2019 was a busy and intense year for Burning Witches: they parted ways with their previous vocalist Seraina, found Laura from ShadowRise, performed at many festivals and worked on their third album, which will be released on March 2020. We had a long conversation with beautiful Laura about her first performance as the band’s vocalist, the image of witch and upcoming album, of course!
Soon your new album ‘Dance With The Devil’ will be released. What would it be?
I think it’s 80s and early 90s songs. It got a lot of different kind of songs in there. It all sounds like one album but it’s really cool that you can hear a lot of influences from 80s: it’s a little bit of Thrash, a little bit of Glam maybe even. You can find a lot of influences. I think a lot of people think it is a little bit Judas Priest‘y but so many influences can be heard there actually and I think it’s really cool because every song is really a surprise and it makes a whole album a lot of fun, I think.
Previous album ‘Hexenhammer’ ended with “Holy Diver” cover. In a new album there will be some covers too or only your songs?
There’s one cover and I’ll say there will be a bonus track on the special editions. It’ll be the “Battle Hymn” from Manowar and that’s really one of our biggest influences. Romana has been a fan for ages, you know. So it’s really cool that we have a “Battle Hymn” to show a tribute and also Ross The Boss joined us, it’s really good. Another cover will be only on the limited editions; that’s going to be “A Mention In Darkness” from King Diamond and we really like that oldschool Heavy Metal stuff of course, so we thought it would really fit. I’m also very inspired by his crazy vocals so it was really cool to do that too.
This witches topic and everything around it, how much is it close to you?
I really like fantasy stuff so for me personally it’s really nice to be able to write about all this crazy stuff. I’m inspired a lot for this genre of music by fantasy things and by famous writers like H. P. Lovecraft and his “Necronomicon”.
Well, it’s not the fantasy with unicorns and elves.
Yeah, it’s not “Power Metal fantasy”, but some songs are actually not based on fantasy. I’m inspired a lot by old myth, legends, whatever appeals to me. And I really someone that is into sci-fi movies, fantasy things like “Game Of Thrones”, “The Witcher” on Netflix, “Altered Carbon” for the more sci-fi stuff, you know. I always like it when it’s a little bit weird, so I’m having a lot of fun with witches theme and a lot of tracks are about witches in this album.
“The Incantation” is about a witch dragging someone in and makes a person go to sleep;
“Lucid Nightmare” is what happens after;
“Dance With The Devil” is about Walpulgiss night when all the witches get together to have fun because the veil between spiritual world and human world is thin at that moment and they just have fun with all this scare stuff;
“Wings Of Steel” is about the band, actually;
“Six Feet Underground” is about personal experience;
“Black Magic” is personal experience too but I made it a little bit fantasy because of black magic;
“Sea Of Lies” is a personal experience of the band;
“The Sisters Of Fate” is also about three witches, that’s from the Greek mythology: there are three old ladies that share one eye and they decide what they can see when someone’s life will end. If you wanna ask them anything, they just basically say “you die” and they don’t really care about what else you wanna know. But they make sure they know when you are going to die and make sure it will happen or something.
“Necronomicon” is just because I got inspired, but there are really cool stories. It’s not anything witchy maybe but it does have to do with old gods and creepy stuff because they have all the power in the world, you know;
“The Final Fight” is very Manowar inspired, it’s all about epicness, epic battles and whatever;
“Threefold Return” is about witches’ rule: if someone is cursing you for example but you didn’t do anything wrong then that curse is going to be three times as worse on the person that cursed you. That’s the witches rule and I found it will be very cool to write a song about that.
Witches that you sing about them are something related to magic and rituals or it’s an image of a strong woman that suffers from bullying, misunderstanding and rejection?
I think it both, you know, it depends. Do you ask what it means for me?
Yes, as you write the lyrics.
Well, for me, like I said, I just really enjoying the fantasy side of this but for what I want to show to people, I really love to show the strong woman, of course. It’s a really cool thing, we doing this well with all girls, we have this cool band and of course you want to show the strong side of woman. I think it’s very important part but not really in the lyrics. For me it’s just having fun with whatever I can write for the song so it’s not really about woman empowerments. I think it images the women empowerment but I don’t think that the lyrics really are about it. I mean it’s kind of mix… It’s a hard question for me: of course, I will talk only positive about other woman.
