In March, a trio of British twentysomethings captivated crowds at South By Southwest with an aural concoction born of Elliot Smith, Nirvana, and listless, beachside afternoons.
Those gentlemen have returned to the U.S. for a nationwide tour in support of their forthcoming debut full-length, “Annabel Dream Reader” (Partisan).
The band is called The Wytches. The sound is called “surf doom.”
Peterborough natives Kristian Bell (vocals, guitar) and Gianni Honey (drums) formed The Wytches in 2011. Soon after, Bell and Honey relocated to Brighton, a resort town on Britain’s southern coast, and recruited bassist Daniel Rumsey. Here the band sharpened their onstage chops and stumbled upon the funereal sound that has come to define them.
Bell is the storm’s center: a shrieking vortex of fibrous black hair and ominous guitar echo. His sinister instrumentation is the first variable in the “surf doom” equation.
“There’s this Arctic Monkeys album called ‘Humbug’ (Domino). I wouldn’t say it’s surf but the guitarist uses a lot of Bigsby and that reverb-y sound grabbed me,” says Bell. “So, when I started playing electric guitar––around the time I moved to Brighton––I bought an echo pedal online for £20. The sound just came out.”
Bell’s macabre lyrics are the second variable.
“Salivating, bloody mouth or passionately, bloody mouth, and graveyard girls swinging a bag like a pendulum,” he howls on “Crying Clown,” the band’s debut U.S. single. (The line is then punctuated by an instrumental breakdown that could drive Black Sabbath super fans to tears.)
Bell attributes his lyrical leanings to literary angst specialists Elliot Smith and Conor Oberst.
During the initial leg of their maiden US tour, The Wytches shared the bill with neo-hardcore acts Cloud Nothings and Metz. They’ll play out the remainder of the dates alone.
With only four shows left, the band has nothing but positive things to say about their first stateside trek.
“It’s constantly a great experience,” says Bell. “Touring-wise, it’s great because even on the drives we’re seeing things we’ve never seen before––things we never thought we’d get to see––Portland [Laughs].”
On Wednesday July 23 The Wytches will play Great Scott, 122 Commonwealth Ave., Allston. Tickets are $10. The doors open at 9 p.m.