L.A. Witch come out of the gate swinging on their sophomore album, Play with Fire, a disc loaded with gnashing garage rockers, power-packed grooves and blitzing, no-nonsense leads. From start to finish, a listener is struck by one prevailing thought: “Wow, this band means it.”
Funnily enough, it took the SoCal-based trio (guitarist-vocalist Sade Sanchez, bassist Irita Pai and drummer Ellie English) several years to get serious.
“When we started, we just wanted to play music for fun,” Sanchez says. “We gigged around here and there, but we had full-time jobs, so the band was more of a hobby.”
After the release of their 2017 debut album, however, shows started picking up, and the band members found themselves at odds with 9-to-5 employment.
“We either quit our jobs or got fired,” says Sanchez, who got sacked from her position at American Apparel. “Two months later the company went bankrupt, so it all worked out – for me, at least.”
Sanchez comes by her biting guitar style – heavy on reverb-drenched riffs and fuzz-soaked solos – by way of her father.
“He had a Strat in the house, and he was always playing classic rock,” she says. “One day I picked up his Strat and it just hit me what a great tool it was to communicate through. The first song I learned to play was Purple Haze. I never needed lessons. I was really good at copying things by ear, and then I discovered tabs and just went for it.”
Fender Jaguar and Jazzmaster, 1968 Vox Viper
Fender Deluxe Reverb
BOSS DD-3 digital delay, Line 6 Echo Park delay, Line 6 Verbzilla, Electro-Harmonix Holy Grail Nano reverb, Ibanez Tube Screamer
Ordinarily, L.A. Witch would be burning up the touring circuit, but like every other band they’ve been forced to curtail live shows in the face of the lockdown.
“It feels strange to put out a new album when we can’t play,” Sanchez says, “but we want people to hear it, and we’re trying to look at new ways to communicate with our fans. I’m hoping that some good will come out of this for everybody. Maybe I’ll write new songs. Maybe we’ll do a new album. People can’t go out, so this is a perfect time for everybody to learn how to play the guitar.”
- L.A. Witch's new album, Play with Fire, is out now (opens in new tab) on Suicide Squeeze