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Hellwitch

Één van de meest ondergewaardeerde deathrash muzikanten ter wereld is ingetijfeld Pat Ranieri van Hellwitch. Ik kon hem aan zijn taas trekken in verband met de re-release van de 'Syzgial Miscreancy' CD, maar ik maakte tevens van de gelegenheid gebruik om hem wat vragen te stellen in verband met het verschijnen van de nieuwe 'Omnipotent Convocation' CD die recentelijk uitkwam via het Spaanse Xtreem Music label. Hellwitch will possess you!

Door: Koen B. | Archiveer onder death metal / grindcore

The first time I came in contact with Hellwitch was the 'Purveyor Of Fear' / 'Pyrophoric Seizure' EP which was released through Flight Nineteen Records in 1989. I guess not so many Lords Of Metal readers own this one and the EP has become a genuine collector's item. Could you give me an indication of how many of those were pressed?
There were 200 pressed! They still come up for sale on eBay sometimes, but the last one I saw sold for over $50! Ouch!

Hellwtitch's top notch 'Syzgial Miscreancy' album has recently been re-released via Displeased Records. The reissued album contains twelve additional bonus tracks spanning from 1984-1990. With all due respect: Hellwitch is one of many bands from the 80's/90's that was largely forgotten. Thankfully, now we get the opportunity to hear this album once again. How did the deal with the Dutch label come to be?
I received an email from Displeased asking about “Syzygial…” being re-re-released on Open Grave Records (RIP OFFS!). I told them we had agreed to release it with O.G. but O.G. never replied to numerous phone calls/emails so we were not working with them any longer. We had waited over one year for O.G. to release this CD and it never happened. Displeased made an offer for the release and we agreed!

'Syzgial Miscreancy' is one of the most schizophrenic-sounding albums I've ever heard and Hellwitch was celebrated among the most twisted and outlandish bands ever to emerge from American underground. Are you aware of the fact that Hellwitch were trendsetters back in those days?
No, I never thought of that fact. We didn't sell much from what Wild Fags told us. Though we do know he lied constantly. I thought we just were too oddball sounding for the UG scene back then. I mean, we sold merch. Daily, played shows frequently and were recognized around the world. But, I certainly didn't notice any “trend” regarding our style, but thanks for saying so!

That particular album was recorded and mixed at the legendary Morrisound Studios in Tampa, Florida and was produced by the band and engineered by Scott Burns. How do you recall the recordings of that classic album?
What do I remember from that session? It was a “blip” in time! The whole thing was 25 hours total! We spent three days there. A few highlights were when Scotty gave us a list of nuts and bolts we had to go to the hardware store and buy for Joe's rickety drum set! Haha! Also, the mixing of the GODZILLA soundtrack into the “M.D.” intro. That was magical when we first heard it replayed in the studio. And, Scotty's opinion not to use some “wind” sounds on the “Ascent”. I had wanted some wind FX mixed with the 12 string guitars, but Scotty said, “Every band uses wind with acoustic guitar these days, I think just the guitars alone would be more original/effective”. He was right I think! Finally, I remember being soooo tired during the mix that we basically just set it up quickly and went for it. No long involved debates or fine tunings. We just set it up and let it rip! Frank (ex-bass) spent some time with us as well then. That was fun! Frank kept farting over and over in our hotel room until I was afraid to light a joint with my lighter. The place would have erupted in flames! This is actually mentioned in the HELLWITCH comic book.

In my opinion Hellwitch didn't get much recognition back in those days. I guess this has something to do with the deal with Wild Rags Records, a small record label with limited possibilities?
I agree. Wild Fags was a small label, but, they did have both North American and European distribution. The other offers we had at the time were from smaller labels. Still, our unusual sound hindered our success to a great degree. As I said, we were too oddball for listeners in 1990. Now in 2009, fresh musical ideas seem to be non-existent and most bands are just recycling other band's stuff. HELLWITCH reigns above the masses as not sounding like any others!

In the early Nineties it was very hard to obtain Hellwitch material in Holland. I managed to buy the great 'Terraasymmetry' MCD, which was released through Lethal in 1992 but I've been searching my ass of for the 'Nosferatu' EP for seventeen years now. Could you tell me more about those releases and do you have the slightest idea where to obtain the 'Nosferatu' EP?
Well, 'Terraasymmetry' was a total rip-off, screwed-over, ultimate insult deal. Michael Piesch (Lethal Records owner) is a total piece of shit. By the way, I'm still now offering a Paypal reward payment for photos of his bloody, beaten body! This fuckin' guy got all the materials from us and released “Terraasymmetry”, then never contacted us ever! We did not even get one copy of the CD! I had about twenty that I purchased from a distro in Japan and that was all! I heard he pressed 2000 copies, but I have no idea what happened, truly. I want that guy dead! The worst rip off of all time! I encourage anyone reading who knows of his whereabouts to contact me immediately! 'Terraasymmetry' was recorded at MORRISOUND with Judd Packer and had better production than 'S.M.', actually. Now, the “Nosferatu” '84 demo 7” I, in fact, released and distributed myself! Finally, an honest deal! Haha! I pressed 500 copies and sold them all. The last 20-30 I hung onto until 2006, then sold them. You still see both of these releases on eBay from time to time.

