Witches Brew : Water Witches Return To Fort Wayne September 29th

by EA Poorman

Cover Photo by Michelle Waters

So what are you supposed to do after something like Middle Waves? How can you go back to a normal existence when all of your senses have been electrified and your heart and mind filled with so much musical goodness? How can you go back to punching the clock, sitting at a desk, and staring blankly at a computer screen when memories of Headwaters Park linger in your brain? Well, you just keep moving. There will shows to see my friends. New rock and roll freak happenings to expand your psyche a bit. In fact, on September 29th there’s going to be one hell of a mind melter going down at CS3. This ones going to be a doozy.

Athens, Ohio’s Water Witches are making their way across the Indiana/Ohio line and are invading CS3 for what will surely be a full on rock and roll experience. They’re bringing along Columbus’ Bummers and are meeting up with the always delightfully freaky Heaven’s Gateway Drugs and post-punk titans Streetlamps For Spotlights. I feel like I don’t need to say you should go to this show, but you should go to this show. Like, get tickets right after you’re done reading this.

So you’re not familiar with our Ohio brethren? Well let me fill you in.

Bummers is a four-piece from Columbus, Ohio. The band consists of Chris Steris, Steven Sikes-Gilbert, Cody Smith and Jeff Pearl. On first listen to their newest release, 2017s Dolores, you’re treated to a fuzzy, psychedelic shot of noise and melody. Imagine Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Jesus and Mary Chain, and late 80s/early 90s indie bands like Dino Jr, Pixies, and Sebadoh. Opening track “Black Halo” comes out screaming with squealing guitars and lots of angst. Then “The One You Love” has an almost Elephant 6 vibe. Very Neutral Milk Hotel-ish. Basically, if you were into college radio in the 90s or Ty Segall’s garage rock renaissance then Bummers are gonna be your jam.

Water Witches are no strangers to Fort Wayne. There’s a good chance you caught them on one of their jaunts through the Fort already, but if you haven’t CS3 is a great place to catch ’em. Asked last year about how the band got together the Water Witches, which consist of Ethan Bartman, Charlie Touvell, and Matt Clouston, had this to say, “Our first Nelsonville Music Fest 2014. That summer we all continued to jam because we like to hang out together. We formed two bands that were different sides of the same coin. One was a freak folk project called Feathers, the other, a psych rock band by the name of Halcyon. We decided to fuse the two to make everything simpler. We felt  this new direction needed a new name, so we held a séance during a set we played at a house show. The spirits gave us the name Water Witches.” Their sound is a mix of psych folk, late 60s garage rock, and a whole lot of Midwest weird that makes it all the more special. When describing the band’s sound, the guys listed influences running the gamut from musicians to writers and the otherworldly, as the band pointed out last year, “Tarot Cards, Alejandro Jodorowsky, Wooden Indian Burial Ground (amazing psych surf from Portland), Robert Anton Wilson, David Lynch, the Source Family, Henry Miller, Dr. Dog, the D-Rays, Velvet Underground, Aphrodite’s Child, John Waters.”

The band are currently touring in support of their newest release, Halcyon, which was released this past July. Dropping the needle on this record you’re treated to fuzzed-out psych rock(“cut”), Ty Segall-like acid freakouts(“Totality”), Philly soul grooves(“Soul BDSM”), and Athens weird that only Water Witches can give(“devil”). Halcyon has a nice bit of grit on it, giving it an aged feel. Like some strange vinyl artifact you found at the bottom of some grizzled cedar chest that was located in an abandoned house in the middle of a desolate forest. It’s music that feels timeless, yet definitely has some ghostly vibes that you can only get when your music’s been blessed by spirits from the other side. Water Witches put on a great show, so you don’t want to miss them this time around.

So we’ve got Athens and Columbus, Ohio represented on the 29th. What about the Fort? Well we’ve got our home turf covered as well. Our resident freaks Heaven’s Gateway Drugs will be blowing minds that night, just coming off a pretty stellar set at the  Kaleidoscope Eye Festival in Chicago a couple weeks ago. These guys have come a hell of a long way in 4 years. They were one of my highlights last year at Middle Waves. If you haven’t seen them lately then you should get out and check ’em out.

