagious — for example, if you spend a lot of time around people who are constantly criticizing others, complaining, gossiping, you'll find yourself gradually starting to do the same thing. It's because you are taking on the energy that is surrounding you at all times.