Witchtrap Discusses "Vengeance is My Name," Influences and the Challenges Colombian Metal Bands Face
Metal bands formed below the Equator rarely find an audience in North America. Other than Sepultura, Sarcófago and a few cult, underground black metal bands, most metal fans in the USA can’t count enough South American bands on their fingers to fully expose both palms. In same ways, being located so far south of Los Angeles and New York City has resulted in bands being cut off from MTV and other mainstream music outlets.
Colombia’s Witchtrap never felt the pressures of pop metal. They still proudly wave the flag of true heavy metal with a serious nod to Germany’s architects of power metal and thrash and the spirit that encompasses the term “metal.” Colombia doesn’t boast the economy of the US, so Witchtrap’s twenty-year existence has been one of strife, which really highlights the group’s dedication. Read onward to find out more about the group’s latest recording “Vengeance is My Name” and the group’s ongoing battle to crush South American audiences with a thousand pounds of sonic dynamite.
Darren Cowan (Rex_84): In May, Witchtrap released “Vengeance is my Name" (read our review). How do you feel about the recording? Did it come out the way you planned?
Witchtrap: Our new album was released in February through our own label Dirty Sound Records, but it was licensed by Hells Headbangers Records in May. We feel very satisfied and happy with all about this new album; I mean recording, production, mixing etc. At last we have done something with all things we were looking for about sound quality because we did it at our home studio with all the time to make it sound as good as we wanted from the very early days with the band. We couldn't do it before because the studios were expensive and every second had a price and we did not have a big budget for paying that, you know. This album took a year to be mixed and mastered, but it has our beginning sound and style and the quality sound we were looking for.
We were the producers in all ways, I mean: budget, sound quality, and of course music, writings etc. Our home studio was fixed after saving money for more than ten years. That's why we have taken so long between each full length. Studios are expensive and we think that we have to earn enough money from gigs, venues, etc to fix our home studio. Now we have it and now we can record more often than before. You know, in Colombia things aren't easier than USA or Europe to earn your life and of course to record often as you can, that's really hard for poor people like us.
Cowan: The cover art depicts a prehistoric beast, a Mastodon or Wooly Mammoth, rampaging through a Neolithic village. Who created the art and how do you feel about it?
Witchtrap: The cover art was our concept to express all about Vengeance. Vengeance is the most important thing for human beings from the early days of men on the earth to bring justice, which has lasted even until today, which is why there is a Mammoth because memory has a main importance about that. We sent to Matt "Putrid" our concept and idea for the artwork and he did the artwork just exactly as we wanted. He's an excellent draftsman.
Cowan: Hells Headbangers released a 12” record version of the album, which comes in a picture format or pressed onto splattered, orange wax. Do you think it’s important for modern, digital-age artists to release a physical product like this in order to sell copies?
Witchtrap: I think the underground metal scene loves to have their own physical products of their favorite bands. That's why I think metal has to be pressed in different formats and vinyl.
Cowan: Records are not a new format for Witchtrap. You released a number of splits such as the “United in Annihilation” split with Warfist and Acral Necrosis and the “Holocaust” split with Revenge. What are your thoughts on releasing split recordings? Do you feel being placed next to another band, preferably a similar artist, that you’ll gain part of their audience?
Witchtrap: We have gotten proposals from labels to release splits. We think those splits can give more exposure to our band in other underground metal scenes, and of course, support from other metal heads. In fact, that has given us exactly what we expected. It’s really nice to know the other bands and have camaraderie with all of them.
Cowan: Witchtrap has been around for twenty years, but only three albums. Why have you only made three full-lengths?
Witchtrap: We have recorded only three albums in twenty years because of lack of money to produce them. A recording session is expensive for us. To press them on CD is expensive; we need to play many shows (gigs) to save enough money to do an album. Lately, we have been saving money to start our home studio at home, which has taken around 10 years. In addition, we didn’t have our own instruments, so actually after 2006, when we signed with HHR, we were getting enough money to buy our drums set, our own guitar and amp, and our own bass and amp. That's why we have had a lot of time between each album. Maybe the metal heads and critics of many magazines and blog-zines don't know about this situation of Witchtrap? Now we have gotten our own instruments and we have fixed our home studio to record more often as we can. Of course, we have many songs to be recorded.
Cowan: Three is the number of full-length recordings, but Witchtrap has released several short recordings such as the “Witching Metal” and “Nightmares of the Dead” EP. Is it cheaper for you to release these short albums?
Witchtrap: Right now, it's easy for us, but in the early days until 2005 was a total odyssey.
Cowan: Witchtrap is from Colombia. How much of an impact have you made on your country? Is thrash, particularly the German style, still popular in your country?
Witchtrap: We don't care about if it's thrash, speed, heavy, black or death: we only want to play METAL, pure as the old times with no mix of other cultures. Maybe it sounds similar to German bands, but that's because we love a lot German Heavy—metal acts such as Running Wild, Tyrant, Grave Digger, Warrant, Helloween, and many other bands. Of course, we have influences from NWOBHM and some other heavy metal B=bands from USA and Canada. We have grown up in our city Medellín, which has accepted more German styles than USA crossover styles. That's why Witchtrap can sound similar as you think, but it's our nature to hear and play metal in all this area.
Cowan: How would you describe the evolution of the band? What are some of the new ideas you incorporated into your music?
Witchtrap: The band just has grown up about the way to play our instruments, but our style keeps the same essence. Our real roots have given us our own style and authenticity, but as I told you before we want to do metal with no different trends from other cultures that not be rock'n'roll and metal.
Cowan: Does Witchtrap play a lot of gigs? If so, what is a Witchtrap gig like?
Witchtrap: We play around once or twice per month. It's enough if you see, that to be a Colombian, it's really hard to be in other countries because of visas and the immigration system for Colombians is shit in other countries. It's ok for the band to play almost once; even we have played in two countries in South America like Chile and Ecuador. Our shows are full of energy and metal feeling. It's not a theatrical show or performance of lights, we only do Metal music and that's it. You can expect a lot of metal and energy at our shows.
Cowan: Has Witchtrap toured much? Has the band played much outside of Colombia?
Witchtrap: Toured? Well, that's a hard thing to do for a Colombian metal band. We play between fifteen and twenty-five times per year throughout Colombia. We have done two small tours. One was in Ecuador in 2011 and the other in Chile this year. Both were an amazing experience and it was fucking great to see how people from other countries know our songs and how they sung with us each of the songs. That's really terrific!
Make sure to check out the follow footage of Witchtrap playing a full set.
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