Witchtrap is just an amazing thrash early black metal band and here is an interview with band member Hugo ”Witchhammer” Uribe.
Where were you born and where did you grow up?
I was born and grown up in the same city called Medellín in this wonderful country called Colombia.
Did you come from a big or small family and what sort of kid were you growing up?
My family in a nucleus is really small, I mean: mom, dad, my brother and me, but of course there a big family from our mom and from our dad, but we don't usually meet up with them too much.
I was a nerd kid and not a problem child at all, I used to studying, being at home gamer boy with my atari 2600, reading books, riding cros bike, playing basketball and soccer on the streets and that's it.
How did you end up discovering underground metal and what were some of the 1st bands that you heard and are you still a fan of these bands these days?
I discovered Metal because of homework from my high school about Rock and Heavy Metal history, then I had to listen some stuff about, and some boy from the school that I knew him in the classroom that was on the team of homework he lent me a home tape recording of some band (Metallica-"Kill'em All" album, plus some Motorhead songs to fill the tape), then after hearing that tape I stayed in shock and actually surprised, because this music was absolutely great, much better indeed that the style music I used to listened in those days, all this happened in late February 1987, even I had listened some Glam Rock music on radio, but actually I had never heard Underground Metal before, then since that day I'm hooked on Metal.
And of course I'm a big fan of the early albums of those bands, Metallica, Motorhead, Slayer and my favorite far away the almighty "Venom".
Now was Witchtrap your 1st band or were you in bands prior to them? How did the forming the band take place?
I was in other bands before Witchtrap, I played for fun in a band called "Grotesque" but we never recorded something, just we used to jam a kinda Grind Death Metal, then I played in Dark Millennium a year before we started with Witchtrap, then at same time I played in Witchtrap and Agaliareth, but actually I'm not sure maybe one year later of forming Witchtrap or at the same time, jejeje.
What were some of the early practices like for the band? How long had the band been around before you started to work on original material?
We started practicing with an accoustic guitar and fixing seats as a drum kit, soem few months later we bought with our mom support a small amplifier Peavy Adudition 110 ref. and a new cheap guitar with what we started to Jam some riffs and then to practice some riffs of Black Sabbath, Sodom, HellHammer to learn to play Metal, at same time appeared the riffs for the band but actually we started to make cover songs after having around 6 or 7 original songs composed to Witchtrap, cover songs such as: Born for Burning (Bathory), Curse the Gods(Destruction), Cry War(Kreator), Pounding Metal(Exciter), Balck Metal (Venom), between other were included in our weekly rehearsal.
How did you come up with the name of the band and were any other names thrown around?
No, we took the name directly from a terror movie from 80’s with that name, and because our music sounded like a trap to our metal friends turning them bewitched, all of them told us many times that our music works in them in that way
Now in 1997 you released a demo called “The First Necromancy”. Looking back what are your thoughts on this demo and did you send it out to many webzines or even any record labels?
We love the demo if we have in consideration that it was recorded with a recorder with included mic and actually if we compare the sound of our first demo with other bands demo recordings, ours sounds better and clear than the others, so our demo tape was recorded with no mic for voice, B.A. Ripper had to sing close to the guitar amp (I was wondering till today why he never turned deaf?) jajaja, that's why he had to sing louder than hell and that's why the voice took that black metal touch, that actually we didn't like it, even we never wanted to sound as a black metal band, we have really clear how we wanted to sound, but that was we get and it worked great to press a demotape, the demo was recorded on live and was a coincidence that it sounded good, so we thought it was perfect to press as demo tape.
Our first demo tape was recorded in 1996 but it saw the light in 1997, ok, about distro, we spread it through pen pals, trading with friends in other countries, and with the support with small labels from our city and country, besides with friends of bands such as Ruben from Infernal band and Dominus from Nebiros band.
Now the following year, 1998, a 2nd demo came out called “Turn in Your Grave” was released. What are your thoughts on this demo and do you think it was a step up from your 1st release?
Turn in Your Graves was never released indeed, we only recorded it in similar way of the first demo tape, but this time B.A.Ripper sang the voice in other track, but once again we don't like the style of the voice, 'cause it sounded too raw and very close to Black Metal style then we took the idea to don't press it, but absolutely it was a step forward in order to find the sound we wanted to have for the band. We were cleaning our minds of the influences of the metal trends of those days, that's an irrefutable fact.
In 2000 an EP was released called “Witching Metal”. Was this self-released or did a label put this out? Is it still for sale? What are your thoughts on this these days?
