Blackwater Holylight head out on the road across the West Coast this month in support of latest long player Veils Of Winter. Rushonrock Editor Simon Rushworth caught up with the psychedelic doomsters’ frontwoman Allison (Sunny) Faris.
Rushonrock: Describe the band dynamic with five talented females each bringing their own ideas to the Blackwater Holylight table.
Allison Faris: We’ve definitely grown a lot together since the beginning of the band. At the outset it was something that we thought about a lot, you know – that dynamic between members. But it’s not really something that is so present in the thought process anymore, just because I’m really used to it. We were actually talking about this in London when we were on tour in the UK last year. When I was the only female in an all-male band, I really couldn’t imagine what it would be like to play with all women. And now that we’ve been in this situation for a couple of years, I can’t imagine going back. We’re an awesome team. There’s really nothing that ever flares up or feels unresolvable. You know, whenever anything comes up, we just kind of sit around we ask ourselves ‘how are we gonna resolve this conflict?’. We have a conversation about it and just figure it out. We don’t freak out or anything like that.
Rushonrock: How did the band name come about?
AF: Well, the story is kind of funny. We started jamming together. We had one song and I we had a couple practices and we wanted to book a show. But we didn’t have a band name yet. And so the name kind of came up out of just texting each other some really awful ideas for like a month or so. All of the ideas were just so bad. I can’t remember all of them but our old drummer Cat, who’s not in the band anymore, wanted to call us Can You Not. Then someone said something about black light and I wanted something to do with holy water and then Laura [Hopkins, guitar/vocals] suggested a combination of those four words and then we came up with Blackwater Holylight. I just said ‘yep, that’s it!’. It was a fucking cool name so we just rolled with it…and then we checked Google!
Rushonrock: So was the name already taken?
AF: Well that’s what we were worried about. You know the internet is just ruining everything and you look up a name and it’s already being used by five other bands, a few restaurants and a snack or two and a cocktail! Finding a blend of words that go together, sound cool and aren’t already being used is far from easy. It was a massive relief when we realised we were the one and only Blackwater Holylight.
Rushonrock: And your music sounds like it should come from a band called Blackwater Holylight…
AF: Well we’ve got some great imagery that goes with the name and the music now so it’s all coming together. It’s the whole idea of being in a cool, calm place at night with the moon shining down on the black water. We’re creating this beautiful imagery that represents the band and the music that we make. It’s become the perfect blend of everything we stand for.
Rushonrock: New album Veils Of Winter was released before Christmas – can you describe its sound?
AF: It was super fun to make. It was a lot different to the first album. The process was different and nothing was the same but it’s still obviously us. When you hear it you’ll hear a band that has elevated. We are more mature as a band now. The first record that we made was really just kind of experimenting and producing the sounds that we made naturally together. The fact that we’re a heavy band was just kind of an organic thing. When the idea popped in my head to jam with my bandmates it wasn’t a case of ‘let’s play music and make it heavy’. That just happened! So the first album is a representation of us finding out what we are capable of doing. We’ve had the last few years to figure that out. So the new record is the sound of a band that’s established itself a little bit and the songwriting is a little more interesting. It’s heavier, it’s more psychedelic and it’s just more everything!
Rushonrock: Which is exciting given that the first record garnered so much praise…
AF: Oh yeah I’m not trying to undermine the first record at all. It’s just that we didn’t know what we’re doing! Everything on this second record is much more mindful and much more intentional. The songs are really personal – they are about things we’ve experienced in our lives. They’re not songs where we wrote some lyrics to fit the music without much thought. Each song on the second record is very precious really represents some of the traumatic shit that we’ve been through. You can feel it.
Rushonrock: You can. In fact Veils Of Winter is a very dark record in places…
AF: Kind of, yeah. It’s pretty dark. Yeah, yeah. It’s pretty doomy. But the thing about our band is that everyone who experiences us live listens to their own version of what we’re doing. We always make this joke that we’re non-genre binary because everyone takes their own experience from our shows which I love. I love that. Some people listen to Veils Of Winter and they’re gonna be like, this is a doom album. Some people hear me like, this is a psych album. Everyone’s going to take what they will from it and that’s great.
Rushonrock: Would you agree you’re a very tough band to pin down shen it comes to a certain style or identity?
AF: That’s what I was saying earlier. It’s like the heaviness is just totally organic. Like that’s just what happened when we came together. It’s cool because we can play to the metal crowds and they’re like ‘ok, well, it’s not really metal but it’s heavy. So it’s fine. I like it.’. And then we can play to the psych crowds and they’re like ‘oh, this is trippy’. But there are also these other sounds that are interesting to me. We have songs which sound, to me, like a fucking pop song! We just kind of fit in, wherever and whenever. And, you know, like I said, People just take their, they have their own experience. People can be very protective of the genres that they love and be very sensitive about that shit. I understand that and that’s why I try to avoid calling our band this or that. But if you’re trying to do something that someone hasn’t already heard 1000 times you’re gonna have to step outside the box of what is metal. And then everyone suddenly has their own opinion on which sub genre of metal you fit into and it gets crazy!
Rushonrock: Do you feel free to make the music you want to make?
AF: Definitely. It’s nice to be who we are and play for people that do have this pretty solid concept of what is acceptable within the realm of metal. Most people tell us ‘you guys are awesome’. That’s great. Thanks for letting us be here but remember we’re allowed to be here just like everyone else!
*Veils Of Winter is out now via RidingEasy Records.
*New single Jizz Witch is out now.
*Blackwater Holylight kick off their latest US tour in Seattle tonight.