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Between 1992 and 2005 things went quiet for Hellwitch, what was the main reason for that?
Actually, we played all the time until 1998! We even released the “Anthropophagi” demo in '94! And two songs from one of our '96 rehearsals appear on the 'Final Approach' CD. I guess maybe you just didn't see any of the mags, etc. we were in then? Our last show before the break-up was with DEICIDE on Halloween '98. The main reason for the break up was lack of a drummer. The last drummer we had from '96-'98 lived three hours away in Orlando and the commute was too much for all of us. Besides that he had a lot of personal problems that the three of us could not handle.

In 2005 the band came back with a bong, self-releasing the 'The Epitome Of Disgrace' MCD, followed by the 'The Twin Bestial Forces' split CD with Storming Steels in 2008. There is a new album in the making is well entitled 'Omnipotent Convocation', which will be released by Xtreem Music. Could you tell me about this remarkable return of Hellwitch and about the deal with the Spanish label?
In early 2004 I started speaking with Joe “Witch” again and we two started playing again just for fun in his garage. After a few months I phoned Craig (bass) to join us. Then a few months after that JP (guitar) rejoined and we were on our way again! We began playing shows every couple of months and even some festivals in Alabama. We actually took the songs we had abandoned in '96-'98 and revived them for the 'Epitome…' promo CD. We did that recording with hopes of finding a new record deal. That deal ended up being with Xtreem Music. It was a very fair offer and Dave Rotten's reputation for honesty helped in our decision even more. We may record our next album for Xtreem as well.

I didn't have the opportunity to hear the new album yet but could you give a glimpse of what 'Omnipotent Convocation' will sound like?
'Omnipotent Convocation' is not as oddball sounding as anything previously recorded. The songs are more “flowing” and memorable I think. There are no real “epic” songs ala 'Mordirivial Dissemination'. Most are three-four minutes of fast, attacking brutality. It's not really a different style though. It's totally HELLWITCH sounding from the start. Best songs we've ever written, ever!

Will there be a vinyl edition of the 'Omnipotent Convocation' disc as well?
Yes, Xtreem will press a very limited number of 12” LP's! on coloured vinyl to boot!

You had to deal with a lot of line-up changes in the past. More recent, long time drummer Joe "Witch" Schnessel departed Hellwitch. How do you create the energy to start all over again and again and again?
Well, basically the three of us (Pat, Craig and JP) have been together for sixteen-nineteen years now! So, not really that many changes lately. Basically, drummers have come and gone. Craig and JP do a lot of the work now in keeping the band alive, so I don't expend that much energy anymore. Haha! If it were not for their involvement, there would be NO HELLWITCH! We three are like brothers!

As far as my information goes, the band never toured Europe yet. Is there any chance that we will be able to see Hellwitch perform live in the near future or do I have to order the DVD's from your homepage to even get a glimpse of Hellwitch live on stage?
You are correct, we've never played in Europe. There is always a chance that it will happen. Who knows? I've learned never to say never. Haha!

Hellwitch was formed 25 years ago. What were your personal highs and lows since 1984?
Personal highs were graduating from the University of Florida in '86, the recording and release of 'Syzygial Miscreancy', discovering opiates, amassing the worlds largest (?) death / thrash / black / hardcore concert video collection, recording 'Omnipotent Convocation' with the best line-up we've ever had and playing the '90 Milwaukee fest! Personal lows, getting ripped off repeatedly by one crooked label after another, not being in the band for six years, losing my longtime girlfriend in 2005 (R.I.P.), and nearly cutting off my finger with an electric hedge trimmer in '85.

Well I'm out of questions now. Do you have anything to say or add? The space below is yours!
Thanks a lot for the interview, Koen and Horst! It was fun and fulfilling! I appreciate the chance to talk some major shit, too! Haha! To all your readers, I think the new recording will…no.. I KNOW the new recording will be something you will get into. I'm a picky fuckin' listener myself and I like 'O.C.' a lot! It's got big hairy balls and sharp fuckin' teeth that will tear your flesh limb from limb! Haha! Don't listen to all these “new wave” of thrash bands. They really have no heart or soul. Just rehashed ideas with no flare or personality. Sad shit! I can't stand them! Remember, seek out the bands that do not sound like others! That's the best stuff! Contact me personally for info on HELLWITCH merchandise (CDs / live DVDs / old demos / logo stickers / patches / logo lighters / H.W. comic books and shirts) and my 12,000+ list of concert videos witch are available on DVD or VHS! Or just write and say “Hey fucker!” . Keep on KILLKILLKILL-ing! Live it!

E-mail: Hellwitch666@hotmail.com
Website: www.Hellwitch.com
MySpace: www.MySpace.com/HELLWITCH
DARKEST SOUL PROMOTIONS: www.thrill.to/DSP

HELLWITCH
P.O. Box 2341
Hollywood, FL. 33022 USA

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