An Anteater’s Diary (The Truth and Not the Lie)
Formed from the ashes of Spliff and Witchard, Spliff Witchard are fast becoming one of the most prolific weed doom bands around. Pioneers, some would say, whereas others regard them as buccaneers (metalireland, DesertRock etc), however, the band themselves simply see their newfound project as a pretty decent weed doom band, bringing important issues to light whilst detailing the life of Manbeard. But this is their story in their own words (in the style of a biography)…
The early years…
Between July 2006 and September 2012, Spliff Witchard was in its primitive, early stages. With no album or even song recorded in their name, there was little to say about them. In fact there wasn’t even a potential name until late August in 2012. That name was Spliff Witchard and it has stuck ever since.
The Legend of Manbeard…
Recording finally got under way in September 2012. Their first album was greeted with mixed reviews, with some hailing it “pretty decent” whilst others regarded it as a failed attempt at humour, with one such review describing it as “distasteful, especially to the bands it has ripped off. It’s shit.” Here, the first period of hardship began within the band, with tensions rising. Despite this dark period and artistic differences, the band was able to record and release their next album…
B-Sides and Other Derailments…
With this album, the band demonstrated why their cult following was so devout. An album of miscellaneous tracks, covers and theme tunes that inspired them and a live recording of Manbeard in Dublin, the band were able to let their followers learn a little more about them and their beginnings.
Giraffe Heist… The Difficult Third Series…The Experimental Times…
Having resolved their internal issues and letting their feelings run riot in B-Sides and Other Derailments, the band settled down and took a more experimental approach with their 3rd studio offering “Giraffe Heist”. Having decided to recognise (accept) their Russian fan base by way of using many Russian instruments such as the Khutang harp, used by many peoples in Siberia and introducing a Balalaika in several songs, chiefly “Betrayal of the Cossacks” which includes lyrics about the struggles of the Mansi people, they decided they would also need to hire a session guitarist to add an extra layer to their songs. The recording process went very smoothly, however, upon releasing the album, the band was inundated with mail, good and bad. Much of the bad mail consisted of complaints about the inclusion of guitars and shite songs.
Wheelchair Tennis at the 1988 Summer Paralympics…
The band went straight back to their roots with this one; they made it clear it was for reasons regarding the “amount of mail” they received about their last album and not because it wasn’t very good. Back was the instantly recognisable bass sound and back were the pounding drums. They cited their influences for this album to have been particularly interesting. On a flight on the way back from a short tour of Heligoland, one of the members of the band found a piece of parchment hidden within the magazine compartment with lyrics inscribed on it which were clearly influenced by a previous flight “travelling through space and time”. They decided they would adopt these lyrics as their own and alter them to make them “better”. Upon getting off the plane, they met a man going by the name “Matt Daemon”, who praised them for one of their gigs he had witnessed. The band members were thrilled to have received this praise and in the heat of the situation, they asked for his autograph. When they got home they realised that they had not met the famous actor “Matt Damon”, but merely a look alike with nearly the same name. He remained a key influence on the album however, with 3 songs written entirely about him.
Bargains Wait For No-One…
This album kept the heavy sound but introduced a variety of ambient interludes. What is particularly noticeable is the lengthly songs and an introduction spanning nearly 7 minutes. The band claimed it to be more of an ode to learning foreign languages however. “Pillowtits” follows, and since the song’s release, it has grown to become a fan favourite along with “Manbeard” from their first album. They kept up the tradition of including “Manbeard” on every album and gained relative success with this song. It was first aired on “Heavy Handed Radio” around this time. The band included a guitar solo in this version by “Dirk Floddy”, a former mechanic and friend of the band. One of the band members was said to have described this version of “Manbeard” as “more user friendly” than the original due to its polished sound. When pressed for more details, he claimed that he wasn’t sure what was meant by that but that he probably knew what he meant at the time and strenuously denies doing heroin. Unidentifiable sources from within the band seem to have hinted at the band becoming frustrated and lonely and in need of inspiration, listing this as one of the possible reasons for hiring an inanimate object as their new keyboardist, clearly shown on the album cover.
