INTERVIEW WITH... WITTERQUICK
Alt Rock/Pop five-piece WITTERQUICK was formed in fairly inauspicious circumstances at the end of 2014, in a back bedroom in Ollie Chanter’s house in Exeter. Ollie (bass), Will (Alford, vocals) and Ben (Chanter, guitar) initially just wrote with no aims other than to write good music, but after writing a bunch of songs they loved, they quickly realised they wanted to form a band and Sean (Davey, bass) and Dan (Van Delft, drums) were brought on board to complete the line up.
We recently spoke to Ollie, to see what he had to say about life in the band and their triumphant headline tour earlier this year, which culminated in a hometown sell-out show at the Exeter Cavern.
How did that make the guys feel? “Incredible. It's the first time we've had a sellout home-town show. The Exeter Cavern is a big deal to us. We grew up going to shows there, so selling that out was a huge moment. The vibe was intense. There wasn't a dry eye in the house, honestly, it is a show we'll never forget".
I can bear witness to that, having been at the Exeter show, it was certainly an emotional night, with the most incredible feel-good, celebratory vibe, with audience involvement enhanced further by the addition of a number of rather large blow-up balls that were batted around by everyone during the song ‘Bubblegum’. We asked Ollie about that, and he said, “We've always wanted everyone to have fun, ourselves included. The inflatable balls were planned when the shows sold out...in hindsight, they were a bit big for the venue sizes but everyone loved them!”. There’s a video clip of the bouncing balls on the band’s FaceBook page that really captures the party atmosphere. In addition to selling out the Exeter show on that tour, the band’s show at the Hope & Anchor, London also sold out, another first for the WITTERQUICK guys.
Still, on the subject of touring, we asked Ollie about surprising things that have happened to the band whilst being on tour. He said “A few we probably can't repeat...
All of us breaking down during ‘Wayward Signs’ was a surprise, we really didn't expect that to ever happen. Hearing 200+ people passionately belting that back to you with tears in their eyes really hits you. We couldn't cope. The atmosphere passionate fans create is a beautiful thing to share, it really does make (touring) worth it”.
WITTERQUICK have toured with some fantastic bands, so we were interested to know if there are any bands they fancied touring with that they’ve not yet so far? Says Ollie, “We’d love to tour with NOTHING BUT THIEVES again, but that's a cheat answer. DON BROCO would be fun, they're great guys. We're fans of YONAKA, they've got something good going on”. I guess stranger things have happened, so you never can tell what may happen! Still with an eye towards the future then, where would they like to play in an ideal world? “We’d love to play the classics - Wembley, Madison etc but anywhere with wall to wall fans will be perfect. Be that 50 people or 50,000”. I’ve seen a lot of bands perform over the years, and WITTERQUICK really are consummate professionals who know how to put on an amazing show whilst also seemingly having a great time themselves.
Turning things back a notch or two, we wanted to know more about the very beginnings of the band. Ollie had this to say, “We’d all been in bands forever and knew of each other, and luckily they fizzled out around the same time. I'd wanted to work with Will for years so when the time was right I roped him in and it built from there. It took us ages to settle on a name, as it always does, but we knew we wanted a one-word name and WITTERQUICK settled. The name never matters, what you do makes the name mean something”.
Soon after the band was born, some home demos were recorded. Whilst on tour with NOTHING BUT THIEVES, they put out their first official single release, ‘Soldiers’ (October 2015), and were humbled by the response from critics and fans, with more and more people singing along every night. Two further singles followed, ‘Fade Out’ (March 2016) and ‘Rise’ (June 2016). The band reached out to renowned producer Romesh Dodangoda (Bring Me The Horizon, Lower Than Atlantis, Stone Broken), and that resulted in him producing their debut 5 track EP ‘Beneath The Spinning Lights’ (released on LAB records on 17th June 2016). The band subsequently released the ‘Fire and Ice’ EP (October 2017), also produced by Dodangoda, (also ‘Ice and Fire’, which contained alternate versions of the songs).
The response to the band’s most recent single ‘Damaged’ has so far been phenomenal (10,000 plays in 4 weeks). Previous single ‘Bubblegum’ had two versions, an upbeat version with accompanying video that was released with the single, and then an alternate stripped back version, released a few weeks later, that went down really well with fans and critics alike. We wondered whether the band had any similar plans with this single. Says Ollie, “We just did a live version of Damaged actually, but we don't have any plans to release an alternate version at the moment. The response is always surprising, we hope fans will like what we put out but sometimes it catches us off guard and it's a much bigger impact than we expected. You're in a bubble in a band, caught up in what's happening next and the business side of everything so it's nice when something takes you out of that and reminds you what you're actually doing”. Seemingly, whatever WITTERQUICK do pleases fans and critics alike, the guys can do no wrong. Their catchy brand of pop-injected alt-rock tunes are easy on the ear and you find yourself humming along before you know it.
What about songwriting in WITTERQUICK, is this something that happens as a collaborative process or does it start lyrically with one person or instrumentally with one or more people? We asked Ollie to give us the lowdown. “Most of the songs start with Will, he's incredibly prolific. He'll send us ideas randomly and see what we think then we get to work on the ones that really stand out. We've always had the mantra of 'if it works, it works', which is why we don't really have any 2 songs the same. We've never wanted to be confined by genre so we let the songs grow organically and put out what we like, regardless”. WITTERQUICK don’t fit neatly into one genre, they span many, and the formula seems to be working.
What about the time when the guys aren’t being WITTERQUICK, when they are just being their everyday selves, what do they do to relax and chill out? “We’ve struggled with downtime a lot, it's hard to switch off and you feel like you're wasting time. It's so important though, it's really not good to let it dominate you like that. You burn out incredibly quickly in this industry like that. We all relax in different ways, we're all fans of video games and movies. I try to live the Hobbit life when I'm not in band mode, it's the best 'switch off' I will found”. I guess following on from that, then, is to ask what advice Ollie has for musicians that are just starting out in the industry, how to keep their feet on the ground? He says, “Be You. Following other bands and trends means you'll always be a follower. Do your own thing and you'll attract people that like YOU. Another thing that's really important - don't do this to get famous. Just don't. There's no happy ending there. Do it because you love it, you have to love it or you'll never get through”. I think that’s sound advice.
As far as what the future has in store for WITTERQUICK, Ollie is keeping schtum for now. “We can't answer that. But you won't be disappointed”. I’m sure whatever it is, the wait will be worth it.
Will Alford - vocals
Ollie Chanter - bass
Ben Chanter - guitar
Sean Davey - guitar
Dan Van Delft - drums
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