Streetlamps For Spotlights will also be hitting the CS3 stage. Another staple of the Fort Wayne rock scene, Jason Davis’ flagship band are one of the best in town. I was able to see them a few years ago at NNN Records on RSD and they blew me away. A little post-punk, a little classic indie, and all three-piece magic, this band will blow you away live.

So you may be suffering from post-Middle Waves blues two weeks from now, so the best way to cure those blues is to get out there and see some more shows. CS3 has you covered for September 29th. Water Witches, Bummers, Heaven’s Gateway Drugs, and Streetlamps For Spotlights will be blowing minds promptly at 9pm. Don’t be late.



Wall Of Sound : A Conversation With Post Child’s Bryan Alvarez

by EA Poorman


Can you feel it? It’s the roaring warmth of summer coming just around the corner, folks. Temps in the 80s, balmy breeze blowing through the car window as you sit at the stop light waiting for the green to tell you to go, go, go. The best thing about the oncoming season change is that first great rock show of the season. Maybe you think you’ve seen it already. At that point maybe it was, but boys and girls there’s a show happening on May 26th at the Brass Rail that will knock your socks off. Local heroes Heaven’s Gateway Drugs and Girl Colors are warming the stage up for our Ohio pals Water Witches and Chi-town’s Post Child. And even better, cruise over to Neat Neat Neat Records at 6pm and watch Water Witches christen Morrison’s all new Hi Fi Lounge with some of their psychedelic magic. Yep, NNN has the Hi Fi Lounge up and running so leave the house a little early and grab some suds courtesy of CS3s pop up bar while you soak up some Water Witches magic.

Post Child are new to the Brass Rail stage and Fort Wayne in general. But if you’re like me and you were drunk a lot in the 90s, alternative rock has a special place in your heart. Post Child capture that post-grunge, in-the-red, hooky indie rock that made so many of us fall in love with rock and roll all over again in the early days of the Clinton administration. When I listened to their newest record Wax Wings I instantly thought of bands like Local H, Marcy Playground, Imperial Drag, Tiny Music-era STP, Blur, and some of the gnarlier Beck. The trick is to take those influences and make it original, which is exactly what Post Child does. They add that Chicago flavor to the sound; it’s that Midwest moxy that is equal parts working class gusto and big-hearted earnestness.

I talked to Bryan Alvarez, Post Child’s singer/guitarist about the band and their show at the Rail.

EA Poorman: So tell me about Post Child. How did you guys get together?

Bryan Alvarez: Post Child was started by me back in 2011 from the ashes of a previous band I was in. I’ve been in a bunch of bands over the years that were group efforts. Post Child was started as a way for me to really hone the sound I’ve been searching for over the years. I wanted something that I could have full creative control. But with that being said, we wouldn’t sound how we do without the guys in the band. They take my songs and transmute them into something bigger and better.

EA Poorman: So who else is in the band? Are you guys all from Chicago?

Bryan Alvarez:  The band is me, Bryan Alvarez, on vocals/lead guitar, Jared Olson on guitar/vocals, Mustafa Daka on drums, and Victor Riley on bass. We’re all from Chicago or the surrounding towns.

Photo by Alen Khan

EA Poorman: Are you all in different bands besides Post Child?

Bryan Alvarez: Everyone is in multiple bands. I used to play in the band Peekaboos (who have been around for a while now), only recently leaving to concentrate more on Post Child. Jared is in Elephant Gun and Dirty Bird, Mustafa is in The Brokedowns and High Priests, and Victor is in Salvation.

EA Poorman: Where are you guys pulling inspiration from? I hear a lot of great 90s alternative bands in your sound.

Bryan Alvarez: I grew up listening to bands like Nine Inch Nails, Weezer, Blur, Beck and the Flaming Lips. And I think we all can bond over these bands, who when we were younger were larger than life. But I think a lot of our current sound is influenced by local Chicago bands, like Meat Wave, Peekaboos, Milked, Rad Payoff, Velocicopter (RIP), and Closed Mouths. All of these bands come from the realm of rock and post-rock but are all unique in their own way. Seriously, you should all listen to them and see them live when you can.