2 Hour Silence…
The band members decided they would record and release all their favourite songs with the word “silence” in the title. It was certainly an interesting idea, but they admitted they didn’t manage to pull it off as they wanted to.
Call of Duty… The Final Act
The band felt that they weren’t on the same wavelength as their fans for various reasons, whether it be the relentless and unforgiving nature of the press or because of their most recent offering. The band knew they had to draw in new fans and re-connect with their youth. They included a Lostprophets cover to try to do just that. This is of course the song they were making reference to when they said those infamous words we all know them by – “yeah, we’re playing all the right notes, but not necessarily in the right order”. The album achieved great success in the velvet underground music scene, a scene they helped to kickstart
However, this album proved too much to top. The band subsequently broke up. The rumours going round suggested that the band had problems with each others’ rolling technique and they confirmed the news after several weeks of abating false rumours, which proved to be the deciding factor in the decision to part ways. Unlike such problems after their second album, the decision did not seem to revolve around different opinions on artistic direction, as neither band member hinted at any new music project and in actual fact didn’t seem to have any interest in playing music at all.
The Reunion… Does the Postman Come on Saturdays?
The band reformed several weeks after the break up, perhaps out of boredom more than anything. The band members also found out that nothing ever happened between them and that it merely involved one of the members having a drunken argument with a stranger in the pub. In the days leading up to the reunion announcement, cryptic messages were posted on their label’s website, creating a drone of excitement. Around the same time, the band was hard at work adding the finishing touches to their very own Spliff Witchard facebook page. It was clear to see that Spliff Witchard was coming back bigger and better and perhaps (unbelievably) even more prolific than before.
Sometimes Hunting Frodo
Enter the 21st century Witchard. Struggling with the recording of their upcoming album “Sometimes Hunting Frodo”, the band ambitiously teamed up with NASA to create a stunning new website (that you can take a look at yourself if you scroll to the second page of google searches for “spliff witchard”), which combined websites with space. Innovative, some called it, and as an article on Fitchpork stated, “it’s this awesome cosmotic background and then there’s all the links on it. And it just fits. And you’re like wow.” The band took a more humble, down to earth stance on the whole thing, but were thrilled at being able to work with NASA, “They really know their stuff. We had this idea that was like, yeah lets have this cool starry background and they seemed delighted with the idea as they hadn’t had anyone request anything like that before.” The band would go on to mention on their website that it was “on a server running an 8.5 litre, V8 engine with twin turbochargers and an aftermarket intake fan” and that it should be enough to get their meaty riffs across the globe. There was some backlash over this statement as some fans didn’t think it was innovative enough and wanted to see them project their music across the galaxy, not just the earth.
The album was their most successful yet, perhaps due to the accessibility of the band with their new website. A funky bandcamp revamp was another signal of intent from the band. Sometimes Hunting Frodo was the first album to sell out of cassettes, however the band seemed keen to point out that if they had bothered to release cassettes for any of their other albums, they would have sold out of them too. Strange for a band that seems to have its sights set on space. The album features much longer songs, with several riffs in each song, interspersed with slow, heavy parts and was met with generally positive acclaim. In an interview with Kerrang, the band were asked about the origin of the album name; “Yeah, we decided to take Bongripper’s 4 songs “Hail”, “Satan”, “Worship” and “Doom” and put our friend’s name in it. It’s a long story about his name. I think he has a cousin in the royal family or something and that’s why he has a big double barrelled name.”
