Band: All Them Witches
Date: Sunday, April 9, 10:30 p.m.
Stage: The Merry Widow, 51 S. Conception St.
Before SouthSounds 2017 wraps another year, The Merry Widow is inviting the crowds to sample the rock ‘n’ roll folly of All Them Witches. This Nashville outfit has forged a unique brand of modern psychedelic rock that has set new standards for the genre.
The band could not have picked a better city in which to establish their musical legacy. Since the turn of the millennium, Nashville has traded its exclusive emphasis on country music for a plethora of alternative sounds, much as Austin has. While Austin’s scene is extremely cutthroat, though, even among locals, guitarist Ben McLeod’s descriptions make Nashville seem a more forgiving and communal town.
“Nashville is still a small town in a lot of ways,” McLeod said. “I have never felt that outsider vibe. Everybody moves to Nashville to play music. The cool thing about it is that if you want to start a band, you end up jamming with your friends, and you’re like, ‘Hey, wanna start a band?’ They’re usually all down, because that’s why everybody is there in the first place.”
“Sleeping Through the War” is the latest effort from All Them Witches. Once again, this band pummels its listeners with volley after volley of ear-blasting rock that balances mixes of hypnotic stoner metal and intense psychedelic rock delivered with alt. rock attitude. All Them Witches also balances the vibe of the album, as can be witnessed on their previous releases. A track might begin with ethereal mellowness before plummeting into a hurricane of raw sound. McLeod cites the band’s collective rock ‘n’ roll psyche as the catalyst for this recurring arrangement.
“It’s totally natural,” McLeod said. “It’s a seesaw between one person wanting to take a song into one direction and someone takes a song in a different direction. It ends up going back and forth between calm and heavy.”
While the music on the album is truly unique, another interesting aspect of “Sleeping Through the War” is the band’s choice of producer. Dave Cobb’s background includes studio work with Sturgill Simpson, Jason Isbell and Shooter Jennings. Working with All Them Witches seems like quite a tangent for a studio master with a country background. However, McLeod says Cobb sought out the band with hopes of producing their last effort, “Dying Surfer Meets His Maker.” At the time, McLeod says, the band was not ready to take a “polished approach” to the music, but is quick to say the band is glad that Cobb joined them for their latest album.
“He’s a fan and friends with the president of our label [New West Records],” McLeod said. “I think they probably got together, and they found out about us. He lives in Nashville, and he’s a cool dude. We met him, had lunch and decided to do this one with him.”
Those who follow All Them Witches know their live show is a different experience from their music’s studio interpretations. McLeod says their songs tend to “inbreed into themselves” and “bleed into each other.” With each show, All Them Witches finds itself adding new riffs and shaping new structures for each song. With just a handful of completed shows from their 200-show tour itinerary for 2017, McLeod admits these songs might transform into new sonic beasts as they play them in each town.