EA Poorman: So tell me about the newest Post Child long player Wax Wings. Where did you guys record the record? What’s the songwriting process like for you guys?

Bryan Alvarez: We recorded Wax Wings at Kildare Studios in the Logan Square neighborhood of Chicago with Joe Gac of Meat Wave behind the board. We recorded it at the end of Sept 2015 and spent 2016 doing overdubs and mixing. I usually try out different methods of songwriting for each album. For Wax Wings, I spent a lot of time trying to write lyrics that were meaningful to me, using music as a way to add impact to them. It was a very introspective and meditative process, trying to get deep into my mind. I was reading a lot of esoteric books on meditation and psychology at the time. The music was a much longer process, sometimes rewriting a song 3 or 4 times over before I was satisfied with it. At that point I would bring all of this to the band and have them add to it and make it sound even better. I think I wrote maybe 30 songs for Wax Wings, we recorded about 20 tracks, and ended up only using 10.

EA Poorman: So you guys are playing the Brass Rail on May 26th. How did this show come together? Is this your first time in the Fort? Who else is playing?

Bryan Alvarez: Corey from Brass Rail had reached out and invited us to come and play. He liked the band. I didn’t actually ask him how he heard of us. We’ve never played Fort Wayne before, so we’re excited to come out and play for everyone. We’ve had friends come through and tell us it was a good time. So the details, It’s Friday May 26th. Girl Colors are opening, then us, and Heaven’s Gateway Drugs are headlining.

EA Poorman: What other shows do you have lined up for the summer?

Bryan Alvarez: Locally, we’re usually booked up a few months in advance. We have some really great shows coming up this summer that I can’t quite announce just yet that are really cool. But we’re trying to get around the midwest a bit more and play places like Indiana, Wisconsin, Ohio, and so on. We’re working on a longer tour for later this fall. If you are reading this and want to help us book a show in your town please reach out to us!

EA Poorman: Any new music on the horizon?

Bryan Alvarez: I’m actually writing the follow up to Wax Wings right now. I write a lot of music. Much more than we’ll ever release probably. My goal for the next album was to write at least 15 songs before I considered doing any recording. I got to about 14 songs and ended up scrapping almost all of them. So I’m down to like 5. It wasn’t sounding the way I had wanted it. So, I’ve been spending a lot of time on these new songs working on rhythms and beats. We sometimes play a new song or two at our live shows. Otherwise, we might try to put a new tune out later this year.

EA Poorman: In one sentence, how would you describe Post Child?

Bryan Alvarez: We’re really loud. Bring ear plugs. It wasn’t even intentional to be as loud as we are, but it just kind of happened that way. We played a show the other night and someone came up to me and described it as “wall of sound”. I think we write really poppy music overall, we like to do vocal harmonies, double guitar solos, but just to do it really loudly. I like the idea of using sound to take people out of their comfort zone a bit.

So don’t forget earplugs, folks. It’s gonna be great, but loud. And make sure to hit up NNN and the Hi Fi Lounge at 6pm for some pre-main event music goodness with Water Witches and some brews courtesy of CS3. The main event starts at 9pm at the Brass Rail. Get acquainted with Post Child over at https://postchildmusic.bandcamp.com/.


Tarot Cards and Glitter Baptisms : Water Witches Talk Seances and Their Upcoming Skeletunes Show

When Jason Davis of Streetlamps for Spotlights and Off The Cuff Sound gets a hold of me to tell me about upcoming shows in the Fort I’m all ears. He brings great bands to Fort Wayne stages and this most recent band is no different. On June 18th Athens, Ohio’s Water Witches will be stopping in the Fort to play Skeletunes Lounge. They’ll be joined that evening by Jason’s Streetlamps, as well as The Be Colony.

What do they sound like? Imagine Dr. Dog, Devendra Banhart, Nick Drake, and sentient beings all mingling and tingling together in the best cult fruit punch you’ve ever tasted. And plenty of glitter thrown in for good measure.

