Wytch Hazel is a mighty fine young band from the United Kingdom. Their glorious live set at 2013's Brofest in Newcastle upon Tyne might have been the first step for the band to become leaders of the new N.W.O.B.H.M. “I don’t think it could have gone better for us in all aspects such as organization, our playing on stage etc.,” is what singer/guitarist Colin Hendra has to say about the band's finest moment up until now. “The Bro UK boys really pulled it out of the bag. I enjoyed most of the acts who performed on our night.” So does Colin think that there is indeed a new N.W.O.B.H.M. on the way in the UK? “I really hope so,” is his answer. “I’m not sure it could be described as a new wave yet or a ‘scene’ as it has previously been described as. I hope more bands make an appearance as we only know three or four decent bands that fit into that category. That said, three years ago we were in a much worse position in the UK for good N.W.O.B.H.M. style bands!” Amulet, by the way, who also appeared at Brofest 2013, is another young British band to look out for ...
Wytch Hazel is not your typical jeans 'n' t-shirt band, visually they try do look different. Colin explains: “Forgive me the bands that do wear jeans and t-shirts but us as Wytch Hazel don’t think it shows the audience that you are particularly bothered about a) having a band identity/image and b) pulling out all the stops for your audience. That said, I don’t think everyone needs to wear what we wear – but I don’t think our stage clothes are over the top either. They probably just look that way in comparison to all the jeans 'n' t-shirt, similar looking bands. We haven’t played as many gigs as you’d expect us to have played – heavy metal interest for some reason isn’t very high in the UK and not especially in the North of the UK. We played our first European show at the MuskelRock festival in Sweden in late May 2013 which was really great, the festival itself is always a success!”
It is tempting to assume that after all Wytch Hazel's main musical influence is the glorious New Wave Of British Heavy Metal. However, Colin's analysis goes a bit deeper: “Well, it all depends on what you mean by musical influence – I would interpret it as melody and harmony that inspire songwriting. What I don’t mean is adding flute to a band in order to be ‘influenced’ by Jethro Tull. Finding new ideas or inspiring our guitar sound isn’t what I would call ‘musical influence’. Musical influence can come from the most unexpected places. At first I would say N.W.O.B.H.M. was a very significant influence, however, over time, what I would call my musical influences have been added to with some more unexpected styles and bands such as folk music, 1970s prog rock, pop of differing eras. My main musical influence has always been Jethro Tull, I find the music he writes extremely inspiring and very difficult to get bored of, which I do find with other acts upon listening for long periods of time.”
With only a limited number of original compositions, however, Wytch Hazel were forced to throw in some cover versions in their live set: “We’re cutting out the covers for now; we used covers to fill up a set of six original songs! We were covering 'Emerald' by Thin Lizzy, 'Phantom of the Opera' by Iron Maiden and 'Doctor Doctor' by UFO (the Thin Lizzy cover may make a re-appearance if needed!).”
»Surrender and The Truth« is not the band's debut album (which awaits recording later in 2013) but a compilation of their two demo tapes: “Josh Winnard and I were the founders of what we originally called Jerusalem which within a week changed to Witch Hazel and soon after was Wytch Hazel. The first thing we did after I composed two songs was record them onto a 4-track Tascam portastudio tape recorder which later became our »Surrender Demo« release. We auditioned about four drummers to find Aaron Hay and we contacted our friend Neil Corkery off our University Music course from the first year. We were soon playing in London and have been enjoying gigging and recording in-between our University/Work commitments ever since! As mentioned above, our first release was »Surrender«, a yellow themed 2-track demo CD. We only ever printed 50 CDs but we later re-released this demo onto cassette (a yellow cassette!). Our second release was our four track EP. In addition to that, we have been part of a 12" compilation on Flash of the Blade with three other local heavy metal bands and secondly a 7" split single with the mighty Borrowed Time on High Roller.”