Witching Metal Ep was recorded in Organic Sound Studio in 6 track tape analog, it was an album that we wanted to did for long ago as our debut, so we had it in mind since 1994, we wanted to do a debut with an Ep as Destruction's and Sodom's debut, only 5 songs plus an introduction. but We hadn't a big budget for the recording and the recording took 2 days and mixing and mastering 2 more days, so it was done in only 4 days, and actually we didn't have any experience on studio, so the sound was no the thing that we were expecting but actually we had tons of fun recording it, even seeing to Dark Moon playing bass recording session in a hangover state that made us laugh a lot nowadays, but in that moment we were very dissapointed with him because of that state, as far as I remember B.A.Ripper had to record some parts of the bass line because Dark Moon was to sick because the hangover he had and he won't remembered the bass lines at studio.
Witching Metal was a tri-parts production included, we were a Colombian guy who lives in USA, a guy from Cali-Colombia that worked with a label called Malignant Productions and Me as the band's part, we only press on the first pressing 300 copies, were 100 copies for each part, and our 100 copies include an insert with lyrics, thanks list and pics in gray scale. The same year I got a calling from the place that the vinyl was pressed to let me know there were 200 more copies with no cover artwork, they asked me if want to buy those vinyls, so I told them I would buy them if they pressed the 200 cover artwork, so on december of that year we got other 200 copies for a total of 500 copies, for making that possible we had to ask a friend of us aka “Manitu” from a colombian band called "Manitu", then we payed for the pressing of those 200 copíes, half and half per each part, and again our 100 copies include the insert I told you above.
By this time had the band played any live shows? If so what bands had you played with? Was a lot of time spent doing band related stuff?
Yeah we had played with some local bands in cities such as Cali, Pereira, Pasto and Anserma, Bogotá and Medellín.
We were saving money from the fees of our shows and the sales of our few stuff we had to finally record a full-lenght, we never thought that we are spending time, and we are very fluids to compose and write lyrics, so we aren't spending time if we are doing what we love to do, and play Metal it’s the best and most important thing in our life.
In 2002 your 1st full length came out called “Sorceress Bitch”. How was it going into the studio to record this? Were the songs pretty much all ready to go when you entered the studio? What are your thoughts on this release these days and is it still for sale?
Sorceress Bitch was recorded at Organic Sound Studio, in the same quantity of time as Witching Metal, but this time was recorded on 16 tracks analog, 2 days of recording session, and other 2 days mixing and mastering in total 4 days. this time we had a little more experience on studio to make a better quality sound than Withing Metal but we were using that small Peavy amp that we use for the demotapes and the Witching Metal Ep and the same guitar and the drum set was lent from a friend of us aka "Infernal Moon" who plays in band called "Satanachia" and this same drum set was used for the Witching Metal recording too, so we had to do it as best we could in the studio.
Yeah, it’s still available we have the version of Dirty Sound Records our own label, and coming soon it will be repressed by Hells Headbangers Records on cd, tape and vinyl as well.
The original version, re-pressing of and the deal with the label Hell Attacks Prods. has gotten finished and all copies were sold out long time ago, and we are the total owners of copyrights of this album.
Now for those who have never heard the band what would you say the band sounds like?
Witchtrap sounds like when Metal was Metal, no compromises, no other influences different than Rock'n'Roll and Heavy Metal, just pure adrenaline, crushing guitar riffs, solid basslines, simple fills and pounding drums.
We are a band that you can compare as Venom, Raven, Anvil, Exciter, or Runing Wild, spinning at 45 RPM.
How does a song come together and who writes the lyrics and what do you write about?
As B.A. Ripper and me, we play guitar, so we composed the musical lines and riffs for each song, sometimes together other times by separate then we do the arrangements on rehearsals and then the main composer of the song writes the lyrics after having choose the name of the song, you know each melody inspires an atmosphere, from that atmosphere we take the inspiration for the song's name and the lyrics, it's something like a ritual but not as it seems, I usually call this in a word: "FEELING", that's it.
we write about every thing about Metal has given to all of us, but nothing about comercial topics, I mean Metal has a lot of thing to talk, specially things that are not conventional, such as witchery, sex bondage, evil, satan, hate, vengeance, war, antireligious, etc..
Tell me a bit about this compilation called “The First Necromancy” that came out in 2005. Is it still for sale?
It was a compilation of the two demo tapes on CD format and included a extra song that was included on a tape compilation with other bands from my hometown Medellín, it was released by the Japanese label Obliteration Records, as far as we know all copies are sold out long time ago, maybe you can find a copy on internet, but it's actually hard to find
The split called “Thrash Metal Bliztkrieg Vol II. Who did you do with that with and what songs are on that?
It was an idea from Death Strike Records to add Witchtrap in the compilation, we were honored and we knew that it could help to spread more our name in Europe and we accept the invitation, I think the song that was included from us is “The Maniac”, the same version it’s on the Witching Metal Ep.
In 2006 your 2nd full length came out called “No Anesthesia”. Who put that out and what are your thoughts on this release and is it still for sale?
