It's the Fourth of July, and the lobby of Hollywood's Roosevelt Hotel is packed with half naked model types. "It's like everyone here is about to film a giant porno!" says Sade Sanchez, the singer-guitarist from L.A. Witch. Sanchez sits with bandmates Irita Pai and Ellie English; the trio's Joan Jett-influenced grindhouse rocker look is juxtaposed with the room's young Hollywood ambiance.
L.A. Witch is here for an early soundcheck. Chris Cester, the former drummer for Aussie band Jet, invited them to open for his new pop-rock outfit Mystic Knights of Amnesia. The music of L.A. Witch is experimental and raw. Pai plays a bone-rattling Fender Mustang she picked up two years ago. Until recently, this bass was anchored by a dark-haired drummer named Crystal Nava, who has since gone missing. "Our original drummer left to New York for a trip, but she never came back," says Sanchez. English, a fiery redhead from the Valley, joined the band after a series of auditions.
With no record label or Svengali manager persuading them to look and sound more like The Bangles, L.A. Witch has a sound and style that is dark. Their heavy sound features Sanchez's ghostly lo-fi vocals on "Get Lost," where the brooding songstress begs for someone, anyone, to "save me from myself, save me from myself."
Altogether, their witch's brew seems to be working; the group just completed a month-long residency at the Silverlake Lounge. These shows helped generate buzz around the release of their eponymous debut EP; a three-track amalgamation of haunted surf rock, road trip blues and '60s-sounding psychedelia.
Ready to soundcheck, the trio heads upstairs into the Roosevelt's Spare Room, a posh bar/bowling alley where the privileged pay $100 an hour to knock down pins. Taking advantage of a staff that seems too drunk to care, I chalk my name on the blackboard and bowl with no reservations while the witches rehearse.
Three hours later, L.A. Witch open their set with "Haunting," a bluesy early recording that builds into an explosive crescendo that conjures distressing recollections of a former love: "No more black tar stained veins." The Hollywood crowd seems drawn to their fuzzed-out vocals and reverb heavy guitars. By the time Mystic Knights take the stage, the crowd seems to largely tune out.
Intent on going to eat gorditas at the Mexican joint near their studio, the women of L.A.
Witch exit the Hollywood scene, the place a bit more interesting for them having been there.
L.A. Witch plays the Five Star Bar on August 2nd.
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