If you got tired of glossy and poppy alternative music, here there’s a record that can give you a strong injection of shoegazing adrenaline. It’s been a while since Amor by Widdershins came out, but it’s still a good full-length to put on you record player, in case you want to discover a great Swiss band.
Probably closer to A Place To Bury Strangers‘ powerful dynamics than to My Bloody Valentine‘s airy soundscapes, this band is a pure concentrate of hard beating drums and restless guitar riffs. The use they make of echoing fuzzy effects creates a suggestive atmosphere, enriched with majestic walls of sounds and highly reverberated vocals.
The cosmic sounds vibrating out of the record lead the listeners through a foggy stream of lysergic vibes: no way to escape the army of feedbacks the band put on Amor.
If you’d like to know more about this noisey and raging Swiss combo, here you find a short interview I had with the band.
•As usual, I’d like to start with a short introduction about your project. I’m really interested in your music background and the way you formed the band. How did you end up playing together? From which music field do the members come from?
Widdershins is a band that started early 2011 in Rolle, a small village in the french speaking part of Switzerland, 20 miles away from Geneva. Our desire to form this band came from the dissolution of our earlier band that we had from our teen years. We – Steven Navid (guitar + vocals), Mathieu Cacheux (Drums) and Jérôme Poletti (Bass) have known each other for more than 10 years and we are best friends. We have solidified our friendship by always playing music together since at least when we were 13 years old (we are now 26). I – Steven – have been playing guitar since I was 5 (classical, jazz and improv background), and Mathieu and Jérôme started more or less in their early teens by ear. We have always listened to A LOT of different musical styles, we basically listen to anything we find interesting, from no wave experimental free improv jazz to extreme progressive metal and of course all the good kraut psych cosmic stuff in between. So when Widdershins became a serious project, we were clearly going in a more modern psychedelic sound, and the band that has really pushed us in the beginning was A Place to Bury Strangers and My Bloody Valentine (you nailed it!). They were a major influence, especially the LOUD aspect of these bands! We were in the past playing in a band which was getting more and more quieter, and almost no distortion of fuzz, so Widdershins is a direct response to this increasing boredom we accumulated! When we stopped that band (we were 5), we have quickly seen that only 3 could form Widdershins, there was this big desire of being the smallest amount of members but having total control on instruments and being the loudest as possible, and of course trying to get the most original and bizarre sounds without the use of machines and synths. We love our instruments very much, and especially guitar effects!
•The sound of “Amor” is deeply soaked into shoegazing vibes. There are lots of influences coming from legendary bands of this music genre (My Bloody Valentine) as well as from last decade ensembles (A Place to bury Strangers). Which records did actually mean a lot to you during the construction of your own sound?
For Amor it’s a bit complicated to know exactly what sound we were going for, because we recorded a first “album” before, which we were completely focused on APTBS sound and MBV. But for Amor, these bands where of course always there, but not in the same way. We just listened to ourselves and wrote the album during the summer, recorded it in one day and I did the vocals a week later. I’d say the bands you cited are spot on during our first year, then for Amor I would have to say… probably a mixture of Dead Skeletons and BJM. I think how we clearly made our sound was just being really creative during some long jams, trying to plug in more and more effects together, being really honest with each other and trying to forget our influences.
•On “Amor” it’s quite evident that you’re more familiar with middle-long tracks, as if they’re the result of long jamming sessions. How does the music composing process work for you?
The writing process is always interesting with Widdershins, it’s impossible to have only one or two members writing everything. Maybe I will find some riffs at home, or jamming with Mathieu on drums. Then we would be satisfied and when Jérôme comes along, he has these incredibly weird ideas and demonic sounds that change everything for the good of the song. So we clearly write when we are the three together, but maybe the first impulse can be me alone or in a duo. Even sometimes since I write my own material for my solo stuff, I would borrow ideas and vocals lines (even a title -> Kingdom of Night) and reuse them for Widdershins, but in general it’s definitely when we jam we find all of our ideas, and we clearly don’t really communicate with precise words when we write, when we know we have a nailed the right idea, everyone knows it unconsciously and we never try to force a song, it has to be natural.
•I will spend my last question trying to know more about the Swiss music scenario. What do you think about it? Which band from Switzerland would you like to recommend?
The music scene in Switzerland is very interesting and mysterious, if you listen to post-hardcore metal music, the Swiss are kings of this genre! but in the psych kraut cosmic scene, things are changing.. for the good! We are behind the Swiss Psych Fest (yes, yet another psych fest!) Which I have founded with Mathieu late 2012. It seemed totally logical to do this because when we traveled around the country playing with Widdershins, we met all of these people playing amazing music and nobody knew about them… So without having a focus on one city for the fest, we decided to name the fest by having the whole country involved! Switzerland is a very small country, only 8 mio people live here and there are not a lot of big cities… The first edition had 16 Swiss bands!