No Anesthesia was out almost at same time by our own label Dirty Sound Records Colombian pressing and Hells Headbangers Records for international pressing, I love this album, the drums session was done in a studio called J,J, Recording studios, in 8 track digital and we had to hire the drum kit because we hadn't a decent drum kit for recording, by the other hand the other instruments were recorded at our home with the same small amp, sounding together with another Peavy Envoy 112 ref. We recorded all the instruments with conventional microphones and without professional microphones, and with our PC and on Adobe Audition 1.5 DAW, was our very first experience recording, mixing and mastering music done by our self and it took something about 7-8 months to be finished.
And yes, it’s still available on cd format pressed by our label Dirty Sound Records.
Do you think you are an original band and at what time do you think the band came up with the Witchtrap sound so to speak?
Yes, I do, we do, we think we are original, since the beginning we are only a band with a big influences of Hard Rock and Heavy Metal bands from 70's and early 80's, I think a band from nowadays if I can say it "nowadays", has the same influences that a band from middle 80's, is almost normal that their sound would be a little bit similar between them, the difference between Witchtrap and many other retro bands from nowadays, is because they are influenced by middle 80's bands, but, we are not influenced by those middle 80's bands, of course we like those band from middle 80's, but they are not our influences.
Actually we usually listen bands such as: Triumph, Uriah Heep, Scorpions(Uli) era, UFO, Black Sabbath, early Judas Priest, AC/DC, CCR, Krokus, Saxon, early Riot, stuff like this are our biggest influences, of course, Venom, Raven, Anvil, Exciter, Motorhead, have given us an idea how to sound, but, we are heavier and faster than them, absolutely.
In 2007 you released an Ep called “Nightmares of the Dead. Thoughts on this these days and is it still for sale?
Well, Nightmares of the Dead Ep, was recorded at Organic Sound Studio on OCtober 2002 after Dark Moon was fired and before Enforcer was recruited, I took the part on bass recording sessions, together drums and B.A. Ripper has it's part on guitars and voices, this time the drums set we use was a own build drum set that I did at carpenter workshop of a friend of mine with very very low budget to practice at rehearsal because we actually don't had a drum set until those days because of lack of money, the amp was the same small amp Peavy Audition110 and all the gear I have told you above in other questions, the results were better than we were expecting, even we got to think for a while to don't recruit any bass player, but after thinking about it how we would sound on stage we realized that we'd need a guy behind the bass guitar giving support to the drums and guitars, and actually I think was the best choice that we could take, fortunately Enforcer was available to start again with us as far as he had started to play withy B. A. Ripper a heavy Metal band Called Nightmare and moreover he was member of Dark Millennium band before Witchtrap.
About this album it was recorded to be dealt with a French called Ordealis Records, but seems the label got be broken in those years and the recording session took couple years to be out until we got started with our own label Dirty Sound Records where we press all our early stuff even the first pressing of "No Anesthesia" at same time with HHR, this support "HHR deal" helped us to much to finally buy good gear, I mean, a semi-pro drums set and semi pro Guitar and too many good gear between other stuff and of course to start our own home studio and to press every single or full lenght we have with the band, and finally make our dream become true in small scale.
A few more split releases followed until 2012 when your 3rd full length came out called “Vengeance Is My Name”. Who put this out and how easy was it coming up with songs for this release? Is it still for sale?
Yeah, after "No Anesthesia" album, there were many labels from world wide interested to work with our band, but we are a loyal band to whom has given support from early years or by first time, so our loyalty it's to HHR definitively, anyway, we didn't say no to those labels and we offered them other ideas to press old stuff for those splits. We know exactly how a split can help to a band be more known in other metal scenes in other countries, etc you know what I mean, so that was great to us in many ways.
About Vengeance is my Name, it was started to be recorded on December 2010 we finished whole te recording sessions on November 2011, and the mixing process took around a year at our home studio, we got a production that we were looking for, since our very early days whe we recorded our demo tapes, finally we were totally satisfied(almost 95%) jajaja, but was great to hear a clear sound with the rawness we were looking for and having a decent sound production, we spent a lot of time learning on internet forums about mixing etc, finally in early january 2012 it was finished including mastering of the album, thing that I do, after Ripper was becoming crazy with the Mixing jajaja, the album was release at same time with DSR and HHR, we got an interest from some lables such as: "Season Of Mist" among others big labels, but we are totally loyal on first sight to HHR and besides they have been very respectful with the deals condictions we have done in the past, something that we considered very important in nowadays about dealings.