Normally women mostly portrait like cute, caring, soft persons and I think it’s really cool to see the other side of a woman: that she can also be a bit dangerous and strong and mysterious. It’s just a little bit more emphasis on the other side. So I think that’s really empowering in a way because it’s just the same with the men, mayve: they are not allowed to be crying or stuff like that. Generally it’s weird but if a woman does, “it’s a woman so whatever”. So we just breaking a bit out of all this shit about restraint and I think it’s already empowering because we’re all human being and we all have those different emotions so that’s really cool that you can show this other side. And of course it is metal, you know, so you all like the really powerful dark side.
You and Sonya live in Netherlands, three other girls live in Switzerland. How hard is it to be an international band?
The only thing hardest for us is that we all need a job. Basically for Sonya and me it means we have to travel very early sometimes to get there on the day we have to do something. So we have to get up really early and on the next day we will leave very early again just to make sure we can also work enough because we have to make travels. That’s why we do it really early in the morning so after that we can still work because we don’t earn enough yet and to be honest I think that’s what is the most difficult. There is the discussion of course that if you would all live together it would be easier to just have a normal evening rehearsal, you know what I mean, once in a while. And of course rehearsing always makes you better. So now all the Swiss girls rehearse together and we just join when we can so we don’t really rehearse that much. I think we’re doing a good job and it would be better if we had time to rehearse more of course. But I think we’re doing great actually because if we need, we just plan a day at front and we just rehearse before a gig. So we’re doing fine but of course it would be better if we could rehearse every day together. But we just can’t.
And what about the album recording process?
It was easy. We did a few songs; Romana writes the songs and she sent it to me, so she gave me three songs or something and I started to work on them. Then we went to the studio and later on I got way more songs, wrote them and we went to the studio again, there we finished everything.
You all five, you were recorded in one studio or you and Sonya recorded in Netherlands?
No, we all went to the same studio in Switzerland for that. We made it sure to plan it right so we only had to get there twice or I think it’s been three times in the end, so we had enough time to do exactly what we wanted to. And that’s how we did it; we make kind of a pre-production at home. I can record at home so I just recorded it and with the feedback I could change it a little bit that I got from Romana and Schmier but in the studio we finished it. I think it was finished around 80% or something and I had ideas for most backing vocals but not all the time I really made them ready. Some details or small parts of the song I wasn’t sure about, we finished that in the studio. Now it’s really easy because of the internet; it could be so much difficult without it. Now when you finish something, you can just send it and someone can directly give you a feedback, listen to it, maybe change a little bit and also send you other instruments. That’s just easy these days so it’s not really a problem that much, you know.
Yes, if we’re talking about recording process. If we’re talking about rehearsals, that’s something completely different.
We really have to be prepared very well for rehearsals, of course. You need to be prepared super good, you need to know songs super good. You don’t want to go to the rehearsal room without knowing songs because it’ll be very stupid so you already know it 100% when you go rehearse together and then it’s fine. But of course if you play every day – I’m not even talking about once a week, but every day – you get more tuned into each other. So whenever you’re a band and you’re all local, rehearse every day! Of course it’s better! Of course you got really tuned into each other. I had a band once that we could rehearse every day, and you could hear the difference after one week; it was so tight and so nice! If you have an opportunity, do it every day, of course. But we can’t and it’s still good because we’re experienced enough to prepare well so we go to rehearsal room and nail it.
Soon you will go to the tour with Korpiklaani and Ross The Boss. What are your expectations from these tours?
I’m expecting not so much: lots of alcohol, lots of nice people (laughing) and… Ok, let’s be serious: I really like that we go to UK because a lot of people been asking if we go there. We didn’t play there in a while. I know a lot of people that follow me for a while, they message me “oh, I’m so happy you are coming, I will certainly go there” and we’re really glad we’re doing the UK tour. And I really like the Korpiklaani guys, I really glad we’re going to do this with them.
Do you like their music?
I like. I mean, yeah, you can have party with them, you know, so it’s nice. It’s just fun, fun metal, you know. It’s not really something I would listen to a lot at home but I really like their gigs, so, yeah, of course it something really nice. And European tour is going to be great because we just go to a lot of places and that’s what we wanna do because we have the new album, so it’s great. And it’s really cool actually that it’s with Ross The Boss. I hope he wants to play the song with us, the cover, it’ll be really cool. We also asked the bass player (Mike LePond) to join us in the cover and hopefully he wants to do that too but just Ross The Boss it will be really great.
