Whatever Witch You Are
“Dead Heavens came to me while watching a film called An American Hippie In Israel,” says front man and guitarist Walter Schreifels. “In the film the aforementioned American Hippie collects a group of like minded flower children from around Tel Aviv. They […]
“Dead Heavens came to me while watching a film called An American Hippie In Israel,” says front man and guitarist Walter Schreifels. “In the film the aforementioned American Hippie collects a group of like minded flower children from around Tel Aviv. They cram into a convertible for a drive to the sea and pick out an uninhabited island to begin a new “free” society. They lose their raft, the waters around the island are shark infested, there’s no drinkable water or food save a single lamb which the hippies ultimately fight to the death for–their heaven dead yet the lamb survives. Our band is like the lamb, a lamb that grows into a goat, with horns.”
The early sparks of the Dead Heavens’ sound began on a Schreifels solo, with Thomas and Aguilar as the backing band. They were obsessing over Cream’s first album Fresh Cream and MBV, My Bloody Valentine’s both miasmic yet blissful follow up to Loveless. Aguilar also introduced them to the psych beauty of White Fence on that tour, which resonated with Schreifels, who was in the mood for heavier music, guitar solos, and a big rock feeling after a recent Quicksand tour.
Upon returning to NYC, Aguilar reacquainted Thomas and Schreifels with musician, painter, engineer and dude who came up with the title Use Your Illusion, Paul Kostabi, who had previously played in White Zombie and Psychotica.
“I knew Paul from his days with White Zombie, but hadn’t seen him in years and didn’t know he was recording,” Schreifels said. “Turns out he was in possession of the same 16-track reel-to-reel I had recorded Gorilla Biscuits’ Start Today on back in ’89, so it was a perfect fit.”
They began recording at Kostabi’s home studio in Piermont, New York with his massive collection of ‘70s recording reels from The James Gang, Sabbath, and Hendrix, spinning in between takes.
“Those recordings really inspired our sound,” Schreifels said of Kostabi’s analog archive. “We began to see ourselves in the context of the Vietnam War.”
Eventually Kostabi joined Dead Heavens, which had morphed mid-recording from a project into an actual band, changing the sound dramatically. Heavier and dual guitar leads, more sonic possibilities. Whether they’re connecting the sounds of the psychedelic ‘70s or channeling the now, Dead Heavens are sound tracking their exploration and as drummer Drew Thomas mentions, “What the world needs now is for more people to take psychedelic drugs.” Dead Heavens is launched into the world to succeed where the hippies failed.
Since their inception, Dead Heavens has released three 7” singles through various labels and has toured the country numerous times.
- Walter Schrifels
- Paul Kostabi
- Drew Thomas
- Nathan Aguilar
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