Irita Pai and Sade Sanchez started L.A. Witch in 2011; Ellie English signed on after their first drummer took off for the East Coast and never came back again. All three grew up in Los Angeles – they felt the city, palpably, the spirits of "Real Rock Music History" all around. This band's City of Angels, though, isn't in the Hollywood sign or Grauman's Chinese. It's not even at the Whisky.
L.A. Witch has been around – constant touring for years now, three women on the open road. You can hear it in their music. And so L.A. Witch's domain is just outside the city limits: Route 66, smoky highways and deserts in dust. In the music video for "Get Lost," the trio trash an already-abandoned house in the middle of California-nowhere; the graffiti on its walls reads "Hail Satan." Maybe this is their secret hideout. They'll probably never tell.
All of L.A. Witch's work conjures these sorts of sceneries: easily romanticized, influences woven together and worn proudly. These witches worship at the altars of Patricia Morrison and Kim Gordon; devour anything shrouded in analog warmth. It's an awareness, really, of the history that's come before them – but with respect paid, and an eye to the future potentialities stretched out ahead.
After honing their sound through tours upon tours, L.A. Witch has (finally, for longtime fans) followed up their 2014 self-titled single with their first full-length, released in September on Suicide Squeeze. This was the first time any recording had felt right. "After it was released," English says, "we finally felt like a real band. ... We actually had something to show for the amount of work that we've been doing."
The LP – self-titled – is all garage tenacity and girl-group heartache, bass lines and smoky vocals penetrating right through reverb-heavy layers of pink psych smog. These are songs that fill a room right to its rafters, songs that wash over you in a wave of another-time-another-place. It's territory that's been trodden upon before, but there's a sense of striking intentionality throughout – aural landscapes carefully constructed to capture the band's live sound, the city they came from.
Pai, Sanchez and English write songs together; they travel constantly. They make zines and run an online shop. "We don't just play music, we experiment with all different types of art. I think it all ties together, and sometimes you get an idea for one thing from doing another," says Sanchez. English agrees: "We like each other's creative sides, and it flows well when we're trying to do different projects together."
They do what they do well; they leave something witchy. Maybe this is what covens have always really been: powerful women working together in close proximity, building up each other and the ideas they believe in. Their Orlando show (the band's first time here – they're going to Disney World) is right before Halloween, a time when all witches know they're at their most powerful. There won't be a full moon, but there might as well be.