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Interviews Witches Hammer

Interview with Rayy (vocals)

Interview conducted by Michel Renaud

Date online: July 20, 2005

Hails! I think THE question that a lot of people would like to see answered is: What is the current status of Witches Hammer? A vinyl LP was released in 2003, a 7" in 2004, both on the excellent Nuclear War Now! label, and both contain songs from your old recordings back in the 80s. But your web site also mention the upcoming release this year of a box set, with some songs that had not been recorded before this year. Are you guys just reuniting for one recording session, or is there more planned for the future?

No nothing that is in the works now. Their was at one time a couple of years back but we could not find a drummer that was capable of playing like our original drummer John.E, so we kind of gave up. But never say never I guess.

Can you tell us more about the box set?

Well the box set won't be out for a while since our next release through NWN will be a double album containing our first EP {originally released on Subversive Productions} and our never released LP and it will be called "Stretching Into Infinity." NWN will release a boxset on vinyl later on of all the previous releases combined and there will also be a CD box set released through Hippie Shredder Productions, and there will be some cool unreleased never seen or heard before shite on that.

How did the release of "Canadian Speed Metal" come about, after such a long time?

I think it was Steve, our original Bass player, who got everything going when Yosuke contacted him. And I think that Jerry from Blasphemy started that because he told Yosuke that Witches Hammer were one band that got things going the Vancouver scene.

Did you all remain involved in some metal bands after Witches Hammer split up?

Yeah - Marco and Steve.

What are you guys doing music-wise nowadays? Any other bands?

Marco is still playing, I think his project is called Volatile. Steve is in Calgary playing with Reverend Kill, Mike E Death is in The Fondlers and Steve plays bass with them as well - great band by the way, kind of a cross between The Mentors, Ramones and throw in some Celtic Frost. Dan the Man, our second bass player who replaced Steve after the EP came out and plays on the unreleased LP lives in Milwaukee and is always in some band or another. I on the other hand did fuck all after we packed Witches in except for playing guitar on my own time and getting together with Marco, Steve and Tom who was around the scene in the old days, and doing a project called The Chargers. Their is a disc of The Chargers out which you can get at It's more of a Rock & Roll vibe like Motörhead or Genocide SS.

In 1990 Witches Hammer lost three of its five members, with Marco leaving for Blasphemy while Mike and John joined Procreation. Was that the end of the band, or did you guys try to find some replacements?

Well that is not the way it went down. Dan our second bass player had to leave town for personal reasons soon after we recorded the LP and we were stuck without a bass player again. After some time had passed we decided to call it a day because we were tired of all the crap we had gone through to get gigs because bands wouldn't play with us or venues not wanting to book us 'cause of the people that came to our shows blah bla blah, and then to find another bass player not only a good one but someone who fit in with the band and our personalities as well as being an individual himself, forget it!. We hit a brick wall trying to get our LP released, no one would touch it. Too hardcore, not the right metal, whatever the fuck that means. Plus I think our creative side was getting stagnant, or uninspired might be the better word. We were together for about seven years at that point. Marco joined Blasphemy later on and Mike formed Procreation later on as well and actually asked me to sing for them but I declined because I just didn't want to be in a band anymore. John.E joined Armoros, a band from Victoria , a killer band actually, and joined Procreation later on.

Before "Canadian Speed Metal" in 2003, your only official release was the self-titled EP, correct? Why was "Bounds of Freedom" never released?

Yeah that is correct. We originally recorded it for Everratt records but we never ended signing with them 'cause the dudes from The Accused said he was a rip off artist. Plus we would have been locked into a deal for five years and he didn't have to release any more than two LP's in that timeframe plus there were other things in the contract that were kind of shady, so we declined and recorded a LP anyway.

Do you know how many copies of the 1987 EP actually made it into the hands of buyers? Some of the copies were destroyed in a fire...

Yeah that happened a few years after they were released. Only a hundred or so were destroyed. I think there were 1200 pressed. I bought one last year from a record store in L.A. Sometimes a copy will pop up on eBay. They are around.