How hard is it for woman (don’t take it as a sexism or something) to go to the tour and don’t see a family or children for a long time?
Oh, well… We don’t have children, none of us, so I can’t really say, I don’t know that part. It depends on the person, I think. I had a long distance relationship for a long time so I kind of used to it already but of course I prefer to be with my loved one. You know, it’s nice because it is home, it feels like home and you can really relax or stuff like that. So for me in relationship it’s ok when I don’t see someone for a while but it’s always nice to have someone close. What about my current relationship, it’s a bit early now but we really love that we fit so well together, so it’s probably going to last for hopefully ten years longer, you know, and he really wants to visit me at some gigs on tour so that’s fun. I actually know that, for example, Sonya‘s boyfriend will join on the European tour, that’s so really nice for her and Lala‘s husband always joins the tour for merch, they always together actually. Damir of course, he has Destruction but when he can, he also on the tour as a tour manager. So he and Romana don’t miss each other that much, you know. They really love to support each other in what they’re doing. I know that whenever Damir with Destruction, if Romana can be there she will be there, so they try to be with each other anyway. For Jaeanine it’s a little more difficult because her boyfriend is studying at the moment and he is not really free to do this a lot. But of course they see each other a bit; when she’s on a festival sometimes he’s there. What’s possible is possible and if it’s not – it’s a bit hard because that’s how it is. But we’re fine with it, boyfriends are fine with it and everyone is fine.
Overall with your experience, how hard is it to be in a girls’ band?
I think that’s the same in every band: you need to get to know each other a little bit, what is important for everyone. I heard stories from guys’ bands too: they really hated each other at some point because they were living in tour bus, the small bus actually. Some of them told me “I’m so fed up with this guy”. I mean, that’s how it goes: it doesn’t really matter if you a guy or a girl, it’s just needs to be very aware of what’s important to other person’s sense. Take that into a count with how you are behaving because it simply, you can’t really flee from each other if you need to. You don’t have a lot of personal space.
For me, I think, it will be enough to just chill a bit before the shows and a bit after. I’m someone who likes to be alone for a little bit during the day and if for the rest of the day I’m together with people, I actually love that. So for me it is fine, you know. And I think for the rest of the bands mostly too but of course there are some things that you have: to take each other’s habits into a count, give each other some room and of course you have to be aware that you don’t taking someone’s room too much. I think it doesn’t really matter if you a girl or guy, that’s always like this.
Yeah, of course, personal space is really important!
That’s basically what you have to know about each other a little bit and of course you will because you almost all the time together.
Can you tell about your first appearance as Burning Witches vocalist?
Oh, first live show! I was super excited about it because it was going to be surprise that I was a new singer. It was at Sweden Rock Festival and I didn’t have that much time to learn it all so it was like wow! It was all like a dream, I couldn’t really understand that it was really happening because you so used to struggling very hard with your own bands and then “oh, yeah, you’re in the band now, we’re going the first gig, it’ll be Sweden Rock, is it ok for you?” It’s such a big difference, amd I really loved to do it. Of course I feel a bit nervous: you feel a bit pressure because it’s your first gig and it’s a really big gig also.
I know you haven’t had a lot of time to learn all material.
Yeah. I didn’t had the whole day, so in the morning I had some time, then I need to go to work and on my break I learned the songs again, it was like “Sorry, I go to learn the songs again now, see you later!” Then after work again, of course and then before I went to sleep. I did it a few times a day to make sure I could really memorize everything.
But when you already were in stage and you saw all these people that screaming and chanting “Burning Witches!!!” were you good with it?
It was really-really great! There was one merch guy, he was from Netherlands so he knew me and he also went to watch me. There was a group of Dutch people who screamed “Laura!!!”, and it was like wow, it was lots of fun, really cool. I mean, of course, mainly I was much focused because I didn’t want a mess up. I was so focused I couldn’t really enjoy it as the gigs I do now. I enjoying it much more now but of course it was fun, it was really great experience, I never seen so many people that really came for the band I was playing in, you know. And it was really, really memorable.
Did you study vocals in music school or with coach?
