I really enjoy metal. I’ll crack open an old album of Slayer, Priest or Maiden and enjoy rocking out a bit, every now and then. But I wouldn’t consider myself a “Metal Head.” Sure, a complex and crunchy riff opening up to screaming vocals and squeedly meedly lead guitars can really get me going, but I don’t feel like I have the pedigree to count myself among the legendary metal heads of my time.
So, it was a surprise to me to find out that this particular genre of metal was alive and well right now. Not only are the legends like Judas Priest and Iron Maiden still touring and playing shows, but there are a plethora of new bands popping up all over the world to melt our faces! Bands like Nervosa, Primal Fear, Frozen Crown and many others are preparing, right now, to play tours all over Europe and even come to the US. I for one believe that hair metal should be the theme of our collective all-but-feral emergence from the COVID-19 pandemic.
I recently interviewed Dutch musician Laura Guldemond, lead singer and front woman of the all-femme metal group Burning Witches whose new album Witch of the North drops TODAY with a streamed concert, live from Germany. So metal.
Guldemond vs Kliewer: The Interview
Ben Kliewer: I just listened to the album, Witch of the North and I absolutely loved it. Tell me about Burning Witches and how you got involved.
Laura Guldemond: First I’m glad that you like the album! I actually joined Burning Witches in Spring 2019 right before festival season. They needed a new singer and I ended up having to learn the set list really quickly. It’s been lots of fun. We also quickly started writing and recording Dance with the Devil and then that released when corona just started. So we only did a few gigs and then we kind of just decided to make another album because there was really no way to play any gigs.
BK: What was it like recording an album during a pandemic? Was it any different?
LG: It wasn’t that different. In Switzerland it was okay to go out and go to places if you were working. So I could go there to work in person and all was fine. But maybe the shops were closed sometimes, but that’s not a big deal because I’m in the studio anyway. Just supermarkets were open. That’s the reason I didn’t really notice much of a difference. The only thing that was really different is that we didn’t have any gigs. But of course it’s fun to write and record a new album. Maybe there was even a little more focus because you can’t go to a café you know. No gigs was the biggest thing.
BK: Have you started playing live shows yet?
LG: We haven’t played for over a year. We did a little live thing, just a cool live recording that we did that was released on the EP The Circle of Five. But that’s also, already, a year ago. So this livestream concert is finally something!
BK: So we’re starting off with the livestream concert from Germany on May 28, 2021. Are you planning on doing some live concerts and tours coming up?
LG: It’s kind of looking positive now that vaccinations are staying on schedule a bit. So it’s probably going to be okay to do it. The idea is that probably sometime in October everything will be fixed so concerts can start again. So let’s just hope it continues that way and we can do the whole tour!
BK: Assuming concerts and tours are starting up again, you’re slated to tour all over Europe. Which bands are you excited to be performing with, and which bands should be excited to be performing with you?
LG: Aha! Of course this tour that you just talked about, that’s with Primal Fear. So I think that’s a very good match, if you listen to them it’s like “Yeah, it fits.” I’m happy that we’re going to tour with them. We may be playing on a metal cruise in Switzerland in October as well. But we might be having a lot of shows because it is getting better. There are some festivals kind of booked that would’ve happened this year but they’ve been moved to 2022.
I’m not sure if it’s been announced, maybe this one’s new, I think we’re going to play at Copenhell if I’m not mistaken. I’m kind of confused now because I forgot if it’s that one or another one. But it’s really cool because Iron Maiden will play there, and Judas Priest and a lot of other cool bands. It’s a bunch of those bands that we really love and that we draw inspiration from. So that’s really cool, when I saw we were going to play there I was really happy because a lot of these legends and inspirational bands for us are going to play at that festival.
So that’s definitely something we’re looking forward to. We’re kind of friends with Nervosa and Frozen Crown, who knows, you know, it would be really fun if we could tour together. I would also be really happy if we could do a tour with Beast in Black because I just love their music so much. They have some of that old school vibe. Of course it’s different than the way we do it, but I would love to do that tour.
BK: Is there a chance that we could see Burning Witches perform in the US any time soon?
LG: Yes, definitely, we’re looking forward to doing that and looking at planning it for maybe Spring of next year. I know that’s still far away but there’s no chance to do it earlier with corona so, we have to. But there are really cool things coming up, so that’s really good.
BK: The album, Witch of the North, is great. Your sound encompasses all these classic metal bands like Priest, Maiden and Slayer, but at the same time it’s uniquely Burning Witches. It’s epic, it’s cinematic; the opening track Winter’s Wrath almost sets the album up as a film.
LG: Yes! That’s how I feel, it really feels enormously epic. We really tried to make it more epic and tell a story. We chose a theme this time just like we did with Hexenhammer. What we tried in the beginning was, when Romana [Kalkuhl] played something she was like “Hey, this really sounds like a Viking type riff. Maybe it would be cool to do something in this style. Maybe we’ll do something like witch of the north.” So she called me up because I’m the only one not living there. But they were just trying some stuff out, and they were like “Hay Laura, can you write a song about the witch of the north?”
And I was like “Yeah! That sounds really cool! But who is she?” So I kind of started to look into the Norse mythology, if there was some kind of connection, some kind of logic to it. Actually, there are a lot of gods and goddesses, and some of these goddesses were believed to give power to witches to see into the future, for example. So that’s really cool, and Freyja was seen as one of them. I just love the goddess Freyja because she is the goddess of love and war also. So yeah, she is the witch of the north!
And we wrote a lot of songs in this them. Flight of the Valkyries, and Ragnarök of course is such a great story so Nine Worlds is about Ragnarök.
BK: What’s your favorite song on this album?
LG: Oooh! This is always a very difficult question for me because it kind of changes with my mood. We’ve listened to the album together quite a few times in the car, of course. Thrall really stood out to me because it’s so loud, it’s probably the loudest song on the album. I want to play it live, I want to play it for a live audience. So, for me at the moment, that one, because I’m just so looking forward to live shows again.
BK: Is there anything else you want the readers of ThatHashtagShow.com to know before I let you go?
LG: Oh yeah! We are really looking forward to finally going to North America, because it is going to help now with this album. Thanks for checking us out and keep following burningwitches.ch and you’ll know when we’re finally coming over!
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