I got a hold of the mystical Water Witches(which consists of Ethan Bartman, Charlie Touvell, and Matt Clouston)telepathically and proposed some questions to them via brain waves and hazy vibes. Some of the questions may have gotten muddled between here and Athens, so bear with me.

J. Hubner : So tell me about the band. How did the Water Witches get together? Were you guys in bands previously?

Water Witches: Our first Nelsonville Music Fest 2014. That summer we all continued to jam because we like to hang out together. We formed two bands that were different sides of the same coin. One was a freak folk project called Feathers, the other, a psych rock band by the name of Halcyon. We decided to fuse the two to make everything simpler. We felt  this new direction needed a new name, so we held a séance during a set we played at a house show. The spirits gave us the name Water Witches. We all have been playing music in Athens for a few years now, playing in several different bands of all styles.

J. Hubner: Tell me about the music. Not only is the sound very distinct, but there’s a real visual aspect to the band. Who or what influences the sound and look of Water Witches? 

Water Witches: Tarot Cards, Alejandro Jodorowsky, Wooden Indian Burial Ground (amazing psych surf from Portland), Robert Anton Wilson, David Lynch, the Source Family, Henry Miller, Dr. Dog, the D-Rays, Velvet Underground, Aphrodite’s Child, John Waters.

J. Hubner: Let’s talk about the your newest full-length ‘Feathers’. According to your Bandcamp page, the album was “Self-produced in a basement among the Indian mounds of Zanesville, Ohio.” Can you elaborate on that? Who’s basement was it? What are these Indian mounds you speak of? Besides a basement and Indian mounds, what else is in Zanesville, Ohio?

Water Witches: Charlie was housesitting for his dad, taking care of his dogs and pigeon. We set up a makeshift studio in the basement and recorded everything ourselves. Zanesville is located at the confluence of two rivers, the Muskingum and the Licking. It was considered sacred and was (and is) the site of ancient burial mounds.

ww-stlJ. Hubner: Back to the album, did you guys record to tape or computer-based? Does that sort of thing matter in the Water Witches universe?

Water Witches: We recorded everything on a Tascam digital multitrack Ethan got in Ft. Wayne years ago. We basically just try to get by with what we’ve got. Most of the mics were running through guitar pedals and there was a lot of experimenting going on. It was good to collaborate with Josh Antonuccio from 3 Elliot Studio on the mix and bring the tracks out of the basement and cleaned up a bit.

J. Hubner: What’s the songwriting process like for you guys? Is it a wholly collaborative effort, musically and lyrically?

Water Witches: Usually it starts with some chords and words or a recording from Ethan. We quickly start playing songs together with particular feelings or styles in mind, and pull it all together and make something new. The way we perform the songs are a constantly evolving collaborative effort.

J. Hubner: Athens, Ohio seems to be a pretty happening town. It’s like the Austin, Texas of Ohio. Is the music community pretty tight knit there? 

Water Witches: Athens is a special place, especially for music. Everyone looks out for each other and it’s filled with a rich music history. Being such a small town with so many great bands, everyone does everything together. There’s also a place for every type of music, and everybody digs everything. It is truly a place for lovers of music. We also love to host sweet traveling bands, everyone appreciates good music.

J. Hubner: Water Witches will be coming to Fort Wayne to play Skeletunes Lounge on June 18th. You guys will be playing with Streetlamps for Spotlights and Be Colony. How did this show come about? You fellow Athenians The D-Rays have played Fort Wayne in the past as well.

Water Witches: Ryan kerr recommended Skeletunes and ErIck from the D rays got us in touch with Jason from SFS. We love the D Rays.

J. Hubner: What can folks in the Fort expect from a Water Witches show?

Water Witches: Supernaturally charged rock and roll glitter baptism.

J. Hubner: Any other upcoming shows you want to tell us about?

Water Witches: We will be playing in Cleveland on 6/22 and be sure to check us out on Meet The Music with Julia Meek. We will be recording a set with them while we are in town.

Keep June 18th open for an amazing night of music at Skeletunes Lounge with The Be Colony, Streetlamps For Spotlights, and Water Witches. Also keep your ears peeled for the Water Witches appearance on 89.1s Meet The Music with Julia Meek. And check out their great album Feathers here.