A matter of personal preference
The band had a bit of an on-off relationship during the coming weeks after the release of Sometimes Hunting Frodo. Their tour would also come to a sudden halt as the drummer suffered a recurrent knee injury as he was “practising” some of the songs they had written for the next album. He would announce later on that week that he was kneeling on a floor watching a video about drum techniques when he got up suddenly and tore something in his knee. It is a disputed and probably quite pivotal moment for Spliff witchard. Many fans saw this as a grotesque lie and presumed he was completely fine and just couldn’t be bothered playing live. With several weeks off to nurse his injury, the drummer took this chance to be spotted in public walking about. The media was in frenzy as pictures surfaced of him walking to and from his local supermarket as well as more tranquil snaps of him enjoying days out walking his dog along the beach. After a while however it was time to get back to work and it was at this stage that he felt he could no longer play the rockband kit to the standard he would like to anymore and that moving to an actual drum kit “may be a sensible possibility”.
Another icing on the cake
This album was notable for being the first to contain an actual drum kit. “You can hear the difference in the drums because there are drums in it” was one such quote from the drummer. This news was met with excitement among newer fans, as information about the recording set up was leaked well before the album was released. It was far from plain sailing however, as many of the older generations of fans were skeptical about whether they could pull it off live and if it would mean a departure from the usual “rockband kit” sound. It proved to be a tall order live, as neither member had any clue how to set up a real drum kit and had to rely on pictures stapled to the floor.
This would be the last album by the band for almost a year.
Next Stop... Never!
After a lengthy delay, mostly due to late buses and unreliable dealers, the band were able to meet up to talk about the direction of their next album over 4 espressos and a jam scone. This meet up would signal the start of a new era in the band’s legacy, now commonly referred to as the “Pandora Sessions”. After a heated discussion about how the word “scone” should be pronounced, the band decided a third member could add some much needed vigour (guitar) to the next album as a well as a fresh approach to the pronunciation of the word “scone”. After a process of elimination, Groglord was chosen as the new lead guitarist having beaten off stiff competition from the likes of “not having a guitarist”. It is considered a success by the band. The drummer was quoted as saying in an interview with Metalstammer, “He plays guitar. Lead guitar.”
The recording of their, as of now, latest album “Next Stop... Never” was a smooth process from the moment of its conception to its release a few hours later. In an interview post-album release, the bassist/singer was quoted as saying, “Yeah, well you can tell just by listening to it, that if there wasn’t any guitar, the album would basically just be bass and drums. He really does add guitar to the songs.”
Despite the generally positive reviews describing the more layered and crisp album sound, some poor performances in their mini hometown tour and a feeble attempt at playing live, down a phone on late night radio where they forgot to mention their band name, dented their reputation somewhat. The band members have urged fans to be patient; “At least we aren’t Tool” they joked in an interview with Slabbermouth. (full interview below)*
Since their latest album, all we have to go on are rumours, but it is thought that the band have a had a few fruitless practice sessions as they continue dragging their carcass along an endless plane of existence and have vowed to “keep the butter churning”.
After a few weeks off to rest and focus their attentions on family issues, the band came back fresh and ready to embark on writing their next album. The band members felt compelled to leave tweets throughout the recording process, however fans could merely speculate about what it might sound like as little was given away. Some fans were left confused as many of the tweets contradicted themselves; one member left the tweet “ideas overload!” only for it to be followed several hours later with “anyone got any ideas?” Eventually however, the album was released by the end of September 2014.
