Newsletter: send
Festival AntigelGeneva
Festival Antigel/Geneva
thônex liveGeneva
thônex live/Geneva
Voix De FêteGenève
Voix De Fête/Genève
All Them Witches
Sleeping Through The War

Name of the newest Album:

Sleeping Through The War

Album appearance date:

February 2017
PALP, Monthey :


In  each  buildup  and  breakdown,  every  riff  and  groove  of  Nashville band  All  Them  Witches, there  is  a story. The rockers’  narratives  are often  unspoken,  sourcing  musical  touchstones  from  across  the  States, offering an almost  cinematic  experience  wrapped  up  in  their  propulsive rhythms  and  subtly  funky  anthems.  “As  a  band we  pull  from  every  moment  that we  experience,”  says  vocalist/bassist  Charles  Michael Parks,  Jr.,  “our  influence  is  not  just music,  it’s  our  everyday  life.” Their  explosive  live  show  earned  them  accolades  from their  ceaseless touring  schedule  and  festival  performances  at  events  including  their  2015  Bonnaroo  debut. “None  of  our  shows  are  the  same  twice,” Parks  says,  “we  like  not having  to  get  up  and  playing  the  song the same  way  every  night.  It’s  like  jazz,  where  the  main  parts  are  there, but  the  rest  is  made  up.  We never  say  it,  it  just  happens,  we  let  the  music  talk  for  us.”

The  band  began  as  a  project  between  drummer  Robby  Staebler  and guitarist  Ben  McLeod,  then  expanded to  add Allan  Van  Cleave  on keys  and  Parks  on  bass  and  vocals.  In  the  early  days  of  the  band, Staebler says,  the  band’s  influences  cut  a  wide  swath.  “The  spectrum  of  what  we  listen  to  is  off  the  chain,”  he says,  “but  the  music  that  shaped  the  way  I  play  early  on  was  Pink  Floyd,  and  jazz,  especially  
Sun  Ra,  and  ambient  music  like  Brian  Eno,  and  Boren  and  Der  Club  of  Gore.”  The  band’s  sprawling performances  would  often  coagulate  into  a  singular  unit,  a  live-­wire  electrifying  sound,  which  was  captured on  their  live  recordings  and  first  two  studio  albums,Our  Mother  Electricity (2012)  and  Lightning  at  the Door(2014).  Those  albums  were  a  snapshot  of  their  onstage  chemistry  and  started  their  evolution  into sophisticated  psych  rock  that  lurches forward  but  never  spirals  out  of  control.  “This  band  is  really  like having  four  guitars,”  Parks  says,  “I  play  bass  like  a  guitar,  Allen  plays  keys  like  a  guitar,  and  Robby even plays  drums  like  a  guitar:  he’s  doing  fills  and  rolls.  It’s  almost  like  the  percussive  element  of  fingerpicking, the  sound  of  fingers  on  strings.”

Their  upcoming  album,  Dying  Surfer  Meets  His  Maker  continues  their  exploration  of  rock  music’s  furthest reaches,  while  grounding  the  sound  with  a  solid  skeleton  of  strong  songwriting.  “I  like  stripped  down songwriters,”  Parks  says,  “just  a  guy  and  his  instrument.  But  on  the  new  album,  each  song  seems  to change  multiple  times  throughout;;  it  makes  a  five  minute  song  feel  like  a  20  minute  song  without  the extra  time  being  spent.”  

Recorded  in  Pigeon  Forge  in  Eastern  Tennessee,  they  set  up  a  studio  in  a  remote  cabin  where  they lived and  recorded  their  album  over  the course  of  six days.  “You  couldn’t  hardly  walk  in  there,  dodging  cables, mics  and  guitars,”  Parks  says,  “the  cabin  was  a  wreck.  We  immediately  got  up  there,  unloaded  our  15 seater  van  and  a  trailer  packed  to  the  brim  with  gear,  and  started  moving  things  around,  set  up  amps, and  a  mixing  board.”  They  recorded  much  of  the  album  live,  but  used  the  studio  as  an  instrument  in itself,  helmed  by  producer  Mikey  Allred and  McLeod.  The  location,  Parks  says,  also  had  an  influence  on the  feel  of  the  album.  “[Pigeon  Forge]  is  tourist  central,  with  Dollywood  and  moonshine  distilleries, pancake houses,  and  Christmas  stores.  But  our  cabin  was  up  on  the  mountain.  We  were  the  only  ones  there.  We didn’t  have  to  worry  about  anyone  calling  us  in  for  being  loud.  It  was  quiet.  In  the  morning,  the  mist would  be  hanging  over  the  city,  then  it  would  clear  up  and  you’d  see  all  these terrible  tourist  shops.  It was  nice  to  know  we  didn’t  have  to  be  a  part  of  it.  There’s  a  duality  that  happens  throughout  this record, that of  the  solitude  of  the  mountain  and  the  absolute  Babylon  that  is  Pigeon  Forge.”

