Over the past handful of years, I’ve managed to write quite a bit about the Los Angeles-based garage rock trio and JOVM mainstays L.A. Witch — Sade Sanchez (lead vocals, guitar), Irita Pai (bass, backing vocals) and Ellie English (drums) — and as you may recall, with the release of their full-length debut, 2017’s self-titled effort, the band quickly established a jangling reverb-drenched guitar rock sound that drew from a number of sources, including late 50s-early 60s rock, The Pleasure Seekers, The Sonics, The Black Angels, The Brian Jonestown Massacre and others —but while bearing a resemblance to JOVM mainstay artists like The Coathangers, Sharkmuffin and Death Valley Girls.
The members of L.A. Witch have readily admitted that the writing and recording sessions for their self-titled album was a casual affair — with the album’s material coming together over the course of several years. The natural and seemingly effortless creative flow hit a snag when the band’s profile and popularity grew and they began touring regularly. So when the trio got together to write and record their forthcoming sophomore album Play With Fire, they felt that they needed a new strategy.
Between their touring schedule, studio availability and the timeline for releasing an album this year, the members of the Los Angeles-based JOVM mainstays found themselves with only two months to do the bulk of the writing for Play With Fire‘s material. The trio holed up during January and February for the writing process — before March’s mandatory COVID-19 related shutdowns across the world. “As far the creative process goes, this record is a result of sheer willingness to write,” L.A. Witch’s Sade Sanchez says in press notes. “When you sit down and make things happen, they will happen, rather than waiting to be inspired.” The time constraints and tightly focused writing sessions forced the band into new territories. “I’ve definitely learned that having restrictions forces you to think outside the box,” the band’s Irita Pai says. “That structure really brings about creativity in an unexpected and abundant way.”
Play With Fire finds the band pushing their sound forward with a muscular insistence but while not being a complete reinvention of their sound. Thematically, the album may arguably be their most sobering, serious work of their catalog to date. “Play With Fire is a suggestion to make things happen,” L.A. Witch’s Sanchez explains. “Don’t fear mistakes or the future. Take a chance. Say and do what you really feel, even if nobody agrees with your ideas. These are feelings that have stopped me in the past. I want to inspire others to be freethinkers even if it causes a little burn.”
Last month, I wrote about “Gen-Z,” a scuzzy and expansive, beer and whiskey fueled rockabilly blues that seethes with the sort of dissatisfaction and frustration that feels like our contemporary zeitgeist. “True Believers,” Play With Fire‘s latest single is a deceptive return to form. Sounding as though it could have been a single off their full-length debut, the track possesses an urgent post funk feel that subtly nods at JOVM mainstay Ganser — while possessing a seething disgust over everything. It evokes the recognition that we live in a morally bankrupt world; a world and paradigm that needs to die.
“‘True Believers’ is about being overwhelmed with the constant stream of news and information we see everyday,” L.A. Witch’s Sanchez explains in press notes. “It’s about feeling anger and frustration with the state of the world. In a way, the track mocks the All Lives Matter culture that has come to fruition in the U.S.
“At times when you’re traveling around and meeting new people, you get into conversations about social matters and different political standpoints. A lot of people don’t believe they have any power over the matters concerning them, and that can be frustrating. It can be difficult for people to see themselves having an actual impact with what we’re all facing in the world today, all you can really do is take it day by day, lead by example, and know that any and all change starts with you. It’s important to always believe in who you are, even through all the chaos.”