The Underground Sounds of America: Windhand
Welcome to the latest installment of U.S.A.: The Underground Sounds of America, our series that shines a spotlight on the most underrated rock, metal, punk, and hardcore bands in the United States. Each week, we ask one band member to answer five unique questions so you can get to know them better. Because if you aren’t already a fan of the artist featured below…you should be.
Sure, Windhand’s smoky guitars and moaned vocals might sound more soothing than savage, but make no mistake — this Richmond, VA, stoner-doom quartet is a fucking beast. The band both championed and rose above the doom boom of the early 2010s, with their 2015 release, Grief’s Infernal Flower, landing them high spots of Billboard’s Hard Rock and Tastemaker charts. And before any culter-than-thou dudes cry hipster, they should know that Windhand tours relentlessly — and has survived their fair share of road rash.
“We flipped our trailer back in December of 2013,” bassist Parker Chandler tells us. “We were in Canada on our way to Edmonton and I think it was around ‑20 degrees that day. I’m still not sure if we hit a patch of ice or our trailer axle froze up but we fishtailed into the median which was covered in about two feet of snow. The snow managed to keep the van upright but the trailer toppled almost immediately. There were 18-wheelers hauling ass over that stretch of road, rejecting us. Eventually we got towed to the show…where the owner of the club was being an asshole on account of our late arrival.”
The band’s willingness to soldier on speaks of the seriousness they apply to their craft. Unlike many of their peers, Windhand seem uninterested in writing tedious “retro” tracks about dragons, weed leaves, and everything else one finds airbrushed on the side of a van. Instead, their music is catchy and original, driven by tasty-ass riffs, and their lyrics delve more into the emotional mentality behind witchcraft and mythology rather than just colorful rehashes of candlelit ceremonies and the Lovecraft back catalog.
In fact, Windhand’s dedication to music means that for the band, there is no such thing as spare time. “Music takes up all of our time outside of our jobs or family responsibilities,” said Chandler. For the bassist, the frustration of not being able to play music full-time is great inspiration. “The daily routine we have to suffer in order to keep this band going probably informs the music more than anything else though.”
Now, only months after dropping their split with Satan’s Satyrs (and only a few days before embarking on tour with them), Windhand are preparing to release Eternal Return, a killer new record with grinding, haunting vocals slightly more shadowy and aggressive than those of their predecessor. If you need proof, you can blast Diablerie, the latest single from the album, below:
To get to know these consummate professionals a little better, we reached out to Chandler to find out what lies at the dark heart of Windhand.
1) Name your five greatest musical influences.
1. Albert Witchfinder
2. Townes Van Zandt
3. Fred Cole
4. Anton Newcombe
5. Nick Cave
2) If you had to play one Windhand song or album to someone unfamiliar with a band as an introduction, which would you choose and why?
The new album would probably be the most logical recommendation. Considering lineup changes and our musical evolution over the past nine or ten years, I don’t see any sense in suggesting old material as a starting point. Eternal Return has a little bit of all the old stuff as well as some new ideas.
3) Eternal Return is your second album produced by Jack Endino, the Seattleite who cut his teeth working with Nirvana, Soundgarden, and Mudhoney — and has more recently worked with metal acts such as High on Fire, Skeletonwitch, and Valient Thorr. What’s it like to work with Jack, and how has he helped shape your sound on this album in particular?
We all grew up listening to albums that he’s recorded, so it’s always a pleasure to work with him on one of our own. He was mainly focused on the vocal performance and the guitar work but, in my opinion, those ended up being the elements that set this record apart from our previous albums. We even convinced him to do vocal harmonies on a couple of the songs.
4) Between Lamb of God, GWAR, Municipal Waste, and the entire Robotic Empire label, Richmond, Virginia, has produced some of the best heavy American bands ever. How has the local scene shaped or influenced Windhand?
Proximity to the interstate and our placement halfway up the east coast are probably big factors in why we have a strong scene. It’s a good spot for bands to stop between NC and DC but it’s also easy for us to get out of town. It’s also home to an art school so we’ve got a new batch of creative types coming in every year.
5) Who would be on Windhand’s dream tour?
Danava and Lil’ Ugly Mane.
Windhand’s Eternal Return comes out October 5th; pre-order it here. Be sure to catch the band on tour with Satan’s Satyrs at one of the dates below.
Oct 08 Atlanta, GA — The Earl
Oct 09 New Orleans, LA — Gasa Gasa
Oct 10 Houston, TX — White Oak Music Hall
Oct 11 Dallas, TX — Club Dada
Oct 12 Austin, TX — Barracuda
Oct 14 Albuquerque, NM — Sister
Oct 15 Phoenix, AZ — Valley Bar
Oct 16 Los Angeles, CA — El Rey Theatre
Oct 17 Oakland, CA — Starline Social Club
Oct 19 Portland, OR — Aladdin Theatre
Oct 20 Vancouver, BC — Venue
Oct 21 Seattle, WA — Neumos
Oct 23 Denver, CO — Larimer Lounge
Oct 24 Kansas City, MO — The Riot Room
Nov 01 Philadelphia, PA — Underground Arts
Nov 02 Brooklyn, NY — Elsewhere
Nov 03 Boston, MA — Brighton Music Hall
Nov 04 Montreal, QC — Le Belmont
Nov 05 Toronto, ON — The Legendary Horseshoe Tavern
Nov 07 Chicago, IL — Subterranean
Nov 08 Minneapolis, MN — Fine Line Music Cafe
Nov 09 Milwaukee, WI — Cactus Club
Nov 10 Indianapolis, IN — The Hi-Fi
Nov 11 Nashville, TN — The Basement East
Nov 12 Louisville, KY — Zanzabar
Nov 13 Columbus, OH — Ace of Cups
Nov 15 Richmond, VA — The Broadberry
Jan 24 Washington, DC — U Street Music Hall #
Jan 25 Durham, NC — Pinhook #
Jan 26 Jacksonville, FL — 1904 Music Hall #
Jan 27 Miami, FL — Las Rosas #
Jan 28 Tampa, FL — The Crowbar #
Jan 29 Orlando, FL — Will’s Pub #
Jan 30 Savannah, GA — The Jinx #
Jan 31 Charlotte, NC — Neighborhood Theatre #
# — w / Genocide Pact
WORDS: Chris Krovatin
PHOTOS: Joey Wharton
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