Before I begin my phonecall with Kristian Bell, lead singer of The Wytches, I sit in my attic room listening to the band’s grimy guitar riffs and raspy vocals. Their darkly poetic lyrics conjure magnificent imagery of “graveyard girls” and “feline eyes”, leading me to believe The Wytches are more than just the graveyard boys they are frequently portrayed as. After seeing them live at The Duchess in October under a haze of ominous dark blue light, I begin to feel my ideas surrounding The Wytches have been as obscured as the band’s vision has, by their long locks of messy hair.
I begin by asking Kristian about the ‘Surf-doom’ genre they ironically created for themselves in their debut album, Annabel Dream Reader. He explains how it “was a joke we came up with”, confessing that he doesn’t understand “why having a genre attached to [their music] is necessary”. While The Wytches take their music in all sincerity, they are proving that they can distance themselves from their “dark moody lyrics”. Kristian explains to me that people take them too seriously- not only is having a genre unnecessary but the concept of purposefully creating an ‘image’ of the band perplexes him. The band are keen to demonstrate their more comical side in the interview, laughing about how they each “try to fit in as many [hair] windmills as possible” , its jollity like this that releases the band from the melancholic, angsty-teen image which the industry has attributed to them.
After moving to Brighton, The Wytches quickly established that they “felt misplaced with the line ups…we were the grosser version of the other bands”. However, they explain how this puts them at an advantage, because they were so different to the other bands playing the scene. However ‘gross’ The Wytches are, they are keen to show their appreciation of their fans: “we’re not exactly like a massive band or anything. When you get to see a band that you are that excited over that you wanna jump up with them, because we’re not nobheads or rockstars, people can come over to us without feeling weird”. Well, as non-weird as you can feel while talking to the trio, one of whom wants to become a “freelance space barber” if things go wrong…
Although the band appears akin to a group of teenage boys with social anxiety- solitary and misunderstood, they are currently touring with their close friends on tour, ‘Blonde Bunny, ‘Kagoule’, and ‘Kid Wave’ to name a few. I ask ‘If you could pick a fourth band member who would it be and why?’ and rather than a light-hearted answer of some lead guitarist from an obscure 60’s psychedelic band, I was surprised by their honesty. Kristian discloses that there used to be a fourth member of The Wytches who left to pursue a career in illustration. They’d agreed with this illusive fourth member that “when he feels like he wants to jump on” they will gladly welcome him back, perhaps as an organ player, they joke.
As the conversation comes to an end I feel as though I am being let into a secret. Talking about Annabel Dream Reader, Bell confesses how he “did doubt it for a while because it was so old”, revealing that the band had been sitting on the album for almost a year prior to its release. He explains how the style of their music has changed because he “wrote most of it when [he] was 17”, later taking inspiration from experience and “water[ing] it down so it sounds a bit more poetic.” “I could never try and write about something nice. Well no, I could now, not then”. Luckily Bell speaks reassuringly about their newer material, “the songs got better with time, the new stuff is a lot more melodic.” It looks like the boys are progressing from their angsty teenage years to make their unruly music more refined, ready for 2015.
The Wytches’ debut album Annabel Dream Reader is out now on Partisan Records.
By Kelsey Chambers