The BIG Über Rock Interview: Virginia Monti (Psychedelic Witchcraft) Print E-mail
Written by Richard Hobson   
Saturday, 23 December 2017 04:00

The occult is making a big comeback, the founding pillar of rock and metal having been left neglected this past decade (or two) as other lyrical topics became much more prevalent. But now, it’s back – and in a big way.

 

Hailing from the spiritual capital of that most hated, self-professed enemy of rock n roll (the church, if you need ask), Italian doom rockers Psychedelic Witchcraft conjure the primordial spirit of rock n roll with a selection of doom soaked riffs that harkens back to the likes of Black Sabbath and Jefferson Airplane alike. I was lucky enough to chat to vocalist Virginia Monti ahead of the band’s set at Damnation Festival about god, the devil and everything in between…

 

Psychedelic Witchcraft Virginia Monti

 

“I’m having a lovely time,” she told when we met.

 

“It’s an exclusive show today but we’re going to come back to the UK next year – I love it here. We’re pretty happy with what’s happening, proud of this new record. We hope we can tour as much as we can in 2018. Being at Damnation is a blessing, I really hope the crowd is going to enjoy every new sound!”

 

Do you have any festivals like this back home?

 

Not really; Italy is a really tough crowd, because they aren’t used to going to gigs and participating. We have more of a crowd here, to be honest.

 

How important do you think it is, for festivals like Damnation to exist?

 

It’s very important, for the live show it’s fundamental. Nowadays the request for bands is so high, we have so many bands online, so the live show is the only thing that you can get people really convinced about and really share through emotion.

 

How’s the reception been for ‘Sound Of The Wind’?

 

It’s been pretty good so far; again, I’m very proud of this record. I haven’t heard too much, but what I have heard, people have been really enjoying it and enjoying us as a band.

 

The record dropped yesterday, which is pretty good timing on your part…

 

I know! I’ve been waiting for this record for six months now, dreading the day it comes out. I feel like this is our true sound, more than ‘The Vision’ and more than ‘Black Magic Man’, because its really how we sound live, which was a concern with our last records. The reviews so far have been good, and I think it’s become people have been more honest. In May I want to start recording a new one, because my idea is to have four albums, one per year, starting with ‘The Vision’.

 

How’re things coming for that?

 

We’ve already written the songs, I just need to talk to our label about getting us into a studio again. They’ve been very supportive, so I’m sure they’ll manage! We record at Elfo studio in Italy which is in the middle of nowhere. I love those guys; they understand us totally and let us record it live. So basically, all the guys play together in the same room to get that live feeling, then I overdub my vocals.  We recorded the last one in four or five days.

 

Would you say recording in the middle of nowhere helps the sound of the band?

 

Well yeah – we can speak the same language and at Elfo studio they’re very passionate about 60s and 70s music as well, so it was very easy to manage the whole recording. It was a lovely experience.

 

What would you say are the biggest developments between ‘Sound Of The Wind’ and ‘The Vision’?

 

 

The arrangements, first of all. The lyrics are better constructed – in my opinion – I like them on ‘The Vision’ but they were very simple, which was the point, because The Vision represented the fire element, but with ‘Sound Of The Wind’, which represents the element of air, it was more about inner creation. So we build the songs, destroy them then build them again. It’s a more reflective album, which I like – personally.

 

What were your biggest influences going in to write this record?

 

A lot! Everything from Electric Wizard to Jefferson Airplane, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin II, Jimi Hendrix… All the great stuff from the ‘70s. Even blues bands like Big Momma Thornton, Robert Johnson, Diana Washington… We were influenced by a lot of stuff and I try to take everything and make it personal. I try, at least!

 

Other than stylistic influences, are there any themes or images that you find yourself going back to?

 

I always go back to horror movies. On this latest record you get ‘The Warrens’, dedicated to ‘The Conjuring’ and those movies, that couple. From ‘Angela’ on I always have to put out a horror movie song all the time. Horror has always been my life, part of my vibe and I don’t think I’ll ever lose that because it’s part of me.

 

Rock music and horror have always gone hand in hand, after all...

 

Well yeah, I think I probably grew up as a rocker and just didn’t know! It’s always that, and honesty. I always talk about my personal experiences, because that’s what I’m living. I could never write about something I wasn’t living, I just need to be honest. If people like it – good. If they don’t – well, that’s my life.

