All Them Witches Are Showing Fluid Consistency

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

When Charles Michael Parks Jr., Ben McLeod and Robby Staebler came together to form the psychedelic outfit All Them Witches, the trio had zero vision but simply couldn’t ignore their calling.

“I’ve been drawn to play music my whole life,” Parks says. “When we started, there was no talk about what to be and what to make, so everything until now has been playing as it comes along.”

Even with a lack of direction, All Them Witches has done well for themselves, trekking along with their newest album, Nothing as the Ideal, which Parks describes as a “snapshot” of their lives from the past couple years. While the band sticks with consistent style and recording approaches between albums, their recording environment changes frequently. This time, they accomplished that by heading to London to record at Abbey Road Studios. The decision came about spontaneously, as the band was knee-deep in disagreements about where to record when McLeod suggested the bold move of Abbey Road.  

“It was the experience of a lifetime,” Parks says. “We thought it was going to be like Disneyland in a sense … cheesy or overblown. But it wasn’t. It was professional and one of the best studios in the world.”

Because of their constant movement, All Them Witches strives to produce records themselves and bring in talented friends rather than work with a hotshot producer. “Nobody ever tells us what to do, we wouldn’t know how to work if someone was. There would just be no way, we have a lot of vision naturally,” Parks explains. 

This vision, nonexistent in the beginning, has evolved into one that makes change the focal point, from the setting to the experimental nature of their music. Many of their songs, from their first full-length, Our Mother Electricity, to their previous self-titled release as well as the new record were all minimally cultivated. Each song that made it onto each record was the real, unfiltered track. 

“What you hear on the record is what we did that day. It’s not practiced or polished. It’s just going to sound different in a year for us anyways,” Parks says.

Though their style remains firm across records, the largest difference between their first record and Nothing as the Ideal is the “worldview,” Parks says. “The empathy, the ideals you have when you’re younger are different. That first record was just us trying to figure out how to be a band.” 

With the completion of Nothing as the Ideal, All Them Witches looks to their future as a trio, wondering if they still need a keys player. Parks explained that with “band adolescence,” he realized the core of the band has always been the three of them.  

“We kept thinking about bands that changed their lineup like Fleetwood Mac, and we just saw that it’s not really a sin,” he says. “The main core of the band is the three of us, and anything past that is extra.”

The lead single for Nothing as the Ideal, “Saturnine & Iron Jaw,” and the pulverizing track “Enemy of My Enemy” with its brutal, prog-leaning style written from noodles and warm-up licks Parks had been using in soundchecks over the last year, prove they have zero need for a fourth member. Not only can they persevere, they can flourish as a three-piece.  

With Parks’ long-standing role as chief lyricist, the music has always remained a collective endeavor, usually written together on the road. And even with such a lax recording technique, the band has produced very convincing music that doesn’t sound like it was recorded within a week — an average for them across records. Despite the quick studio process, All Them Witches spent a good part of their 2019 tour with Ghost, writing material for the new record while lighting up arenas around Europe every night. 

“I never had any ideas of playing arenas or anything and now that I have done that, I know how it goes and it’s done,” Parks laughs. “And it’s funny as you get older, because my whole world used to be about touring and now the thought of getting back in the van sends shivers down my spine.”

While becoming the next MTV band, headlining Wembley Stadium or Madison Square Garden, counting money and cultivating fame are of little importance to the band, the trio still has something to echo into the crowds, which is what drives them. 

“I think partially you want to be acknowledged as a band that has something to say, but I don’t think the industry or fame has anything to do with that,” Parks says. “We just want to write songs, and I just want to play shows and make myself feel better while bringing people along for the ride.”

Photo Credit: Robby Staebler

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