I really like to sing and in some point when I decided that I want to do it seriously, I took some lessons with vocal coach it classes. I actually started with vocal coach in a group of people so it saved some money and you can learn from each other, you can sing together. I started like that, I was just having fun singing on my own with karaoke tracks on youtube and then I started to take vocal lessons with coach. Very soon there was someone that came to the room and said “hey, we need a singer for the band” and I was like “yeah, me!” So that was my first band and it was fun, we did Rock and Pop. I’ve always been a little more into metal but I like a lot of stuff, you know, so for me it was ok just to have fun and be in a fun band. Later I got really into the metal bands: I’ve been in Symphonic Metal, in Progressive Metal and then in some point I was doing another study. I get finished it but hardly because at some point I decided I really want to do a conservatory. I was so lucky actually because I found that for the first year it was going to be a metal music conservatory, so that was really cool. That was here in Eindhoven, Netherlands in Dynamo. You going to write for another country, of course, so actually from this year onwards they also have a course for the foreign people, so if you want to study metal music, you can go Netherlands, to Eindhoven and that’s really cool. The fun thing is… You probably know Within Temptation and Epica.
Gorefest, Aborted and Textures maybe? That’s really progressive band. So that’s really cool that we have teachers from those bands, who teach in there. You have very good teachers from awesome bands so you can build your network. You can ask them whatever you want from the music business and how do they see the things or something else, so it’s really nice. I went there mainly to learn a few things because I actually wasn’t really able to do harsh vocals. I couldn’t do that raw stuff, screaming, but I’ve learned it there. When I finished, I went to another course in the Netherlands and I really liked to do that because it made me also a better vocal coach. So I’m giving a vocal coaching to people and I love to do that. So, that’s it, that’s my vocal journey. And I’ve got into a lot of bands and projects all the way. One of the coolest ones was the Epic Rock Choir with Ayreon. Do you know that?
Ayreon? Yeah, I… I know about this project but for a long time I wasn’t really deep into it. So actually from Into To Electric Castle I really missed all the albums.
I’m not a big Progressive fan but for me that’s probably the reason why I like so much the Star One albums. It’s actually more “normal” classic Heavy Metal with a lot of vocalists. I always loved the vocalists on the album. That’s why I like to listen to it, to do it with the extremely good focus. I was in require it was really cool, so I did a lot of stuff among the way and I’m so happy I’m in a band that I really fit in because I can do everything that I want with my vocals. I have diversity within the styles I can do: it can be clean with a bit of a rough that going on, screams – it’s all possible! Crazy sounds are fun. Mostly it’s still melodic because I’m a melodic singer and I really happy that I found this band.
In your opinion, can be something definitely new done and said in Heavy Metal in 2020?
Yeah! I mean, of course it will develop but I’m not sure what is coming. I’m sure something new will pop up at some time and you just have to wait for it to happen, but I’m sure it will happen.
What about Burning Witches?
Of course we’re using old stuff, we’re super inspired by it. But if I compare it to all the other 80s bands out there, I think that… Maybe it’s stupid to say that about yourself but I like us more because we are not that much stuck in one 80s sounds, you know. If we just have a nice idea, if we think this sounds cool, we just do it because I think it’s not good to be too stuck on an idea “it has to be Glam” or “it has to be exactly the 80s spirit”, we’re not doing that. We just want to pay a tribute to all the old stuff. But basically we just use what we like, what’s in the 80s or maybe early 90s style, oldschool. We make our own songs and of course it sounds like Burning Witches. Now I wright it and I think I captured the whole idea, I think I got it, so I just hope that people will like it as much as the old stuff. We just basically all inspired by artists like Iron Maiden, Judas Priest (“Painkiller” is still one of my favorite songs ever). It’s all inspired by those bands so you really can’t go wrong because it’s basically for everyone that like those kind of bands. They will have fun with our music and they will be recognizing a lot of different influences in different songs, that’s what makes it fun.
And the last one: what are you dreaming about?
Ehm… It will be great if we’ll get to the point when we can actually live from music and do this all the time. Now we have just to work between and that’s alright because that’s how it works but, for example if we’d do more gigs then we really need to get more money to live from it so there is this balance that we’re on now and I hope at some point we can just live from music, it will be great. I feel the most happy when I’m doing music so it would be the best.
You can buy “Dance With The Devil” here – https://amzn.to/31dlhvu
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