There is a Detroit urban legend of a small red dwarf, called the Nain Rouge, who lurks around the city, only to be seen when there’s misfortune in the midst. Known as the “harbinger of doom,” the Nain Rouge was the first topic of conversation in our talk with Troy Gregory, the singer and founder of The Witches.
The Witches will be headlining a show on 2/28 at the Magic Bag with Mexican Knives and Pretty Ghouls. Contrary to popular belief, The Witches are not “back from the dead,” because they never died.
“The Witches has been my main deal since about ’95 or ’96,” says Gregory. “It’s just been a little difficult to keep up. The Witches never broke up.” This show is the band’s kick back in to the Detroit music scene.
Though all of the members of The Witches are involved in other projects, it hasn’t stopped them from releasing four records and a compilation album, entitled A Haunted Person’s Guide to The Witches, in 2011. The current “coven” consists of Gregory on vocals, a couple of his former students from the St. Clair School of Rock, Craig Adams and Peter Geloso on guitar, Stefan Carr on bass, Mary Alice on keyboard, and Evan Hakim on drums. Eugene Strobe, a veteran Witch, will be on drums for the Magic Bag show.
The Witches have been compared to many bands, ranging from The Velvet Underground to The Black Keys, but Gregory doesn’t like to classify the band as any certain genre, because he feels it limits them. He draws influence from bands like Bauhaus, The Smiths, and Joy Division for that very reason. They’ve created their own style. “I’d like for us to be seen as a band that matters and is completely worthwhile because [we’re] the only band that sounds like this,” says Gregory. “It can only be found in Detroit.”
Gregory is a pretty prominent figure in the Detroit music scene. Not to mention, Detroit horror legend Sam Raimi has even seen The Witches perform. He collaborated with the likes of Kim Fowley, Electric Six, Killing Joke, Nathaniel Mayer and plenty more Detroit artists in the past few decades. He also teaches multiple instruments and songwriting at the Musicians Community Center Rock Academy in Warren, focusing on the self-expression side of music. A radio DJ in New York has even done a “six degrees of separation” on Gregory, connecting him to bands as iconic as The Beatles. “I thought you had to die to be a legend,” he says, laughing, “But I don’t plan on doing that for a long time.”
The Witches don’t do a whole lot of promotion, and prefer to keep it that way, but their ever-expanding fan base hasn’t let up in the past couple of decades.
“The band has always been very word-of-mouth,” says Gregory. “It just seems to be constantly growing, which is funny because I didn’t think anyone really gave a rat’s ass.”
When a band has been around as long as The Witches, it’s bound to change and evolve. The differences between their albums are vast, varying from very minimal to chaotic, but Gregory stands by all of them. Musically, Gregory’s writing process changes with what’s going on in his life, sometimes causing him to cringe now at old songs written about past events and relationships. “Old songs are really put into perspective now,” he says.
So what’s next for The Witches? Gregory has over 100 demos on his computer, and they’ll be working on a new album this spring. A full-length musical featuring The Witches is also in the works, with tentative shooting in the spring, ready for release in the fall with a soundtrack.
Gregory can see himself with The Witches for the rest of his life, because the possibilities are so open. “This band can be anything,” he says. “I like having that option.”
View the original post at Real Detroit Weekly.