The Day SuperValu closed
2015 brought little in the way of new tracks but the band members have insisted they’re still on schedule. Despite that, there has been no shortage of journalists trying copiously to snap some pictures of them in unsuspecting situations. Such pictures taken included several, of the band pointing and laughing at buses in Dublin city centre (they turned out to be trams) and another of the drummer running away from a shopping centre . It later emerged from mobile phone footage taken by a quick-witted onlooker, that he was shouting out at people that he would kill for a Hawaiian Pizza. With no recent interviews, there hasn’t been much for anyone to get their teeth into, but perhaps this could be of quiet optimism for the band who have recently starting adapting to the idea that releasing less means being able to record some songs 2, 3, 4; occasionally 5 times, and perhaps in exceptional circumstances, even 9 or 10 times. If you look into their back catalogue, some songs have been credited to have been “tried out” up to 15 times. Or perhaps even 28 times. In the case of ”Pillowtits” , they state they had recorded it up to 15 times, but recent findings have revealed it was a song created in the very beginnings of the band . In an interview back in 2014, they had been asked once again “Was 15 really the number of times you played Pillowtits before you had the finished song ready for the album?” which they followed up with the answer “Oh yeah, Pillowtits. Ahhhhh... you know, it’s really weird looking back on those early days . I guess we jammed around on that song for quite a while before we had anything definitive and complete out of it. It probably became quite a few songs along the way. Man, we could have played that any number of times. Like say a thousand?” “A thousand....Ah now, are you sure about that?” was the interviewers reply. And with an audience sitting on the edge of their seats with their hands over their faces mouths, came the reply “Well you know, I guess we don’t know. I guess considering the number of albums we have, how long this song has been around and how good we went and done the song for on the album, I guess it isn’t totally beyond the realms of possibility that we have recorded it up to say something like, I dunno, a million times. No, like 4 million???” The other band member chirped in, “Yeah, 4 million isn’t a bad answer. It sounds possible. I mean don’t take our word for it or anything, it’s just a guess. You know, 4 million sounds right and everything but I know things like this can be way off. And it works both ways I guess. It could easily be more.” “Yeah, like 5 million or something.” “Yeah. But it is one we’ve recorded a lot more than any others.” “Oh yeah, like, it’s totally different with most of the other songs we have. I guess some others we record like 15 times, which we state on our albums, and you know, maybe we do some rough versions of those too. To be honest we didn’t really think people would fucking care that much.”
With the band still recording their new album, which according to them was also still on schedule, 2016 started out on a quiet note, perhaps even quieter than their album “2 hours of silence” they re-released “for that extra sensitive ear” in January. A lot of fans were confused by the release and claimed that silence couldn’t possibly be quieter but the main response from the band put the emphasis on the fact that they did not make the album quieter and never claimed to. “Look, we didn’t just re-release an album by going into the studio, turning down the volume and then playing everything all over again until it sounded exactly like the album we had just released, but just a bit quieter. Besides, if we ever did do that, it wouldn’t be a re-release. It would be a new album. We just weren’t happy with some of the production elements on 2 hour silence, and we’ve agreed terms to re-release it. There are no hard feelings between anyone, everyone’s fully supportive over here and I’m sorry if we’ve offended people by re-releasing something which we feel is a better representation of what we intended that album to sound like. You can’t please everyone. Where are all the haters that complained about the album when it first came out? We were busy working on several albums at that point. One of them was gonna suffer from it.” Album sales dwindled at first but began to pick up into February and in recent weeks they have begun to talk about re-releasing other albums, such as “B-sides and Other De-railments”, which they claimed “needs to be re-released as I guess it’s just sort of coming near that time in its life cycle. You put your feet up one evening and stick it on and you just sort of think ‘Ugh. That sounds dated’ ”.
Breadcrumbs for Breakfast
The latter part of 2016 brought little news of an album or indeed anything music related, however this was greeted quite warmly in various stoner metal blogs, along with an article on MetalIreland where the phrase “No news is good news” was used more than once, claiming that they were past their peak and that their dishevelled sound was getting worse with each new record. The band spoke out upon reading the article and decided to start writing a 4 song e.p. in retaliation entitled “No News Is Never News”. Or “N.N.I.N.N” as the band was keen to point out. They also managed to give us the song names before any of the songs were actually written. The 4 songs, “Nevernews”, “Past the peak”, “Manbeard (Newsworthy version)” and “Dishevelled to death” were written “in a fit of anger”, however, several months later, the band spoke out once again to defend not having written anything by saying that they felt MetalIreland were only trying to piss the band off because they knew they wrote better records when they were pissed off and had any sort of motivation to do so. The band have since stated that if they were ever going to record and release the e.p., they would have done so fairly quickly and since it was a full 3 months after the announcement, the album would probably lose its way and get lost in their back catalogue.