 

How important do you think occult imagery is to heavy music?

 

I think for heavy music, its always been a part of it – metal and rock n roll have always been about rebellion. If you think about the figure of Lucifer, it’s not only Satan, it’s about finding the light in the darkness. So, the outcast people, they want to find the truth, they don’t want to be ruled by a god they don’t even understand. They want to find wisdom – I have been an outcast myself, getting mocked for being different. In a scenario like this, we find each other – because we’ve all been outcasts, we’ve all been different. In horror we find the perfect metaphor for life.

 

There are more and more bands emerging now that have a similar backstory to yourselves, especially in regards to being the vision of a single artist. Why do you think that is?

 

If I’m honest, I never wanted to start a band. I always sang, I always played but I never really felt like it was the moment for bringing the music to the outside. All of a sudden, I said to myself, I had an inner voice that said ‘Virginia, you need to do this now’ and I put something on YouTube and it went viral and that was it. I feel like I have a sort of guardian angel that put my into this role – there are a lot of bands doing this, some bands are really good and are really honest. Some… I don’t like to use the word posers, but I think they are getting in the way because it’s the fashion.

 

We are artists and artists talk to a generation, you have to do things because they’re a part of you. The metal scene is great because metal doesn’t need anything other than itself. So, the posers will fade away and the real bands will stay. It can be cruel sometimes, but it’s very honest and I’m honoured that metalheads choose our band to listen to. It’s the best thing it could ever be.

 

How important is total creative control to you?

 

It’s very important. I had the first vision and my bandmates followed that, they completed it. I put out the first notes and they turned them into songs. It’s a communication of souls, together. I believe I found Jacopo (guitars), Riccardo (bass) and Mirko (drums) because we were meant to play together. We’re four very different people, but our lives went in a certain way that makes it feel like we were destined to play together. I wrote that on the album; I thanked the goddesses, because she created the only way we could pursue.

 

So what role does spirituality play in the band?

 

It’s very important to the band. I believe in reincarnation, I am very spiritual and do a lot of meditation. Even if my bandmates don’t necessarily do that – they’re different to me – I believe that they feel my energy. I can feel that in band practices – when I’m low, it doesn’t go so well. It’s all about that communication of energy. I believe that – even if some people accuse me of not being ‘a real witch’, or being a poser, but because I believe that witchcraft is a very intimate feeling I don’t need that – witchcraft is the knowledge of the hidden ones, so I keep my rituals to my close friends but certainly talk about the energy and spirituality. I hope people connect with our spirituality on this record.

 

How much do the players you have in the band affect the material you write for albums?

 

I think it’s amazing – it’s not just me feeding into things. I write the basics of a song, but then they come along and Mirko will put some drums in and go “why don’t we do that?”, Jacopo brings something on guitar… We all together create Psychedelic Witchcraft and we all created this record, which is why I’m so proud of it.

 

Were there any difficulties in the beginning with adapting the songs as written by yourself into songs that could be played by a whole band?

 

Yes. This record is very true to the way we play live, the only song that we have to arrange today is Sound of the Wind, because there is acoustic guitar going on and I think it sounds pretty good, so I’m pretty excited to see how it goes live.

 

And what is your take on the current state of metal and heavy music?

 

I think it’s doing brilliant. It’s the only genre I think will never die, because it has such solid people. It has people that love buying records, people who really care about shows. You can see that today – there are people queuing to see bands… It’s good!

 

How has coming from Italy affected your approach into breaking into the heavy metal world?

 

Italy gave me the strength to believe in myself. I grew up with people saying “you want to be a singer? It’s just a dream, you’ll never make it” and I’ve proved that I can make it, that I can go abroad and do this. That’s what I want to communicate to every girl – and boy – nothing is impossible, your own will can take you anywhere. And that is witchcraft, the power of will. It’s very important and that’s what Italy taught me.

 

What’s next for Psychedelic Witchcraft – what are your plans for 2018?

 

In 2018 we want to come back to the UK and tour Europe more, doing as much as we can live before we go back to record in May. Hopefully we’ll make it!

 

Sound Of The Wind’ is available now via Listenable Records.

 

www.facebook.com/PsychedelicWitchcraft/

 

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