It's been almost three years since we've gotten a new full-length from Richmond doom crew Windhand, so when the group dropped their new single "Grey Garden" — from their just-announced album, Eternal Return, due out October 5th via Relapse — we were ecstatic to hear that their signature formula of fuzz-heavy slither coupled with an incredibly angelic, yet sorrow-laden vocal is still well intact.
And while "Grey Garden" reveals that the band's sonic foundation remains consistently strong, Windhand — singer Dorthia Cottrell, guitarist Garrett Morris, bassist Parker Chandler and drummer Ryan Wolfe — have definitely progressed: most notably Cottrell's vocals have stepped up to center stage as she weaves her complex well-tuned melodies.
To achieve this new sonic balance, Windhand have again teamed up with producer Jack Endino (with whom they worked on 2015's Grief's Infernal Flower), best known for his work with grunge luminaries Nirvana, Soundgarden and more.
Below, Morris explains why Endino was crucial to creation of Eternal Return, and why the producer "has always been a part of Windhand."
WHAT MAKES JACK ENDINO SO CRUCIAL TO THE WINDHAND SOUND?
GARRETT MORRIS He just knows how to make a great-sounding rock record. And he's probably made some of the best records of the last 30 years. Some of which are my all-time favorite albums. But when I first got into recording as a teenager, Jack was the person that really inspired me to do it. I bought any record he produced, I read every article or interview with him I could find. I just loved the way all his records sounded. It's a bit embarrassing, but I was just trying to emulate the sound of his recordings when I first got started, and even with some of the early Windhand stuff I recorded as well. So really his sound, in a way, has always been a part of Windhand.
AS AN ARTIST, THERE IS A NAGGING NEED FOR EVOLUTION. DID YOU MAKE A CONSCIOUS EFFORT TO PUSH YOUR SOUND INTO ANY NEW DIRECTIONS ON INTEND ON ETERNAL RETURN?
Yeah, there was definitely a conscious effort to make this batch of songs more dynamic and a little more interesting texture-wise and sonically. After we demoed them they just felt like they needed a bit more production than in the past. They really seemed to each have their own identity and personality — unlike our previous records, that were for the most part 65 minutes of guitar riffing with an acoustic song stuck in there to break up the monotony. But yeah, we definitely achieved what we wanted thanks to Jack's help.
DORTHIA'S SOLO WORK IS SPARSE, BEAUTIFUL AND COUNTRY-AND-BLUES INFLECTED. HOW DOES HER STYLE FIT INTO WINDHAND'S RIFFY APPROACH?
Interestingly enough, 90 percent of our music starts off as acoustic songs that are somewhat similar to Dorthia's solo material. We just transfer them over to the electric guitar. The music that Dorthia's contributed in the past, "Evergreen," "Sparrow" and "Aition," were actually solo pieces that she had. So we've somewhat already done it on the previous records. I think in the future, if she contributes material, it'd be fun to experiment more with some instrumentation on them. There was a plan to do that this go around, but unfortunately we just ran short on time.
HOW MANY SONGS DID YOU TRACK WITH ENDINO? WILL ALL OF THEM END UP ON THE LP OR DO YOU SEE YOURSELF DOING ANOTHER SPLIT SOMETIME IN THE FUTURE?
We recorded nine songs with Jack, but unfortunately there weren't any leftovers or B-sides. Everything we brought to the studio ended up on the record. There was talk of a cover song at one point, but we were a bit overwhelmed with what we already had so it never came together.
YOU'VE DONE EXTENSIVE TOURING IN THE PAST SURROUNDING A RELEASE. IS THAT THE INTENT THIS GO AROUND, AS WELL? WHERE WOULD YOU LIKE TO HIT THAT YOU DIDN'T BEFORE?
It definitely won't be as intense as it was in the past. We're older, there's a lot of responsibilities at home now, and it all makes touring a little bit more complicated these days. But we'll definitely be out supporting the record in the U.S. this fall. Europe in the spring and possibly summer of 2019. We still haven't been to Japan — I think we're all keeping our fingers crossed that'll happen at some point down the road.