In May 2016, a bizarre story emerged that the band’s song “Calories to Burn” was to be featured on Jim Davidson’s Generation Game as the new theme music. The media almost completely ignored the story (leaked by the band themselves), possibly because no new episodes of the generation game had aired in the last decade and there were no plans to bring it back. Several weeks later, the BBC announced that the story was completely true, but that “Calories to Burn” would simply replace the theme music on all existing episodes, due to be aired on “Quest” in the summer, and that no new episodes of the Generation Game were due to be aired. It all kicked off in June when it turned out that the band’s song was no longer going to be replacing the old theme tune. Inevitably, there was once more lots of speculation around the story and about why the change had fallen through, with some papers suggesting the whole story was made up by the band themselves. In an interview with Oprah Winfrey, the band finally came out with the truth. They claimed to have misunderstood an email they had received from the BBC, informing them of the good news. “Honestly, when we first received word of it, we thought the email was about appearing on the generation game. I thought they meant appearing perhaps to perform a song of ours. Then I thought, wow, the generation game must have changed a bit. I don’t remember seeing bands on it before. Then I thought, is it even still going?” The band’s bassist and multi-faceted front man added “Yeah, and to be fair, I thought it meant appearing on the conveyor belt with all the prizes. I thought they had re-named that part of the show to “Calories to Burn” or something and just included running on a shitty exercise machine. We have so many songs, it’s hard to remember we had that one. Looking back, it’s a pretty good song. We might release it as a single soon. Then again we might not.” The band then went on to mention that the tone of their reply to the BBC probably wasn’t what they would have hoped for, considering the amount of money there was in it, and thus stopped the pursuit of the song. “They just sort of wrote back saying they didn’t want the song anymore as they were no longer looking to change the theme tune for ‘reasons beyond their control’, but I’m guessing that’s just them being polite. I’d hardly expect them to write back saying we were arseholes about the whole thing, but they probably could have and I would have just gone, ‘Yeah, fair enough’ but I guess we kinda hyped ourselves up too much about it. We’re annoyed by it and in retrospect, I would have loved to have switched an old re-run on to see how our song played out. They must have had some reason to consider it. I mean, you basically would have heard the entire song in that opening sequence. Then it would have just faded out, until a huge wave of clapping started. That would have been weird. But it’s a pity it won’t happen now.”
Spliff Witchard have vowed not to play “Animal Hospital” or “Rooftops” after both Rolf Harris and Ian Watkins were found guilty of sex offences. In this exclusive interview, they were asked about this.Spliff Witchard: “Yeah, I mean what can you do? We didn’t see this happening. I guess we just need to move on from it.”
Blabbermouth correspondant: “And of course Cliff Richard has been in the news recently under suspicions of sex offences. Have you got a “go to” plan if he ends up guilty?”
Spliff Witchard: “No. Well we haven’t covered any of his songs. We don’t know a lot about him to be honest.”
Blabbermouth correspondant: “Yeah...uh...well I guess I was just thinking about your band name. You know, since it’s a play on words.”
Spliff Witchard: “Oh. Wow! I guess it kinda is, haha! We never really thought about that actually. Oh well.”
Blabbermouth correspondant: “Right... well anyway, you’ve covered Linkin Park. Are you surprised they haven’t been searched?”
Spliff Witchard: “What?”
Blabbermouth correspondant: “Well you know, a couple of them look a bit rapey.”
Spliff Witchard: “Do you realise what you’re saying? You’re just sitting there accusing them of being paedophiles. Wow, this interview is over. What a dick.” “Yeah, I know right?”