The  sound  of  Dying  Surfer  Meets  His  Maker mixes  together  a  diverse  sonic  palette  too,  which  Staebler says  was  designed  to  be  experienced  as  a  full  album,  where  “core  songs  lead  into  each  other.”  The album  opener  “Call  Me  Star,”  starts  with  downbeat  acoustic  arpeggios,  slowly  melting  into  grittier  chords, leading  into  the  firebrand  distorted  bass  of  the  barn-­burning  next  track,  “El  Centro.”  Parks  says  that  the song  was  inspired  by  a  rowdy  show  they  performed  in  the  wayward  town  of  El  Centro,  California.  “We were  in  a  little  beer  bar  on  Halloween,  and  there  wasn’t  a  ton  of  people  there,  maybe  20  or  30.  All  if our  gear  was  in  a  big  pile  behind  our  drummer,  Robby.  Only  one  microphone  for  all  of  us. Ben  and  I were  wearing  dresses.  The  guy  in  charge  said  ‘you  guys  can  play  for  however  long  you  want,’  so  we played  for  two  hours.  On  the  album,  we  channeled  the  riff  from  that  crazy  show,  it’s  completely  live,  just us  in  a  room,  doing  what  we  did  on  that  night  over  again.”

On  the  cerebral  and  sweeping  track  “Open  Passageways,”  Parks  mined  his  experiences  living  in  the remote  locale  of  Elmgrove,  Louisiana,  stranded  in  a  house  once  owned  by  his  grandmother.  “I  didn’t  have any  money,  there’s  one  heater  in  the  place,  it  was  freezing  in  the  middle  of  the  winter,”  he  recollects. “Everything  broke  and  I  was  out  there  for  four  months  and  lost  my  mind.  Not being  able  to  do  anything, no  Internet,  no  TV,  no  phone.  Just  me  and  my  dog  in  this  house.  Then  I wrote  ‘Open Passageways’ in  a strange  tuning  on  a  classical  guitar,  and  it  became  something  I  never heard  before.  When  I  brought it  to Ben,  we  used  three  more  songs  on  the  album  from  my  time  in Louisiana.”

Staebler  creates  all  the  artwork  for  the  band,  from  the  album  imagery  to  the  t-­shirt  designs,  gleaning inspiration  from  their  travels.  He  says  that  whether  he’s  creating  visual  art  or  pounding  the  drums, channeling  his  creative  spirit  is  an  almost  meditative  state  of  reflection.  “Playing  drums  for  me,  it  takes me to  a  place  where  everything  disappears  and  you  accept  everything  that  happens  to  you  as  it  happens. With  drawing  and  photography  too,  I  have  these  other  tools  in  my  bag,  to  keep  my  mind  occupied.  
It’s  when  you  get  home  from  being  on  the  road  that  you  begin  to  reflect  on  where  you've  been  that those  places  start  sinking  in.  Our  favorite  thing  is  to  go  out  West  and  check  out  canyons  and  mountains. We  spend  time  there.  We  welcome  ourselves  to  the  space,  and  absorb  it.”  

A  sense  of  place  permeates  the  album,  providing  a  kind  of  soundtrack  drawing  from  each  band-­member’s hometowns,  from  the  Southern  Gothic  of  Park’s  Southern  life  to  the  coastal  sound  of  McLeod’s  St. Augustine,  Florida  roots  to  Van  Cleave’s  soulful upbringing  in  Ohio.  For  All  Them  Witches,  music  is  the conduit  to  channel  experiences  into  sound,  creating  filmic  landscapes  rendered  by  guitars,  keys,  and drums.  “When  we’re  in  California,  our  music  sounds  like  California,  or  the  redwoods,”  Parks  says.  “When we’re  in  El  Centro,  it  sounds like  El  Centro  and  the  sand  dunes,  like  where  the  sandworms  were  in “Beetlejuice.” We’ve  been  through  all  these  beautiful  places  you’d  never  get  to  see  unless  you  were  in  a rock  band,  that  you’d  never  see  unless  you  were  travelling  the  country  with  your  friends,  making  music, and  appreciating  it  all  along  the  way.