Let's go back about 20 years now, back when you guys started playing live. Did you play only on the west coast of Canada?

Yeah mostly. We did somes gigs in Alberta as well. I think we played about 60 or 70 shows in all. We did a reunion show in '97 for a friend's birthday 'cause that is what he wanted for his birthday so we said OK. It was a gas and a shit load of people showed up. It was in a mansion in Surrey.

You've played with such big names as Exciter, Exodus and Metal Church. What are your best (and also worst, if any) memories? Don't be shy, you're among friends here, and beside the statute of limitations has most likely run out for any bad things you guys might have done. :)

Every gig had a moment or a fuck up or whatever that makes you remember it. Some gigs I don't remember actually playing, but I remember shit before or after the show. I remember throwing up on some poor bastard once. I think that was when we backed up Metal Church. We played with S.N.F.U in Edmonton once and it was the first time any speed metal band played with a punk band in Edmonton or Alberta for that fact. Anyway the fuckin' crowd went bezerk when we started playin' I guess 'cause they thought we would be like Iron Maiden or something. Fuckin slam pit was intense, anyway this dude, a small guy in stature, comes up on stage, starts dancin' around so I pick him up like I'm about to body slam him and threw him in the crowd. The place goes nuts! After every song we get a huge roar from everyone and after the gig people came up and shook our hands and were hyped about what they had just heard. Shit like that stays with you and at the time I did not realize it but we did break ground for bands to play gigs with anyone - I mean out here anyway. In the beginning of Witches hammer that kind of shit happened a lot. There was those opium-laced hash, acid and other mind-altering devices induced road trips where you think alien ships are coming over the horizon but it just turns out to be the moon rising. I could write pages and pages of that kind of shit. I'll save those for the movie script.

To wrap this up, some people on my message board submitted a few questions (more or less edited:)

What do you guys do for a living?

Well I'm (Ray verbal abuse) in construction, I do steel framing and drywall, Marco is a welder, Mike E Death works with a pleasure boat parts distibutor, Steve Nieve is a power engineer, Dan is a garbage man and John.E is deceased, he died of an drug overdose in '97. R.I.P.

I'm interested in the whole skinhead thing. Was it just a haircut Marco used to have, or did he want to adapt to a certain ideology as well? How did the satanic skinhead thing start, and break away from "traditional" skinhead values, obviously the values differ philosophically. Did they know anything about what it means to be a skinhead and the entire history of how it started (spirit of 69 and ska/reggae and factory workers and all that), or was it more just about looking badass?? (Not that I'm implying Marco or any of those guys are shallow or only concerned with their appearance, I'm sure it goes deeper than that, I've read his interviews and posts on other boards and I know he is quite an intelligent and well spoken person.)

It was more of trying to be more of an individual than anything. We always were far from the norm as individuals and as a band. We were more of a punk band than anythng 'cause we always did what we wanted and I think because we played punk shows when we first started gigging, mainly because there was no where else to play so that rubbed off on us. We all did the Mohawk thing and all that. It also attracted a lot of freaks and bad ass motherfuckers to our shows and it made for great shows. As far as the satanic skins thing, I don't know much about it 'cause I wasn't part of that scene and Blasphemy only ever played two shows in Vancouver and one of them they backed us up.

You guys seem to have different logos for your different releases. Even those show posters on your web site showcase quite a varied number of logos. Is it because you couldn't settle on one, or was that intentional? :)

No it just evolved I guess. The one from the first NWN release I did in '86 or so and it was supposed to look like blood dripping off the wall and we used it for some stickers and gigs and that's it. Then Yosuke liked it and used it for the Canadian Speed Metal LP. The one with the Skull in between the words Witches Hammer is our coolest one and the real Witches logo I guess. It's my favorite one. Our manager Norm came up with that one.

Alright, here comes the time for the traditional closing question: Is there anything else you'd like to add?

Smoke Pot!

Web site:

Ray sent me a number of show posters and various pics, which you can see below:


Other information about Witches Hammer on this site
Review: Damnation Is My Salvation

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