Eliza Lee didn’t know ‘witch’ way to turn as the occult fan headed to Newcastle in search of like-minded sisters. She tells Simon Rushworth that Crowley emerged as the right band at the right time as she finally found her heavy metal magic.

Rushonrock: What brings you to the metal capital of the north?

Eliza Lee: I knew that I needed to move to a city and be near like-minded musicians. I’m from the depths of rural Aberdeenshire and there weren’t too many people to form a band with — or play gigs with — where I lived! I’d decided to move south but it wasn’t really in the mix to move to Newcastle. I’d been once before, to see a band called Vintage Trouble, but the stars aligned and I ended up studying for a music degree at Newcastle University.

Rushonrock: Was Tyneside the occult destination you’d always dreamed of?

EL: Things started off pretty slowly for me. I just assumed I’d find more people into the same stuff as me as soon as I moved to Newcastle. I’m into vintage rock bands and tried to find more people like me. Eventually I joined Sing Again Siren with a couple of lasses from Darlington. It was my first original band and I just jumped in at the deep end, having arrived on the music scene a lot later than most people. I was 19 and I was just finding my feet when we went into lockdown.

Rushonrock: Do you look back on Sing Again Siren as a success (the band disbanded after a final show in 2021)?

EL: I think we did ok. We didn’t really know what we were doing at all. I really enjoyed my time with Sing Again Siren but in the back of my mind it just didn’t feel like the band I wanted to be in. When I first set out to form a band I always had a five-piece in mind but I ended up fronting a power trio! In my heart of hearts I just wanted to be a lead guitar player and I’m much happier doing that now.

Rushonrock: So how did Crowley come about?

EL: I knew Lydia [Balaban, lead vocals] from Thieves Of Liberty and she’s just the most incredible vocalist. I needed to find the Mick to my Keith and she’s just perfect. I knew that we had to be in a band together and from there we found the other three members. We started off with another drummer and it’s been a bit of a process but Matthew (Graham) is the new man behind the kit. 

Rushonrock: Did you always imagine the band would deal in the dark arts?

EL: Being an occult band didn’t come about naturally at the start. The first song we wrote together was this heavy blues/Myles Kennedy-type thing which was funny. We realised that we wanted our sound to be a bit spookier than that and to have more of a Sabbathy angle. I always thought there was an appetite for our music — a lot of women who I know are into witchcraft and the occult and it’s a bit of a labour of love. The wealth of things that you can write about as an occult band is never ending. It’s fun writing the songs and then seeing how they turn out live.

Rushonrock: Is the occult the common factor that binds Crowley’s members together?

EL: It’s of personal interest to all of us in the band. It became such a natural thing to write songs that reflected a shared passion. Before I knew Lydia I wondered if we had a common thread in our lives. Magic and witchcraft came up the first time we met — that’s all we talked about! It was just such a natural thing for both of us. I guess you could do it as a bit of an act but we’re doing this for real. There are thousands of different avenues that we could go down within the occult world. I have a bookshelf full of occult titles and if we’re ever short of ideas I just reach over and pull something out.

Rushonrock: Your music lends itself to spooktacular stage shows…when will we see Crowley reach its theatrical potential?

EL: We’re ambitious and we know our music suits the big stage. If we could find £5,000 to invest in pyro and the odd human sacrifice then I know that’s what we’d do! It’s kind of frustrating that we’re limited to what we can do on stage right now. We do talk about how we can introduce some theatrics because there’s so much scope in the music we make to do something like that. We’re very conscious of how we present ourselves and how to conjure that 70s/Gothic image. The joke is that we aspire to look like the Gothic Abba

Rushonrock: You’re managed by one of the most familiar faces on the North East music scene…how did your relationship with Adam Kennedy come about and why is he the right pick for a band like Crowley?

EL: A manager wasn’t something that we were necessarily looking for but with Sing Again Siren we did all of that stuff ourselves and I didn’t really enjoy it. Sometimes you can get so bogged down with all of the non-music stuff that you run out of time to write any songs. I already had a close relationship with Adam as he’d been to a few of the Sing Again Siren gigs and we loved his photography. We knew he was thinking about moving into management and so we said to him that if he did take the plunge then we wanted to be his first band! It feels like a very equal relationship — he doesn’t get involved in the artistic side of things but in every other respect he’s very much part of the band. His network of contacts in the music business is second to none and he’s really good at getting us to do the things we keep putting off. We all have dips in energy and organising a band can be really exhausting. Just having one other person to share the load makes the world of difference.

Rushonrock: April saw you roar back onto the live scene. How was it?

EL: We played Trillians twice in April — supporting Vigil Of War and Zachary Kibbee — and both gigs were great opportunities to get our music out there. They were our first shows since our headline gig in January but we’re confirming more and more all the time. 

Rushonrock: And when can we expect the summer/fall Crowley collection?

EL: We’ve just brought out a new tee shirt but we’re always looking at doing more merch and we would if we had the money! We want to work with imagery focused on tarot cards and there’s a great opportunity to play with a lot of cool symbols. We’ve had a lot of thoughts about merchandise and we’re hoping some of those ideas will materialise into something exciting soon.

Rushonrock: You’ve been added to day three of BROminion after Dominion Festival fell by the wayside. How much are you looking forward to next weekend?

EL: We were hugely excited to be added to the Dominion bill and really disappointed when it fell through. But we’re huge Green Lung fans and so for Stu Bartlett and the Byker Grave Bookings team to add us to the Saturday night at Anarchy Brew Co. is a dream come true. The North East needs a metal festival and it’s fantastic that we’re still going to be playing alongside so many great bands in Newcastle.

Crowley’s new single Something Wicked This Way Comes is out now. Click here to listen. The band plays Anarchy Brew Co. on Saturday May 6 alongside Kylver, High Spirits, Mars Red Sky, Green Lung and more. 

Band images courtesy of Adam Kennedy