Mistakes, Feelings And A Lot Of Hash: The Stuff Witch Coast Is Made Of

By Alison Baitz

"The idea was... to make this project as minimal as possible," says Jon Weiss (left) of his band Witch Coast.
"The idea was... to make this project as minimal as possible," says Jon Weiss (left) of his band Witch Coast. Michael Andrade

D.C. group Witch Coast arose from a haze of marijuana smoke and feelings.

“Jon [Weiss] and Kevin [Sottek] were sad and smoking a lot of hash,” the garage-punk band writes, telling its origin story via email. Jordan Sanders joined on bass a year later, forming a three-piece. And that name? It’s an indirect reference to a TV show loved by teens in the ‘90s — and probably hash-smokers, too: Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

witch-coast-burnt-outBut forget its stoner origins and love of Buffy: Witch Coast is serious about being a band. So serious, in fact, it just released a debut album. Burnt Out By 3pm (listen below) is a tidy collection of 12 tracks, compiled on a cassette with a fetching marbled pattern they call “hellfire swirl.”

Asked why they went with a cassette tape, Witch Coast says the choice was easy. “[We] wanted to keep the analog production values intact, and [tapes are] the cheapest medium.”

There’s an out-of-left-field bonus that goes along with the tape, too: a foam finger flipping the bird. (“It is a novelty item,” the band clarifies, helpfully.)

The album was recorded quickly — during a single March afternoon at D.C. house venue Babe City, on a vintage tape machine. Witch Coast recorded live onto a quarter-inch tape they bought on Craigslist. The musicians limited themselves to three takes per track, they say, “in order to capture the raw live power of each song.”

The resulting sound is frantic — and that’s just how they like it.

“The idea was and kind of still is to make this project as minimal as possible,” emails Weiss, who sings and plays guitar. “No extra overdubs or bulls**t perfections that make you claw at your face trying to accomplish [them]; no deep contemplation of what a lyric should mean to me or an audience.” And it’s just four tracks, he says: guitar, bass, drums, vocals.

Witch Coast doesn’t tend to veer into the weeds during the creative process, either. The band sometimes struggles to write new material, “but when we start an idea, a skeleton of a song, we’ll have it finished in 30 minutes,” says Weiss, who also plays in The Sea Life.

“Sometimes we have practices that are these incredible writing sessions,” Weiss adds, “and sometimes we have practices where we’ll all trash our instruments and walk out.”

But there’s nothing wrong with that, the frontman clarifies.

“That’s what Witch Coast is,” he writes. “Mistakes and emotions.”

Witch Coast’s Burnt Out By 3pm is available through Babe City Records.