Brighton based band The Wytches’ E.P, Beehive Queen, released earlier this summer is rife with aggressive and malevolent lyrics, reverb drenched guitar riffs and surfer undertones. The self described ‘surf-doom’ band consists of Kristian (vocals and guitar), Mark Breed (guitar), Dan Rumsey (bass) and Gianni Honey (drums).
The Wytches’ ‘surf-doom’ performances consist of spectacular liquid light shows almost as kaleidoscopic as the band’s conglomeration of genres. Because of their originality, it almost feels like a sin to confine them to a genre or compare them to a band. However, you can’t avoid the connotations to late 60‘s psychedelia, from the darkness of the Stones’ ‘Paint it Black’ to the driving rhythms heard in the Doors’ first album. The band’s ‘surf-doom’ stems from the echo and reverb saturated guitar heard in Beehive Queen, comparable to the 50’s surfer riffs of Dick Dale, the intertwining bass lines along with Kristian’s malicious vocals are similar to some early 80’s new-wave and punk bands, Dead Kennedy’s ‘California Über Alles’ immediately springs to mind.
It seems far too easy to compare Kristian’s vocal style to that of Jack White, Kristian is said to be aggravated by this comparison, instead, he perturbs the listener by flitting between gritty harsh growls to a soft tremulous style. Having said this, the E.P stylistically sounds similar to White Stripes’ Elephant. Coincidentally, both were recorded at Toe Rag studios and produced by Liam Watson yet analogue production methods, including using the mixing desk from Abbey Road, has given the E.P a classic feel.
The band deserted their uninspiring hometown of Peterborough for the cultural utopia that is Brighton; their driving force comes from a dissatisfaction with their surroundings and annoyance at the lacklustre way popular music presents itself today. As a result of their fans feeling the same distaste, the Wytches have burgeoned onto the scene attracting a flurry of industry and media attention, even playing the Festival Republic Stage in Reading and Leeds. However these dividends have somewhat been met with much trepidation and cynicism by the band members.
They find themselves in a flux, from recording and releasing their own, very successful single ‘Digsaw’, to being signed by Hate Hate Hate records and playing large venues. The band probably feels increasingly apprehensive that this new found success could be short lived, or ultimately fashion them into a commercialised band, undermining their substance.
However the success of the Wytches feels like it is set to continue, this could be pinned down to their mixture of genres, appealing to a much larger audience than most modern bands. In theory, this concoction of genres and inspirations should clash with one another, but they don’t. You only need to look at their artwork, which is nightmarish and uncomfortable (think ‘Le Petit Prince’ on acid) and you’ll understand them. Their music is mesmerising, it draws you in and detaches you from reality.