The songs of this album were composed long time ago even many of them were write initially for the "Sorceress Bitch" and "No Anesthesia" album but when we start to order the set list for each album we had move some songs between them in order to make each ablum very consisting and with variety between the songs and make them easy to hear to the underground metal scene, just like we like to hear an album of a metal band, that no needs to be listened more than once to say: "WOW this is a terrific abum". Vengeance has 9 songs with power, aggression, variety and enough rawness that a Metal band needs, even it has some technical composing but it just a simple coincidence, that's just because.
Now by now were you playing many live shows and popular was the band in the underground scene?
I don't know how popular is our band actually, we know exactly where we are, and we are an undergroudn metal band from Colombia, maybe we are very known in Colombia, but in the world wide metal scene we have no an idea how popular we are, but it's a fact that South American bands hasn't enough distribution in Europe or North America even Asia, Oceanian, besides with the help from HHR has given to our music we have gotten more spreading in those countries and continents, but we know we are an underground band, a fact we love, but absolutely we would like to get more exposure out there. Why not?
We used to play shows as often as we can in our country Colombia, even we have been playing small tours in some countries such as Chile, Peru, Ecuador, USA, and Norway in a music festival in 2014, and coming soon we will play a small tour in Mexico, we hope this become bigger, to play and share time with the Witchtrapmaniacs in many more countries, because we get day by day in our inbox of our social nets, messages from many people in Europe, Asia, Oceanian, South, Center and NorthAmerica expecting to see our band on live at least for once close to their areas to see our show. We will see!!
An EP followed in 2013 and then a split with Nunslaughter. Do you prefer doing split releases or doing full lengths or it doesn’t matter to you?
We don't have problem to make splits, singles, Eps, or Full lengths, we really don't care about that, everything is good for a band the important thing is making good Metal and enjoy the music on live with the fans of the band, just as we love to see live bands that we like a lot.
In 2015 your newest release came out called “Trap The Witch” and was released at least over here in the US via Hells Headbangers. How did you end up working with them and do you feel this new release is your best yet?
Ok, Trap the Witch, is the same thing we have been doing since our beginning, but these latest albums have the quality sound we were looking for long time ago, that's the difference, so actually this is not the best, if we see it as the new, but this album has gotten good vibes and reviews for the fans, and that's great to hear that from them, beacuse we feel we are doing the thing good, not for their likes but of our likes, I mean, the music we are doing is what we like to do, not for making commerce, it's because we love it, and if the Witchtrapmaniacs feel this is great it's an awesome news for us as a band.
Trap the Witch was realease in 2015 through Dirty Sound Records and recorded at Dirty Sound Studio(our homestudio), it took just only 3 months to be ready, besides we were talking with HHR to make an international pressing through them since a month later of the Colombian pressing in 2015, now it's the time to be out, a year later, but never it's late, and we know they have tons of Metal stuff to work with, we only are patients because we love to work with them, even we got some proposals from European labels in 2015 just when it was out in late September 2015, but we were focused only with HHR.
What is the current line-up of the band and do you all pretty much get along for the most part?
The Witchtrap line up is the same line up since 2003:
B. A. Ripper: Voices and Guitar
Of course we are very close friends, each of us is the grounding for any member, that works great for the band and runs like a band.
Now do you hope to play some festivals and places like that someday?
Yes we do of course, we love to play live, and sharing beers and thoughts with metalheads from each country or city on each venue where we play a live performance, that’s an amazing experience, if playing live will be our way of earn our life, we will do it for sure, as we are doing it right now although we are doing right now in a small scale.
Now your newest release came out in 2015 so can we expect to hear some new material soon?
Yes, you will hear, but we think for late 2017 or early 2018, not because we won't have music, it’s because we want our fans can to listen, enjoy and digest this new stuff, and then we will start to record new material, we have enough material, maybe two albums, maybe more, we used to compose and writing metal music all the time.
Please plug any websites you have.
We have Facebook, Twitter, Reverbnation, Myspace, but I must confess something, actually the only one who really works it’s the Facebook site: https://www.facebook.com/WITCHTRAP666/ and https://twitter.com/search?q=witchtrapimi
Horns up for doing this interview. Any last words the floor is yours.
There’s no a place, a state, a trance or something like that, something that i enjoyed and make me feel really clear and happy, is being a Metalhead, being a metalhead from the bottom of my heart and at the heart of my soul.
Life is about priorities, so each person has it’s own priorities, so, some people chose to have family, others chose to find a job, others to being manipulated by religión or politics, but, about Me? I knows exactly what I want, living free, living like I only I want to do it, and Metal has given to me everything I need, everything of feeling, and every thing i am or I have or I have done is thanks to Metal, and I have my own priority in life and it’s METAL, so, let me ask you maniac: what's your priority?
Witching Metal Thanks for all your support
Stay Evil, Stay Ugly, Stay Metal.
United We Stand in the…
Metal Army Marh!!!
your metal friend forever Hugo”Witchhammer”Uribe.
Interview by Chris Forbes