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Brimstone Coven

The explosion from – at that time – innovative and epoch-making rock late sixties and early seventies has changed the musical landscape forever. Many current bands are still inspired by that era when writing music. The American Brimstone Coven happens to be one of them. Yet they do not do that by putting down a wall of sound nor endless jams, but with well-crafted proper songs with an occult tinge. Recently ‘Black Magic’ came out, their third album and the second for the European market. We contacted the accomplished band and the sturdy vocalist Big John Williams wrote the second part of our series about Brimstone Coven.

By: Vera | Archive under hardrock / aor

Hello John! When Metal Blade released your early works in 2014, we had our first interview about the beginnings of the band. Now that the new album ‘Black Magic’ is about to come out, let us have an update of things… First of all, how are you doing?
We are all doing great. Thanks for having us back.

What happened on the live front in the wake of the international release of ‘Brimstone Coven’? Could you tour enough to support it? I think these gigs were only in the US or not?
We stayed in the US for our shows this past Spring and Summer. We really didn’t make enough money for a full US tour. We just made enough for gas and a few drinks. We all still worked our jobs during the week and just went out on weekends. We don’t have the money for an overseas tour at the moment. So we’ve been doing what we can here at home. We are currently looking into booking agents. We would like to do more this year.

As we know by now, the occult themes are very important for Brimstone Coven, but there seem to be specific stories – and even creatures of old – from the neighbourhood you are coming from. Can you tell us about those stories?
Corey writes all the music and lyrics. The rest of us throw in ideas. But that man has lived it. Researched it. And loves it. Our lyrics go in many directions. So there really isn't any specific subject we sing about. There are many. Satan. Aliens. Witchcraft. Women. Whatever is on his mind at that time, goes into the songs.

Is one of those stories featured in the lyrics of ‘Black Magic’ or in general; can you shine a light on the lyrical gloominess of the record?
We kept the usual style we always have for this album. Whatever is felt during the writing, is the story of that song. This album has a track about getting rid of a woman, who you fell in love with, because she's no good for you. But you just can't seem to leave. It's titled ‘Slow Death’. To me, that track was new territory lyrically. But it fits that Brimstone vibe.

I remember you were already writing new songs when we had our former interview… what about the writing process for the new album? Some of you were more involved, isn’t it?
Before we had ‘Black Magic’ sent to the label, Corey already had a handful of ideas for the next album. It’s the same process each time. Learn the material. Record the material. And hear the new stuff for the next album. He bleeds music. So I can say that I HAVE heard possible tracks for the next album. Andrew took the wheel for the lyrics on ‘Black Unicorn’. He also had ‘The Seers’ (lyrics and music) before our original Metal Blade release.

With bassist Andrew having a studio of his own, the recording process must be rather cosy and not too stressful… is that right?
That place is a club house for us during recording. There’s plenty of room. He makes sure that all of his friends are comfy. If you’re not comfy, you won’t perform at your best. And he puts every ounce of his love for music into the tracks he's working on.

I have written in my CD review that you did a huge step in developing a signature sound. One of the important reasons for that might be that own studio, because you do not use that much fuzz or distortion… can you go a bit deeper into those differences with the tons of other retro bands?
For our sound, there is no need for heavy fuzz. A little bit here and there is okay. But too much will drown out the rest of what's going on. The three part harmonies. Justin's groove on the drums. It's just not our thing. It's not that Brimstone Coven sound. We did a little digital recording, mixed with some old school analog. Added a little more vocal effects on this album. We've played around with different sounds and always ended up back to our original sound.

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Another great thing that leaps to the eye is the increase of smooth, nearly sacred harmony chants… can you tell a bit more about that evolution?
In a way it is a ritualistic chant. With our three part harmonies it turned out quite powerful. I see them as a calling to the spirit realm. Come join us. Celebrate with us.

The two semi-acoustic songs ‘As We Fall’ and ‘The Plague’ are amazing! Some more details about them and about your magic brew of dynamics would be nice…
‘As We Fall’ has been in our catalogue for many years. Always being the softest track we had. We kept playing it because our fans liked it. We passed it up on our last album. Then Corey came up with ‘The Plague’ which made a nice sister track for ‘As We Fall’.

You have recorded a new video clip for the title track. How was this experience (painful I think with the blood/knife)…
We are glad it turned out to look realistic. And no it was not painful at all. I healed up quite well. The filming process was fun. It was the first time for me. The live shots are from our actual practice room. The theatrical scenes were in the same area. Just as the recording studio. It was a comfortable process. Tom Fitzgerald was super cool to work with. Made sure he had everything how we liked it.

The last track ‘The Eldest Tree’ is quite monotonous for trance-inducing reasons I guess, but the kind of eerie birds’ screams in the beginning and at the end, what is it?
Every year, around the beginning of winter, a murder of crows lines the trees along the Ohio River. Thousands of them, for miles along the river. Together they make quite an eerie noise. Corey filmed it one year. We used the audio for the track. I visualize them as a gathering of the ancient ones in the Eldest Tree.

Of course many people go for tattoos these days, but are there some of yours inspired by occultism or other things you want to tell about?
Together we have MANY tattoos. For me, they are all things that I like. Three of us do have a Leviathan Cross. It represents the brotherhood of Brimstone Coven. And the amazing things we have done.

What can you tell about the artwork this time?
We used our good friend Creighton Hill again. And we decided to go with our same Three Witches. Mascots of sort. Creighton had the idea of the Baphomet look. Then when you see the witches, they are in their workings of Black Magic. It just fit so well we couldn’t pass the idea up.

End January you will have a release party with two gigs on one evening. Have a great time! Are there other plans to hit the road in 2016?
Thank you. We are sure it’s going to be a blast. It’s just one gig. Two sets. We are opening the show with ‘Black Magic’ in full, taking a small break, and coming back with a nice mix of our older tracks.

How was the reaction in Europe so far and what are the main differences in the music scène in Europe and in the US that you have experienced until now?
We have had so many messages. There are people all over Europe wanting to see us live and we are trying our best to make it to you guys. AS SOON as we get more details, we will let you know when we will make it there.

If there is something you want to add, please feel free to do that h
We want to thank everyone for the amazing support. And we can't wait to see you on the road this year.

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